Archive for October, 2007

Last week:  Grandpa told us about the Japanese threat to India during World War II, and how it was customary to send your children to boarding school in England. 



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The Colour of Our Love

25 October 1999

I open my eyes slowly. Gritty eyelids remind me how little sleep I’ve had for the last month. I focus, and watch the watery sunlight highlighting the soft fuzz on your body; shadows forming with each breath you take. Your breathing is quick and shallow, but I smile. You’ve made it through the night. I’ve got you for another day. I close my eyes for a moment.


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 Last week:  Grandpa told us how many of the Indian Maharajahs owned their own railways and railway coaches; and about the Indian Festivals.  We also learnt about how the Indian Minister of Transport gathered information for Parliamentary question time. 


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Last week:  Grandpa told us about the Criminal Tribes of India, and the troubles with the derailment of trains during Gandhi’s time in India.  

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Die Kind – Ingrid Jonker

Some while ago, Mort reminded me of an Afrikaans poem I had been taught at school, about the Royal Baking Powder tin; and the line ‘Blik op blik op blik’ came back to me.  I tried to find the poem (without success), in Die Groot Afrikaanse Verseboek.  Not knowing the title, first line or poet, meant that I had to wade through the tome, page by page, hoping to catch a glimpse of that elusive line.  I also wanted to find another poem I had learned at school, about a moth circling a flame.  No luck there either.

But what I did find was a whole new world. Of beauty, agony, love, joy, pain and grief.  And glimpses into the darkest places of people’s souls.

The poem which stopped me in my tracks though, was ‘Die Kind’ by Ingrid Jonker.  I had not come across it before, and thought, “Gosh somebody, should really make a fuss about this poem”, and said as much out loud.  Well, how to make a fool of yourself in one quick lesson!  Apart from the fact that Mandela and Mbeki have quoted it, there are hundreds of references to it on Google.

I’m posting it here, in case there are other ignoramuses like me out there; and also because it is worthy of another read, even if you are familiar with it:

Die kind wat dood geskiet is deur soldate by Nyanga

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

I’ve also found a Dutch poetry site with translations of poetry into English, German and Dutch.  So here’s the English version of ‘Die Kind’

The child who was shot dead by soldiers at Nyanga

The child is not dead
The child lifts his fists against his mother
Who shouts Afrika ! shouts the breath
Of freedom and the veld
In the locations of the cordoned heart

The child lifts his fists against his father
in the march of the generations
who shouts 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
not at Orlando nor at Sharpeville
nor at the police station at Philippi
where he lies with a bullet through his brain

The child is the dark shadow of the soldiers
on guard with rifles Saracens and batons
the child is present at all assemblies and law-givings
the child peers through the windows of houses and into the hearts of mothers
this child who just wanted to 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

(Uit: The South African Family Encyclopaedia, written and compiled by Peter Joyce; Struik Publishers 1989. Selected Poems, Ingrid Jonker; Jonathan Cape 1968.)

Thank you Dex, Ramon and Mort, for this introduction into a world that has previously left me cold.  I am savouring Afrikaans now, like I never did at school, because it was taught AT me. 

Arb and Marijayn – keep working at it girls, it’s worth the effort.

And if anyone out there knows the ‘Blik op blik op blik’ poem, please put me out of my misery and post it here!

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Last Week:  Grandpa explained how Indian women preferred the system of arranged marriages 


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Last Week:  Grandpa elaborated on how ladies spent their leisure time in India 


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