Poetry: Political Quiet

During the 1960s, the Apartheid government clamped down on large-scale resistance. The two poems that follow explore this period of quiet. The second, in particular, looks at how some people lost interest in politics or were too afraid to speak out against injustice.

Location fires

Poet: Jennifer Davids


  1. The poem uses metaphors to create powerful imagery. What do the fires in the poem represent? What is the darkness?
  2. What do you think the speaker in the poem means when she says “the fires are hidden/the landscape is flattened”?
  3. The speaker doesn’t mention any concrete details, and the entire poem is driven by metaphoric language. What clues does she give us as to what she is really talking about?
  4. How do we know from the end of the poem that the speaker has found new strength and belief?

The Detribalised

Poet: Oswald Mtshali


  1. Why do you think the man in the poem would have spent time in jail?
  2. What do you think the speaker in the poem is saying about the man and his wife by mentioning that she uses skin lightener and straightens her hair?
  3. What kind of relationship does the man have with his wife? Why do you think the speaker includes these details?
  4. Look at ways in which his life is affected by Apartheid. Why do you think he isn’t involved in politics, despite all this?
  5. How does the speaker view this man? Explain.