South of The Border
Poet: Mbulelo Vizikhungo Mzamane
- South of the border, Down Bantustan
- Develop along your own lines:
- Invent, first, the wheel
- Before you can ride in a car.
- Television is not for you
- But we can make concessions-
- Use the gramophone.
gramophone An old music player.
- Bathrooms, flush Toilets-
- You need but very few
- Since you’ve never been ashamed to wash
- Proud and Naked,
- In the village stream,
- Or to hide your heels,
- In the bush.
- Whiteman’s medicines
- Are your herbs, liquefied
liquefied Turned into liquid form. –
- Stick to the herbs.
- Agriculture is the basis of your economy,
- Try to cultivate
- And to this be as true
- As night follows day
- For greater is your reward in heaven.
- Who do you think is speaking in the poem? Who are they speaking to?
- What does the poem tell us about conditions in the Homelands?
- How does the poem show Apartheid thinking?
These Black Hands
Poet: Modikwe Dikobe
- Down in the bowels
bowels Intestines; meaning deep inside.
- Of the earth;
- I’ve extracted
extracted Taken out.
- That gives you comfort.
- I’ve toiled
- Complaining very little
- Drilled rock
- Sinking shafts,
- Picked and shovelled
- I am now obsolete
obsolete No longer useful or relevant; out of date; past it.
- And useless.
- My white brother
- Has denied me
- The right to defend myself
- Turned me into his serf
- ‘No kaffir trade union’.
‘No kaffir trade union’. These racist words are in quotation marks. They are presented as if spoken by a racist mine boss.
- The bosses have combined:
- Formed a chamber,
of ‘native’ labour
- Fixing of wages
Fixing of wages Different companies coming together and agreeing on the wages they will all pay, so that competition for labour does not drive wages higher.
- And regulating it.
- I am now useless
- And obsolete
Poet: Nkathazo ka Mnyayiza
- and hanging gates
- fallen leaves on unswept yards
- where mangy
mangy Dirty or scruffy.
dogs stretch out their empty beings
- and where fowls
peck fruitlessly at unwashed dishes
- I saw him the old man on an old bench seated
- leaning his old back against the crumbling mud walls
- thoughts far off man’s reach and sight
- and like the setting sun
- he gave way to the dying embers
embers The last hot coals from a dying fire.
- and slowly he slouched in to bed
- with a dry and an empty stomach
- to await another empty day or death
Questions on ‘These Black Hands’ and ‘Forgotten People’
Both these poems describe men who have been ‘dumped’ in the Homelands.
- What work did the character in ‘These Black Hands’ do?
- What is the relationship between the worker and the bosses in ‘These Black Hands’?
- Which words and images in ‘Forgotten People’ suggest that the people there – including the old man – are struggling to survive and retain the will to live?