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Five black writers confront endemic sexual violence, racism, homophobia and more in a provocative collection of protest poetry and prose.

Written by Safiyya Karim and the Afrows Anthology team.


The cover of the anthology, courtesy of the Afrows team

On the 30th of October 2017, nearly 100 people gathered at the launch of the “Afrows: Words of Subversion” anthology. The anthology consists of fifteen powerful pieces of protest poetry and prose, written by five black UCT undergraduate students.

The five writers, as well as Siphokazi Jonas, a spoken words artist who MC-ed the evening, each performed two works at the launch.

Introducing the writers

  • Tshepiso Mashinini, 21, from Jo’burg, is currently majoring in English Literature and International Relations at UCT. Mashinini deals extensively with sexual violence, gender inequality, political protest and environmentalism in her writing. She intends to enrol in an LLB in 2018, and hopes to combine a career in environmental law with writing.
  • Sthandwa Mbelle, 21, was born in Midrand, and is majoring in English Literature & Psychology at UCT. As well continuing her academic studies, Mbelle aspires to travel the world in order to learn about psychology from different cultural perspectives, and then to apply this knowledge back in South Africa in order to contribute to a healthier, more harmonious country.​
  • Nolitha Ngamlana, 21, was born and raised in Gugulethu, and is majoring in English Literature and Media Production at UCT. Ngamlana’s poetry deals with themes such as dispossession, discrimination and white hegemony. She aims to pursue a career in writing, and hopes to contribute to strengthening basic education in South Africa.
  • Lubabalo Ngejane, 23, from Gugulethu, is majoring in English Literature and Media & Writing at UCT. Ngejane came out as gay at the age of 16, and his writing explores the struggles of being a young, gay, black man in contemporary South Africa. An avid reader and film aficionado, Ngejane hopes to pursue a career as a feature writer and novelist.
  • Matimu Rikhotso, 20, was born in Limpopo, and went to school in Jo’burg. He is enrolled in UCT’s BA in Film Production: Screenwriting, and aspires to a career in writing in which he can work on creating imaginative, Afrocentric fiction. His poetry is primarily concerned with empowering a nuanced black identity & confronting problematic masculinities.
Courtesy of the Afrows team.

The fifteen pieces were composed by the writers during a creative writing seminar taught by Afrows co-editor Judd Yadid. Some of the works include ‘Avengers of Fezekile’, which imagines an all-woman anti-rape vigilante group, ‘Nqo, Nqo (Banging on Parliament’s Door)’, which highlights the disillusionment of the so-called ‘born free’ generation with endemic government corruption, as well as ‘Lust as a Ritual of Self-Loathing’, which deals with racism within Cape Town’s gay community.

Tshepiso Mashinini, courtesy of the Afrows team

After the recital, the floor was opened to questions and comments. Many audience members were visibly moved by the performances, and there was much discussion around the power of self-expression, as well as the importance of harnessing the creative arts to deal with unjust power structures.

Afrows is available for purchase from both The Book Lounge and Clark’s Bookshop. A free eBook version is also available for download at Updates and excerpts can also be found on the Afrows Facebook page:


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