When Makewana’s Daughters was starting out in 2015, one of our biggest challenges was to persuade people to send us their work. So we would meet people in the corridors at work, and ask them if they had anything, anything at all, that they could contribute to the website.
We had cases where people would say, “Yes, I will send you something, ” and that would be the end of that particular conversation. And then we had people like Alinane.
I knew her as a musician with an amazing voice. When I met her in the Common Room one day, and told her about Makewana, she agreed to send us something, and she kept her word. She sent us one of our earliest poems; The First Call/ Army of Termites (see Poetry Section). The First Call, which is about the power of building great things together, starts off with the persona watching ants as they build a structure bigger than themselves. The persona is fascinated by what the ants manage to build:
From a speck
They could make
A mound, a hill, a mountain!
It is a poem filled with hope, and one gets the sense that the possibilities are limitless if we all work together. There is no doubt that Alinane, who passed away a month ago, worked tirelessly to achieve her dreams. The evidence is there in the music she left behind, the people she inspired to sing, the friends she made, the family she loved. And for us at Makewana, it is there in the way in which she was able to give her poem to us, and in the encouragement she gave to Makewana’s Daughters. They say writers have the last word, and we would like to give Alinane the last word in this tribute by reproducing the last lines in her poem. May those lines resonate and remind us of a beautiful soul:
‘Where there was nothing, let us be something
Where there was a menace, with love we shall replace
And when our mountain has risen high and brave
Let us too take our place
Our fate embrace
Do it with a smile on our face
And a song for our dance
Then we will be
AN ARMY OF TERMITES!’