You (children) know too much

You (children) know too much

You children know too much
observes a grizzly-haired fellow
(his face on quite straight)
to the little ones with him
out in the village’s shop

(soon as you’re born
they make you feel small)

We heard that during apartheid
edicts issued from the mouths
of the guardians of our moralities
(girls wear pink boys)

(chop off their heads
chop off their thoughts
chop off their points
of view)

After all children
should be just
seen and not heard
never mind heeded

(are there young ones
at the Davos talk-shop
or any alternative)

You children know too much
no doubt you need to be
protected from us
who are far behind (still)

(speak when spoken at
we virtuously holler at them
second-hand smoke at our fingertips)

You children know too much
thinking sharp thoughts
getting all erudite
ready to vote one day

(or even to be elected
to rule from a yonder fortress)

You children know

Never a dull moment, Saturday morn, January 25 2014, out in the estate of Belthorn.

(Photo Credit: EventyEirin)

It was amazing

It was amazing

It was amazing
sex workers disclose
while folks still can
(we have a right to know
those Mandela-moments)

It was amazing
good money made
outside of the launch
of the ANC’s manifesto

It was amazing
more clients came
election plans made
the country anticipates
(will it be work for all)

Participants’ hotels
lodges and their cars
the scene of much activity
(service delivery at work)

(was the handbook
suitably amended
allowing members
to go forth and engage
with the electorate)

It was amazing
the demand very high
big fish landed
colleagues wishing for more
(ANC rallies out yonder)

After the main event
local industry supported
was it business as usual
or was it the usual business

(though food and fruit vendors
had different responses
to the brisk street trading)

It was amazing
politicians at work
introducing our born-frees
and other impressionables
to the ways of the world

It was amazing

Sex workers in Mpumalanga’s capital city get to meet the ruling party’s politics (“Launch is a shot in arm for sex trade”, Cape Times, January 14 2014).


(Photo Credit: The Randburg Sun)

Mix it

Mix it

Mix it
your metaphors
images and symbols
professors of doom
demoralizing our people

(whosoever our people
might be this time round
matric results under scrutiny
on the horizon)

Mix it
like anti-majoritarian
liberal critics
(a dangerous elitism)

(making hay
on a scrabble board
with big words)

So says the guardians
of our selves
keepers of the keys
to the democratic project

(the democratic project
led astray by mixing it
some folks might say)

Mix it
twitter and tweet
even twerk your way
to the dustbins of history

Pass one pass all
(suffer our born-frees)
recite from your songbook
peddle your election-wares
in Mandela’s name

Mix your metaphors
and I’ll blend mine

Our red-blooded spokespersons counsel…. “all our people not to be demoralised by professors of doom and anti-majoritarian critics” (“Serious challenges face education system despite matric pass rate rising”, Cape Times, January 8 2014); and “Dangerous elitism a worry, and no dustbins should await failed Grade 12s” (Cape Times, January 10 2014).

(Photo Credit: eNCA / Bafana Nzimande)

Wish you were here

Wish you were here

Wish you were here
voices a local headline
not used to solemnity
of the non-rude kind
in getting folks to read

Wish you were here
everyone wants a piece
the sweaty ones so-called
the selfie-I-me-mine crowd
not to mention those
of the empty promises variety

Wish you were here
Madiba-jiving away
piloting the path
of the straight and narrow
(now in whose hands is it)

It now is in our hands
wandering they are
often in the state’s coffers
or in someone else’s

Wish you were here
many lost souls flapping
in their rainbow fishbowls
on their way backward
to past habits and customs

Wish you were here
the weightiness lifted
if only for an Ubuntu-while
then it is the same old ground

The same old ground
women know your place
speak when you’re spoken
children should just be seen

Wish you were here
to remind those who need
to be reminded lest
we forget why we wish
you were here

A tabloid headline reporting on the Cape Town Stadium music tribute brings forth Pink Floyd’s sombre ditty “Wish you were here”, itself marking the life of an artiste-past.


(Photo Credit: PRI / Reuters)

It’s that time (of the year again)


It’s that time (of the year again)

It’s that time
of the year

The ritual of
16 Days of Activism
for No Violence
against Women and Children

(It is here
can you feel it)

(It is here
in the troubled area
that is the mind
and its beliefs
wherever it finds itself)

The ritual of 16 Days
is here with its white ribbons
official fanfare and road shows
smart slogans adorn banners
and good men marching

(a sudden media hype
tweeters and twerkers
personalities surface
all out to pledge themselves
with quasi-religious fervour)

How long
is the road
we will travel
these 16 days
and beyond

How long
still is the road
we have to travel
the 16 days

How many more
more 16 days

The Cape Times Editorial tells us that “16 days” is with us again; we hear of “16 days of activism to target 16 troubled areas”, and the SA Faith and Family Institute’s Elisabeth Petersen’s writes “Act against abuse” (Cape Times, 25 November 2013).


(Image Credit: The Daily Vox)

I am on cloud nine


I am on cloud nine

I am on cloud nine
says a school principal
of two young people
just up your street

(but not high as a kite
at a Kite Festival
or on a local quick fix)

I am on cloud nine
for bursary recipients
one old one new

(in a manner of speaking
the old on a doctoral journey
the new inspired by law)

No victims they are
due to their circumstances
in post-apartheid South Africa
far too many still trapped
in racial and tribal habits

I am on cloud nine
down Spes Bona High-way
for young Shameez Camphor
a grade 12 pupil there
(and past matriculant Eugene Davids)

Setting boundaries and standards
consciously, of their own
their school helping them
to reach their potential

Inspiring and motivating
rather than the habitual
barefoot and pregnant
no-role-models variety

(business is as usual
are folks the world over
all charmed by bling-bling)

I am on cloud nine
might you not be too

Spes Bona High School principal Abu Solomons is on cloud nine (“Bursary recipient gets life-changing opportunity” – Athlone News, November 6 2013).


(Photo Credit: Spes Bona High School / Facebook)

I read the news today

Anene Booysen’s grave in Bredasdorp

I read the news today

I read the news today
our press is gloomy
sending the world
a pessimistic image

A pessimistic image
no-one has as yet won
the war on poverty
(R500b leaves Africa yearly)

I read the news today
foot-in-jaw politicians
puckering up for elections
(a ‘people-orientated leader’
denies a R100,000 kickback)

I read the news today
rarely do we hear of
active democracies
hale and hearty citizens
who can read and write

(perhaps it is in parenthesis
secreted inside of digressions
by the enemies of the nation
awaiting the reputed rainy day)

And violence against women
is on a high especially in Africa
(1 in 3 women victims of partners)
(did our Finance chief get that)

But that is just
a little bit on the side
in the grander scheme of things

Gender-based violence makes the SAFM radio’s Weekend PMLive programme, in an interview with a Medical Research Council doctor,Sunday evening 23 June 2013 (see “One in three women victims of partners”, Cape Times, June 21 2013); whilst “Gordhan scorches ‘gloomy’ SA press” (Cape Times Business Report, June 20 2013).

“Africa loses R500 billion a year to illicit outflows – Mbeki”, and “Minister denies R100 000 game farm kickback claim” (both in the Cape Times, June 18 2013).  By the by the line “I read the news today” comes from the Beatles’ ditty “A day in the life”.


(Photo Credit: David Harrison / Mail & Guardian)

Love thy neighbour (or not)

Love thy neighbour (or not)

Love thy neighbour (or not)
Zambia’s vice-president
sheds his load about us
we who are the bees-knees
(or so we too oft imagine)

Love thy neighbour (or not)
right next door to you
here partners keep killing
the women in their lives

(where fire, rain and global warming
put our poor at risk first)

Children too at risk
in the early grades
reading not fostered
too few reading books
in classes and even
fewer school libraries

Backward we are
so much trouble
we have caused
in this southern neck
(we now the new imperialists
the old wolf dressed up
in democracy’s clothing)

Not yet decolonized
we think we are special
effortlessly emulating
our previously-advantaged elites
at the sushi-feeding trough

Love thy neighbour (or not)
turn your other cheeks
in the name of Africa
and that elusive African unity
(patriotic hand on your own)

Love thy neighbour (or not)
you watch behind your back
and we’ll look after those
who scratch ours

“Teachers not fostering reading in the early grades” and “Partners keep killing women in their lives”. And we hear that ‘South Africans are backward’ (all in the Argus, May 3 2013).


It’s in the genes

It’s in the genes

It’s in the genes
we hear of youngsters
crazy about books
and reading too

It’s in the genes
and not their jeans
I must add as I have
my mother’s English
tea-drinking habits

Crazy about books
and reading too
like their parents
and their parents before

(might we lionize them
rather than those
who tyrannized nations
colonized people
and played apartheid sport)

It’s in the genes
and not their jeans
or trousers, if anyone
still uses that word

(Did they honour
World Read Aloud Day
by reading up a tree)

Crazy about books
and not shiny objects
and brand labels

It’s in the genes
crazy about books
and reading too

Aren’t you

A social media tale (or “chronicle”) courtesy of Brenda Rhode – she of Young Authors Club fame and fortune – gets my chromosomes going, sometime Tuesday 17 April 2013.

David Kapp

Never so (few)

Never so (few)

Never so (few)
says our emperor
on the very same earth
(no second one yet)

Never so (few)
giving the country
a bad name through
their violent acts

It’s a minority
the majority is not
(we are peace-loving people)
(is poverty not the worst
form of violence in your town)

We are peace-loving people
apartheid was sustained
through entrenched violence
(we have the moral high now)

We are peace-loving people
a woman or girl is raped
every 25 seconds down here

(Was the brutal gang-rape and murder
of a 17-year old Bredasdorp girl
an extreme example of ourselves)

Femicide is the order
women brow-beaten and besieged
sexual assault the daily custom
(though this seems not to count)

At least our emperor did not
resort to the dodgy tradition
of we are all so pious
and even religious too

Never so (few)
Never so

An Editor on SAFM’s Sunday morning The Editors programme wonders what planet our president inhabits: “Most South Africans peace-loving, Zuma tells opening of house” (Cape Times, March 8 2013). The said “house” is the National House of Traditional Leaders in Parliament.


(Photo Credit: Zaheer Cassim / DW)