For the continuing lack of land redistribution at the occasion of the 4th national elections of South Africa



The white farmer shot

the peasant-baby dead

                     in the head,

while she was

strapped to the back

of her 11-year-old cousin

After being fed

at her ma’s breast

in the white farmer’s field.


The white farmer chose

the past over the future

The bloody past of




over the raw pink of the future:

South Africa for South Africans

Africa for all Africans


Could it really have been as he said:

That he was unable to see

through the grasses,

That he had thought the children

to be intruders


no taller than grass?

The very ones living

in dilapidated shacks

on land the farmer claims as his own

The mothers of whom work

within the configuration of his homestead

complete with houses

the likes of which these children

have never seen from the inside,

let alone imagined

encroaching upon.

Had Mr. Farmer-Man

not seen the baby’s peasant-mother

feeding the peasant-baby in his field

a few minutes prior?

Had he forgotten?

Or had he been anxious about

her getting back to work?

What kind of blunder

could all this have been

Or does it all tumble

into the ruthlessness of luxury.


In the England

of 1863

a law was erected

to protect child-chimney-cleaners

from being sent down chimneys

too narrow for their bodies.

What kind of a law

will protect black babies

from being killed before

they can walk the land pocketed

from their ancestors

Can a law make that land

re-include them?


“Truth and Reconciliation”

can afford the ambiguity of things,

the ambivalence of actors

But murder and dearth are unmistakable.

truth and reconciliation

which one is for now, which one is for later?

Or does it all come back to the past

When we find Violet Dlamini

carrying her dead-bloody-baby

through the hymns of liberation struggle

and white farmer charged

only four days later

And P.W. Botha resisting

Truth and Reconciliation:

the questioning of the new State

on behalf of the old stateless

who cannot eat the truth

while attempting to reconcile

today’s hunger with tomorrow’s workload,

the Boer boss’s pity today with his wrath tomorrow

The past or the far-future/truth and reconciliation:

choices only for an entitled few.


A toast to the black children of South Africa:

May they grow-up to live.

*Based on the story of Angelina Zwane, killed at the age of 6-months, and her cousin Francine Dlamini who survived with injury – both shot in Benoni, South Africa on 11 April, 1998.

From breathing for breadth (TSAR: 2005, p. 55). 

**Photo by Salimah Valiani.

One response to “For the continuing lack of land redistribution at the occasion of the 4th national elections of South Africa

  1. I join you in that toast for the hope of lasting lives of all who are threatened to have their lives cut short.

    Thank you for the powerful poem.



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