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My Favourite Poem About South Africa

Guest Chris Rimmer

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Guest Chris Rimmer

Hi Everyone,

This is my favourite poem about South Africa. When ever I read it and think about what's happened, it makes the hair stand up on the back of my neck. It's by Breyten Breytenbach and is translated from Afrikaans so apologies to all the Afrikaans speakers;

this land of remembrance

this land of no-more-history

this land of the dead

my land your land our land

this land craves water and is given blood

this land with fire in iteslf

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Ja, I believe it is one of Breytenbach’s best

Also, I think this one from D J Opperman is also coming back to haunt South Africa:


Deur my gebed diep uit die nag se nok

Hoor ek die hart van die heelal, 'n klok

Wat eindeloos tik en tik en tik

En my gebed verbitter tot 'n wrok.

I tried to translate it into English, but it was too hard - sorry! The thing is, Opperman was was probably one of Afrikaans literature’s greatest wordsmiths and his synthax and phraseology were often exeptional.

What the poem means for me:

There was so much hope and possibilities for South Africa, there were so many chances, and there were such great opportunities to break with the past and to start anew, but in the end it all crashed against the rocks of incompetence, pettiness and reverse discrimination.

To paraphrase the literature of Margaret Mitchell:

Despair replaced hope, everything changed or disappeared and was blown away, gone with the wind.

My 2c worth,


Edited by Dax
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