Born in Sophia Town, Johannesburg in 1944, Mongane Wally
Serote was drawn to poetry and writing towards the end of his high-school
career following his connection to the 'Township' or 'Soweto Poets', a literary
group involved in the development of Black Consciousness and who produced
creative works which centred around themes of political activism, and featured
images or revolt and resistance. He was arrested by the apartheid government in
1969 under the Terrorism Act, following which he spent 9 months within solitary
confinement. He was later released without charge, and went on to obtain a fine
arts degree in New York at Columbia University in 1979. For a time he was
unable to return to South Africa due to exile, and so he began living in
Botswana and London, where he became involved with the Medu Arts Ensemble. He is
the recipient of the 1993 Noma Award for Publishing in Africa, and was also
given the Pablo Neruda Award from the Chilean government in 2004.
He is currently CEO of a national heritage site in Pretoria called Freedom Park.
History is the Home Address | Poetry & Poetry Anthologies
History is the home address is an epic poem in the
form of a dialogue between a lover and beloved. Their voices merge, overlap and
intertwine and their combined meditaion interrogates the meaning and impact of
history on African consciousness.
This poem, which is both tragic and spiritually optimistic
reflects on colonialisation, slavery, oppression, the struggle against
apartheid, the stubborn stain of racism, the HIV/AIDS pandemic, the
demoralising devastation of poverty and the ongoing need to communicate with
the ancestors and to understand the past.
This collection has an elegiac quality and yet the voices are consistent, questioning and courageous. A book that all South Africans should read.
Some of the books by Mongane Wally Serote: