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Gcina Mhlophe PDF Print E-mail

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).

Selected Work

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;
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
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.

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