POEM: Antjie Krog on SA's horrific #AmINext week

Antjie Krog
Antjie Krog

Poet and University of the Western Cape (UWC) academic Antjie Krog delivered a powerful poem at the memorial service of slain theology student Jesse Hess (19) on Wednesday.

The bodies of Hess and her 85-year-old grandfather, Chris, were found in their flat in Parow last Friday.

Hess's murder was one of the crimes against women that brought South Africa to a standstill this week, under the banner #AmINext.


so here we are today to claim ourselves to claim our bodies

claim them back from knifes from jackhammers 

from axes, from guns, from bullets

and to rage to rage against muteness 

against stupidity against the corrupt thoughts of men

we rage against their cries, against their yells

against their misplaced desires for power

we rage against what they think a man is

against their inward festering of destruction 

we rage against their coming for us 

the moment that we raise the brave stalk of our necks

we want it to be us who claim ourselves

we want it to be us 

    who feel between our ribs

     the tremor of how things can be different 

of how something can become true of what we are

why do they keep on then being so wrong?

the earth lays her cheek next to ours

she breathes and breathes into us

to care

to unconditionally care  hush  hush


we who march should have been able to say:

we stand on a moerse rock in the sea at Paternoster

where the sea beats strips of light green foam

into the air

fearless we can stare down every bloody damn wave

in the gut as it breaks

the rock quakes under our soles

our upper leg muscles bulge

our pelvis casts out its acquired resigned tilt

we should have been able to say: like hell! 

we are rock we are stone we are dune

distinct our tits can hiss a copper kettle sound

our hands can clasp Moordbaai and Bekbaai

our arms can tear ecstatically past our heads:

we should be 

we should be

god hears us

free fucking women 

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.