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Cecile Melle

Phillippa Yaa de Villiers


Country: South Africa


www.phillippayaadevilliers.org
philyaa.book.co.za

Biography:

Multi-award winning poet, playwright and performance artist, Phillippa Yaa de Villiers is a graduate of the Lecoq International School of Theatre in Paris. Her poetry ranges from the private to the political, exploring matters serious, satirical and sensual. She has a prolific portfolio of national and international stage and television productions and has just published her first volume of poetry, Taller than Buildings.

Related Podcasts & Events:

Tea for Thabo

I invited our president to tea. I said:
"I have issues with your take on identity
so bring your kneepads, it's going to be a bumpy ride."

He arrives in a shiny 2002 Rhetoric with
white leather seats. Metaphoric:
a motor car's now equivalent to black pride

But pride lies in acacia shade,
flicking flies, watching you with its yellow hunter's eyes.
Pride is too wild to be racial.

His silence is a contest: who will win?
Usually not the person who begins.

I say Thabo, or should I say Mr M:
you have bartered the freedom charter for a full house BM,
and the
corolla-ry to this theory,
to be or not to be a Z-3.
And the people? we cream our
fongkong jeans, zama zama
thatha ma chance,
but who's taking?
Who's chancing?

He says: "the way forward is to level the playing field
to wield the consumer power.
Let's face it, at the end of the day,
to be black is to have suffered,
cash is the salve for the nation.
So don't come with your half-baked theories of liberation."

Aye ye...I feel the labour coming on:
my Volvo! Au-di!!!!
The waters have broken the damn wall,
the have-nots are flooding the metropole,
contractions coming four by four!
And you're so Anglo Saxon
reaching for the klaxon
calling cops,
locking doors,
red ants crawling over
the repossessed possessions of the
dispossessed.

Too late!
Congratulations!

You're the father of a healthy brothel nation.
Uncle America will come over her,
Auntie Europe will knit her into a nice fleecy trade policy
And she looks just like you
(except for the car)
Aunt Asia who used to be so far
Now owns the corner, trash piled like a scar.

Leaders defend us, doesn't matter who you are,
some leaders are Mercedes, and some are Jaguar.
I didn't fight to be freed,
to give you a license for greed.

He turns on me with a sudden speed:
you whites get so cross when we blacks succeed
why don't you just bloody well go back
to where your ancestors come from?

Aha! Now I'm white!
My race is now a slur
but the line is blurred for I.

I am the product of three centuries of cross-border shopping,
horse trading, cattle thieving, dipping into gene pools,
swopping stories, swopping schools,
highland fling, ashante.
You can try to shut the stable door,
call back the galloping incidents of past deals and schpiels
they disappear into dust,
we sit in the ashes of our history,
ready to make our contribution.
Life is our inheritance.
Speaking out, our retribution.

I can't look back to a time when everything was perfect.
I can only look forward to a time when everything will be
perfect.

A silence becomes uncomfortable after the third beat:
so much for dialogue with the elite.
He clears his throat and departs.
Well, you can't end a conversation that never really starts.

I look out of the window at the sunset.
Jo'burg hospital, the black line of the incinerator chimney
exhaling burnt blood and dressings into the smouldering sky.

I drink my tea alone and read the leaves.

Perfect.
Perfect is the puzzle,
the piece that never fits.
a book without binding
a story never finding
never winding down.

Peace.

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