"They have killed Sizakele”

A poem by Jessica Horn. Part of a series of poems by African feminist writers for 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence.

Jessica Horn
10 December 2012

  • For Sizakele Sigasa, AIDS and lesbian activist, murdered with 
  • Salome Massoa, 7 July 2007, Soweto 
  • Where is she 
  • in this land of crushed stone? 
  • Where is she  
  • as morning dresses the day 
  • in the dirtied lace of tired gospels 
  • Where is she 
  • our sister Sizakele 
  • in this brittle dawn? 
  • White powdered faces 
  • ululate against an unremarkable sky 
  • as bullets tip the minute hand 
  •   ...one, two, three... 
  • collarbones crumble 
  •   ...four, five, six... 
  • Here where sun chases starlight 
  • here in heartbreak’s wilderness  
  • here she is 
  • embroidering morning dew 
  • beading our memories 
  • in the red and rainbows of militancy 
  • Here in this theatre of slaughter 
  • she is clearing a round of clay earth 
  • intoning a litany 
  • calling for a witness 
  • You say: it is not our tradition 
  • She says: is this your tradition 
  • to rip the pulse from my chest 
  • to deny a mother the dignity of dying first? 
  • You say: in the name of the father and the son 
  • She says: in the name of my sisters 
  • slain in meaningless massacres 
  • for loving their own skin 
  • A people do not survive 
  • monsoons of oppression 
  • only to savage their own kin. 

Read other articles in the series, 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence 2012.

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Paolo Gerbaudo Sociologist and political theorist, director of the Centre for Digital Culture at King’s College London and author of ‘The Mask and the Flag: Populism and Global Protest’ and ‘The Digital Party: Political Organisation and Online Democracy’, and of the forthcoming ‘The Great Recoil: Politics After Populism and Pandemic’.

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Spyros A. Sofos Researcher and research coordinator at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies, Lund University and author of ‘Nation and Identity in Contemporary Europe’, ‘Tormented by History’ and ‘Islam in Europe: Public Spaces and Civic Networks'.

Chair: Walid el Houri Researcher, journalist and filmmaker based between Berlin and Beirut. He is partnerships editor at openDemocracy and lead editor of its North Africa, West Asia project.

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