editorial: Every Generation

zamantungwa | July 4th, 2013 | editorial | No Comments

Back in the day, the early 2000s, there’s something we used to say at poetry sessions.

“Poetry is not a competition, poetry is a mission”

In fact, I think it was a line in a poem by someone… but I can’t remember who’s poem. Well, those days are long gone and the poets these days are brands. And brands are not bad, it’s just that poetry that’s only concerned with money tends to be void of any depth. And where there is no depth there’s only mediocrity. I think it’s difficult in a mediocre state of being to find one’s mission, to find true meaning and purpose in ones life.

This edition’s title, Every Generation, is inspired by one of Fanon’s most mind provoking lines, “Each generation must out of relative obscurity discover its mission, fulfil it, or betray it[1]Fanon, F., Sartre, J., & Farrington, C. (2001) . The Wretched of the Earth. London: Penguin Books..” When Fanon, opened his essay with that line, he was preoccupied with National Culture, with the political role that the creatives play in a ‘new’ nation. Fanon explores how the native intellectual has assimilated the culture of the colonial master and has to try to throw off the colonial culture in order to develop the nations culture. The more Fanon writes, the more I’m reminded of Audre Lorde’s “the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house[2]Lorde. A. (1984). Sister Outsider. New York, NY: Crossing Press.”. Both writers reflect on what it means to bring about change.

Now it is nothing new to hear people lament at how the youth has no direction. Even our poetry elders, like Lefifi Tladi, have said that young poets have no ideology[3]Monnakgotla M. (2013, March 05). Today’s SA poets have no ideology, says Tladi. SowetanLIVE. Retrieved from www.sowetanlive.co.za. Whenever I start to moan about those younger than me, I remember those older than me who have complained about me. I realise that whether or not youth has no ideology, direction, a mission, one only ever realises the truth of fallacy of that retrospectively.

I think our role, as we move through our different ages is to always bring the question to the fore. Not to judge but to challenge. Because whether the generation before believes it or not, this generation does know what it’s doing. And of course, every generation has its lost souls. And every generation has its leaders who you may not recognise today but will definitely recognise tomorrow.

So the challenge – every generation

The generation of 1976 discovered their own mission. And because they discovered their mission, they became the catalyst for change in South Africa.

What is the mission of this generation? More importantly what is your mission? If you’ve found your mission, how do you exemplify? Will we fulfil or betray our missions?”

Between these pages is evidence of how various poets have risen to the challenge. These poets come from different backgrounds, have different approaches to the set theme, however, what is clear that these poets are on a quest and will not be dismissed as lost youth. This edition also includes a conversation with poet, activist, social commentator, Mphutlane wa Bofelo, one brilliant mind who has discovered what his mission is and works hard to fulfil it.

With this edition, as with a lot of work that I and my contemporaries are doing, we are saying our generation knows its mission, is discovering its mission and verily we are working to fulfil it. We’re not sitting idly by waiting to cease to exist. We are writers, artists, storytellers, publishers, creatives, doctors, entrepreneurs… We are many things both acceptable and unacceptable but this mission, is ours to define.

Between these lines, I ask you to linger…


Poetry Potion 2013.02 Every Generation

Every Generation is the theme of the second print quarterly of Poetry Potion. Inspired by Frantz Fanon’s “Each generation, must out of relative obscurity, discover its mission, fulfil it or betray it.”; this edition features poetry, reviews, a poet profile of Mphutlane wa Bofelo and a q&a about the new Praat Poetry Festival.

Click to rate this post!
[Total: 2 Average: 4.5]
(Visited 107 times, 1 visits today)


1 Fanon, F., Sartre, J., & Farrington, C. (2001) . The Wretched of the Earth. London: Penguin Books.
2 Lorde. A. (1984). Sister Outsider. New York, NY: Crossing Press.
3 Monnakgotla M. (2013, March 05). Today’s SA poets have no ideology, says Tladi. SowetanLIVE. Retrieved from www.sowetanlive.co.za