Poetry

May 1, 2018 Poetry , POETRY / FICTION

Jan Truter photo

 

By

Athol Williams

 

 

 

By Design

 

 

Born with tattoos, the newsreader announces –

a baby is born covered in blue ink scratchings

 

up and down its chubby arms, across its chest and back,

around its flopping neck, even on the newborn’s face;

 

direct from the womb with crude markings cut into its flesh,

marks of gangs, stripes inherited from family, from place.

 

Policemen immediately arrest the thug, cuffed

with a blue ribbon, umbilical cord still dangling.

 

 

 

 

 

Devil’s Trade

 

 

Every day before the sun, KwaNdebele’s exports leave – herds

of black men and women in convoys of dirty white buses.

 

Every night after the sun, they return – the white buses, but not

the men and women, only their dirty black bodies.

 

 

 

KwaNdebele was a homeland created by the apartheid government in South Africa for the Ndebele people. Under the guise of independence, it served as a source of labour for South Africa’s mines, factories and homes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Athol Williams

My poems have been published in numerous literary journals and anthologies, and I’ve published 4 collections of poems and 5 children’s books, as well as my autobiography, Pushing Boulders: Oppressed to Inspired which tells the story of growing up during apartheid in South Africa and going on to earn masters degrees from 5 of the world’s top universities. More about my publications.

I have a passion for reading and education personally, and I recognise the vital role education plays in the pursuit of freedom and human development, hence my involvement in social change through education.  I co-founded Read to Rise, an NGO that promotes youth literacy in under-resourced communities of South Africa, and seeks to inspire children to want to read.

I grew up in Mitchells Plain, Cape Town, and I’ve lived in Johannesburg, Boston and London.  I currently split my time between Oxford and Cape Town.

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