"BLACK BUTTERFLIES"

 

Ingrid Jonker: The Child

Read by Nelson Mandela

 

                 

 

                    *The Child that died at Nyanga*

 

                The child is not dead

                The child lifts his fist against his mother

                Who shouts Afrika! shout the breath

                Of freedom and the veld

                In the shanty-towns of the cordoned heart

 

                The child lifts his fist against his father

                In the march of the generations

                Who are shouting Afrika! shout the breath

                Of righteousness and blood

                In the streets of his embattled pride

 

                The child is not dead

                Not at Langa nor at Nyanga

                Nor 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 their rifles saracens and batons

                The child is present at all assemblies and legislation

                The child peers through the windows of houses and into the 

                            hearts of mothers

                This child who just longed to play in the sun at Nyanga is

                            everywhere

                The child grown into a man treks on through all Africa

                The child grown into a giant journeys over the whole world

 

                Carrying no pass

 

                Ingrid Jonker

 

                translation from Afrikaans by Jack Cope

 

 

 

NELSON MANDELA

 

Former President Nelson Mandela, in commenting on Jonker's poem Die Kind (The Child), which he read out in full in his inaugural State of the Nation address to Parliament in May 1994, said, " in this glorious vision, she instructs that our endeavours must be about the liberation of the woman, the emancipation of the man and the liberty of the child". Of Jonker herself, Mandela said that: "She was both a poet and a South African. She was both an Afrikaner and an African. She was both an artist and a human being. In the midst of despair, she celebrated hope. Confronted by death, she asserted the beauty of life."

 

Made with Namu6