INGRID JONKER is a young and beautiful white poet living in the South Africa of the 1950”s and 60”s, a society tearing itself apart with injustice piled upon unjustice. Her mother went mad and died young, while her father rose within the ranks of a brutal governement. Rejected by her father Ingrid was brought up by black servants. At an early age she found her freedom and solace in writing, in poetry. She wrote everywhere, on walls, on sand, on paper, wherever she could. She confuses dreams with reality.


One day she is rescued in the treacherous sea by the writer JACK COPE- a man twenty years older. He enters her dream and together they find love, living by the sea amongst a group of writers and artists; “the Sestigers”.


With her little daughter she seems to have found, after all these years, a safe home.


Fuelled by the absurd, chaotic political events of the time, the ferocity of her own impulses leads her away from Jack. She has destructive affairs, which Jack cannot deal with. He tries to escape from the woman he doesnot understand. Her affair with the new young literary star Andre Brink is the final straw for Jack.


Winning the major South African literary prize, she asks her father to accompany her to the ceremony. His rage at what she has written, impels him to disown her. She flees to Europe, expecting to find freedom. She is with Andre Brink, longing for Jack. In Europe she feels lost and alone.


She returns to South Africa, not able to find a community to call her own in an even more divided society. She decides that love has no right to colonise one’s heart. Once again she is drawn to the beach, takes off her shoes and walks- at the age of 32- into the sea. But this time there is no Jack to save her.



Ingrid Jonker
(1933 - 1965)





"The Child that died at Nyanga"


"Autumn Morning"


1994 Former president Nelson Mandela addressed the poem of Ingrid Jonker "The Child that died at Nyanga" to parliament in his first speech.

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