One of the high points for me at the Cape Town Book Fair involved poetry- a session on what poets mean when they write about love. It was a panel discussion led by Modjaji Books founder Colleen Higgs. On the panel were Sindiwe Magona, Phillippa Yaa de Villiers, Makhosazana Xaba, Malika Ndlovu, and visiting poet from UK, Xena Edwards. They each read a love poem showing love in the widest possible definition; the way that it should be thought of.
Mme Sindiwe Magona read a poem about the loss of our children to this vile disease AIDS. It is in her first book of poetry, also launched at this year's Book Fair and published by Modjaji Books. The name of the poem and the book is "Please, Take Photographs". The reading was one of the most moving for me. My mind slipped to all of the people gone, only photographs left to remind us.
The poem is haunting with the repeated title line, a photograph- a small comfort up against the death of a child.
....Please, take photographs, and tell the children why-
Take photos, before the young perish to the very last.
Take photographs! Take photographs, and put then on the walls.
So the image of the dear face will forever live on.
I know, small comfort is a picture, your son or daughter gone.
Cold is a photo, from it comes not warmth nor smile nor hug.
A photo does not laugh; it will not go to the shop for you
Or be solace in your old age. .....
This weekend when my giant teenagers were home from boarding school, I did just as Mme Magona instructed and took photographs. AIDS is an equal opportunity killer and I should not sit complacent thinking my children are safe for whatever reason I choose that lets me sleep at night. I will take photographs and tell the children why.