Angifi Dladla (1950–2020): An Embodiment of Ku Femba as a Poetry Teaching Philosophy for Renewal
Keywords:Angifi Dladla; ku femba; decoloniality; popular education; Femba Writing Project
Angifi Dladla’s poetry and teaching doctrines are considered tools for consciousness raising, healing and popular education for decoloniality. Through ku femba, an age-old practice that serves as a channel to cast away evil spells in a society bedevilled by violence, Dladla displays the relationship between man, ancestors and the otherworldly as a vehicle for decoloniality. His feisty narrative poems, “I Failed My Children” and “Marikana Chorus”, explore the spiritual dimension and infinite possibilities of experience rooted in oral and written tradition. Dladla’s Femba Writing Project, based on his philosophy of teaching poetry, affirms that poetry rooted in decoloniality reflects not only the poet’s political convictions, but a shared communal experience of those on the edges of existence who are capable enough to challenge the master’s voice (the voice of the Western canon) that often defines quality in poetry. Dladla is steeped in direct knowledge of the precarious life in South African townships; he draws on his accrued knowledge and on the complexities of history and memory to create and teach compelling poetry that resonates with the ordinary without falling into the trap of ghettoising his experience. Dladla’s poetry and teaching philosophy challenge the colonising practices that have shaped and continue to influence the teaching of poetry in South Africa. They form part of a wider agenda of defining African selfhood in a decolonial context.
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