Performance by Phillippa Yaa de Villiers (South Africa) big success

  •   Photo: Fenneken Veldkamp

The ASC Annual Public Event, a performance by poet Phillippa Yaa de Villiers from South Africa, was a big success.

Have a look at the pictures!

Phillippa Yaa de Villiers is the Commonwealth poet 2014. For the ASC Annual Event she performed Shades, a lecture-cum-poetry recital-cum-performance that explores race, identity and politics in South Africa. After the performance she was recognized as 'ASC honorary artist', a special membership of the ASC Community. The ASC Annual Public Event took place on Monday 8 December at the Hogeschool Leiden.

In her previous play Original Skin de Villiers explored the complexities of being an undercover black in apartheid South Africa. Shades is a meditation on belonging and exile told through the nature of Johannesburg, and five human characters. The city, which is the world's largest man-made forest, is home to a number of exotic species such as Jacaranda Mimosifolia and Morus Alba. The European Swift Apus apus is a seasonal visitor and de Villiers uses metaphors rooted in the state's management of natural resources to reflect on the condition of migrants to South Africa.


Give me a ride, I'll pay my way in stories.
I am a woman on the roadside
in a battered batik attire like a queen in exile...
I am a border guard protecting what's ours
from the likes of you. Don't mess with my heroes
Oscar's race reminds me ek is 'n Afrikaner en
ons oorleef
and I'll tell you what that means as soon
as I stop shouting.

Birds know no boundary
except the one between life and death,
and the wound so fresh
we can barely breathe
the wound so fresh -

It is springtime in Johannesburg
and the jacarandas are blooming,
mulberry bushes hang with sweet black fruit.

Who cares about the truth?

Do you mind if you don't stare?

We are all just trying, just trying
to make
a home here.


Phillippa Yaa de Villiers - Mwenya is her director's name - is the 2014 Commonwealth Poet, commissioned to compose and present a poem to HRH Queen Elizabeth II. Born in South Africa and given up for adoption in 1966, de Villiers experienced the first half of her life as a mixed race child growing up under apartheid in South Africa. With a Ghanaian father and an Australian mother, de Villiers embodies many of the complexities of global identity. She has taught Creative Writing at Wits University in Johannesburg and is currently working on ZAPP (South African Poetry Project), a collaboration between Cambridge University, Wits University and University of South Africa to enrich and encourage the teaching of poetry in schools in South Africa, and revise and expand the canon of great South African poetry. She recently graduated from Lancaster University (UK) with a Masters in Creative Writing (with distinction).

Date, time and location

08 December 2014
19.30 - 22.00, doors open as of 19.00, welcome with coffee/tea
Hogeschool Leiden, Zernikedreef 11, 2333 CK Leiden
Auditorium F0.015/17