Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Spring Break

by Njabulo Ngobese

Providing escapism from the bone chilling winter season, today marks the official start to everyone's favourite time of the year, spring. Excitement looms in the air as Durbanites can brace themselves for an array of festivities that will be gracing our shores. September being Heritage month, will see various celebrations across the country paying homage to South Africa's diverse and rich cultures.

"Celebrate Durban Halala 2011" is a yearly festival that combines music, art, dance, sport & various other activities that celebrate the spirit of humanity as well as embrace the various cultures that co-exist within Durban and South Africa as a whole. Art for Humanity (AFH) an NGO operating at the Durban University of Technology's City Campus under the directorship of Jan Jordaan, will be adding its contributions to the Celebrate Durban festivities by conducting workshops at 5 different schools around the Durban area. The idea behind the workshops is to encourage the youth to express themselves through their art. Whether it be poetry or sketches of drawings or paintings, the workshops give school children a voice that challenges any form of human injustice.

The celebrations of Heritage month kick started yesterday at the Green Hub as Celebrate Durban was officially launched. Durban's mayor James Nxumalo and eThekwini Spokesperson Loganathan Logie Naidoo were some of the guests present at the launch. Judging from the success of the launch, September promises endless excitement for Durbanites, local & international guests who will be gracing our shores during this month.

For more festivities taking place during the Celebrate Durban Halala 2011, visit:
For updates on the AFH school workshops you can visit our blog page:

An Angel of Mercy/For Our Children

An Angel of Mercy
Judy Woodborne

Compiled by Njabulo Ngobese

"Not knowing when the dawn will come, I open every door" - Emily Dickinson, Poet.

Judy Woodborne was born in 1966 in Cape Town. She obtained her BA in Fine Arts from Michaelis School of Fine Art in 1988 and an advanced Diploma in Printmaking with distinction in 1989. She was awarded her Master’s of Fine Arts degree with distinction from the University of Cape Town in 1993 with a dissertation entitled Moria, a Eulogy of Folly. She lives and works in Cape Town, and is a resident artist at Spencer Street Studios.


For our children
Makhosazana Xaba

Write the wrongs
on our girls and boys
for everyone to know
about every single one,
then there’ll be
no excuse not to
right the wrongs
on our girls and boys
who in their own right
deserve a national rite
for all to declare:
Respect, Protect and Fulfill
the Rights of Girls and Boys.
Right the wrongs
on our girls and boys
who rightly await
the nation’s loud voices:
Respect, Protect and Fulfill
the Rights of Girls and Boys.
Right at birth our children expect
every right-minded person
to know without being told
that normalcy demands that we
Respect, Protect and Fulfill
the Rights of Girls and Boys.

Mo ntlheng ya bana ba rona
Setswana translation coordinated by Dr Maria Letsie

Siamisa diphoso
mo basetsaneng le mo basimaneng ba rona
bao ka tshiamo ba letetseng
mantswe a kwa godimo a setshaba:
Tlotla, Sireletsa le go Diragatsa
Ditshiamelo tsa Basetsana le Basimane.

A Brief Biography of Makhosazana Xaba

Makhosazana (Khosi) Xaba was born on 10 July 1957 in Greytown, KwaZulu-Natal to Glenrose Nomvula Mbatha and Rueben Bejanmin Xaba. She grew up in Ndaleni as the second of five children and currently lives in Jozi. these hands is her debut collection of poetry. She is one of the 12 poets ISIS-X, a women-only anthology of poetry and photography (Botsotso).

Before turning to writing, Khosi worked as a women’s health specialist for both local and international NGOs. She wrote and published extensively on health systems management, gender and health, and women’s health policies. She is currently a Writing Fellow at the Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research (WISER) working on a nonfiction biography project for a year.

She has an MA in Creative Writing from the University of the Witwatersrand. She is the winner of the Deon Hofmeyr Award for Creative Writing (2005) for her unpublished short story called Running. Khosi’s poems have also appeared in: Timbila, Sister Namibia, poetsagainstthewar website, Women in Writing, Botsotso, South African Writing, Green Dragon and Echoes.

Precious Cargo/Her Elements of Life

Precious Cargo
Ernestine White

Compiled by Njabulo Ngobese

"Nobody cares if you can't dance well. Just get up and dance. Great dancers are not great because of their technique, they are great because of their passion" - Martha Graham, American Choreographer.

Ernestine White received a Master's degree in Fine Arts from the University of Cape Town in 2004. She has participated in numerous group exhibitions and also received a Master Printer Certificate from the Tamarind Institute, Alberquerque, New Mexico.

Ernestine is currently the exhibition coordinator-curator for the Parliamentary Millennium Project at the Parliament of the Republic of South Africa.


Her elements of life
Chantel Erfort

Face full and bright like the moon
Her dreams fly across the sky
Before bad dreams gather like clouds.
And yesterday she was just 8 years old
Now face full and bright like fire
Her eyes dart across the room
Before tears well like water
And yesterday she was just 8 years old
Now face full but not
Dulls into anger as she cries.

Ekuqakatheke ePilwenakhe
IsiNdebele translation: F Mahlangu

Ubuso obumomothekako ebuphazima njengenyezi
Amabhudango wakhe aphapha hlangana nesibhakabhaka
Ngaphambi kobana amabhudango amambi angahlangana njengamafu
Izolo lokhu ubeneminyaka ebu-8
Gadesi ubuso obumomomothekako buphazima njengomlilo
Amehlwakhe agijima kilo loke ikamero
Ngaphambi kobana iinyembezi ziwe njengamanzi
Izolo lokhu ubeneminyaka ebu-8
Gadesi ubuso buyamamatheka kodwana
Bukhombisa ilaka nakalilako

A Brief Biography of Chantel Erfort

Chantel Erfort is a writer, assistant editor at Cape Community Newspapers, co-foudner of a community arts projct the COLOUR: Spirit of the Flats, and co-owner of the community-based record label, DALA FLAT MUSIC. She oversees the DALA FLAT MUSIC’s 38 Special Words and Music project and is in the process of completing her first book The Meditation and Maths of Leaving, a compilation of short stories, poetry and letters to a long-lost friend.

At all times through her writing, Chantel strives to maintain and uphold the ethos of social upliftment through the arts as expressed by the DALA FLAT MUSIC and the COLOUR: Spirit of the Flats. Her work has been published in Women Flashing, a compilation of Flash Fiction by South African women writers (2005).

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Weighing And Wanting/The Private Eucharist

Diane Victor
Weighing and Wanting

Compiled by Njabulo Ngobese

"Is it too much to ask that women be spared the daily struggle for superhuman beauty in order to offer it to the caresses of a sub-humanly ugly mate?" - Germaine Greer, Academician

Diane Victor has worked in art making since graduating in printmaking in 1986 from Wits University. She has worked as an artist and lecturer at various institutions since 1992; teaching drawing and etching mainly at Pretoria University, but also at Wits Technikon (now University of Johannesburg), Pretoria Technikon (now Tshwane University of Technology), UNISA, Wits University, Vaal Technikon and recently at Rhodes University.

Diane’s determination to remain unbound to any one institution in a preference for flexible teaching, ties to her belief in cross-pollination between departments being more effective for her than administrative bondage to any one. This has allowed Diane the freedom to continue almost full time with her own personal art making processes and commissioned work.

She received the ABSA Atelier Award in 1988 granting ten months’ work and stay in Paris. Other residencies include a UNESCO residency in Vienna in 1999, a residency from Ampersand Foundation to New York City in 1998 and Vermont studio in the USA in 2002. Diane has had four solo shows at the Goodman Gallery since 1992 and exhibits consistently in South Africa and internationally.


The Private Eucharist
Michelle McGrane

The old woman behind the pharmacy counter
passes forward a brown paper packet, her
shrivelled hands mottled, liver-spotted;
the accusatory, tight-lipped mien pronounces,
You young women destroy your health.
Listen Ouma, you're tempted to explain,
you don't know the half of it.
Instead, you smile, fade to nothing,
concentrate on crackling paper, your fingers
fidgety, thin-skinned animals.
Consecrated capsule on outstretched tongue,
squatting in a darkened room, you receive
the Holy Sacrament for Hungry Girls;
a private Eucharist to appease
your bare boned God of Reduction.
Give me this day my daily resolve,
the grace not to let a single morsel
pass through these lips,
After mass, spiritual ebullience: dry mouth
dizziness jaw-clenching palpitations…
Clutching the rosary of your martyrdom,
speedy strong in occult absolution,
you shrug with the insouciance
of the pardoned penitent;
every true believer pays a price.

Afrikaans translation: Marí Peté

Gehurk in ‘n skemer kamer,
kapsule geheilig op die tong, ontvang jy
die Sakrament vir Honger Dogters;
‘n Privaatnagmaal om jou benerige
God van Vermindering
te bevredig.
Gee my vandag my daaglikse wilskrag,
die genade om nie ‘n enkele krummel
oor my lippe te laat nie,

A Brief Biography of Michelle McGrane

Born in 1974 in Zimbabwe, Michelle McGrane spent her childhood in Malawi, and moved to South Africa with her family when she was fourteen. She has lived in Pietermaritzburg since 1988. Michelle has published two collections of poetry, Fireflies & Blazing Stars (2002) and Hybrid (2003). She was the recipient of the South African Writers' Circle Hilde Slinger Poetry Award in 2003 and the Quill Award in 2004.

Her poems have been published in local literary journals such as Fidelities, Botsotso, Kotaz, LitNet and Timbila as well as internationally in the United Kingdom, America and Canada. Michelle is dedicated to promoting South African writing and has a strong commitment to developing her work and the work of other writers.

She was involved as a mentor in the Agenda Feminist Media Project Creative Writing Programme in 2004 and was a participant in the Centre for the Book's Turning the Page festival of emerging South African writers held in 2004.

Acting Together (Join the Conversation)

Compiled by Njabulo Ngobese

A collaborative effort between Brandeis University and Theatre Without Borders has resulted in a project that has been in the running for the past six years working towards peacebuilding and performance in art whilst creating venues for artistic and scholarly exchange. This project is called "Acting Together (Join the Conversation)".

"Acting Together On The World Stage" is a feature-length documentary that will be launched this fall by "Acting Together". The documentary will comprise of a toolkit of videos and printed guides to aid educators, practitioners and policy makers. There will also be the first of two volumes of an anthology entitled Acting Together: Performance and the Creative Transformation of Conflict. The screening of the documentary will be on a global scale.

Film and print resources produced by Acting Together are a result of focused conversations and case studies that include highlight artists, peacebuilders and community leaders from every continent. The global outreach of the project streches as far as the aborigional community of Australia to artists holding their governments accountable for crimes in Uganda and the former Yogoslavia.

The art serves as a common factor between global communities that have all undergone similar trials and tribulations when it comes to social injustice. A project of Acting Together's calibre, bridges the gaps between all the cultures of the world and provides them with a platform to speak a common language of peace and righteousness.

Mother-Daughter/My Imagination & Daughter

Elizabeth Vels

Compiled by Njabulo Ngobese

"Never give up, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn" - Harriet Beecher Stowe (writer)

Elizabeth Vels works in mixed media where she layers fragile and cast papers, etching, thread, stitching, paint, ink and text to make artists books and small sequantial works, or larger composite pieces on streched canvas. Her work mines the archaeology of her life of which according to her "reveals the miraculous in the every day".

She has work in Major Public Collections that include the S.A National Gallery Cape Town, Pretoria Art Gallery, Durban Art Gallery, Johannesburg Art Museum, South African Council of Churches, Sasol Collection, University of Stellenbosch to name a few.


Teilharde Fregona

My mother gets ready to go out
I inhale her perfume so rich and so deep
The smell entangles my senses like the vines of a tree
She quickly leaves and I fall off to sleep
Colours explode, fireworks of my imagination
My mind is filled with hope, memories and dreams
All the information and knowledge is kept there
Like a bag overflowing ripped at the seams
I open my eyes but my room is shrouded in darkness
I am scared of the dark, a beast of the night
I shut my eyes tightly and hear the front door
It’s my mother she’s back, things will be alright.

Charl Fregona

There are things you should know about
My silent heart,
My dumb tongue.
I know that you breathe the echo of perfume on my pillow
That you clothe yourself in my gown,
Black silk, twist your hair round,
Try to wear my frown
That you sing to keep me in
And stagger across the floor of your life
Wearing my ridiculous stilettos
Because you think you are alone.
I push back mute longing.
We see exactly who we are in our mirrors.
Because you are patterned in my cells,
I carry you across the great divide
Along that steep edge between death and forever,
Lead us through the struggle of birth into love of living.
My divine burden, my heart speaks.
I have been before.
You are not home alone
I am here with strong round walls to enclose you.

Umcabango wami
Siswati translation of poem extract coordinated by Dr Maria Letsie

Ngihogela emakha akhe ladulile nalanukelelako
Leliphunga livakala emiveni yami njengensimu yetihlahla
Imibala iyadubuka, imililo lekhona emicabangweni yami
Ingcondvo yami igcwele ngelitsemba, tinkhumbulo kanye nemaphupho
Ngivule emehlo ami kodvwa likamelo lami likhungatfwe bumnyama

Siswati translation of poem extract coordinated by Dr Maria Letsie

Ngiyati kutsi uphefumlela emakha lamnandzi emcamelweni wakho
Utigcokisa I-gawuni yami,
Isilika lemnyama,ushwile tinwele takho,
Uzama kuswaca njengami
Kutsi uyahlabela kute ungigcine
Kungumtfwalo wami, inhlitiyo yami iyakhuluma
Ngikwentile kucala.
Awusiwedvwa laph’ ekhaya
Ngikhona netindvonga leticinile ngikukakile.

A Brief Biography of Teilharde & Charl Fregona

Tei Fregona was born in 1992 in Durban and is a student in Kloof High School.She has had three books published by Umsinsi Press. Tei sings, plays the guitar and loves reading. She is currently planning on becoming a pop star, but cannot make up her mind if she would rather train dolphins or be a trapeze artist instead. Tei has been writing poetry since she started reading and writing.

Charl Fregona was born in Prieska, in the Northern Cape, but grew up in Zimbabwe. Charl is an instructional designer at the Centre for Higher Education Development at the Durban University of Technology, and is currently studying for a PhD in web-based learning and teaching.

She has three children, loves to read and travel. Her first poem was published at the age of nine and she has subsequently been published in Zimbabwe, South Africa and the United States as a short story writer, a poet and a novelist. She has edited a number of poetry anthologies, one of which is Liz Vels’s collection, Handspun.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Women with a Cause

by Njabulo Ngobese

A project that has prided itself at taking initiative in addressing issues related to social and gender injustice has been the cornerstone for art feminists that hold no prisoners when it comes to political action for women's rights.

The Philani Printing Project was initiated in 1997 by the Philani Nutrition Project, the Western Cape Department of Social Services and primarily funded by South Africa's Department of Welfare. Established by a group of Xhosa women artists, the Philani Printing Project was built on the grounds of empowering women both politically and socially. The program educates, employs and empowers women with all the necessary skills to eradicate social ills such as child malnutrition and poverty.

The foundation of the Philani Printing Project was built around the ideology of empowering women first with financial security of which transfers to independence and then results to mothers taking better care of their children's needs. The Philani Printing Project has its roots firm in the South African township regions where the rate of unemployment and poverty are at its peak.

The work produced at the Philani Printing Project is exhibited and sold both locally and internationally and they operate at the Crossroads township on the outskirts of Cape Town. For more information, visit their website at :

Hope/Every Mother Hobo Is My Mother

Bronwen Vaughan-Evans

Compiled by Njabulo Ngobese

"When you find peace within yourself, you become the kind of person who can live at peace with others" - Peace Pilgrim, Spiritual Leader

The University of Natal graduate with a Master's degree in Fine Art in 1995, Bronwen Vaughan-Evans is a Durban based artist that has received a merit award in for the Sasol New Signatures Art Competition and has been involved in solo exhibitions that include the One-Zero-One exhibition and the Negotiated Spaces exhibition that was shared with Nontobeko Ntombela at the end of 2006.

Bronwen is currently lecturing part time in the Fine Art Department at the Durban University of Technology.


Every mother Hobo is my mother
Nise Malange

I was born under the bridge of the harbour
I was born with double pneumonia,
Frail, underweight and undernourished
Everyone thought I was not going to live
But my mother said I was a fighter
A tiny ugly little fighter
Whose umbilical cord was cut by a mother hobo
Using the broken beer bottle
My frail body only covered by old smelly
Towels and rugs from all the mother hobos around me
I was surrounded by love and caring
Every cents was kept to buy me formula and bottle
Everyone collected old baby clothes
My skin does not know the softness of baby clothes
I did not know the smell of new clothes.
So this is what I was told
So what did I know
What have I experience
Pain is my name and hunger is my middle name
I fight every day because other girls do not like me
I sniff glue so that I can be brave
I smoke dagga so that I can hallucinate
And feel good about my self
I never beg for money for food
But work for it
Since five men have open my legs
And touch my private parts
Every mother claimed me as hers so that
They can sell me as a sex slave
And get money for gavin (concoction of spirit, pineapple etc)
Six seven I remember every penetration, sweat
And scream of every colour and size
I do not remember when I have my first period
But remember men yelling and screaming because
I was dirty
So do not judge because you do not know where
I come from
Do not ask me where my home is because
I never have one
Do not ask me about my mother
Who gave birth to me because she died?
Few months after I was born
Do not ask me about my father because
Every homeless man in the street
Is my father
I am no longer the tiny ugly duck anymore
But beautiful and a body of a modeller
but suffer from suffer and irritate
my bosses when I have attacks
I am still in the streets of Durban
I come out only at night because
I am now a professional sex slave,
My body is an income for a man
Who claims to be my father
But still sleeps with me
he collects money paid to abuse my body
I get bitten up and horrible things done
To my little body
I am sometimes treated like a queen
When I am to serve dollars and euros
I get pampered and perfumed
I drink red wine and eat prawns
But cannot be in the streets for days
Because of all the money they pay
So do not judge me but pray for me
Because I do not know who will
Push me down the 15th floor
You know under this thick skin
There is still that little ugly fighter
Who is still underweight and undernourished?
Who still fight in the street so that she can lives
Any bridge under the harbour is my sanctuary
Because that is where my umbilical cord lies
That is also, where my mother afterbirth is buried
That where my home is.
That is where my memory begins

Umama onguSkhotheni ungumama wami
IsiZulu translation of poem extract: Nise Malange
Ngizalwe ngaphansi kwebholoho nginenyumoniya
Ngondile,ngimncane ngingondlekile kodwa ngiyisiqhwaga
Inkaba yami yanqunywa ngebhodlela likabhiya elifile
Umzimba wami awubazi ubuntofontofo bezingubo zabantwana
Ngazi ubuhlungu,indlala nokwesaba
Ngibhema iglu ukuze ngithole isibindi
Ngibuye ngibheme nensangu ukuze ngidakwe
Angikaze ngiyicele imali, ngiyayisebenzela
Kusukela ngineminyaka emihlanu ngiyisigqila socansi
Manje amadoda akhokha amadola namayuro aphesheya
Ngiyashaywa,ngidakiswe ngihlukunyezwe ngokocansi
Ngakhoke ungangihluleli ngoba awazi lapho ngiphuma khona.

A Brief Biography of Nise Malange

Nise Malange is the current director of the BAT Centre, and was born in Cape Town. She has been involved in social, political and community work for many years. After the unbanning of all political organisations in 1991, Nise founded the Stories that Can Heal project, an initiative that focused on the victims of political violence, using stories and poetry as means of healing past traumas.

In 1996, when the Truth and Reconciliation hearings were being undertaken, Nise’s project was invited to extend its work to help victims come to terms with the distressful conditions they were facing. She is currently working with young women who have been victims of rape and sexual abuse.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Children Should Be Seen And Heard/My World In Mama's Hands

Children Should Be Seen And Heard
Avitha Sooful

Compiled by Njabulo Ngobese

"I decided it is better to scream. Silence is the real crime against humanity" - Nadezhda Mandelstam, Russian writer, Hope Against Hope

Avi Sooful holds a Masters degree in Fine Art from the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban. She is currently a senior lecturer at the Vaal University of Technology, Vanderbijlpark. She has participated in various exhibitions nationally and internationally. Her most recent exhibition was at the Cité Internationalle des Arts, Paris.


My world in Mama’s hands
Lebogang Mashile
My world is in Mama’s hands and in Papa’s lap
On Oupa’s shoulders and on Gogo’s back
My world is an unformed promise
As soft as my flesh
Laced with a ferocious warning
Not to harm a hair’s breath
A different hue of love is calling
One compose of rivers wept
By those before me who prayed for morning
I crawl on their steps
In Mama’s hands and in Papa’s lap
On Oupa’s shoulders and on Gogo’s back.
I am a new day
Touch me gently
There is no going back.

Lefatshe la ka Matsohong a mme
Sesotho translation: Mohau Letsie
Lefatshe la ka moetshong a mme hedima ntate
Mahetleng a ntatemolo le mokotlong wa nkgono
Lefatshe la ka ke thepiso sa hlophiswang
Le bonolo jwaloka letlalo la ka
Le tletse dihlokomediso tse bohale
Hore ho seke ha utlwiswa moya bohloko
Mofuta o fapaneng wa lerato o ntse o bitsa
O tshwanang le noka ha e lla
Jwaloka bao ba tlileng pele ho nna ba rapella mafube
Ke kgasa mehlaleng ya bona
Matsohong a mme le hodima ntate
Mahetleng a ntatemoholo le mokokotlang wa nkgono
Ke letsatsi le letjha
Ntshware ka hloko
Ha ho sa na ho kgutlela morao

A Brief Biography Of Lebogang Mashile

Lebo Mashile has been called the ‘It’ Girl of South African poetry, a wordsmith extraordinaire, a visual verbalist, an icon of modern South African poetry. Lebogang’s tireless work ethic has earned her creative titles including published author, executive producer, actress, poet, independent record producer, corporate and independent event MC, life skills facilitator/speaker and television series presenter.

Lebo takes on social debate and it is reflected in her continually increasing body of work. In 2004, Lebo debuted as a film actress in the Academy Award Nominated Hotel Rwanda, directed by Terry George. Also in 2004, Mashile became executive producer and presenter of the SABC 1 documentary series L’Attitude, now in its third season.

Lebo Mashile was named by Cosmopolitan Magazine, as one of South Africa’s Awesome Women of 2005.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


Pontso Sikhosana

Compiled by Njabulo Ngobese

"I am prepared to sacrifice every so-called privilege I possess in order to have a few rights." -
Inez Milholland, Suffragist 1909

Pontso Sikhosana started her art career in 1992 during her matric year. She later enrolled at the Funda Centre (AIA) in Soweto where she completed her 3 year diploma in Fine Arts under the supervision of Charles Nkosi. Pontso went on to join the Artist Proof Studio in Newtown Johannesburg where she started printmaking. It was at this point she realised she wanted to be an artist. Under the mentorship of Aileen Foti and Kim Berman, Pontso grew her skills and qualified as a printmaker.

Apart from working and collaborating with different artists, Pontso has also been involved in a number of print exchanges such as the Sharpeville Exchange. She has also collaborated with other women artists on the Doll Project, which dealt with raising awareness of child abuse.


Arja Salafranca
Raising my camera,
you hide your sign,
again and again.
I look through the viewfinder,
but you’re too quick,
the minute I click,
you pull your sign away.
You won’t let me take your photo with a sign
that places you at somewhere at the bottom,
asking for money.
Even when a woman rolls down her car window
to palm change into your hand,
your sign is hidden,
a slightly puzzled smile on your six-year-old face.
Your mother sits on the opposite side of a busy thoroughfare,
She’s been there for years.
Children like you have been begging there for years.
You may even have been there since you were a baby
on your mother’s back.

Sesotho translation of poem extract coordinated by Dr Maria Letsie
Ha ke phahamisa khamera ya ka,
o pata letshwao la hao,
hape le hape.
Ke a sheba ka aparata ya khamera,
empa o a potlaka,
ka nako eo ke ho nkang setshwantsho,
o pata letshwao la hao.
Ha o ntumelle ho o nka setshwantsho ka letshwao
le ho behang kaekae tlase,
o kopa tjhelete.
Leha mosadi a bula fenstere ya koloi ya hae
ho o kgakeletsa tjhelete lehofing la hao,
letshwao la hao le patehile,
lebonyo le le nyenyane la ho makala sefahlehong sa ngwana wa hao ya dilemo tse

A Brief Biography on Arja Salafranca

Arja Salafranca was born in 1971 in Spain to a Spanish father and a South African mother. She has lived in South Africa since the age of five. In 1993 she received a degree in African Literature and Psychology from the University of the Witwatersrand. She has had fiction and poetry published in a number of local journals and anthologies, including The Finishing Touch (Cosaw, 1992), Like a House on Fire (Cosaw 1994), LyfSpel/BodyPlay (Kagiso, 1994), The Torn Veil (1998) and in In the Rapids (Kwela 2001).

Her first poetry collection, A life stripped of illusions, received the 1994 Sanlam Award for poetry, while a short story, ‘Couple on the Beach’ was a winner of the same award in 1999 for short fiction. Her second collection of poetry, The fire in which we burn, was published in 2000. A collection of prose and poetry, Glass Jars Among Trees, which she edited with the poet Alan Finlay, was published in 2003 by Jacana. Arja has worked for various newspapers in Johannesburg and now edits the Sunday Life supplement in The Sunday Independent.

Mothers Grieve 11 Lives Lost

by Njabulo Ngobese

11 kids all under the age of 12 were killed in a bus accident that happened between Knysna and Sedgefield in Southern Cape yesterday morning. The driver lost control of the bus and crashed into the Knysna bridge into the river. The rear end of the bus was the only part left sticking out. The survivors were rushed to hospital to be treated for injuries. Divers were at the scene in search of more bodies while the police investigated the matter further.

The tragedy will be a tough pill to swallow for the mother's of the children that were lost in the accident as it has never been a sign of good fortune for a mother to bury her own child. AFH sends it condolences to the families of the victims in this time of difficulty.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Untitled 2006/War Triptych: Silence, Glory, Love

Untitled. 2006
Berni Searle

Compiled by Njabulo Ngobese

"How important it is for us to recognize and celebrate our heroes and she-roes!" - Maya Angelou, African American Poet

Born in 1964 in Cape Town, Berni Searle is best known for producing digital video and lens based media installations. Her work references ongoing explorations around issues of self-representation, personal and collective identity. Berni was short listed for the international Artes Mundi award in 2004 and in 2003 she was presented locally with the prestigious Standard Bank Young Artist award. That resulted with a solo exhibition, Float that toured nationally until 2004.

Other solo exhibitions that Berni has participated in include, A Matter of Time at the UC Berkeley (2003), Presence at the Speed Museum, Louisville (2005) and About to Forget at Michael Stevenson Contemporary, Cape Town (2005). Her most recent group exhibitions include, Hang In There, My Dear Geum-Sun, Busan Biennale at the Busan Metropolitan Art Meseum, Seoul (2004); Min(e)dfields at the Kunsthaus Baselland, Basel (2004); the fifth Shanghai Biennale at the Shanghai Art Museum in China (2004) and the 'Always a Little Further' at the 51st Venice Biennale (2005).


War Triptych: Silence, Glory, Love
Gabeba Baderoon
I. Accounting
The mother asked to stay.
She looked at her silent child.
I was waiting for you.
The quiet of the girl’s face was a different quiet.
Her hands lay untouched by death.
The washer of bodies cut
away her long, black dress.
Blue prayer beads fell
to the floor in a slow accounting.
The washer of bodies began to sing
a prayer to mothers and daughters.
The mother said,
who will wait for me.
II. Father Receives News His Son Died in the Intifada
When he heard the news, Mr Karim became silent.
He did not look at the cameras,
nor at the people who brought their grief.
He felt a hand slip from his hand,
a small unclasping,
and for that, he refused the solace of glory.
III. Always for the First Time
We tell our stories of war like stories
of love, innocent as eggs.
But we will meet memory again
at the wall around our city,
always for the first time.

IsiZulu translation of poem extract: EM Mabuza

Uma ucela ukuhlala
Ubheke ingane yakhe ethulile
Bengilindele wena
Ukuthula ebusweni bentombazane bekunokuthula okwahlukile
Izandla zayo kunokufa okungathintwa
Ogeza imizimba usika ilokwe lakhe elide
Ubuhlalu bokuthandaza obuluhlaza kwesibhakabhaka
Buwele phansi ngokunensa bubalisa
Ogeza imizimba waqala ukucula
Umthandazo wabomama kanye namadodakazi
Uma wathi,
Ngubani ozolinda mina.
nguGabeba Baderoon, ekhishwe eqoqweni Iphupho Emzimbeni ozolandela

A Brief Biography on Gabeba Baderoon

Gabeba Baderoon is the author of three collections of poetry, The Dream in the Next Body (Kwela/Snailpress, 2005), The Museum of Ordinary Life (DaimlerChrysler, 2005) and A hundred silences (Kwela/Snailpress, 2006). Her poems appear in the anthologies Worldscapes (Oxford University Press, 2005), Ten Hallam Poets (Mews Press, 2005), Voices from All Over (Oxford University Press, 2006) and Birds in Words (Umuzi/Random House, 2006) and her short fiction is included in Twist (Oshun, 2006).

Gabeba is the recipient of the DaimlerChrysler Award for South African Poetry 2005 and held the Guest Writer Fellowship at the Nordic Africa Institute in 2005. Her debut collection, The Dream in the Next Body was named a Notable Book of 2005 by the Sunday Independent and A hundred silences was selected for Homebru 2006 by Exclusive Books. Both the The Dream in the Next Body and A hundred silences were Sunday Times Recommended Books.Gabeba has been a featured poet in the 16 Days of Activism readings, and at Poetry Africa, Weltklang in Berlin, the Stockholm Poetry Festival, Poetry International in Rotterdam and London and the Bristol Poetry Festival.

The Miseducation of Womanhood

by Njabulo Ngobese

10 years ago on this very month, South Africa played host to the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance. Music being an influential medium amongst many, Grammy award winning and globally renowned musician Lauryn Hill was scheduled to grace the South African shores with a 3 city tour that was aimed at spreading awareness about the conference and its importance in society. Although Lauryn Hill eventually cancelled the tour, to many it was a great sign of change to come in acknowledging a female artist of colour to endorse an event of this nature.

Listed in Rolling Stones' magazine top 500 list of the greatest albums of all time, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill is a critically acclaimed stand alone classic that explores the struggles of women that deal with the daily pressures of living up to the expectations of society. Following the success of her former group's album The Score by The Fugees, Lauryn Hill excelled beyond the pressures and expectations she faced to succeed with her debut solo project. The numbers spoke for themselves as the The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill debuted at 1 in the Billboard 200 chart with over 400 000 record sales during its first week.

Little has been said about the monumental value the album holds for female figures in past, present and future generations. The well thought out masterpiece is a living testament of the daily struggles women deal with. Whether it be social, gender or human injustice, the album acknowledges and celebrates the spirit of womanhood. The likes of Durban based songstress and rapper Skye Wanda, can bear attribute to the influence the work of Lauryn Hill has had in her life since the inception of her career as an artists. Also a victim of gender in-equality in an industry that was at some stage male saturated, Skye Wanda is symbolic to a female artist that has lived through the guidance of Lauryn Hill's words to establish herself as a well respected and independent entity in the Durban music scene.

A song that was close to heart for many was the heart felt tribute to her first born Zion David. The song speaks of a woman who is encouraged by the outside world to give up her child for stardom and music success. In the end however, Lauryn Hill kept her child and still reigned supreme with the success of her debute album.

Deeply internalised through song, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill continues to serve its purpose in uplifting women all over the world with its timeless jewels of wisdom.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Where Are The Cows? (Ziphi Iinkomo)/Looking Up

Where Are The Cows? (Ziphi Iinkomo)
Beverley Samler

Compiled by Njabulo Ngobese

We continue to salute and pay homage to the women in arts who have used their skills to be actively involved in the fight for basic human rights.

Beverly Samler was born in Zambia and lived most of her life in Zimbabwe. In 1980 she came down to South Africa and settled in the Eastern Cape. After a long break she found herself painting again and ended up at the Buffalo City Public FET College's printmaking studio where she studied for four years under Rose Warren.

Beverly's passion for printmaking is balanced with other media, such as photography and painting. With two solo exhibitions held in the Eastern Cape, she has also exhibited in numerous group showings locally and in Zimbabwe. In 2003, Beverly participated in the third international Printmaking Conference in Cape Town, where she was involved in the production of a community based project and exhibition, Salted Lines. Other printmaking conferences and exhibitions Beverly attended include the Germany and Poland conference held in 2005 where she initiated and co-facilitated an exhibition Proud Survivors. And she also exhibited at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown.

Beverly is a board member for the Ann Bryant Art Gallery. She is motivated to use art to improve and educate her community.


Looking up
Finuala Dowling
The moment before you died
You looked up,
The way all children look up: hopefully.
You were expecting us to come
But we didn’t come.
You see --
The economy has been growing at 3.2% per year
Many of our shopping malls have parking for over 1000 cars
Things have been looking up
We’ve had a lot of new stuff to look after
Of course, when we read how you’d died,
You had three hundred thousand mothers;
You had four hundred thousand fathers.
Yet it’s true that the moment before you died,
You looked up, and no one came.

IsiXhosa translation: Tessa Dowling and Nosipho Tshabane
Umzuzwana phambi kokuba usweleke
Wajonga phezulu
Ngendlela bonke abantwana abajonga ngayo: ngethemba.
Ubulindele okokuba sifike
Kodwa zange sifike.
Uyabona ke --
Uqoqosho lunyuke kakuhle ngonyaka
iivenkile zethu ezinkulu zineendawo zokupaka iimoto ezingaphezu kwewaka
Izinto ziye zaphucuka
Besinezinto ezininzi ezintsha esinokujonga kuzo
Kaloku, sakuba sifunde indlela obusweleke ngayo
Ubunentlaninge yoomama;
Ubunentlaninge yootata.
Nangona, uthe ngomzuzwana phambi kokuba usweleke
Wajonga phezulu,
Kodwa akwabikho
namnye ufikayo

A Brief Biography of Finuala Dowling

Finuala Dowling is a former Unisa lecturer now working as a freelance writer. She has published two volumes of poetry, I Flying (awarded the Ingrid Jonker Prize) and Doo-Wop Girls of the Universe. She is also the author of a novel, What Poets Need, several short stories published in local and international anthologies, and an award-winning comedy, Bungee Writing Finals. She lives with her extended family in Kalk Bay, Cape Town.

Push 'n Pull/Groote Schuur Paediatric

Push 'N Pull
Kerry-Lyn Potgieter

Compiled by Njabulo Ngobese

The strength of a woman is embodied in the work she's done in shaping our society into a perfect place of harmony where each & every can co-exist peacefully.

The East London born and breaded Kerry-Lyn Potgieter is a well travelled spirit that has journeyed extensively throughout the United Kingdom, Europe and the Middle East. She has produced work at Edinburgh Printmakers and at Oxford Printmakers, whilst developing her skills in the art of metal etchings. Kerry-Lyn currently resides in her place of birth and lecturing in the Department of Art and Design at the Buffalo City Public FET College, satellite campus of the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University.

The Buffalo City Community Art Project is a project that Kerry-Lyn developed and initiated with the Salted Lines: Image from the Mouth of the Buffalo Exhibition being the resultant. The exhibition was showcased at the third Impact International Printmaking Conference in Cape Town. The purpose behind the project was to impart knowledge, whilst promoting skills development and training. Kerry-Lyn has been involved in many art-related projects within the educational sector, privately as well as with artists affiliated with the David Krut Printmaking studio in Johannesburg. She has participated in numerous exhibitions and international printmaking conferences.


Groote Schuur Paediatric
Liesl Jobson
The mountain is gone
under grey sandwich clouds
and I’m waiting, Mama.
Baby repairs won’t fly
this time. The policeman
prodded Uncle, took him away.
I’m going down too.
I can’t walk another
twist and bump day
on this push me pull
poke heavy weather path.
Slap ‘n tickle games aren’t funny.
I can’t take a joke.
Game’s over; you coming now?
I’m waiting at the hospital, Mama.

Bolotabana ka Groote Schuur
Sesotho sa Leboa translation: LP Boshego
Thaba e utame
ka fase ga marumasehla
feka nna ke letile, Mma.
Dithuša bana di ka se šome
lebakeng le. Lephodisa la
kgotla Malome, Motloše fa.
Le nna ke sepela le naye.
Nka se kgone go sepela
letšatši le lengwe gape la dimenya le
dikhwiti mo tseleng ye ya phoukara
ya nkgorometše nkgoge.
Go phaphatha le go tsikitlana
ga se papadi tše bose.
Ga ke ke amogele metlai.
Dipapadišane di fedile; na o a tla?
Ke go emetše mo sepetlela, Mma

A Brief Biography on Liesl Jobson

Liesl Jobson is a Johannesburg musician. Her poetry and fiction have appeared, or are forthcoming in, South African journals New Coin, Kotaz, Botsotso, Fidelities, Chimurenga, Carapace, Green Dragon, Laugh It Off, New Contrast, and Sweet Magazine. Internationally her work appears in online and print journals including The Southern Review, Sleeping Fish, Tough Times Companion, Crosscut, Noö Journal, The Journal of Modern Post, InkPot, The Christian Communicator, Oasis, 3:AM (USA), LICHEN Journal (Canada) and The journal, Aesthetica, Bonfire and Brittle Star (UK).

She was the focus poet in Timbila 2005 and The Hiss Quarterly (August 2005). Her poetry is featured at Southern Rain Poetry and she won the POWA Women's Writing Poetry Competition (2005) and the Inglis House Poetry Contest in 2003. She edits poetry for Mad Hatters’ Review and was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2005. Liesl received the 2006 Ernst van Heerden Award from the University of the Witwatersrand, where she completed an MA in Creative Writing.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Born To Raise A Man

Born To Raise A Man
Nontobeko Ntombela

Compiled by Njabulo Ngobese

The spirit of womanhood continues its reign as we pay homage to the works of female artists who have dedicated themselves at fighting for children's rights through their arts and trades.

Born in 1982 at Empangeni, Nontobeko Ntombela, now living and working in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal is a Fine Art graduate of the Durban University of Technology. She has been actively involved in both arts administration and practising art and has been part of successful art events such as the recent exhibition titled 'Negotiated Space' a travelling show by Ntombela and Bronwen Vaughan-Evans amongst others.

Nontobeko has worked with a number of organisations including Art for Humanity, BAT Centre Trust, Community Art Project, Young People for Change, Amafa/heritage KwaZulu-Natal and now at the Durban University of Technology as the Gallery Curator.


Born to Raise a Man
Bandile Gumbi
Son of my sister
My son
The ambers of resistance
Are now sown
In the flicker of your eyes
I leave this story
To mould
The man born of woman
Son of my sister
My son
You who was conceived
When freedom was an embryo
Born at the wake
Of yet another revolution
The burden of your future
Is in the hands
That will raise you
You who will take root
When another imperialist power
Is in the market for your identity
When destruction
Does not come only in nuclear weaponry
But feed to all your senses
Filling some with senselessness
Son of my sister
My son
I don’t aim
To define your manhood
But to nurture the women in your genes
Their strength shall complete your initiation
To a world of mudslides
And volcanic ramblings
May your walk in dignity
Your birth-right
Bend only to guide your step
Never to compromise your principles
Son of my sister
My son
I pray for your hands
Never to be raised in anger
But in exhilaration
As you conquer
Yet another stumbling block
May your dreams be filled with guiding force
At the depth of your youthful confusion
To usher you to clarity
Son of my sister
My son
You whose born of women.
For Tumisa on his 1st Birthday

Wazalelwa Indoda
IsiZulu translation of poem extract: Bandile Gumbi
Ndodana kadadewethu
ndodana yami.
Wena owabambwa
Inkululeko isayumbungu
Wazalwa ngasikhathi somunye umbangazwe
lisezandleni ezizokukhulisa.

A Brief Biography of Bandile Gumbi

Bandile Gumbi holds a BA Social Science from the University of KwaZulu-Natal. Since 2000 she has performed in Durban, Johannesburg and Cape Town, mainly at poetry clubs and art exhibitions. She is a founding member of 3rd Eye Vision, an artist-administrated interdisciplinary arts organisation based in Durban. Her self-published Pangs of Initiation was recently launched in Durban.

She performed at Poetry Africa 2004. Bandile is currently studying through correspondance for a Masters in Communication for Development through Malmo University, Sweden and since the beginning of 2006, has been working as a freelance events manager based in Johannesburg.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Innocence Lost

by Njabulo Ngobese

Fighting to keep up with the social standards of modern day society, campus life for most young women hasn't been a walk in the park. The pressures to fit in with the city's elite has partly been reason behind most young adults falling prey to the inner city decay that has cornered them into selling their souls to indulge in a lifestyle of quick and easy money.

Hailing from poverty stricken communities, most girls who seize their independence when moving to the big cities usually find themselves at the helm of temptations. The prostitution ring continues to grow in Durban as more and more young female adults flock into the prostitution market with hopes of earning enough money to buy acceptance in desired society.

What's more troubling is a shocking revelation of how some of these girls give up themselves without any form of protection at the expense of the client paying a little extra money for their services. At the risk of contracting sexually transmitted infections, it seems like these young adults will stop at nothing to get that financial fulfilment.

According to a student at Berea Technikon, a certain res is used as a brothel by its owners. The girls who reside there have to sell their bodies to keep a roof over their heads. However that's part reason behind their activities, according to our undisclosed source, some of these students sell their bodies for the thrill of being financially independent. The pressures of keeping up with the latest trends and buying acceptance from the economically stable circles also adds to their reasoning for engaging in such activities.

It is uncertain what the future holds for these girls but the rapid spread of HIV/AIDS will continue to do damage on a new frontier if the government doesn't tighten it's laws around illegal prostitution.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Sisterhood/Dancing With Angels

Gabisile Nkosi

Compiled by Njabulo Ngobese

The spirit of womanhood continues its reign as we embrace the women who have dedicated their arts and crafts to the fight for children's rights.

Durban based artist Gabisile Nkosi, has been a participant in community educational projects and is interested in the therapeutic effects of art making. She has contributed to Art for Humanity's Break the Silence HIV/AIDS Billboard and Portfolio Project. Her work has been seen in several group and solo exhibitions in South Africa and abroad. Gabisile is also part of the permanent collection of the Durban Art Gallery. She's currently at the Caversham Press in KwaZulu-Natal Midlands.


Dancing with Angels
Mavis Smallberg
she is singing new lullabies, jumping in new dreams
dancing with angels so her child becomes whole
under her feet is the debris of pain
beauty defaced, dead trampled dreams
all anchor her spirit
deprive her of hope
there’s a rustling of angel wings swift in the air
up to her knees are memories of sorrow
ribbons and bones tattered and broken
her relics of tears
his violations of trust
there’s a landing of angel feet soft in the air
she is dive-bombed by devils
they poison her head
ride on her back
shake up her heart
there’s a sounding of spirit war stirring the air
then she hears angelsong inside her heart
she starts learning the lesson, opens her eyes
unchains her feet
unties her soul
there’s a whispering of angel voices always in air
and she is singing new lullabies, jumping in new dreams
dancing with angels so her child becomes whole

Dans met Engele
Afrikaans translation of poem extract: Marí Peté
verstrengel in herinnering van smart,
beendere gebreek en klere geskeur,
haar oorblyfsels van liefde
sy skending van vertroue
maar engelvoete land sag in die lug
en in haar hart hoor sy hul sing -
sy begin te leer, haar oë gaan oop,
ontketen haar voete
bevry haar siel

A Brief Biography of Mavis Smallberg

Mavis Smallberg has been writing and performing poetry since the early 1980s and currently works at the Robben Island Museum. Mavis has been involved in various cultural collectives such as a COSAW, Vakalisa, Red Rituals and WEAVE. She has taken part in many group and individual poetry performances and readings. Her work has been published in several national and international anthologies.

The most recent ones are Women on War: An international Anthology of Writing from Antiquity to the Present (Ed. Daniela Gioseffi), Feminist Press (City University of New York, New York 2003), Women Writing Africa (Wits University Press, Johannesburg 2003).

A Flower For Malika/Girl Child

A Flower for Malika
Judith Mason

Compiled by Njabulo Ngobese

Born in 1938 in Pretoria, Judith Mason is a BA degree graduate in Fine Arts of which she obtained at the University of Witwatersrand in 1960. She taught painting at the University of the Witwatersrand and occasionally at other institutions on a casual basis e.g. University of Pretoria, Michaelis School of Art. Judith exhibited frequently in South Africa between the time period of 1962 and 2002. She has works in all major South African art collections of private and public bodies in Europe and the USA and has represented South Africa at the Venice Biennale in 1966 taking part in various Valparaiso and Sao Paolo Biennales in the 70s.

Judith Mason's publications include a mixed media portfolio in collaboration with Ted Townsend, poet; A Dante Bestiary (ombondi editions, New York, 1990); lithographs for selected poems by Patrick Cullinan (The Artists' Press, 1993) and Talking Pictures (essays published in 1988 by the Broederstroom Press).


Girl Child
Malika Ndlovu
Girl child
Wild virgin flower
Surviving even where the soil
Aches for rain
Will bear no grain or fruit
Where innocence and youth
Is harvested with brutality
Where she more than her brother
Suffers the scorching of a dominant Sun
Forcing her into the shadows
Where she can be forgotten
In more ways than one
Girl child
Wild virgin flower
Misled and mis-educated
Not only
By the twisted tales of tradition she is fed
But by those who continue
To teach these poisoned lessons
By their actions
Mothers, fathers, older brothers and sisters
Who show her
She is less
Or born to be burdened
Girl child
Wild virgin flower
How do you recognise your Self
In these mists of projected fear
How do you hear you own voice
Discern when and how
You can make your own choices
Girl child
Wild virgin flower
Open your petals with courage
Bear your dreams to the night sky
Under Moon’s glow
You will come to know
The truth of your origin
The immeasurable power
Of your authentic nature
Uncover the wealth and wisdom
Of your scorned and silenced
Female ancestry
Guidance for your growth
Girl child
Wild virgin flower
When ominous clouds loom
And you cannot protect yourself from the flood
Let these tides of pain
Feed your roots
Fire your determination
Trust that as you shed skin
Lose parts of yourself to threatening winds
These seasons of sorrow will change
You were destined to be here
In this moment
In this place
In this body
In this time
You are the fountain source
The life force
Of all that is woman
Shining in her fullness
With her innate resilience
Bearing miraculous fruit

Mntwana Wentombazane
IsiZulu translation coordinated by Dr Maria Letsie
Mntwana wentombazane,mbali yasehlane
Udukisiwe awufundiswanga kahle
Hhayi ngezinganekwane ezingeyizo oxoxelwe zona
Kodwa ngalabo abaqhubekayo
Befundisa lezizimfundiso ezingezizo ngezenzo zabo
Onina, oyise, abanewabo nodadewabo abameyayo
Ongafunwa noma ozelwe ukwethweswa umthwalo, exhashaziwe,ehlukunyeziwe
Mntwana wentombazane, mbali yasehlane
Qhakaza ngesibindi
Feza amaphupho akho esibhakabhakeni
Ngaphansi kokukhanya kwenyanga uyokwazi ukunotha nokuhlakanipha
Kwamathongo akho anga hlonishwanga nabulawa
Uyisusa somthombo, Amandla empilo abo bonke besifazane
Nokuqina kwakho kokuzalwa, uthela izithelo ezimangazayo

A Brief Biography of Malika Ndlovu

Malika Lueen Ndlovu is a Durban-born poet, playwright, performer, arts project manager and mother of three, with a wide range of experience in the arts and arts management arenas. She has two of her own poetry anthologies, Born in Africa But and Womb to World: A Labour of Love, and her work also features in several local and international publications. She is dedicated to creating indigenous multi-media works in line with her personal motto "healing through creativity".

Malika is a founder-member of Cape Town-based women writers' collective WEAVE, co-editor of their multi-genre anthology WEAVE’s Ink @ Boiling Point: A selection of 21st Century Black Women’s writing from the Southern Tip of Africa. Malika has recently joined The Mothertongue Project, a women performing artists, writers and visual artists collective, scripting for their highly successful Grahamstown Festival 2004 production Uhambo! : Pieces of a Dream. She has also initiated the And The Word Was Woman Ensemble of 14 local performance poets, bringing together established Cape Town writers and fresh writing talents.