Poems in Times of Distress

Ayanda Billie

Ayanda Billie from KwaNobuhle, Uitenhage, is a freelance writer, jazz critic and poet. His English poetry collection Avenues of my Soul was published in 2006 followed, in 2017, by a collection of  isiXhosa poetry, Umhlaba Umanzi. His most recent publication KwaNobuhle Overcast, published in 2018, is a collection of personal observations of the place he has called home for more than four decades. His poetry is often dark and paints a gloomy picture of one of the largest townships in Nelson Mandela Bay but Billie believes that poetry provides “a glimmer of a new dawn, it brings hope and the moment you embrace it, it spreads its wings of compassion”. He will be performing his poetry to music arranged by Mkhululi Fiesto Gxasheka.

  • Genre: Poetry
  • Format: Video
  • Duration: 30mins
  • Language: English, isiXhosa
  • Ages: 14+
  • Available From: June 28, 2020
Content no longer available.


Writer & performer: Ayanda Billie
Music arranged by: Mkhululi Fiesto Gxasheka
Video editor & visuals: Siyabulela Skelem Bolokoqoshe


Ayanda Billie is a freelance writer and poet. He graduated from Rhodes University with MA degree in Creative Writing in 2016. He was born and bred in Uitenhage in the township of KwaNobuhle were he still lives. Currently works at Volkswagen SA as a Quality Operator. He has three published poetry collections, Avenues of my Soul, 2006 (English); Umhlaba Umanzi, 2017 (isiXhosa); and KwaNobuhle Overcast, 2018 (English). The theme of his poetry is about the joy and the deep-seated grief of his community of Kwa-Nobuhle: the brightness of hope on the faces of children running around the streets, the strides made by their mothers, the confusion of factory workers who are lost in darkness since the dawn of the new dispensation. Then there are more personal poems: “my own joys as well as the difficulties that have kept me from sleep and strangled my dreams” as a writer, even though like Mafika Gwala, I believe that “words are born the way mothers beget children/words are born to survive time”. His style is influenced by imagistic, mystic and soulful poetry, such as the haunting Spanish voice of Garcia Lorca who wrote, “I lose myself in the heart of certain children” and the absorbing Xhosa voice of SEK Mqhayi. “In response to their poetry my offering will be words that enliven us; my style will be what I sees in the mirror, through the window, the sound of rain on my zinc roof and what frightens me.”