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5 Themes Explored In Koleka Putuma’s ‘Hullo Bu-Bye KoKo Come In’

Hullo Bu-Bye KoKo Come In is Koleka Putuma's second poetry collection following her internationally successful debut Collective Amnesia.

It's the year 2015 in Cape Town. Two student journalists enamoured with Koleka Putuma are on a 45-minute bus ride to TEDxStellebosch, where the new kid on the South African poetry streets is billed to perform in front of a predominantly White audience. Weeks ahead of the event, Putuma's consulted a few people about potentially pulling out. But thankfully, her bravery trumped any inklings of doubt. Her powerful stage presence, coupled with her refusal to make her audience comfortable about particularly uncomfortable subject matter, left a palpable awkwardness on the walls of the TEDxStellebosch venue. The claps were few and far between, and in a venue packed to capacity, the bouts of laughter could be counted on one hand. "She recited her poetry candidly, all while making her all-White audience uneasy. You could tell they were offended," recalls my colleague Sabelo Mkhabela.

Here's the thing about Koleka Putuma...She is unapologetic and for some, unnervingly so! It's the ease with which Putuma confronts the contentious that translates so earnestly in her work. It's her brutal honesty that allows her words to dance on every page, and essentially give language to experiences that are often ineffable.

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