The article analyzes Black Consciousness poetry of the 1970s and 1980s South Africa alongside the protest poetry of white South African poet Wopko Jensma. It is argued that while the racial definition of oppression and resistance by Black Consciousness poetry had the important aim of the recovery of the black people’s dignity and the fostering of racial solidarity and unity, it also had the unfortunate consequence of not recognizing white resistance and preventing cross-racial solidarity and empathy. By portraying the racial divide in South Africa as absolute, it implicitly allowed white people no ethical position to speak from. The poetry of Wopko Jensma is analyzed as a unique expression of white solidarity with black South Africans, demonstrated by his mastery of the social and linguistic idiom of a wide variety of people, as well as by his unusual, subversive, self-othering gesture of having himself legally reclassified as Black. By thus rejecting apartheid racial categories, as well as “European” and “African” poetics, he also deconstructed blackness and whiteness as essential identities, expressing an inclusive “human consciousness” and anticipating the ideal of the “rainbow nation” invoked in South Africa after 1990.
Pucherova, D., (2018), ‘The Colors of Resistance in Apartheid South Africa: Black Consciousness Poetry and the Racial Elusiveness of Wopko Jensma’, from Academia 2018, [online], Available at [Accessed: 02 April 2020]