Guest Post: Broken Township

Today is World Poetry Day and it’s also Human Rights Day in South Africa so our first guest post seems appropriate. Thabo Malesa is in his twenties and lives here in Soshanguve.  He has been involved with InnerCHANGE South Africa since the beginning and is one of our local leaders.  He is a gifted poet and we’re grateful that he has chosen to share this piece with us.


Broken Township

It seems that there are few angels left in this township

Just birds that have been told that their wings are not strong enough

To lift them above the land on which they stand.

It seems ninety percent of the stars on this side of town have fallen

And the other ten seem displaced.

It seems the sun has lost its shine

It no longer believes that it too is a star

That it belongs in the sky and it can be looked up to too.


My township is despair.

It is a hopelessness that can be smelled.

The grass is slowly wilting

And it, along with the garbage in our streets gets suspended in air from time to time.

It’s all flying to faraway places.

It seems everything is looking for a way out of this place.


My township is a beautiful art gallery

It’s full of family portraits…all missing a frame and a father figure.

My township is a concert featuring pregnant teenage dancers

And they dance off rhythm to the footsteps of boys

Who were trained to run away from the responsibility of fatherhood.


My township is an abused city girl

She has eyes that are bruised like rotten fruit

And extension cord cuts on her back.

She tries to hide it, so she wears make up

But if you look closely, you will see all the cracks in her foundation.

She is broken inside.


Her neck is always right next to mine and she tells me that she is tired of being ugly

She says she’s tired of the disgraceful stares

And the constant mouthful touts she endures.

Her happiness is trapped in the basement of her self-esteem

And her pride is indigent

She drowns herself in alcohol and drugs hoping to ease her pain but that never helps.


She has crime stamped on her back

And she walks around with broken handcuffs still dangling on her wrists.

But you see, despite her flaws…

Despite our differences, she’s still mine and I know that in time

She will come alright and she will thank me for not giving up on her

For loving her unconditionally from the day my feet stepped on her belly

For wiping off all of her sweat, along with the tears that were running down her neck.


I often grab her by the handcuff on her left wrist and tell her that no one escapes history

That every city in the world has her own scars and hers are not any special

I Hugged her and whispered “I love you” in her ear

She smiled and her hope seemed all the more revived

And I thought to myself “perhaps her scars would not have been so deep if she was truly loved by those who possess her”


2 responses to “Guest Post: Broken Township

  1. Pingback: White Privilege in South Africa – Hope Breathes·

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