Young Khayelitsha poet publishes his first book

Momelezi Kanyiwe says writing has brought him healing

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Watch Momelezi Kanyiwe read a poem. Video: Ashraf Hendricks

  • Twenty-year-old Momelezi Kanyiwe managed to get his first isiXhosa poetry book published earlier this year.
  • Usiba Luyaphilisa (A pen heals) has been in the making for two years.
  • Momelezi is a learner at Matthew Goniwe Memorial High School.

Khayelitsha Grade 12 learner Momelezi Kanyiwe is all smiles holding his newly published isiXhosa poetry book, Usiba Luyaphilisa (A pen heals), which has been two years in the making.

Momelezi, 20, from Site B, goes to Matthew Goniwe Memorial High School.

He describes himself as a “quiet and secretive” person, and he says when he was younger he tried out several sports and he soon found he did not enjoy any of them as much as writing.

“I had a 72-page hardcover book where I started writing some pieces. It was mainly about writing down my thoughts, what I was going through personally and motivating myself.”

“But it was when I started writing some of those pieces on my Facebook page that I realised that I was actually good at this. I received such great feedback from people on Facebook. Some even thanked me for giving them strength to deal with their struggles,” says Momelezi.

He says he read up about isiXhosa writers and poets and told himself that “I can also do this.”

“I spoke to a close friend about making my poetry known. We threw around some ideas and this is when the idea of compiling my poems into a book came about.”

“We came across Uhlanga Books, a publishing house here in Khayelitsha where I met Zimkitha Zilo who showed me that this idea could indeed come to life. But I needed to raise money for printing.”

The book was launched in February.

Explaining why he decided to title his book Usiba Luyaphilisa, Momelezi says, “Writing makes it easy to express your feelings. So when I say Usiba luyaphilisa, I mean that I managed to express myself by writing down my pain, writing about love, about strength and healing and by educating. A piece of paper won’t judge you. I wrote my poems in such a way that whatever a person is going through, there is a poem that they can relate to.”

Momelezi’s mother, Sisanda Kanyiwe looks on smiling. She describes her son as a quiet child who liked to be indoors.

“He would spend a lot of time in his room. When I looked for him to ask him to do something, he would be busy writing in his book. I didn’t know that all this writing would end up in him having his own book.”

“I am extremely proud of him especially since I am not educated, so seeing what education and passion has done for him is overwhelming. I hope this takes him far and wish him all the best.”

Out of the 46 poems in the book, Momelezi says his favourite is “Liphupha Alicanywa” (Don’t give up on your dreams).

He says he has started writing again and is hoping to publish his second book - a book of short stories this time - in three years. He is working on a documentary about his life and journey as a young writer and also dreams of writing and publishing a novel one day.

Usiba Luyaphilisa is available at Clarke’s Bookshop in Long Street, from the author in Khayelitsha, and from friends in Mfuleni and Dutywa in the Eastern Cape.

The book retails for R150 and Momelezi Kanyiwe can be contacted on 076 374 4979.

TOPICS:  Arts and culture

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