Ayesha Kajee

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Poems for a Better World: Silence

Graphic by the Gordian design team.

Watch UN-aligned’s exclusive interview with Ayesha Kajee.


Silence is explicit
Silence is complicit
Complicity is violence
So in the violence of our silence
Let us take stock of our complicity 

Our complicity silences truth
Muffles honour, rapes innocence
The same innocence we plead
Confronted by shattered delusion
“We didn’t know” 

We wished to not know
Blinded, deafened, deadened
We turned away Bedecked ourselves in laurel
Which now turns to rue 

Our silence – yours and mine – is explicit
It is complicit It is violent
And in its complicit explicit violence
We too have bloodied our souls

About Ayesha Kajee

Ayesha Kajee, a South African human rights activist and political analyst, has written poems and stories since childhood, but rarely publishes them due to ingrained perfectionism. She was runner up for the Babishaiku haiku prize in 2016. Ayesha previously directed the International Human Rights program at Wits University, where she also lectured in Politics and International Relations. She was briefly director of SA’s Freedom of Expression Institute before leaving full-time work to care for an invalid parent. She has worked and travelled in many African countries, with a special research focus on electoral and parliamentary democracy, gender justice, transitional justice and gender rights. Her research work has been widely published in academic circles as well as mainstream media. Ayesha’s published work reflects her diverse interests and she is often called upon for media analysis on African politics.

Silence was awarded the second place in the 2021 UN-aligned poetry competition.

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