Mathews Phosa developed his love for poetry as a young boy growing up in rural Mpumalanga and Limpopo. While he has published a collection of poems in Afrikaans, Chants of Freedom is first English poetry anthology. Mostly written while in exile as the commander of an MK unit in Maputo, Mozambique, Phosa’s poems vividly recreate the feelings of anger, defiance, frustration, shame, pain and ultimately hope that characterised the exiles’ experience of the struggle to abolish apartheid in South Africa.
Writing in a lyrical style, Phosa addresses such themes as oppression, violence, death and hatred, and recalls the atrocities and tragedies of the migrant-labour system, the murders of innocent children, the detentions without trial, the bannings and the state-sanctioned executions that characterised the apartheid era. Chants of Freedom provides raw, powerful and unprecedented insight into the consciousness of a freedom fighter.