November 8, 2012 by petrujviljoen
As part of my course in Creative Writing, I had to write a praise poem for a famous African. All the obvious people like Nelson Mandela, Steve Biko came to mind. I then decided to be rebellious. I wrote about Helen Suzman. A white Jewish woman that served 30 years in parliament in opposition to the then National Party that instigated and upheld Apartheid for so long. As a feminist, that is where I had to go. She was the only woman in parliament in that time. A tiny person, a huge spirit.
As usual, constructive criticism is welcome.
Praise poem to Helen Suzman
Praise Helen Suzman,
she wore the pelt of the lioness,
it was her own; she stood alone and
vehemently fought the hyenas feasting
on the backs of the blacks.
Dimunitive feminine, she was an impediment
in the parliament of the president.
Like Esther of the Bible who scorned
the king’s power, she could’ve died
for snarling at their lies.
She lived! Athene!
She honed her wits on the stone that just is
wise as water, she went where she could. And she did.
Woman of herself, she stood her ground
in this land her home;
her ancestors too wore a terrible yoke.
A rare courage – Athene!
important to humanity,
steeped in generosity,
1000 myrtle trees
bloom in her name.