Gcina Mhlophe (1959 - ) Born in Hammarsdale, KwaZulu-Natal,Mhlophe now lives in Durban. Gcina Mhlophe has been writing and performing on stage and screen for over 20 years. She has written many children's books as well as adult audience poetry, short stories and plays. She produced and performed on a CD for children with Ladysmith Black Mambazo. She has written music for the SABCTV series Gcina & Friends where she performed her own stories for television audiences.
In 2000 she released an award-winning storytelling CD called Fudukazi's Magic for German audiences. She has also written both story and music in collaboration with guitarist, Bheki Khoza, for the Animated Tales of the World TV series. In 2001 her CD and book of Nozincwadi Mother of Books was produced as part of her nationwide reading road show to South African rural schools. Her work has received awards from BBC Africa Service for Radio Drama, The Fringe First Award in the Edinburgh Festival, the Josef Jefferson Award in Chicago, and OBBIE in New York.
Gcina Mhlophe received Honorary Doctorates from the London Open University as well as the University of Natal. 2005 saw the publication of her book and CD, African Mother Christmas by Maskew Miller Longman, as well as the re-publication of Love Child (now in English), and Have You Seen Zandile by University of Natal Press. Her work has contributed to preserving storytelling as a means of keeping history alive and has encouraged South African children to read. Her most recent publication was The Singing Chameleon (2008).
Praise poem performed in 1989 in honour of Nokukhanya Luthuli, widow of Chief Albert Luthuli - past president of the ANC in the '50s and Nobel Peace Prize winner in 1961
If the moon were to shine tonight To light up my face and show off my proud form With beads around my neck and shells in my hair And a soft easy flowing dress with the colours of Africa
If I were to stand on top of a hill And raise my voice in praise Of the women of my country Who have worked throughout their lives Not for themselves, but for the very life of all Africans Who would I sing my praises to? I could quote all the names Yes, but where do I begin?!
Do I begin with the ones Who gave their lives So that we others may live a better life The Lilian Ngoyis, the Victoria Mxenges The Ruth Firsts Or the ones who have lost their men To Robben Island and their children to exile But carried on fighting The MaMotsoaledis, the MaSisulus The Winnie Mandelas?
Or maybe I would sing praises to The ones who, have had the resilience And cunning of a desert cobra Priscilla Jana, Fatima Meer, Beauty Mkhize Or the ones who turned deserts into green vegetable gardens From which our people can eat Mamphela Ramphele, Ellen Kuzwayo
Or would the names of the women Who marched, suffered solitary confinement and house arrests Helen Joseph, Amina Cachalia, Sonya Bunting, Dorothy Nyembe, Thoko Mngoma, Florence Matomela, Bertha Mkhize, How many more names come to mind As I remember the Defiance Campaign The fights against Beer Halls that suck the strength of our men Building of alternative schools away from Bantu Education And the fight against pass laws
Maybe, maybe, I would choose a name Just one special name that spells out light That of Mama Nokukhanya Luthuli Maybe if I were to call out her name From the top of the hill While the moon is shining bright; No-Ku-Kha-nya! NO-KU-KHA-NYA! Maybe my voice would be carried by the wind To reach all the other women Whose names are not often mentioned The ones who sell oranges and potatoes So their children can eat and learn The ones who scrub floors and polish executive desktops In towering office blocks While the city sleeps The ones who work in overcrowded hospitals Saving lives, cleaning bullet wounds and delivering new babies And the ones who have given up Their places of comfort and the protection of their skin colour Marian Sparg, Sheena Duncan, Barbara Hogan, Jenny Schreiner. And what of the women who are stranded in the homelands With a baby in the belly and a baby on the back While their men are sweating in the bowels of the earth?
May the lives of all these women Be celebrated and made to shine When I cry out Mama Nokukhanya's name NO-KU-KHA-NYA! ! And we who are young, salute our mothers Who have given us The heritage of their Queendom!!!
From Women Writing Africa: the southern region. Margaret Daymond et al. (eds). Johannesburg: Witwatersrand University Press, 2002.
1988. Have you Seen Zandile?. Durban: University of Natal Press, 1989. The Snake with Seven Heads. Nairobi: East African Publishers. 1990. Queen of the Tortoises. Johannesburg: Skotaville Publishers 1992. The Singing Dog. (Illustrated by Erica Maritz and Andries Maritz). Johannesburg: Skotaville Publishers. 1999. Fudukazi's Magic. Cape Town: Cambridge University Press. 2002. Love Child. Durban: University of Natal Press.
2003. Queen of Imbira. Cape Town: Maskew Miller Longman Press. 2003. Hi! Zoleka! (Illustrated by Elizabeth Pulles). Cape Town: Songololo Books. 2004. Stories of Africa. Durban: University of Natal Press.
2004. African Mother of Christmas. Cape Town: Maskew Miller Longman Press. 2006. Our Story Magic. Durban: University of Natal Press.
2006. Nozi, Madrina de Libros. (Illustrated by Lyn Gilbert). Venezuela: Ediciones Ekare.
2008. The Singing Chameleon. (Co-authored with Kalle Becker). Venezuela: Ediciones Ekare.