archive - issue 14

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  • /

    By Ruth Barker
    On the QWERTY layout of my computer keyboard, the symbol / appears beside the questioning symbol ?. They are represented together on the same key, and
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  • Apartment / Containers

    By Vincent Bezuidenhout
    These diptychs are the start of a series of images I have been working on regarding the visual landscape we choose to surround ourselves
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  • I returned home after my first year in college to discover my younger sister had turned gorgeous. This was a disappointment, but not an
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  • Butterfly

    By Adriana de Barros
    The pupa, a silk wrap of emotionsIsolated, within breathing, wanting to bethe intense pronoun of selfIt is silly to be one's own pronounShe giggles
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  • Collage

    By Claudio Parentela
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  • Drag and Snap

    By Leigh-Anne Niehaus
    This series is inspired by the childhood game of "snapdragon", which allows for simplistic and delightful decision-making through random selections of colour and number.
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  • Evidence of Life

    By Tamlyn Martin
    Below is an extract from a series of 11 poems created in parallel with visual artworks. 5. Memories laced with visceral realityFlooding herThe gentle
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  • Forward! Slash!

    By Travis Lyle
    You think you're a forward-thinking kinda person, do you? Lemme be the one to break it to you, sunshine – you're as lame as the
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  • Human/Nature

    By Lydia Anne McCarthy
    This series explores moments between nature and human beings that are at once idealistic and unsettling. Each picture is an independent narrative, but placed
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  • Immigrants

    By Stanley Onjezani Kenani
    you want to livenothing leaveto liveyou swimor like fresh sardinesyou are packedin boatsyou leaveto live.  you leavegold in the belly of Africaoil in
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  • In Between

    By Tania van Schalkwyk
    Raised in an Arabian land of heat, fire and temper,sometimes the calm of England clamps downlike damp in a bathroom with no windowand a
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  • Letter to the Editor

    By Elan Gamaker
    Dear Sir/Madam I should like strenuously to object to the subject matter ("/") of your current issue. It must first be mentioned, however, that it
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  • Or: a line drawing

    By Gabeba Baderoon
    Pencil and nothing. Her face turned almost entirely away. Forehead, cheekbone,jaw,the bun low in her neck,shoulderand down,the long linejust enoughthen left alone.
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  • p u n c t u a t i o n

    By Ula Einstein
    Einstein works with a diverse range of media, including drawings and installation with fire, thread, and blades. The series of drawings and installations with
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    By Sean Hampton-Cole
    Keys. John speaking. 'Lo?Good morning. May I speak to Bob Mitchell please?Bob in Bonds?I'm not really sure. I'm trying to...You want extension 125. This
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  • Pretty Babies

    By Peregrine Honig
    With the premise that "/ " presents what is IN and what is OUT, the "Pretty Babies" series explores the fashion industry's well-published and syndicated DOs
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  • River Bank

    By Mario Sughi
    The symbol / is intended initially as a symbol of division. A real or unreal line divides the girl from the water, the girl from
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  • Scissor

    By Charlotte Gait
    There was a time when you and I were connected by iron, acid, vitamin and blood. Where every mouthful I took was with the
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  • Seasaw

    By Sol Kjøk
    Here, the motif is conceived of as a seesaw (the typo in the title is intended, as this drawing is part of a series
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  • Series Seven Up

    By Noel Fignier
    Text by João Branco Kyron, HipnóticaThe collision is imminent and in the fraction of time left, the eyes shut and the vision is superbly
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  • A battle over samoosas between the snobbish Cinderella and a homeless electrician is mediated by Cinderella's boyfriend JJ. The samoosa battle is conflated with
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  • Wayne Porter, freelance journalist, donned his anthropologist's birthday suit and hit the bowling alley. Bar the bowlers hat tipped gently off centre, the man
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  • The Incised Wound

    By Joanne Hichens
    "Please, for me, Dave," I placed my hand on his, and really, no begging, just asked him nicely, "Lay off the booze tonight." Whether
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  • He had been driving for hours through that unstable, somnambulist night when he fell asleep at the wheel. He awoke with a start and
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  • The space between.

    By Mehita Iqani
    It's a handy little line, the one that we use to make our options known. Either/Or. Paper and ink or binary code? Its clichéd,
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  • Un Hombre Fuerte

    By Tamo Vonarim Written these words are, at times of a subconscious flow – whether they are mine, I don't know. All I know is that I
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  • Unbroken Awareness

    My life is now a floating shellI am a vessel on that river.The storm, the ship, the sea,Whose shores we lost in crossing.  I
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  • Untitled

    By Wilhelm Saayman
    This series of images, made using pen and ink, photographs and Photoshop, explore alternate/dream realities.
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  • Untitled

    By Aryan Kaganof
    /At R550 rand I thought I'd rather die/ My mother: can I trust this woman?/ I thought the Romans were coming, dinkum/ …and always
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Saturday, 03 September 2011 02:00

The Years of Childhood

By  Dzekashu MacViban
At one point or the other it becomes necessary to look back at one's life, for it is in conformity with the adage that says "you need to know where you are coming from in order to know where you are going." This brings to mind reflections about childhood memories; not because they are crystal clear- by the time they occurred I was still inchoate, so they rather come to me in flashes, like dissimilar images. My 'reconstruction' of some of these events has been made possible through the 'stories' of people who experienced these occurrences as well.

Growing up in a polyglot city like Yaoundé had a certain touch to it. First, there was the multilingual environment that made me make an awkward sentence like "mon ballon est tombé dans le hole", then there was the gradual alienation, which was first linguistic, then cultural. Finally, there was the indirect encounter with 'The Powers that be'.

Allow me to take you back to my pre-speech years.

The year is 1986 - the year Wole Soyinka made Africa proud - and everything seems normal. My father is in the house, he has done his news report for the day, and I am with my Aunt G. Something serious is being said on the radio. When it is over, my father laughs, changes his clothes and goes out without telling us anything about where he is going to. My mother returns later in the day and asks after my father and my aunt tells her what has happened. My mother immediately bursts into tears and it is then that we realise the gravity of the matter. Before long, other journalists start coming to our house and I learn that my father, alongside other journalists, has been arrested.

As the wind of multi-party politics and democracy swept through Africa, Cameroon was still reluctant to accept this change and could still afford to imprison journalists for doing their job!

The following weeks and months are awkward; there is a sense of loss, of deprivation, but above all, angst. I am oblivious and at the same time subliminally stuffed. "We are the hollow men, we are the stuffed men" T. S. Eliot had written.

Sympathizers still visit us, so there is still this or that person in the house. At any rate, there is talk about my upcoming birthday- my first birthday to be exact- to cheer up the tensed aura that sits in our midst. I've made a new friend, her name is S and we are about the same age, I think. Her father is in a similar condition as mine... I shudder to think of the place. Our mothers constantly meet, go to the market, and visit our fathers...

The atmosphere is less tense now, but there are still talks of the BMM (Brigade Mixte Mobile), abductions and the secret service.

The birthday has passed. I don't remember much about it except what the pictures say. Am I the chubby infant in the picture? I wonder with disbelief, my slenderness seeming irreconcilable with my past plumpness.

My father's homecoming happened five or six months later and my puerile mind found it difficult to recognise him. His return was marked by a catch phrase from the authorities when they released him, it went thus: "The story was true, but you had no right to say it."
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