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Phillippa Yaa de Villiers

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

Archive for the ‘Misc’ Category

Notes on Original Skin

Biographical sketch that first appeared in the Mail & Guardian – and more information about Original Skin, on at the Market Theatre until 22 June, from Litnet.

After a number of incidents in my childhood — when I was expelled from the movies, teased at school and asked personal questions about my origins — I demanded photographs of my mother, pregnant. Then, when I wanted to see pictures of myself as a newborn, there weren’t any. I rifled through my mother’s papers looking for some official document explaining me. I never found one.

In retrospect it all makes sense. At the age of 20 my father told me that I was adopted and that my biological father was possibly aboriginal. It took 14 years for me to discover the true story and an additional nine years to write it down. Original Skin, which opens at the Market Theatre this week, is the culmination of this process.

Adoption is difficult to describe because it is loaded with guilt. In her book, Twice Born, author Betty Jean Lifton writes: “Adoptive parents demand that their stories end happily ever after, although they must know that even families with blood ties cannot be promised such a simple-minded plot. Even blood children must one day go off on their own lonely journeys of self-discovery.” This form of emotional bondage robs many adoptees of the words to describe themselves and their situation. This becomes untenable for a writer.

More info on Original Skin

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Come, let’s go for a walk


I am experimenting with photographs, enjoy the slide show!

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Victor Victor!!!

I am so glad that Victor Dlamini’s contribition to literature and journalism is being recognized. He has really shown the world that black writers, in all their diversity, exist, and he continues to document our growth. I am sure that the treasure of the future will be the thousands of photos, podcasts and written pieces that Victor has collected. Halala Victor!! Your passion is being rewarded! It is much deserved!

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Museum of Crime

I have to admit that I am often a bit of an ostrich. Get locked away in my own world where I watch the minute movements of grass. So for a change I decided to read the newspaper. Open myself up to all that REAL stuff happening out thyere. CRIME. Everyone is horrified by crime. The newspapers report on it all the time, yet little seems to change. We are terrified, overwhelmed, and even at the level of our imaginations, disempowered by crime.

OK, I have to admit that I am emotionally involved. The murder of Lucky Dube took me right back to the murder of my friend Gito Baloi. The cost of crime to our country is often measured in loss of tourist dollars. But what of the wealth of human achievement and integrity that we lose when people of the calibre of Gito, Lucky, Dr Sadera Bhamjee, Dr Louisa Els, Amy Biehl, Dumisani Dlamini, Jackie Semela, Brett Goldin and the many other great minds we have lost to the ignorant thug’s weapon?


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Original Skin at the Baxter

Something you might have received in your inbox recently…

Original Skin at the Baxter Theatre this Sunday

The Baxter Theatre Centre’s popular South African season in the 2007 Play>Ground series continues this Sunday, November 4, with performance poet Phillippa Yaa de Villiers’ Original Skin, at 5pm in the Baxter Sanlam Studio.


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Parliament of Poetry Flyer

Parliament of Poetry in LondonHere’s the flyer for the show in the UK I mentioned earlier this month.

Now let me resound the call: please tell your SA expat friends and family in London about the event, so they can come and support myself, Lebo Mashile and Napo Masheane.

Admission is free to this “Parliament of Poetry” on October 14th – all the more reason to come watch!

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Ja, Jo’burg

I’m always surveying our streets looking for evidence of change. As I drove through Yeoville the other day, a series of billboards in French graced the lamp-posts: “Je ne salis pas” – I don’t litter. I cheered all the way down Stuart Drive into Bertrams, where we are still so Anglo despite the Portuguese cuisine and language of the streets. But anyway, Jo’burg! well done for acknowledging the Francophone presence. We could also perhaps think of some other things to put on our billboards – like for example: Bienvenue! Si vous avez un formation de medecin ou professeur, on avez besoin de vous! or Par le grace de Dieu, apprends nous comment faire la cuisine, or something. Anyway it’s just a little sign that in the minds of our city planners, Africa isn’t out there anymore – it’s right here next door to us – and it doesn’t litter.


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Writerly concerns

The longer I spend as a writer, the more I become like an accountant.

When I was young I thought artists led exciting, colourful lives, and that like the grasshopper who fiddled all summer, they didn’t worry about paying bills but simply lived to create beauty. Accountants were dull folk who spent their lives adding and subtracting figures and ate a meal roster – the same dinner every night for years.


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Welcome to the PhilYaa Blog

Phillippa Yaa de VilliersHi, welcome to my blog, where I hope to share ideas and give people information about performances and books, and sneak-preview poems.

I would like to analyse, sift, request, defend, advertise, recount, lambaste, bemoan, delight, relish, castigate and groan on this blog.

You’ll be hearing from me. I hope to hear from you too.


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