Tatamkhulu Afrika and the Dark Where Loneliness Hides

December 7, 1920Tatamkhulu Afrika born as Mogamed Fu’ad Nasif in Egypt, South African poet and author; he came to South Africa as a very young child, and was fostered by family friends after his parents died; he was a soldier in the WWII North Africa Campaign, and was captured at Tobruk. His experiences as a prisoner of war are prominently featured in his writing. In the 1960s, he became an anti-apartheid activist, and a member of the armed wing of the ANC, uMkhonto we Sizwe (Spear of the Nation). In 1987, he was arrested for terrorism and banned from speaking in public or publishing his work for 5 years, but continued writing under the name Tatamkhulu Afrika. He served 11 years in prison until his release in 1992. Just after the 2002 publication of his final novel, Bitter Eden, he was run over by a car, and died of his injuries two weeks later.

To read Tatamkhulu Afrika’s poem “Dark Where Loneliness Hides” click:

Dark Where Loneliness Hides

by Tatamkhulu Afrika

Cat’s small child cries
in the dark where loneliness hides.
Cat’s small child beats
its breast in the soft
furriness of its need.

Cats don’t beat their breasts,
cats yell with lust
in the dark where loneliness hides?
Is it I, then, that cries,
mad child running wild?

Is it I that lies
in the dark where loneliness hides,
that listens as the wild geese wing
past short of the stars,
rime my roof with their dung?

Cat’s mewling, sky’s
sibilances, these
are the thieves of my ease?
What else waits
in the dark where loneliness hides?

My song has a crooked spine.
Should I break a bone
as I straighten it?
Or birth its crookedness in
the dark where loneliness hides?

“Dark Where Loneliness Hides” from Nightrider: Selected Poems, by Tatamkhulu Afrika –
NB Publishers, 2010 edition

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Nona Blyth Cloud has lived and worked in the Los Angeles area for over 50 years, spending much of that time commuting on the 405 Freeway. After Hollywood failed to appreciate her genius for acting and directing, she began a second career managing non-profits, from which she has retired. Nona has now resumed writing whatever comes into her head, instead of reports and pleas for funding. She lives in a small house overrun by books with her wonderful husband.
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