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Zama Madinana is a South African poet, based in Johannesburg. His work has appeared in The Shallow Tales Review, Kalahari Review, , Hotazel Review, Olney, and other literary publications. Zama’s work focuses mainly on love, politics and social issues. In 2021, he won the third prize of the Sol Plaatje EU Poetry Award. He was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2022. His full-length poetry collection, ‘94 was published in June 2023. In addition to regular performances and readings in Johannesburg and across South Africa, he has performed his poetry in various countries including Botswana, Mozambique, and Lesotho.


we sunbathe our hopes

at traffic lights

we are all zama-zama here

we dig & drill

our chances

we are all here

with our genocidal scars

tutsi & hutu

we seek for warmth

between the great rocks

of the drakensberg mountain

we all here to wash

our wounds

from the healing waters

of uthukela

we are all here

bathed in grey dust

of johannesburg’s deserted


we are all here

with our tattered



the dance floors

of hillbrow brothels

with our big bums

we are all here

with no passport

no id

& no asylum

we are all makwerekwere here

selling fruits & vegetables

on kerk street

just to survive

just to survive

just to survive


here in ladysmith

rifles cough out


waves of fire

coffins befriend

the weekends

o, taxi wars that never end

& taverns

are homes of violence

here in ladysmith

whoonga addicts

ravage & mutilate

grannies’ private parts


soak me in the searing

sounds of bob marley

& baba mali

teach me portuguese

from the wet classrooms

of a brazilian lady’s lips

allow me

to swim in the blue lagoons

of her eyes

before we eat njera

or ujeqe

down fox street


city of a million lights

at night allow me

to drown

my sorrows

in your hideout bars

& in the morning

bury my bhabhalazi

in a strong smell

of your rusty coffee shops


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