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Artist Spotlight: Don Mattera

Don Mattera (South Africa)

"Azanian Love Song" by Don Mattera

Like a tall oak

I lift my arms to catch the wind

with bruised fingers

and somewhere in the ghetto

a Child is born;

a mother’s anxiety and pain

Hide in a forest of hope.

Like a straight pine

I point my finger at God

counting a million scars

on my dreams

and somewhere in the ghetto

a Child is weeping;

a woman writes her legacy

on leaves of despair.

Like a weeping willow

I drop my soul

Into a pool of fire

Somewhere in the dark sanctuary

I hear the sound of a Freedom Song.

The Child has risen

and walks defiantly

towards the lion’s lair



Don Mattera is recognized as one of the foremost activists in South Africa’s democratic struggle for Freedom. Born in 1935, of Xhosa and Italian heritage, he inspired a generation of young people with his words. As put by Pastor Kelvin Sauls, a native South African and activist in Los Angeles, "the creative artivism of Baba Don Mattera had a transformative impact on me and all my siblings. He articulated our pain and possibility, nightmares and dreams. From Subukwe to Mandela to Biko, his writing introduced us to, and educated us about freedom fighters the apartheid regime wanted us not to know nor remember. A mentor and guide in our township, he practiced and taught us by example the power of non-violent resistance through the power of the pen!! During my visit home in January, 2020, I had the joy of attending a community-wide birthday celebration and launch of the Don Mattera Legacy Foundation. This reunion was a rainbow display of his influence & impact. From poet laureate to local hero, Baba Don Mattera has taught me how one's faith is not just a path to connect with the divine, but a path of compassion towards connecting with neighbor as kin, especially the children."

Another Poem by Don Mattera:

No Time, Blackman

Stand Blackman

and put that cap

back on your beaten head

Look him in the eye

Cold and blue

Like the devil’s fire

and tell him enough

Three centuries is more than you can take, enough!

Let him hear it

If he turns his face and sneers

spit and tell him shit

it’s all or nothing

He’s got all and you have nothing

Don’t bargain with oppression

There isn’t time man

just no more time

for the Blackman to fool around...

Join Don in conversation with Zosukuma Kunene and Ben Caldwell

Sunday, July 12, 2020 at 9:30AM PDT:

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