Hector Pieterson (1964 – June 16, 1976) became the iconic image of the 1976 Soweto Uprising in apartheid South Africa when a news photograph by Sam Mzima was published worldwide.
To Gerry McKinley
"If poetry is not social then it ceases to have a function beyond perfume..."
– André Gide
A life time ago in a rage
of mourning, my mind bent on self-doubt
and self-loathing, drudging up
the many injustices of a social system
hell bent on the destruction of life,
I read a poem
about a child in Sowetto
who had been beaten with such malice
his heart gave up, his bare feet still dirty from playing
on a mound of clay after school.
These words were not written
for an astounded world to wrestle with,
nor yet for the rich to sniff at
by that wise poet, Mazisi Kunene,
but by my old friend, Gerry Mckinley,
an obstinate Irish rebel, a man not unlike Kunene,
a man accustomed to madness,
who dared to tell the truth, imposing on our solitude
forbidden words and abounding optimism -
though a million hearts might break.
(first published by American Dissident)