Popular
Beest/Getty Images

Koleka Putuma's New Poem Speaks to South Africa's Femicide Crisis

'This country buries us before we are born. Calls us by our obituaries before it calls us by our names,' writes Putuma.

South Africa has a long history of femicide and gender-based violence. However, over the past few months, this seeming war against the country's women has surged with numerous young women being abducted, raped and subsequently found dead—if found at all. Last month, South African women marched to both the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) in Sandton and the Parliament buildings in Cape Town in protest of the rising violence against women and children. Against that backdrop, award-winning South African poet and author of Collective Amnesia, Koleka Putuma, has recently penned an unsettling poem entitled "Every Three Hours" which details the nightmare that women in the country are faced with on a daily basis.


As of last year, the official statistics show that every three hours, a woman is murdered in South Africa with as many as 3000 having lost their lives in 2018 alone. This year's figures are not much better. According to News24, while the murder rate of women has decreased slightly, that of children has increased dramatically. Additionally, the rate of sexual offenses committed against women has surged went by a whopping 4.6 percent.

READ: How South Africa's War on Women Impacted Me: 'This self-identified 'feminist' was a rapist.

Putuma is no stranger to confronting the uncomfortable or the taboo in her works. Poems such as "No Easter Sunday for Queers", "Coming Home" and "Suicide" are testament to that and "Every Three Hours" is no different. The poem speaks about the rate at which women are murdered in South Africa, the lack of autonomy, safe spaces, effective policing and failing justice system, all of which have little regard for the bodies and lives of South African women.

READ: Here's What the South African Government has Promised to Do About Gender-based Violence

Published on the Johannesburg Review of Books, an excerpt of the poem reads as follows:

[every 3 hours, one of us does not make it]
this country hangs our dignity at half-mast.
waves our bodies as lessons to be learnt.
as moments that should teach us something.
as modules. tests. experiments.
my existence is not for your teaching
to dislocate my mother's throat six feet under
and compensate her grief with scholarships and amended policies.

policies that have gathered dust before they have even been drafted.

You can read the rest of the poem here.

Interview

A Candid Conversation With Olamide & Fireboy DML

We talk to the Nigerian stars about the hardest lessons they've learned, best advice they've ever been given and what Nigeria means to them.

Olamide and Fireboy DML have been working together for three years, but the first time they sit down to do an interview together is hours after they arrive in New York City on a promo tour.

It's Fireboy's first time in the Big Apple — and in the US — and the rain that's pouring outside his hotel doesn't hinder his gratitude. "It's such a relief to be here, it's long overdue," he tells OkayAfrica. "I was supposed to be here last year, but Covid stopped that. This is a time to reflect and refresh. It's a reset button for me."

Olamide looks on, smiling assuredly. Since signing Fireboy to his YBNL Nation label in 2018, he's watched the soulful young singer rise to become one of Nigeria's most talked-about artists — from his breakout single, "Jealous," to his debut album Laughter, Tears & Goosebumps, hit collabs with D.Smoke and Cuppy, and his sophomore release, Apollo, last year.

Even while he shares his own latest record, UY Scuti, with the world, Olamide nurtures Fireboy's career with as much care and attention as he does his own, oscillating between his two roles of artist and label exec seamlessly. His 2020 album Carpe Diem is the most streamed album ever by an African rap artist, according to Audiomack, hitting over 140 million streams. When Olamide signed a joint venture with US-based record label and distribution company, Empire, in February last year he did so through his label, bringing Fireboy and any other artist he decides to sign along for the ride, and establishing one of the most noteworthy deals on the continent.

Below, Olamide & Fireboy DML speak to OkayAfrica about their mutual admiration for each other, what makes them get up in the morning and how they switch off.

Keep reading... Show less

get okayafrica in your inbox

popular.

Adekunle Gold Is Living His Best Life

We speak to the Nigerian star about how marriage and fatherhood have led him to find both newfound happiness and newfound freedom as an artist.