First 728 words of the document:
Nothing's Changed by Tatamkhulu Afrika
Brought up in Cape Town, South Africa, as a white South African, lived in District 6, where he felt 'at home'.
As a teenager, found out that he was Egyptian-born, with an Arab father and Turkish mother.
Turned down the chance to be classed as white- chose to become a Muslim and be classified as coloured.
Joined the ANC (African National Congress - organisation leading the struggle against apartheid) in 1984.
Arrested in 1987 for terrorism, was banned from writing or speaking in public for five years, so adopted name -
Tatamkhulu Afrika - previously ANC code name, so could carry on writing, despite ban.
This poem is autobiographical
"I am completely African. I am a citizen of Africa; I'm a son of Africa - that is my culture. I know I write poems that sound
European, because I was brought up in school to do that, but, if you look at my poems carefully, you will find that all of
them, I think, have an African flavour."
District 6, which was a thriving mixed-race inner-city community, with people of all colours and beliefs
In the 1960s, as part of apartheid government declared District 6 a 'whites-only' area, and began to evacuate the
population. Over a period of years, the entire area was razed to the ground. Most of it has never been built on.
The poem was written just after official end of apartheid, a time of hope - Nelson Mandela had recently been released,
and the ANC was about to form the government of South Africa.
Six stanzas, each of eight fairly short lines. Regularity creates sense of control: the poet is very clear about what he feels -
not suddenly flying into rage. Except 4th stanza-two lines.
Within that pattern, the length of the sentences varies from a whole stanza to just two words.
Written in the present tense. Although recalling a past experience, the poet is re-living the experience as he writes, which
this poem vivid and easy to identify with.
The viewpoint in the poem is carefully established. The first stanza puts us 'in the poet's shoes', like we are walking with
the poet. As it develops, it is easy to imagine where we are and what we see
This makes it more likely that we will see things from his point of view
We can imagine how his hands 'burn' to take revenge. It is a physical image - one we can almost feel ourselves.
The images in the poem - of the wasteland. Contrasts: black/white, food, plants, buildings, materials
Stanza 1 single sentence, almost each word stressed. Follows the poet as he ventures onto wasteland, on the hard
ground. Is the effect heavy, plodding? Or is it lighter and quicker?
Stanza 2. Repeated 'ands' .Varied line length and word stress.
Stanza 3 Long sentence. Subject not mentioned until the end.
Stanza 4 short
Short sentences in line 9 "District Six" and line 48 "Nothing's Changed".
Nothing's Changed is entirely autobiographical. I can't quite remember when I wrote this, but I think it must have
been about 1990. District Six was a complete waste by then, and I hadn't been passing through it for a long time. But
nothing has changed. Not only District Six... I mean, we may have a new constitution, we may have on the face of it a
beautiful democracy, but the racism in this country is absolutely redolent. We try to pretend to the world that it does
not exist, but it most certainly does, all day long, every day, shocking and saddening and terrible.
Look, I don't want to sound like a prophet of doom, because I don't feel like that at all. I am full of hope. But I won't
see it in my lifetime. It's going to take a long time. I mean, in America it's taken all this time and it's still not gone... So it
will change. But not quickly, not quickly at all.