'Things I don't like'

This poem was published for the first time in The New African in July 1962 but Bessie soon abandoned the genre after that. Some of her poems, which were never published, were then donated to the National English Literary Museum in Grahamstown and are said to provide an invaluable insight into her early life.


'Things I Don't Like'

"I am Black.


Hot sun and the geographical set-up

Made me Black;

And through my skin

A lot of things happen to me


And I wake each morning

Red murder in my eyes

'Cause some crook's robbed me again,

Taken what little I had right out of my hands

With the whole world standing by

And doing nothing...



Oh no.

Today is my day.

Going to get back tit-for-tat,

All you stole.

Going to fight you till you or I

Lie smashed and bleeding dead

And don't care who dies, You or I,

But going to fight -


                                  Bessie Head


back to the Bessie Head memorial page

"I'm an individual. Nobody shall make me ashamed of who I am!"
Bessie Head


In this lesson plan, learners will get a small taste of the power of Bessie Head's writing. They will also be exposed to the great personal suffering she endured, partly as a result of the hurtful ideas about coloured people that were encouraged during apartheid. Head's letters tell us a great deal about the loneliness caused by prejudice.

Lesson plan
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Artwork photo gallery
More images of Bessie's memorial artwork erected at Werda Hoerskool in Hillary, Durban.
Archive photo gallery
'Life in pictures' - these images range from when she was a young journalist to when she was at Serowe, Botswana.