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The Child is Not Dead – Ingrid Jonker

  • Ingrid Jonker – was a South African poet. Although she wrote in Afrikaans, her poems have been widely translated into other languages. Jonker has reached iconic status in South Africa and is often called the South African Sylvia Plath, owing to the intensity of her work and the tragic course of her turbulent life.

    See also African history online

  • Song of the Grave Digger see a photo of her on the beach and read her poem.

  • Black Butterflies is a Dutch film about the life of South-African poet Ingrid Jonker.

    The film focused on her messy life and not enough on her early development as a poet.

  • Nelson Mandela recited a poem by Ingrid Jonker.

    The Child is Not Dead

    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

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