Three new poems by Sandile Ngidi

The Johannesburg Review of Books presents previously unpublished poetry by Sandile Ngidi.


Don’t Tell Me Anything Now

Brenda’s on stage, her drummer on fire.
The diva throws her jacket at the shimmering crowds.
Asks the DJ to boost the bass, pump up the volume.

The beat seduces me, that easy soukous sound
that up-tempo Congo beat
that kwasa-kwasa kaleidoscope.

Like a hen, Sis Brenda dances with her black wings flung.
A young girl cries out for water, sweating and swooning.
Medics rush her to the shade of a tree.

Like most men, I’m topless now, free.

Brenda is still on stage, her drummer on fire.



The city gives me an angry gaze.
Streets are grey,
lights are dim.
Days are full of haze,
nights are nightmarish.

The sky wears a black & blue plumage,
its neck is dark, sad.
Tight-fisted when it slaps.
Feathers do a tick-dance song.

Light blinds me.
Hope is eclipsed, caged.
A cobra-like eye of random fire,
a riot police order
—fuck-off at once.

No spatula to scrape blended dreams.
No cows for milk and parmesan.
See the sea there,
spilling children’s grief into the city.


Family Feast

Sunset on the Umkhomazi estuary,
plaiting dreams, facing the stars
for the sacred ancestral banquet.
Family poets sharpen their spears,
bulls lock horns, shoot bold stars into the air.

Whistles slice the skies wide open,
village criers at work.
Boys are now men,
women turn sorghum into malt.
The fattest bull has fallen,
today is a big feast.

Joy chokes strife into silence,
confused witches empty their bags
blurred by the mystic eastern stars.
Ancestral fires cheer the embers,
kiss the morning star,
take her to the family byre
whispering a cosmic song.


Previously unpublished, © Sandile Ngidi, 2019

  • Sandile Ngidi is a South African poet, literary translator and freelance art critic. He previously edited Baobab arts and literary journal. In April 2019, he obtained an MA in Creative Writing with distinction at Rhodes University, funded by the Andrew Mellon Foundation.

The JRB Poetry Editor is Rustum Kozain

5 thoughts on “Three new poems by Sandile Ngidi”

  1. Sandile,

    I am pleasantly surprised. These poems, especially the first, have much – MUCH – potential. I hope you proceed to bring out a volume. I like the illusion of immediacy that you have here. I happen to be on the south coast right now, so the poems are doubly present. Jy is ‘n doring.

    1. What an honour to hear from you mfowethu Charl-Pierre. Thank you so much for your comments. And the south coast of Durban! A dear friend. Enjoy your time there.

  2. Hlomuka, makwande mfowethu. I am moved by the news of your graduating, I did not know you were back to school. Ngishukashukana ne Masters yami la e wits. HOpefully ngiyaqeda this year! Gatsheni!

  3. Thanks again for the comments Gatsheni. I am excited to hear that you are still at it at Wits. School ought to be where the music is at mfowethu. Let’s spread the word and do the jig as if for dear life. Kwande!

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