Nothing`s Changed

Report
2013
Nothing’s Changed
Tatamkhulu Afrika
Nothing’s Changed
Mini Task 1
Write down what you know about ‘Apartheid’.
Learning Objectives
As we study this poem you will learn:
• The story of the poem
• Apartheid in South Africa
• More about the terms,
Metaphor: Tone & Imagery.
• You will also complete some mini tasks, a test
and an assignment on the poem.
Nothing’s Changed
Tatamkhulu Afrika
Small round hard stones click
under my heels,
seeding grasses thrust
bearded seeds
into trouser cuffs, cans,
trodden on, crunch
in tall, purple-flowering,
amiable weeds.
Brash with glass,
name flaring like a flag,
it squats
in the grass and weeds,
incipient Port Jackson trees:
new, up-market, haute cuisine,
guard at the gatepost,
whites only inn.
District Six.
No board says it is:
but my feet know,
and my hands,
and the skin about my bones,
and the soft labouring of my lungs,
and the hot, white, inwards turning
anger of my eyes.
No sign says it is:
but we know where we belong.
I press my nose
to the clear panes, know,
before I see them, there will be
crushed ice white glass,
linen falls,
the single rose.
Down the road,
working man's cafe sells
bunny chows.
Take it with you, eat
it at a plastic table's top,
wipe your fingers on your jeans,
spit a little on the floor:
it's in the bone.
I back from the glass, boy again,
leaving small mean O of small,
mean mouth.
Hands burn
for a stone, a bomb,
to shiver down the glass.
Nothing's changed.
Nothing’s Changed
The Background to the poem
Nothing’s Changed
What was apartheid?
Apartheid was the South African government policy of racial segregation.
Under apartheid black and white people were not allowed to mix. Cities were
split into ‘Black’, ‘White’, ‘Indian’ and ‘Coloured’ districts, with the best areas
reserved for white people and the worst allocated to black people.
Apartheid affected every aspect of life. Interracial marriage or sexual
relations were made illegal. Schools, swimming pools, cinemas, even
pedestrian crossings and ambulances were designated as ‘whites only’ or
‘blacks only’. Black people were denied voting rights and were often treated
with great brutality by the police and security forces. Many people who
opposed the system were tortured or killed.
Apartheid was condemned by the international community and sanctions
were imposed against South Africa from the 1970s onwards. Despite this the
policy did not come to an end until 1993.
Nothing’s Changed
The Background to the poem
District 6
District 6
The area was named in 1867 as the
Sixth Municipal District of Cape Town. By
the turn of the century it was already a
lively community made up of former slaves,
artisans, merchants and other immigrants,
as well as many Malay people brought to
South Africa by the Dutch East India
Company during its administration of the
Cape Colony.
It was home to almost a tenth of the city of
Cape Town's population.
District 6
After World War II, during the earlier part of the
apartheid era, District Six was relatively cosmopolitan.
Situated within sight of the docks, it was largely made
up of coloured residents which included a substantial
number of Coloured Muslims, called Cape Malays.
There was also a number of black Xhosa residents.
There were also smaller numbers of Afrikaans,
whites, and Indians.
District 6
Government officials gave four primary reasons for
the removals. In accordance with apartheid philosophy,
it stated that interracial interaction bred conflict,
necessitating the separation of the races. They deemed
District Six a slum, fit only for clearance, not
rehabilitation.
They also portrayed the area as crime-ridden and
dangerous; they claimed that the district was a vice
den, full of immoral activities like gambling, drinking,
and prostitution.
Though these were the official reasons, most
residents believed that the government sought the land
because of its proximity to the city center, Table
Mountain, and the harbor.
An ANC election poster,
linking the rival party to
the history of forced
removals.
District 6
On 11 February 1966, the government declared District Six a whites-only area under
the Group Areas Act, with removals starting in 1968. By 1982, more than 60,000
people had been relocated to the sandy, bleak Cape Flats township complex some 25
kilometers away.
The old houses
were bulldozed.
The only buildings
left standing were
places of worship.
District 6 ~ Now
International and local pressure made redevelopment difficult for the
government, however. The Cape Technikon (now Cape Peninsula University
of Technology) was built on a portion of District Six which the government
renamed Zonnebloem.
District 6 ~ Now
Apart from this and some police housing units, the area was left undeveloped.
Since the fall of apartheid in 1994, the African National Congress has recognized the older
claims of former residents to the area, and pledged to support rebuilding.
District 6 ~ Now
But nothing seems to have
happened yet!
Nothing’s Changed
Tatamkhulu Afrika
Small round hard stones click
under my heels,
seeding grasses thrust
bearded seeds
into trouser cuffs, cans,
trodden on, crunch
in tall, purple-flowering,
amiable weeds.
Brash with glass,
name flaring like a flag,
it squats
in the grass and weeds,
incipient Port Jackson trees:
new, up-market, haute cuisine,
guard at the gatepost,
whites only inn.
District Six.
No board says it is:
but my feet know,
and my hands,
and the skin about my bones,
and the soft labouring of my lungs,
and the hot, white, inwards turning
anger of my eyes.
No sign says it is:
but we know where we belong.
I press my nose
to the clear panes, know,
before I see them, there will be
crushed ice white glass,
linen falls,
the single rose.
Down the road,
working man's cafe sells
bunny chows.
Take it with you, eat
it at a plastic table's top,
wipe your fingers on your jeans,
spit a little on the floor:
it's in the bone.
I back from the glass, boy again,
leaving small mean O of small,
mean mouth.
Hands burn
for a stone, a bomb,
to shiver down the glass.
Nothing's changed.
Nothing’s Changed
Mini Task 2
Briefly write down what happens in the poem and what you think
the poem’s meaning/message is.
Small round hard stones click
under my heels,
seeding grasses thrust
bearded seeds
into trouser cuffs, cans,
trodden on, crunch
in tall, purple-flowering,
amiable weeds.
Brash with glass,
name flaring like a flag,
it squats
in the grass and weeds,
incipient Port Jackson trees:
new, up-market, haute cuisine,
guard at the gatepost,
whites only inn.
District Six.
No board says it is:
but my feet know,
and my hands,
and the skin about my bones,
and the soft labouring of my lungs,
and the hot, white, inwards turning
anger of my eyes.
No sign says it is:
but we know where we belong.
I press my nose
to the clear panes, know,
before I see them, there will be
crushed ice white glass,
linen falls,
the single rose.
Down the road,
working man's cafe sells
bunny chows.
Take it with you, eat
it at a plastic table's top,
wipe your fingers on your jeans,
spit a little on the floor:
it's in the bone.
I back from the glass, boy again,
leaving small mean O of small,
mean mouth.
Hands burn
for a stone, a bomb,
to shiver down the glass.
Nothing's changed.
Nothing’s Changed
The Story Of The Poem
The poet is walking across the wasteland that
District Six
has now become. He knew this area as a boy and the
destruction of District 6 that he sees in front of him makes him
angry.
He sees a new up-market restaurant that has been built there
and approaches it. He sees that there are guards on the gate,
that the restaurant is spotlessly clean and he knows that as a
black man he will not be welcome there; and that he is only
worthy of eating in a cheap working men’s café.
The injustice of this makes
him angry and he is
reminded of the injustice he
felt when he was a boy
which makes him feel like
he wants to destroy the
restaurant because he feels
nothing has changed.
Nothing’s Changed
Mini Task 3
Use two words to describe tone and imagery in the poem’s first stanza.
Small round hard stones click
under my heels,
seeding grasses thrust
bearded seeds
into trouser cuffs, cans,
trodden on, crunch
in tall, purple-flowering,
amiable weeds.
Nothing’s Changed
Mini Task 3
Use two words to describe imagery and tone in the poem’s first stanza.
Small round hard stones click
under my heels,
seeding grasses thrust
bearded seeds
into trouser cuffs, cans,
trodden on, crunch
in tall, purple-flowering,
amiable weeds.
Wasteland – stones, seeding grasses, cans, weeds
But friendly - amiable
Nothing’s Changed
The Poem ~ Structure & Meaning
Small round hard stones click
under my heels,
seeding grasses thrust
bearded seeds
into trouser cuffs, cans,
trodden on, crunch
in tall, purple-flowering,
amiable weeds.
There is a very percussive opening
line
in the poem with a series of monosyllabic words.
This helps build up the imagery in the opening
lines in which the poet establishes the wasteland
that is District 6. Because it is written in first
person we are also drawn into the world the poet
creates in the poem.
The Imagery is reinforced with the references to
un-mowed grass that has gone to seed and to the
purple weeds.
Note the personification used to describe the
weeds as ‘amiable’ ~ weeds cannot be friendly, but
this word help establish a light tone at the
beginning of the poem. He finds the weeds
friendly because they form part of a landscape
that he knew as a boy.
Note also the alliteration on ‘cuff, cans’ which resonates with ‘crunch’ on the next
line. The rhythmic effect of this helps light tone in the opening lines.
Nothing’s Changed
Mini Task 4
What elements/devices are used to change the tone and in the poem’s second
stanza?
District Six.
No board says it is:
but my feet know,
and my hands,
and the skin about my bones,
and the soft labouring of my lungs,
and the hot, white, inwards turning
anger of my eyes.
Nothing’s Changed
Mini Task 4
1. How has the tone changed in this stanza?
2. Write down examples of the elements or devices that are used in this stanza to
change the tone and in the poem’s second stanza?
District Six.
No board says it is:
but my feet know,
and my hands,
and the skin about my bones,
and the soft labouring of my lungs,
and the hot, white, inwards turning
anger of my eyes.
1. From friendly to angry.
2. Repetition - and
Punctuation – short sharp sentences
The word ‘anger’ which is ‘white’ hot.
Nothing’s Changed
The Poem ~ Structure & Meaning
District Six.
No board says it is:
but my feet know,
and my hands,
and the skin about my bones,
and the soft labouring of my lungs,
and the hot, white, inwards turning
anger of my eyes.
There is the beginning of a change in tone
here. The use of the two word title ‘District Six’ is
a stark statement and expects you to know the
area the poet is talking about.
The repetition in the next few line accentuates
the growing anger the poet feels and heralds a
dramatic change in tone from the opening lines
of the poem. The use of punctuation also helps
here to build up the sense of growing anger.
Note the clear body imagery here which leads
to the metaphor that describes his anger over
the destruction of District 6 and the
construction of this restaurant as being ‘white’
hot.
Nothing’s Changed
Mini Task 5
There is lots happening in the first part of Stanza. See if you can identify an
example of:
1. An internal rhyme.
2. Alliteration
3. Assonance/Chime
It also has imagery as its Key Feature. Write down what you think is the most
striking or unusual image.
Brash with glass,
name flaring like a flag,
it squats
in the grass and weeds,
incipient Port Jackson trees:
Nothing’s Changed
Mini Task 5
There is lots happening in the first part of Stanza. See if you can identify an
example of:
1. An internal rhyme.
2. Alliteration
3. Assonance/Chime
It also has imagery as its Key Feature.
4. Write down what you think is the most striking or unusual image.
Brash with glass,
name flaring like a flag,
it squats
in the grass and weeds,
incipient Port Jackson trees:
1.
2.
3.
4.
An internal rhyme = Brash with glass,
Alliteration = flaring like a flag
Assonance/Chime = weeds – trees
It squats
Nothing’s Changed
The Poem ~ Structure & Meaning
Brash with glass,
name flaring like a flag,
it squats
in the grass and weeds,
incipient Port Jackson trees:
There are several poetic devices used to ad ‘punch’
to the beginning of this stanza; you have the internal
rhyme on ‘Brash ~ glass’ and alliteration on ‘flaring like
a flag’. This helps change the tone by reducing the
anger at the end of the last stanza to bitter cynicism.
This takes us to the two word line ‘it squats’ which
by being separate, draws attention to itself much as
the line ‘District 6’ does. Squat is an interesting word
to choose as it has several meanings eg: something
that is short and wide, usually in a way that is not
attractive: or to live in an empty building or area of
.............land without the permission of the owner. In
.............other words it doesn't belong there!
Note the enjambment here, the line belongs
with the rest of its sentence, the separation
emphasises its importance. Incipient means
‘just beginning’ and Port Jackson is a
reference to the Port Jackson Willow, an
Australian plant considered a weed in S Africa.
Nothing’s Changed
Mini Task 6
1. What impression is created in the first two lines below.
2. ‘whites only inn’ is a pun. ‘the use of a word or phrase so as to emphasize or
suggest different meanings.’ What are the two meanings of the phrase?
3. If there was a sign what would it say?
new, up-market, haute cuisine,
guard at the gatepost,
whites only inn.
No sign says it is:
but we know where we belong
Nothing’s Changed
Mini Task 6
1. What impression is created in the first two lines below.
2. ‘whites only inn’ is a pun. ‘the use of a word or phrase so as to emphasize or
suggest different meanings.’ What are the two meanings of the phrase?
3. If there was a sign what would it say?
new, up-market, haute cuisine,
guard at the gatepost,
whites only inn.
No sign says it is:
but we know where we belong
1. How new and ‘posh’ the restaurant is.
2. An inn for white people and only white people are allowed in.
3. This
Nothing’s Changed
The Poem ~ Structure & Meaning
There is an emphasis in these lines on how ‘posh’
and new the restaurant is; which takes us on to the
new, up-market, haute cuisine, reference to the guards. Why are guards needed? To
guard at the gatepost,
protect the diners from attack or to keep out the
whites only inn.
unwanted.
No sign says it is:
Note the pun on ‘whites only inn’. Only white people
but we know where we belong. are allowed in the inn, even though this sort of racism
should have stopped with the end of the Apartheid era
in 1994.
The apartheid signs might have gone now that
South Africa is a democracy, but the poet knows that
as a man of coloured or mixed race he would not be
welcome in the restaurant; in other words he knows
where he belongs….. Not in there but in the working
men’s café down the road!
Nothing’s Changed
Mini Task 7
What is the key feature of the poem’s fifth stanza?
I press my nose
to the clear panes, know,
before I see them, there will be
crushed ice white glass,
linen falls,
the single rose.
Nothing’s Changed
Mini Task 7
What is the key feature of the poem’s fifth stanza?
I press my nose
to the clear panes, know,
before I see them, there will be
crushed ice white glass,
linen falls,
the single rose.
COLOUR IMAGERY…..and mostly white colour imagery.
Nothing’s Changed
The Poem ~ Structure & Meaning
I press my nose
to the clear panes, know,
before I see them, there will be
crushed ice white glass,
linen falls,
the single rose.
There is a very vivid and clear use of imagery
here, especially colour imagery ~ all that white ~
the crushed ice, the linen, the rose. the
restaurant. All of this emphasises the
‘whiteness’ of the restaurant against which
‘black’ people would stand out and helps to
reinforce the notion that black people are not
welcome.
But what if the rose is red not white....blood
red, then perhaps it too has a symbolic
significance beyond simply being a flower
decorating table....it then becomes a metaphor
for the blood that has been shed in South
Africa’s struggle fro freedom.
Nothing’s Changed
Mini Task 8
How does the poem change in the sixth stanza?
Down the road,
working man's cafe sells
bunny chows.
Take it with you, eat
it at a plastic table's top,
wipe your fingers on your jeans,
spit a little on the floor:
it's in the bone
Nothing’s Changed
Mini Task 8
How does the poem change in the sixth stanza?
Down the road,
working man's cafe sells
bunny chows.
Take it with you, eat
it at a plastic table's top,
wipe your fingers on your jeans,
spit a little on the floor:
it's in the bone
There is a change in location and in character/class, from the ‘posh’ restaurant to
a working men’s café.
Nothing’s Changed
The Poem ~ Structure & Meaning
Down the road,
working man's cafe sells
bunny chows.
Take it with you, eat
it at a plastic table's top,
wipe your fingers on your jeans,
spit a little on the floor:
it's in the bone.
This is where the poet thinks those who
run the restaurant feel he belongs simply because he
is black. No crushed ice, no linen napkins or roses
on the table here’ just a plastic table top and jeans to
wipe your fingers on. A bunny chow is half a loaf with
the middle scooped out and filled with something like
stew or beans.
This is obviously not the cultured or refined
behaviour expected in a posh restaurant, but what
can you expect from an uncultured black man ‘it's in
the bone.’
This stanza then takes you away from the refined
world of the restaurant to the everyday reality of the
ordinary black South African.
There is in this stanza a change in tone
but also a very strong sense of anger
generated by the injustice of the
segregation the poet feels he has been
subjected to all his life.
Nothing’s Changed
Mini Task 6
How has the poem’s tone changed from the first to the last stanza?
I back from the glass, boy again,
leaving small mean O of small, mean mouth.
Hands burn
for a stone, a bomb,
to shiver down the glass.
Nothing's changed.
Nothing’s Changed
Mini Task 6
How has the poem’s tone changed from the first to the last stanza?
I back from the glass, boy again,
leaving small mean O of small, mean mouth.
Hands burn
for a stone, a bomb,
to shiver down the glass.
Nothing's changed.
From friendly, to angry to violent.
Nothing’s Changed
The Poem ~ Structure & Meaning
The feelings of injustice that seeing the restaurant
have provoked in the poet make him feel like a small
boy again and are so strong that they make him want
to destroy the restaurant and the injustice it
I back from the glass, boy again, symbolises.
leaving small mean O of small,
Note the alliteration on ‘mean
mean mouth.
mouth’ and the repetition of ‘mean’.
Hands burn
The use of ‘burn’ echoes the
for a stone, a bomb,
to shiver down the glass.
white hot anger he expresses in
Nothing's changed.
the first stanza.
The final line is the title of the
poem and summarizes the poets
feelings about South African
society and despite the new
democracy he feels that as yet,
nothing has changed and the
country is as unequal as it always
was.
Nothing’s Changed
The Poem ~ What the poet says.
Nothing's Changed is entirely autobiographical. I can't quite remember
when I wrote this, but I think it must have been about 1990. District Six was
a complete waste by then, and I hadn't been passing through it for a long
time. But nothing has changed. Not only District Six... I mean, we may have
a new constitution, we may have on the face of it a beautiful democracy,
but the racism in this country is absolutely redolent. We try to pretend to
the world that it does not exist, but it most certainly does, all day long,
every day, shocking and saddening and terrible.
Look, I don't want to sound like a prophet of doom, because I don't feel
like that at all. I am full of hope. But I won't see it in my lifetime. It's going to
take a long time. I mean, in America it's taken all this time and it's still not
gone... So it will change. But not quickly, not quickly at all.
Tatamkhulu Afrika (1920-2002)
Nothing’s Changed
About the Poet
Tatamkhulu Afrika (1920–2002) was born in
Egypt to a Turkish mother and an Arab father,
but was orphaned as an infant and adopted by
white South Africans. His first novel was
published when he was only twenty – but his
next book did not come out until he was
seventy-one.
In 1948 South Africa adopted the system of
apartheid. The author joined the ANC (the main
group opposed to the policy). He was arrested
and banned from writing or public speaking for
five years. To get round the ban he started
using his ANC code name Tatamkhulu Afrika
which meant Grandfather Africa or old man of
Africa.
Afrika eventually published two novels and
eight books of poetry. He died at the age of
eighty-two after being hit by a car.
Nothing’s Changed
About the Poet
When the government introduced
classification by race, Tatamkhulu Afrika was
categorized as white. However, rather than
compromise his beliefs and his integrity, he
refused to accept this classification and
chose instead to be categorized as coloured.
The poet lived in District Six, a mixed-race
residential district of Cape Town, until the
government decided it was to become a
whites-only area. The bulk of the population
was evicted and the area was bulldozed.
Most of it has never been rebuilt, and today
the area is largely derelict. It has come to be
seen as a symbol of apartheid.
Other Cultures Assignment 1
Presents & Nothing’s Changed
In what ways do Moniza Alvi and Tatamkhulu
Afrika use imagery in these poems to effectively
convey a message or point of view.
600-800 Words by Wed 18th Feb.

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