Xhosa poet aims to bring hope to those facing adversity

Hospital porter publishes book of poems after recovering from Covid-19

25 August 2020 - 08:35 By Sikho Ntshobane
Odwa Sunduza has published his first book called Kumnyama eAfrika (It Is Dark in Africa) which is a collection of 37 Xhosa poems.
Odwa Sunduza has published his first book called Kumnyama eAfrika (It Is Dark in Africa) which is a collection of 37 Xhosa poems.
Image: 123RF/ Yulia Grogoryeva

A hospital porter has published his first book.

Odwa Sunduza, 30, who hails from Silverton Trust Farm, a tiny rural village near Ngangelizwe in Mthatha, was diagnosed with Covid-19 in early June.

After he recovered, he went to work as a porter at St Mary's Private Hospital in Mthatha.

The book, Kumnyama eAfrika (It Is Dark in Africa), is a collection of 37 Xhosa poems highlighting some of Africa's challenges, including rampant corruption, crime and the current Covid-19 pandemic.

He hopes the poems will bring hope to the hearts of Africans as they face adversity.

He also hopes it may speak to the consciences of those who commit crimes and loot state resources meant to benefit the poor.

For example, I wrote the poem Intsholongwane ye Covid not only to highlight how deadly the virus is, but also to assist in teaching people about the importance of government's advice to wash hands regularly, sanitise and observe and maintain social distancing,” he said.

When I wrote the poem I had no idea I would later contract the virus myself. When I developed symptoms I was scared. However, I told myself that I could not just wish it away. I decided to embrace my situation and told myself I needed to adopt a positive attitude if I was to win the battle against Covid.”

Another of his poems is meant to inspire people to return to the values of ubuntu, which Africans are renowned for.

He said many countries, including SA, were beset with crime and corruption simply because people were no longer living according to the values of ubuntu.

Another problem is that there are no jobs. It is as a result of this that young people turn to crime and drugs. If you have a job, you don't have time to do crime,” he said.

Sunduza has loved poetry since he was a teen at Nozuko High School.

He started writing poems in English but for many years could not find anyone to publish his work.

That all changed when he met Mthatha teacher Yamkela Ntwalana, who co-authored and published a collection of Xhosa poems with one of his students late last year.

And that is when Sunduza fell in love with the Xhosa language.

With Ntwalana's mentorship, he has written and published his own book.

Ntwalana praised Sunduza's writing skills, saying he was impressed by his passion for the language.

“Many young people nowadays do not know how to speak Xhosa properly or write the language, so it helps when we have these talented young writers who take pride in helping to preserve the language,” he said.