Die Kind (wat doodgeskiet is deur soldate by Nyanga) as read by Nelson Mandela in 1994.

In 1994 Nelson Mandela read anti-apartheid’s poet Ingrid Jonker’s poem out aloud during his address at the opening of the first democratic parliament.
She was one of my dad’s favourite poets and he read us her work in ‘t Afrikaans when we were kids. The English translation, slightly changed by me, is at the bottom.

Die kind is nie dood nie
die kind lig sy vuiste teen sy moeder
wat Afrika skreeu skreeu die geur
van vryheid en heide
in die lokasies van die omsingelde hart

Die kind lig sy vuiste teen sy vader
in die optog van die generasies
wat Afrika skreeu skreeu die geur
van geregtigheid en bloed
in die strate van sy gewapende trots

Die kind is nie dood nie
nòg by Langa nòg by Nyanga
nòg by Orlando nòg by Sharpville
nòg by die polisiestasie in Philippi
waar hy lê met ‘n koeël deur sy kop

Die kind is die skaduwee van die soldate
op wag met gewere sarasene en knuppels
die kind is teenwoordig by alle vergaderings en wetgewings
die kind loer deur die vensters van huise en in die harte
van moeders
die kind wat net wou speel in die son by Nyanga is orals
die kind wat ‘n man geword het trek deur die ganse Afrika
die kind wat ‘n reus geword het reis deur die hele wêreld

Sonder ‘n pas

.
Maart 1960

The child is not dead no
The child waves his fists at his mother
Who shouts Afrika shouts the scent
Of freedom and of heather
In the spaces of the beleaguered heart

The child waves his fists at his father
in the march of generations
who shouts Afrika shouts the breath
of justice and blood
in the streets of his ferocious dignity

The child is not dead no
not at Langa nor at Nyanga
not at Orlando nor at Sharpeville
nor at the police station at Philippi
where he lies with a bullet through his head

The child is the shadow of the soldiers
on guard with rifles armoured cars and batons
the child is present at all assemblies and treaties
the child peers through the windows of houses and into the hearts
of mothers
this child who just wanted to go play in the sun at Nyanga is everywhere
the child grown to a man treks through all Africa
the child grown into a giant journeys through the whole world

Without a pass

.
March 1960

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Anti-apartheid poet Antjie Krog. When Mandela was still behind bars.

Anti-apartheid poet Antjie Krog as high school student wrote a famous poem that caused great commotion at the time:

Loosely translated by myself.

Look, I will build me a land
Where skin doesn’t matter not at all…
Just your mind and mine
Where no goat face in the halls of parliament
can never not ever spook to keep things
permanently
cramped
[…[
where black and white, hand on hand
may bring peace and love
to my beautiful land.

Kyk, ek bou vir my ‘n land

Kyk, ek bou vir my ‘n land
Waar ‘n vel niks tel nie,
Net jou verstand.
Waar geen bokgesig in ’n parlement
kan spook om dinge permanent
verkramp te hou nie.
Waar ek jou kan liefhê
langs jou in die gras kan lê
sonder om in ’n kerk ‘ja’ te sê.
Waar ons snags met kitare sing
en vir mekaar wit jasmyne bring.
Waar ek jou nie gif hoef te voer
as ’n vreemde duif in my hare koer.
Waar geen skeihof
my kinders se oë sal verdof.
Waar swart en wit hand aan hand
vrede en liefde kan bring
in my mooi land.

Black Poet Bessie Head- Mandela’s South Africa

Black, mixed race poet Bessie Head, from South Africa and settled in Botswana.

“Where the Wind Don’t Blow”

My home is a swagger and a shrug
You know:
When you get a smack in the face
And the pain don’t hurt: You are the master…

Link

Sindiwe Magona on Nelson Mandela

Black South African poet, Sindiwe Magona reads her poem The Taste of Change -about Mandela.

She worked as a help, got her secondary school diploma through correspondence, Columbia University later on, worked for the UN.

The Taste of Change 

Mandela in jail No milk in my body
Mother at work I hungry

De Klerk free Mandela No milk in my body
Father at work I sick 

Mandela meets De Klerk People clap and dance
Rain come through my roof I cold

Change on every lip Father Mother and Me 
and Thousands others We die