• 06 July 2022 - 07 August 2022
  • Main Gallery, Mezzanine Gallery

As our province recovers from yet another challenging sequence of events, one of Durban’s foremost poets, Mafika Gwala (1946-2014), reminds us that life has always been a pretty complicated business. There are no free rides. His poem, Getting off the Ride, written in 1977, delivers a series of keenly observed sketches that temper a sense of hopelessness with snatches of courageous optimism and resilience.


Written in another, equally difficult era, his words stand as the point of departure for inspiration to interpret where we stand today.


Members were invited to submit an artwork that speaks to themes, thoughts or ideas uncovered in Gwala’s vivid words. 


First Prize | Robin Moodley
Second Prize | Kenneth Shandu
Third Prize | Siphesihle Ntsungwana
KZNSA Merit Award | Jessica Bothma


Judges Mario Pissarra, Rachel Baasch and Wonder Buhle commended the works on show and our members diverse interpretations of the theme. The prizes are generously sponsored by the Key Foundation and Claire Lewis, the daughter of Joan Emanuel, was at the gallery to present the awards.


For more information or enquiries, please email gallery@kznsagallery.co.za. To download the poem, click here



from: Getting off the Ride by Mafika Gwala


I know this ride bloody well.

I’m from those squatted mothers

Those squatted mothers in the draughty air;

Those mothers selling handouts,

Those mothers selling fruits,

Those mothers selling vegetables,

Those mothers selling till dusk

in the dusty street of Clermont, Thembisa,

Alex, Galeshewe, Dimbaza, Pietersburg.

Those mothers in dusty and tearful streets

that are found in Stanger, Mandeni, Empangeni

Hammarsdale, Mabopane, Machibisa, Soweto.

I’m one of the sons of those black mamas,

Was brought up in those dust streets;

I’m the black mama’s son who vomits

On the doorstep of his shack home, pissed with

concoction. Because his world and the world

in town are as separate as the mountain ranges

and the deep sea.

I’m the naked boy

running down a muddy road,

the rain pouring bleatingly

in Verulam’s Mission Station;

With the removal trucks brawling for starts

Starts leading to some stifling redbricked

ghetto of four-roomed houses at Ntazuma.

I’m the pipeskyf pulling cat

standing in the passage behind Ndlovu’s barbershop

Making dreams and dreams

Dreaming makes and makes;

Dreaming, making and making, dreaming

with poetry and drama scripts

rotting under mats

or being eaten by the rats.

I’m the staggering cat on Saturday morning’s

West Street. The cat whose shattered hopes

were bottled up in beers, cane, vodka;

Hopes shattered by a system that once offered

liquor to ‘Exempted Natives’ only.

I’m the bitter son leaning against the lamp post

Not wishing to go to school

where his elder brother spent years, wasted years

at school wanting to be white; only to end as

messenger boy.

I’m the skolly who’s thrown himself

out of a fast moving train

Just to avoid blows, kicks and the hole.

I’m one of the surviving children of Sharpeville

Whose black mothers spelled it out in blood.

I’m the skhotheni who confronts devileyed cops

down Durban’s May Street . . .

Since he’s got no way to go out.

I’m the young tsotsi found murdered in a donga

in the unlit streets of Edendale, Mdantsane.


. . .

I’m the puzzled student

burning to make head and tail of Aristotle

because he hasn’t heard of the buried

Kingdom of Benin or the Zimbabwe Empire,

The student who is swotting himself to madness

striving for universal truths made untrue.

I’m the black South African exile who has come

across a coughing drunk nursing his tuberculosis

on a New York pavement and remembered

he’s not free.

I’m the black newspaper vendor

standing on the street corner 2 o’clock

in the morning of Sunday,

Distributing news to those night life crazy

nice-timers who will oneday come into knocks

with the real news

I’m the youthful Black with hopes of life

standing on file queue for a job

at the local chief’s kraal,

This chief who has let himself and his people

into some confused Bantustan kaak

Where there’s bare soil, rocks and cracking cakes

of rondavel mudbricks.

I’m the lonely poet

who trudges the township’s ghetto passages

pursuing the light,

The light that can only come though a totality

of change:

Change in minds, change

Change in social standings, change

Change in means of living, change

Change in dreams and hopes, change

Dreams and hopes that are Black

Dreams and hopes where games end

Dreams where there’s end to man’s

creation of gas chambers and concentration camps.

I’m the Africa Kwela instrumentalist whose notes

profess change.



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