Poli Poli -Barbara Masekela


This is a memoir about the life of an extraordinary South African poet, educator, and activist that tells a lesser-known social history of people, families, communities and places. Poli Poli is intentional in grounding Masekela’s experiences in a social history of the country over generations. Masekela uses her life story to illustrate the features and characteristics that typified life in particular places, like Kwa-Guqa in the 1940s, Johannesburg, Alexandra Township, and Inanda Seminary School (for Coloured girls) in Mpumalanga. This memoir is filled with intimate details about the growing pains of a childhood inhibited by strict beliefs and systems, first-hand experiences of struggle and sacrifice, violence and other forms of inhumanity and the deep scars they etch, while also telling the story of the author’s life-giving relationship with her siblings. Poli Poli is a remarkable history that speaks to issues of then and now – belonging, African identity, women’s rights, and femininity, and is written in the lyricism and transporting detail of one of the country’s greatest wordsmiths.