The poet describes his feelings as he travels on a "night train" -- presumably a late-night suburban
train which is taking him to his home in segregated Johannesburg.
He is almost alone on the train and this is something to be feared, for the lone passenger is always open
to be mugged or murdered.
ABOUT THE POET
Fhazel Johannesse is one of those poets who appears to have fallen through the cracks. Very little is
known of him except that he was born in Johannesburg in 1956 and seems to have lived there his whole
He also appears to have lived through religious rifts as a child, with his father being Moslem but his mother
reconverting to Christianity after her husband's sudden death in an accident.
This would have put serious religious stress on the teenage boy who would now have had a foot in both
camps -- and also faced opposition from both.
His poetry appears to have been of fairly short duration, written during the mid-1970s and the early 1980s.
In 1980, Johannesse and Christopher van Wyk started a very short-lived magazine called Wietie
which was a literary platform for Black Consciousness.
This was a political philosophy which took root after Steve Biko's death from police brutality in 1975. The
movement not only promoted active resistance to Apartheid but also fostered a local cultural milieu in
opposition to western thought.
The magazine gave voice to a new generation of writers who were critical of the oppressive apartheid
regime and provided them with cultural weapons for transformation.
The publication was both literary and defiant. It printed fiction, poetry and prose which challenged the
political, cultural and racial milieu.
It did not survive long. The very first issue was banned by the Censorship Board on the grounds of
obscenity because it used a certain word which is now in everyday teenage vocabulary.
The Board also accused the magazine of sedition.
Nevertheless, Johannesse is remembered as a Black Consciousness poet. He published The
Rainmaker in 1979.
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