Growing up in the sandy streets of Elsies River, young Daniels found a way of escaping his reality in order to find poetic justice. Picture: Supplied.
Growing up in the sandy streets of Elsies River, young Daniels found a way of escaping his reality in order to find poetic justice. Picture: Supplied.

Escaping reality through poetry helps heals wounds of apartheid

By Murphy Nganga Time of article published Jan 15, 2022

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Cape Town - Despite being left with many wounds from the reality of apartheid, award-winning poet Peter Daniels found a way of escape from reality in order to find poetic justice.

Growing up in Elsies River, young Daniels had no choice but to be exposed to the social and economic challenges that came with the 1985 riots, and despite his interest in literature, essays, and recitations at school, Daniels was unable to pursue his dreams because of financial constraints.

Using an unorthodox method to get to where he is now, Daniels joined the defence force in order to be able to pay for his tuition and make strides towards his dreams.

“Growing up as a coloured child was hard enough during apartheid, but being poor on top of that made life unbearable. I was raised by a single mother and my father went to jail. The first time I laid eyes on my father was in a coffin when I was 12 years old,” he said.

“Having to experience difficult times during that era, I joined the defence force, became an instructor and later studied through them. I qualified as a radio technician and, with this qualification, I left the army and joined MTN, where I worked myself up to be the regional technical operations manager for the whole of Tshwane.

“Fast forward to me pursuing my dreams. I started posting some of my poems on social media. People liked them and urged me to compile a poetry book. It took me five years to compile my first poetry book, as I did not really want to publish it. I was only writing poetry for the love of it, not for a book or money. In June of 2020, I finally gave in and published my first poetry book, SoutKorrels 1, I Am Alive, followed by SoutKorrels 2,“ said Daniels.

Having being awarded the African Authors Award in 2020 and the African Honouree Authors Award in 2021, Mariette van Dyk, who published all three of Daniel's books, said that with Daniel’s background, his writing gives a pure reflection of how he excelled from where he was in order to reach great heights in the process.

“His poems depict a view of his upbringing that helped shape him, where he highlights all the victories despite these struggles. What inspires me the most about his writing is Daniel’s deep spiritual beliefs, combined with his unique style of writing. His ability to convert his heart’s emotions into words, gives me so much joy and encouragement, and with every word in his poetry being unique and his personality being so colourful, one can recognise oneself in all his poems, making his artistry unique,” said Van Dyk.

Daniels believes that anyone can make it. However, it starts with remembering that their environment does not determine who they are.

“You don’t have to conform to the norm. It is imperative to listen to the voice inside of you that says you are better than this, you can rise above this, and this is only temporary. Believe in God, believe in yourself and never become too dependant on other people’s affection.“

“Remember to grab every opportunity of education with both hands, grow a good attitude, speak positively about yourself, your dreams, and your future; and also believe it,” said Daniels.

Weekend Argus

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