Convention on the Rights of the Child (Nov. 20, 1989) (Illustrated by © Art For Humanity, "Women for Children")


"Untitled" by Kara Walker

The Committee calls upon all Member countries to publicize the text of the Convention and "to cause it to be disseminated, displayed, read and expounded principally in schools and other educational institutions, without distinction based on the political status of countries or territories."


"Precious Cargo" by Ernestine White

"Her Elements of Life" by Chantel Erfort

(English Translation)
Face full and bright like the moon
Her dreams fly across the sky
Before bad dreams gather like clouds.
And yesterday she was just 8 years old

Now face full and bright like fire
Her eyes dart across the room
Before tears well like water

And yesterday she was just 8 years old
Now face full but not
Dulls into anger as she cries.

Ekuqakatheke ePilwenakhe

(IsiNdebele translation by F. Mahlangu)
Ubuso obumomothekako ebuphazima njengenyezi
Amabhudango wakhe aphapha hlangana nesibhakabhaka
Ngaphambi kobana amabhudango amambi angahlangana njengamafu

Izolo lokhu ubeneminyaka ebu-8
Gadesi ubuso obumomomothekako buphazima njengomlilo
Amehlwakhe agijima kilo loke ikamero
Ngaphambi kobana iinyembezi ziwe njengamanzi

Izolo lokhu ubeneminyaka ebu-8

Gadesi ubuso buyamamatheka kodwana
Bukhombisa ilaka nakalilako



" Angel of Mercy" by Judy Woodborne

"For Our Children" by Makhosazana Xaba

Write the wrongs
on our girls and boys
for everyone to know
about every single one,
then there'll be
no excuse not to
right the wrongs
on our girls and boys
who in their own right
deserve a national rite
for all to declare:
Respect, Protect and Fulfill
the Rights of Girls and Boys.
Right the wrongs
on our girls and boys
who rightly await
the nation's loud voices:
Respect, Protect and Fulfill
the Rights of Girls and Boys.
Right at birth our children expect
every right-minded person
to know without being told
that normalcy demands that we
Respect, Protect and Fulfill
the Rights of Girls and Boys.

"Mo Ntlheng ya Bana ba Rona"

(Setswana Translation Coordinated by Dr Maria Letsie)

Siamisa diphoso
mo basetsaneng le
mo basimaneng ba rona
bao ka tshiamo ba letetseng
mantswe a kwa godimo a setshaba:
Tlotla, Sireletsa le go Diragatsa
Ditshiamelo tsa Basetsana le Basimane.



"Laughter Remembered" by Louise Almon

"Laughter Remembered" by Myesha Jenkins

My sweet girl
it is the vulnerability of your innocence that I vow to protect.
For I value the peace that I find in your laughter
seek courage in the fierceness of your tight hug
am inspired by the directness of your truth.
In you I see myself as you learn and grow
full of opinions and impossible questions
running into the wildness of your own imagination.
Playing is the only work you should know
passionate about living you sing with the birds
sleeping dreams of future worlds.
You make me human again.

"Xihleko lexi tsundzukekaka"

Translation by T Baloyi

Mpama ya mina
I xichavo xa ku hlantsweka ka wena leswi ndzi lavaka ku swi sirhelela.
Hikuva  ndzi xixima ku rhula loku ndzi ku kumaka eka xihleko xa wena lexi
kumaka nsusumeto wa ntsindziyelo wa swandla swaku!
Ndzi tsakisiwa hi kongomelo ra ntiyiso wa wena
Eka wena ndza tivona, loko u ri  karhi u dyondza no hlakulela miehleketo ni
swivutiso leyi ya swa vu chavela-whawha!
Ku huhwa hi wona ntirho lowu u wu tivaka,
Ku rhandza ku famba u karhi u yimbelela na tinyenyana
loko ti lora tiko ra mundzuku
u ndzi endla ndzi titwa vumunhu nakambe



"Imagine the Language" by Giselle Baillie

"Die Kind" by Magasina Majundo

Vertel aan Wejoenke Kambungu deur Magasina Majundo in !Xun. Vertaling in Afrikaans deur Wejoenke Kambungu.
Lang, lang gelede, het die Boesman kind allenig in vrye wildernis van die veld gewoon.
Hy het van streek tot streek beweeg en so deur het hy gebied bestudeer en kennis gemaak.    
Hy het ook so kennis gemaak met riviere, heuwels en wilddiere.
Hy het hulle by hulle name geken, van klein tot groot.
Soms as hy gaan jag het, het hy’n kleiner pyl en boog gebruik en somstyds wanneer omstandighede hom toegelaat het, het hy ‘n groter pyl en boog gebruik.
‘n Klein pyl en boog was gebruik om die prooi onmiddelik af te bring omdat gif aan die punt van die pyl gesmeer was.
Die pyle was dikwels gemaak in twee dele. Daar was ‘n voorpunt wat geskei was van die lang deel wat dan aan die voorpunt geskik gestel om in die prooi te bly wanner dit geskiet was.
Hy het alles geken wat jag betref.
Wanneer hy verdwaal in die nag, het die sterretjies met hom gepraat deur rigtings te gee en die maan het hom geantwoord deur helder bo te skyn in die nag.
Hy het die ideale om ‘n kind te wees geken in veld, alhoewel hy ‘n swerwer was en van een gebied tot ‘n ander gebied rondbeweeg het.
Hy was meestal aanpasbaar en het gou aan alles deel geword.
Die kind van ‘n Boesman het meer ondervinding baat gevind om ‘n swerwer te wees.
Polities het dit vir hom sterker gemaak.
En niemand sal hom van die reg wegbaan en isoleer nie.

"The Child"

(English translation by Marí Peté)
Long, long ago the Bushman child lived alone in the free wilderness of the veld.
He moved from region to region and in this way he got introduced to, and became familiar with, the environment.
In this way he also got to meet rivers, hills and wild animals.
He knew them by their names, big and small.
Sometimes when he went hunting, he used a smaller bow and arrow.  And sometimes, when circumstances allowed him, he used a bigger bow and arrow.
A small bow and arrow was used to bring down the prey immediately, since there was poison smeared at the end of the arrow.
The arrows were often made of two parts.  There was a front end that could separate from the longer part.  This enabled the tip to stay in the prey after it was shot.
He knew everything about hunting.
When he got lost at night, the stars spoke to him by giving him direction, and the moon answered him by shining brightly above.
He knew the ideals of a child through the veld, although he was a nomad and moved from one region to another.
He was mostly adaptable and quickly became part of everything.
The child of a Bushman gained more experience by being a nomad.
Politically it made him stronger.
And nobody would take him off the right course or isolate him.



"Janus" by Yasmin Flett

"Janus" by Jennifer Scott

Do you see that picture?
That’s me when I was born.
Not exactly beautiful – all tiny eyes and wrinkled skin
Fists reaching out blindly, and two chubby bald heads.
Two! They look like eggs
My mama drew it.
I’ve heard about this picture, but I haven’t seen it before
Until now.
And now I’m like a baby again, trying to make sense of what I see
My mama said she drew it from life, that means it should be real
But like my mama used to say
I’m in two minds
I can try to remember myself, lying there
Fidgeting in the darkness
With mama’s booming laugh and daddy’s fiery temper still zipped up inside
Maybe I wasn’t thinking of anything,
Perhaps I was like a blank slate
Waiting to be drawn on.  
I remember when I was small I used to believe that
Anything was possible
Every holiday I played on the cannon at Blood River
It was the sweat and blood of my people caking that gun
But mama I want it to be a rocket
I said.  
The night sky outside my house is very big
So is my imagination!
I never did reach the moon yet, mama explained that it’s a long way
I learnt a lot from my mama
She said she has been learning from me since I was born
But what can you learn from a baby?


(Ndebele Translation of poem extract by Dr Maria Letsie)

Uyawubona lomfanekiso na?
Ngimi lokha nangibelethwakho.
ngizwile ngomfanekiso lo, kodwana akhenge ngiwubone ngaphambilini
kufikela gadesi
Gadesi ngifana nomntwana godu,ngizama ukuhlathulula lokhu engikubonako
uMma uthe asirhwala asusela epilweni yamambala, okuthjo kobana kufanekle kube liqiniso.
Kodwana njengobana uMma bekathanda ukutjho
Ngisemqondweni emibili  
Isibhakabhaka sebusuku ngaphandle kwendlami sikhulu
Injalo ke imicabango yami
Ngisengakafiki enyezini, Umma wangihlathululela bonyana yindlelede khulu Ngifunde   
kukhulu kuMma
Uthe gade afunda kimi kusukela ngibelethwa
Kodwana khuyini ongakufunda emntwaneni



"Sindisiwe" by Pontso Sikhosana

"Sindisiwe" by Arja Salafranca

Raising my camera,
you hide your sign,
again and again.
I look through the viewfinder,
but you’re too quick,
the minute I click,
you pull your sign away.
You won’t let me take your photo with a sign
that places you at somewhere at the bottom,
asking for money.
Even when a woman rolls down her car window  
to palm change into your hand,
your sign is hidden,
a slightly puzzled smile on your six-year-old face.
Your mother sits on the opposite side of a busy thoroughfare,
She’s been there for years.
Children like you have been begging there for years.
You may even have been there since you were a baby   
on your mother’s back. 


(Sesotho translation of poem extract by Dr Maria Letsie)

Ha ke phahamisa khamera ya ka,
o pata letshwao la hao,
hape le hape.
Ke a sheba ka aparata ya khamera,
empa o a potlaka,
ka nako eo ke ho nkang setshwantsho,
o pata letshwao la hao.
Ha o ntumelle ho o nka setshwantsho ka letshwao
le ho behang kaekae tlase,
o kopa tjhelete.
Leha mosadi a bula fenstere ya koloi ya hae
ho o kgakeletsa tjhelete lehofing la hao,
letshwao la hao le patehile,
lebonyo le le nyenyane la ho makala sefahlehong sa ngwana wa hao ya dilemo tse  



"Weighing and Wanting" by Diane Victor

"The Private Eucharist" by Michelle McGrane

The old woman behind the pharmacy counter
passes forward a brown paper packet, her
shrivelled hands mottled, liver-spotted;
the accusatory, tight-lipped mien pronounces,
You young women destroy your health.  
Listen Ouma, you're tempted to explain,
you don't know the half of it.
Instead, you smile, fade to nothing,
concentrate on crackling paper, your fingers
fidgety, thin-skinned animals.
Consecrated capsule on outstretched tongue,
squatting in a darkened room, you receive
the Holy Sacrament for Hungry Girls;
a private Eucharist to appease
your bare boned God of Reduction.   
Give me this day my daily resolve,  
the grace not to let a single morsel
pass through these lips,  
After mass, spiritual ebullience: dry mouth
dizziness jaw-clenching palpitations…
Clutching the rosary of your martyrdom,    
speedy strong in occult absolution,
you shrug with the insouciance  
of the pardoned penitent;
every true believer pays a price.  


(Afrikaans translation by Marí Peté)

Gehurk in ‘n skemer kamer,
kapsule geheilig op die tong, ontvang jy
die Sakrament vir Honger Dogters;
‘n Privaatnagmaal om jou benerige
God van Vermindering
te bevredig.
Gee my vandag my daaglikse wilskrag,
die genade om nie ‘n enkele krummel
oor my lippe te laat nie,

"Mother's Grief" by Kim Berman

"A Woman's Heart of Steel" by Mmatshilo Motsei

A woman's heart is not just a heart
it is a well of great waters
giving life to each soul
when it turns to steel
life comes to a standstill.

How can her heart not turn to steel
when her man is eagerly awaiting death
eyeballs, cheek bones and rib cage protruding
coughing up a storm with lungs
devoured by the bowels of gold.
How can her nipple not calcify into a rock
when her daughter's womb
is violently thrust open
by cuts disguised as sex.

How can her heart not turn to steel
when her son's brain is rotting in jail
and her grandson swallowed
by the great waters back to the land of no return.

A woman's heart is not just a heart
It is a beginning
It is the end
When her heart turns to steel
life comes to a standstill
and a drop of breast milk
an ocean of blood.

Pelo Ya Mosadi Ya Tšhipi

(Sesotha Translation by L.P. Boshego)

Pelo ya masadi ga se pelo fela
Ke sediba sa meetsi a bohlokwa
Ao a fepago moya o mongwe le o mongwe,
ge e fetogela botšhiping

bophelo ka moka bo a ema
Na pelo ya gagwe e ka se fetogele botšhiping bjang
mola monna wa gagwe a lebane le lehu
thaka tša mahlo, metlhagare le dikgopo di le molaleng
a gohlola ledimo go tšwa maswafong
ao a feditšego ke lerole la meleteng ya gauta.

Na tlhoko ya tswele la gagwe e ka se theme bjang boka leswika
ge popelo ya morwedi
e kgotlwa wa go phulwa
ke mesego yeo e utilwego ka la thobalano.
Na pelo ya gagwe e ka se fetogele botšhiping bjang
ge bjoko bja morwa wa gagwe bo bolela ka kgolegong
mola setlogolo se meditšwe ke meetsimagolo go boela faseng go sa boelwego nthago

Pelo ya mosadi ga se pelo fela
ke mathomo
ke bokhutlo
Ge pelo ya gagwe e fetogela botšhiping
bophelo bo a ema
gomme lerothi la matutu
e be lewatle la madi.



"Untitled 2006" by Berni Searle

"War Triptych by Gabeba Baderoon

I. Accounting

The mother asked to stay.
She looked at her silent child.
I was waiting for you.
The quiet of the girl's face was a different quiet.
Her hands lay untouched by death.
The washer of bodies cut
away her long, black dress.
Blue prayer beads fell
to the floor in a slow accounting.
The washer of bodies began to sing
a prayer to mothers and daughters.
The mother said,
who will wait for me.

II. Father Receives News His Son Died in the Intifada

When he heard the news, Mr Karim became silent.
He did not look at the cameras,
nor at the people who brought their grief.
He felt a hand slip from his hand,
a small unclasping,
and for that, he refused the solace of glory.

III. Always for the First Time

We tell our stories of war like stories
of love, innocent as eggs.
But we will meet memory again
at the wall around our city,
always for the first time.


(IsiZulu translation of poem extract by EM Mabuza)

Uma ucela ukuhlala
Ubheke ingane yakhe ethulile
Bengilindele wena
Ukuthula ebusweni bentombazane bekunokuthula okwahlukile
Izandla zayo kunokufa okungathintwa
Ogeza imizimba usika ilokwe lakhe elide
Ubuhlalu bokuthandaza obuluhlaza kwesibhakabhaka
Buwele phansi ngokunensa bubalisa
Ogeza imizimba waqala ukucula
Umthandazo wabomama kanye namadodakazi
Uma wathi,
Ngubani ozolinda mina.
nguGabeba Baderoon, ekhishwe eqoqweni Iphupho Emzimbeni ozolandela


"Children Should Be Seen And Heard" by Avitha Sooful

"My World Is In Mama's Hands" by Lebogang Mashile

My world is in Mama's hands
My world is in Mama's hands and in Papa's lap
On Oupa's shoulders and on Gogo's back

My world is an unformed promise
As soft as my flesh
Laced with a ferocious warning
Not to harm a hair's breath
A different hue of love is calling
One compose of rivers wept
By those before me who prayed for morning
I crawl on their steps

In Mama's hands and in Papa's lap
On Oupa's shoulders and on Gogo's back.
I am a new day
Touch me gently
There is no going back.

(Sesotho translation: Mohau Letsie)

Lefatshe la ka Matsohong a mme
Lefatshe la ka moetshong a mme hedima ntate
Mahetleng a ntatemolo le mokotlong wa nkgono

Lefatshe la ka ke thepiso sa hlophiswang
Le bonolo jwaloka letlalo la ka
Le tletse dihlokomediso tse bohale
Hore ho seke ha utlwiswa moya bohloko
Mofuta o fapaneng wa lerato o ntse o bitsa
O tshwanang le noka ha e lla
Jwaloka bao ba tlileng pele ho nna  ba rapella mafube
Ke kgasa mehlaleng ya bona

Matsohong a mme le hodima ntate
Mahetleng a ntatemoholo le mokokotlang wa nkgono
Ke letsatsi le letjha
Ntshware ka hloko
Ha ho sa na ho kgutlela morao


"Hope" by Bronwen Vaughan-Evans

"Every mother Hobo is my mother" by Nise Malange

I was born under the bridge of the harbour
I was born with double pneumonia,
Frail, underweight and undernourished
Everyone thought I was not going to live
But my mother said I was a fighter
A tiny ugly little fighter
Whose umbilical cord was cut by a mother hobo
Using the broken beer bottle
My frail body only covered by old smelly
Towels and rugs from all the mother hobos around me
I was surrounded by love and caring
Every cents was kept to buy me formula and bottle
Everyone collected old baby clothes
My skin does not know the softness of baby clothes
I did not know the smell of new clothes.
So this is what I was told
So what did I know
What have I experience
Pain is my name and hunger is my middle name
I fight every day because other girls do not like me
I sniff glue so that I can be brave
I smoke dagga so that I can hallucinate
And feel good about my self
I never beg for money for food
But work for it
Since five men have open my legs
And touch my private parts
Every mother claimed me as hers so that
They can sell me as a sex slave
And get money for gavin (concoction of spirit, pineapple etc)
Six seven I remember every penetration, sweat
And scream of every colour and size
I do not remember when I have my first period
But remember men yelling and screaming because
I was dirty
So do not judge because you do not know where
I come from
Do not ask me where my home is because
I never have one
Do not ask me about my mother
Who gave birth to me because she died?
Few months after I was born
Do not ask me about my father because
Every homeless man in the street
Is my father
I am no longer the tiny ugly duck anymore
But beautiful and a body of a modeller
but suffer from suffer and irritate
my bosses when I have attacks
I am still in the streets of Durban
I come out only at night because
I am now a professional sex slave,
My body is an income for a man
Who claims to be my father
But still sleeps with me
He collects money paid to abuse my body
I get bitten up and horrible things done
To my little body
I am sometimes treated like a queen
When I am to serve dollars and euros
I get pampered and perfumed
I drink red wine and eat prawns
But cannot be in the streets for days
Because of all the money they pay
So do not judge me but pray for me
Because I do not know who will
Push me down the 15th floor
You know under this thick skin
There is still that little ugly fighter
Who is still underweight and undernourished?
Who still fight in the street so that she can lives
Any bridge under the harbour is my sanctuary
Because that is where my umbilical cord lies
That is also, where my mother afterbirth is buried
That where my home is.
That is where my memory begins

Umama onguSkhotheni ungumama wami

(IsiZulu translation and extract of poem)

Ngizalwe ngaphansi kwebholoho nginenyumoniya
Ngondile,ngimncane ngingondlekile kodwa ngiyisiqhwaga
Inkaba yami yanqunywa ngebhodlela likabhiya elifile
Umzimba wami awubazi ubuntofontofo bezingubo zabantwana
Ngazi ubuhlungu,indlala nokwesaba
Ngibhema iglu ukuze ngithole isibindi
Ngibuye ngibheme nensangu ukuze ngidakwe
Angikaze ngiyicele imali, ngiyayisebenzela
Kusukela ngineminyaka emihlanu ngiyisigqila socansi
Manje amadoda akhokha amadola namayuro aphesheya
Ngiyashaywa, ngidakiswe ngihlukunyezwe ngokocansi
Ngakhoke ungangihluleli ngoba awazi lapho ngiphuma khona.



"Face Cloth" by Bronwen Findlay

"Bathtime" by Yvette Christiansë

Shh. Listen. Splashing in the tub …
Is she a little partridge? Is he a chubby crow?
Shh. Listen. Under her chin, behind his ears.
Mamma’s long day still has a way to go,
so shh, under the arms, scruba-dub-dub
One potato, two potato, three potato, four …
Playtime, nighttime, bath-time for
mamma’s little partridge, mamma’s little crow,
pecking at the face-cloth, kicking just for fun …
Shh. Listen. Thunder speaks and windows shake.
Quick, one more rub as floorboards creak. Shh,
mamma’s hard morning is just a night away
and little birds must go to sleep where thunder
is a whisper and heavy shoes can’t find them.  
Nkarhiwo hlamba


(Xitsonga translation by Dr Maria Letsie)
Shh. Yingisela. Kulumbya ebavhini…
Ku nga va ku ri xinhwarhana? I vukuvuku ro nona?
Shh. Yingisela. Ehansi ka xilebvu xakwe, endzhaku ka tindleve takwe.
Siku ra manana lero leha ra ha lehile,
se shh, hansi ka mavoko, scruba-dub-dub…
Zambala rin’we, mazambala mambirhi, mazambala manharhu, mune…
Nkarhi wo tlanga, madyambu, nkarhi wo hlamba wa
swinhwarana swa manana,xivukuvukwana xa manana
swi lumetela xithawulana, swi tlanga hi ku rhahetela…
Shh. Yingisela. Ndlati ya vulavula na mafasitere ya tsekatseka.
Hatlisa, ku rhidimba ntsena nakambe fulobodo yi ku khweree. Shh,
swinyenyana leswintsongo swi fanele ku ya etlela laha ndlati
ku nga hlevetelo na titanghu leto tika ti nge swi kumi.



"Mother – Daughter" by Elizabeth Vels

"MY IMAGINATION" by Teilharde Fregona

My mother gets ready to go out
I inhale her perfume so rich and so deep
The smell entangles my senses like the vines of a tree
She quickly leaves and I fall off to sleep
Colours explode, fireworks of my imagination
My mind is filled with hope, memories and dreams
All the information and knowledge is kept there
Like a bag overflowing ripped at the seams
I open my eyes but my room is shrouded in darkness
I am scared of the dark, a beast of the night
I shut my eyes tightly and hear the front door
It’s my mother she’s back, things will be alright.     

"DAUGHTER" by Charl Fregona

There are things you should know about
My silent heart,
My dumb tongue.
I know that you breathe the echo of perfume on my pillow
That you clothe yourself in my gown,
Black silk, twist your hair round,
Try to wear my frown
That you sing to keep me in
And stagger across the floor of your life
Wearing my ridiculous stilettos
Because you think you are alone.
I push back mute longing.
We see exactly who we are in our mirrors.
Because you are patterned in my cells,     
I carry you across the great divide
Along that steep edge between death and forever,
Lead us through the struggle of birth into love of living.
My divine burden, my heart speaks.
I have been before.
You are not home alone
I am here with strong round walls to enclose you.


Umcabango wami

(Siswati translation of poem extract by Dr Maria Letsie)

Ngihogela emakha akhe ladulile nalanukelelako
Leliphunga livakala emiveni yami njengensimu yetihlahla
Imibala iyadubuka, imililo lekhona emicabangweni yami
Ingcondvo yami igcwele ngelitsemba, tinkhumbulo kanye nemaphupho
Ngivule emehlo ami kodvwa likamelo lami likhungatfwe bumnyama



(Siswati translation of poem extract by Dr Maria Letsie)

Ngiyati kutsi uphefumlela emakha lamnandzi emcamelweni wakho
Utigcokisa I-gawuni yami,
Isilika lemnyama,ushwile tinwele takho,
Uzama kuswaca njengami
Kutsi uyahlabela kute ungigcine
Kungumtfwalo wami, inhlitiyo yami iyakhuluma
Ngikwentile kucala.
Awusiwedvwa laph’ ekhaya
Ngikhona netindvonga leticinile ngikukakile.     

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