NUMSA commemorates the 100 year anniversary of the Russian Revolution


23 November 2006, Posted in News

Review: Avenues of My Soul by Ayanda Billie (2006)

At a time when so much poetry is being written, in loud and quiet corners, and is also being slammed through the microphones of most urban centres, it is refreshing to get hold of a pocket size volume, (containing 50 poems nevertheless) that is capable of immediately taking us to that special contemplative place that is created by reading to one self.This collection, written by a poet working for Volkswagen SA from Uitenhage reminds us that sometimes the most powerful writing can be achieved by being the simplest. This does not mean the poems lack subtlety or nuance. Quite the reverse! This is a collection of poems that you can go back to and find something else hidden between the seemingly “˜everyday’ of what is explored. Many of the poems are about or involve love; but not just the tender side of it. In “˜Silent Codes’ reaction to an unplanned pregnancy is described with typical honesty:

“˜your belly began to grow bigger.One day you confessed pregnancyShockedI panickedYou weptAs I grew wingsTo shun away…………..

Similarly, in “˜Remembered’ a chance meeting with someone in a taxi reminds of another lover, now lost along the way and……

“˜Latelyonly dreamskeep us close’

But not all is lost in lost love. Billie writes passionately about unemployment and its disabling of the spirit, and about the need to begin to see the world differently, to take from Biko and others, and to use their insights, their tools to make sense of the world in order to change it for the better. But not before he has taken us through the bitter experiences of the past and the present.

In “˜A Rope’ we experience the sharp brutality of a suicide:

“˜He puts a rope around his neckThe wind howls, comfortless world…. comfortless world….Kicking violently, the chair fell downShaking and shitting’.

In a number of the poems there is a relentless inevitability. People suffer, people die and people take their own lives. And then, a spark of humanity, often from an unexpected source, a beggar, an elderly man, or in the serenity of a child’s face when sleeping.Those looking for a brand of political poetry characterized by strings of slogans will be disappointed. This is much more demanding of the reader. This slender volume wants to show you hardship, its impact on the lives of those who endure it. In “˜Tears of Richmond’ a poem that chronicles the senseless slaughter that took place in KZN in the “˜80s he admits:

“˜While I was tryingTo hold back my tearsWith quiet anger boiling my soul’

That a poet can be outraged, can experience anguish and can want to do something, is a reminder that a poet is not above the world she/he writes about, but is also a product of its twisted times.The book sells for R65. You can get a copy from Ayanda Billie on 083 204 6879. Let’s hope this volume will be bought by at least some of those who are written about. It certainly deserves to be!

Steve Faulkner

Words on the soil

Words on the soil are radiant, radical and regime,Words of soil are remnant, rampant and retiring,Roaring about blood shed on the soil,Roaring about victimized souls and solutions,Victimized reincarnation and renaissance.

Hibernation, hydrogen and hygiene,Disclose my story,Nitrate, nitrogen and narration,Cultivate my past.Past the soil of erosion,Words on the soil are eradicable.

Woe to unrepentant cities and countries,Woe to doomed denials and dungeons,Woe to corpses of decay,Even the land denies you permit,Even graves are unacommodative,Pythons eat phenomenal minds,Stalwarts are no more,And jails are jealous.

Listen, heavy footsteps,They toil the soil,From south to north, they walk,Animals feel them,Nature feels them,Human kind, wake up and feel them.

Words on the soil Are blank but egocentric,Words on the soil Are deprived but prevail,They are paradoxical but perusable,Eminent but strong and undeniable.

Pastor Andries Mbokazi

Horn of Africa

A Middle-East emblem,Positioned for lifeAs signs of turbulenceTear Africa apart,For turmoil to prevail.

A messenger of hope,Generations through To outlive revolts,For harmony be enhanced In the dark continent.

A signal for peaceTo halt famine and hunger,For those empty belliesBe fuelled with exuberanceTo bear sleepful nights.

A beacon of goodwillFor African onenessTo unify against evils,And promote democracyTo annihilate miseries.

An arm of justiceTo beckon woes and criesOf widows and orphasnTo comfort their sentimentsFor eternity be dawned.

A sole shield for lone hearts,Souls as many be embroideredFor warmth and securityTo cover them those abandoned,Blessed’s the Horn of Africa.

Aubrey ka Saki

Remain comrade…. Remain

May the spirit hide you,Strengthen you,Against the cadres Of the darkness.

May you be that, Sacrifice forever!May you be let aware notTo be dragooned intoA lethal spiritual automaton.

Let’s applaud your creatorFor good work.Obedience, gentleness and disciplineReally were ingredients,What a good recipe.

Guess who is that?That’s the brick (chair of Cosatu Uitenhage local) used to Lift up the height (building) of theCommunity hall wall (Cosatu).

Remain calm cde Stemele…Remain calm…

Kaya ka Yoko

Numsa express

A voice of thunderRocking through agesTo strike the boatAs workers cautionedAbout capitalism evils.

Stirred the cradlesWhen Irvin Jim speaksA locomotive of generationsCutting across metal fieldsOn behalf of socialism.

A star that brightWith rare a glazeThat outshines theSun, moon and starsTo shine with no fade.

Himself in a hurry, As a Numsa expressTo highlight worker-needsAs sought by mandatesOf the working class.

He’s no wild horseThat rocks steady,But hoot-hootingThroughout workers’ indabaDown corridors of power.

Young, gifted and black,To glare upon mankind.A man for all seasonsReasoned by all atmospheres,As Irvin Jim comes in.

An outright representativeOf the future generationsTo lead with integrity,As deemed by the massesFrom a Numsa Express.

Aubrey ka Saki