PhD Candidate, NRF Chair Local Histories, Present Realities (University of the Witwatersrand)
My notebook became a holding-space for a lot of thought and emotion. Often this was written around, rather than across, the page. I don't do well with lines, but it also helped to capture the explosive thought processes, and then also connected things that found themselves on the same page, accidentally but interestingly. Often, though, I noted things I found beautiful or painful. Occasionally flow-lines that sometimes became hearts helped fill the spaces before I found the words I wanted to keep.
Image 1 - From Ghassan Hage's talk on the A-racial in Ginsberg
Ghassan: Roots that act as wings
Image 2: First stanza of ‘No, wait...' Written during the discussion after the Wopko Jensma presentation in Swaziland
I am sorry for my bones For their whiteness I'm sorry that they have been fortified at The expense of yours No Wait I am sorry for my blood That not enough of it was Shed that The blood on me Was always yours Not mine
Image 3: Note from the discussion on resistance and underground in Swaziland. The anger there was palpable.
No TRC for the frontline states
Image 4: Dolores [surname?] speaking scathingly about the supposed peace that some people spoke of in Swaziland, which allowed inter-racial relationships.
It is this superficial peace, the right to sleep with a white man
Image 5: When people started speaking personal stories of struggle history in Swaziland
We have kept these stories for so long, when we tell them we don't know where to start.
Image 6: Quotes from the Wopko Jensma poems read by Quaz Roodt
We have to face the rage
This little piece of rust in my heart
Nie alle diere is olifante nie
Image 7: From the graveyard where Steve Biko is buried, in Ginsberg.
ALL OF THE UNMARKED GRAVES
Image 8: Notes on House on Fire venue in Swaziland
House on fire Has lollipops in the sky And fire trees And is a carved Space of a curved Space And an ATM in the wall But the mountains hold They do not judge They do not speak
Image 9: Note from Ghassan's talk on the a-racial, Ginsberg, with fragments of our poetry set underneath it
That moment of escape is crucial to hold onto (but not at [the] least expense of power-relations)
[i.e. if the moment of escape comes at the expense of an awareness of the power-relations it is self-defeating and dangerous]
Image 10: I don't know where this is from at all!
You can also write and speak by offering gifts
Image 11: Title-list of the opening act for the poetry session in Ginsberg. Ayana, Danai, Sarah
Speed of slow Growing up Blue Violence Country of singing On the rock In the fire Maps
The devil has gone neoliberal He has won over the warlords And he is coming after each of us
His path is laid slowly, He is in no hurry. He plants flowers of promise on our paths, He finds our favourite colours, Sells us a dream that we can change the world
If we work hard enough
Or that we can at least be happy. He is most dangerous then, But we do not know it
He draws us each onto our own path: We can no longer hold hands, but We do not notice. There is a promise of family at the end, That one person to love who will stop the pain.
As we walk the flowers start to wilt, then die. We push forward The promise is still there If we endure The path grows dark. The ground turns slick. The only plants now are grasping, enclosing trees
There is no green here. It is here we grow desperate, Call out for some one Anyone Our legs begin to grow weak and there, Still, is that promise If we work hard enough, If we endure,
We will make it.
If we are lucky some of our cries weave together If we are lucky some of our cries still have enough force Enough magic To save us They weave themselves over our heads Tying our paths back together
We grasp each other Tight! Tight! Don't let go! This is a battle We cannot stop screaming.
Our cries form wings, feathers, a huge bird over our heads She beats her wings in the devil's face and
He must retreat He must retreat
Because our voices made wings strong enough to save us.
If we are lucky. If we are lucky
We are dressing each other's wounds, planting flowers in them, Weeping and playing.
If we are not lucky If our hands do not find each other the path just grows darker the dark grows thicker the mud creeps up our legs We cannot move Our voices are swallowed by the devil's laughter and there is no us
There is only me, me alone, me in pain and me unable, with liquid bones and no hope It is all my fault.
The trees suggest it first, They whisper:
"You have no place here. No one will touch you in this dark." I cannot call anyone to me. This is mine. Alone. And I cannot manage.
The sky will try and sing me hope, if she sees me...
But the trees have enclosed me, the devil's laughter has swallowed me, I can see no way No way up, or forward, or back.
I choose what is no longer a choice because I there already. The devil who has laid my path so carefully opens his palm for his last flourish, crushes me in it.
The devil has gone neoliberal. He has won over the warlords Filled the sky with drones He has licked the bank notes and infiltrated the unions.
But he will not win the sky!
Those of us who were lucky, Those with liquid bones that sing with the voices of birds We will send our birds to wrest the ones he grabs from his fists
He will only have a moment of triumph
And then, on the wings of our birds, We will never be alone.
I wish you had been harder on us That you had expected as much from us as you did From others
I don't know how There had been so much blood, Most of it was not ours
I wish you had been as hard on us As you were on your people Asking them to forgive
I wish you had asked us more That we, We had done more
That we had shown we were worthy of being forgiven That is was not so easy for us now To say thank you To call you Tata
To say thank you for allowing us to keep our privilege.
This country of blood where if I spit your blood comes out my mouth