Competitions are always my favourite thing at FunDza! Making the calls to the winners, to inform them that they have won, is a highlight. It’s also a tricky time: so many wonderful submissions but the winning is limited to just a select few! Making the decision is always difficult. Big thanks goes to Sandra Dodson who was our external competition judge for helping us do the final selection.

Bridging Divides was the competition theme, as this fell within our Rights 2.0 – Bridging Divides project, which receives support from the Claude Leon Foundation, Foundation for Human Rights and other groups. This particular competition was made possible through the support of a grant from the Foundation for Human Rights.

Using as inspiration the line in the preamble of the Constitution that as South Africans we should strive to: “Heal these divisions of the past and establish a society based on democratic values, social justice and fundamental human rights”, the instruction was to write a poem on the entrant’s experience of division in our country. We mentioned that our Constitution and the founding values of our democracy focus on bridging these divides. This is still a work in progress, in which we all play an important part. We received many heart-felt and passionate entries from all across the country, other countries in Africa too!

Without further adieu, let’s introduce the winners!

The junior category winners are…

Junior Winners

We initially struggled to get hold of Lizzy Sindane, but when we made contact, she couldn’t believe it! “It feels as if I am dreaming. Thank you, thank you, thank you! I had to hear this for myself, I just couldn’t believe it.” Lizzy comes from Mamelodi West and you can read her poem Look at me here. Well done, Lizzy!

Jeanique van Blerk from Retreat says: “I’ve recently been partaking in the spoken word art form and this poem was me challenging myself to write a piece that had more depth than the easily accessible beauty of spoken word. Winning this competition is truly a blessing from God. Thank you to all involved in the organisation!” She wrote the beautiful poem We need umbrellas before bridges and you can read it here.

Binah Mrabure entered the competition from Nigeria, and won! Her poem The barrier can be found here. Binah says, “I feel elated. Words can’t describe it, but I just thank God. I hope to see greater things ahead. Thank you FUNDZA.” Well done, Binah!

Athenkosi Cetyana from Mowbray in Cape Town says: “Some of the greatest work that the world has not yet seen has either been swallowed up by self-doubt or a grave, or both. I am grateful to FunDza for redeeming my poetry from that swallowing and death. I feel extremely motivated and validated as a young writer.” Great job, Athenkosi! You can read his poem Pens, Police, Poems here.

Sending her poem to us from Kokstad, Sibulele Beshe was thrilled to be a winner. “More than being happy about winning, I am proud. It shows me that I should never take my talent and passion of writing lightly, as it can bear great fruits. I am very grateful!” says Sibu. Good job! Her poem Queuing can be read here. Thank you, Sibulele.

And on to the senior winners…
Senior Winners

FunDza regular, Chestlyn Draghoender, wins with his poem Letter to my mother which you can read here. He says: “I’m absolutely thrilled about winning this competition. I’ve never won anything before. Thanks for such an awesome opportunity.” Well done on the lovely poem, Chestlyn!

Zamile Hlongwana was blown away at the win! She wrote Please, try them on a really thought-provoking poem, which can be read here. Writing to us from Glenwood, Durban, she says: “A hidden light serves the same purpose as darkness; I am more than honoured to have been given this opportunity and for being exposed to such platform. Thank you FunDza for allowing us to put our lights up and playing a part within the creative aspect of this country.” Thank you, Zamile!

Jonathan Mpata Kalombo couldn’t believe he had won and we apparently made his day! “I just can’t believe it” he says. Hailing from Muizenberg, not too far from the FunDza offices, Jonathan sent him poem entitled I wish and you can read this lovely poem here. Well done, Jonathan.

Lungelwa Abigail Kulati was almost in tears when we told her she’d won. She submitted a few poems, all of which had made the finalist lists! Her poem Black man is her winning entry, you can read it here. She goes on to say, “Winning feels amazing. I have never been so happy in my life!” Great job, Lungelwa!

Appalled was another winning poem in the senior category (read it here) written by Palesa Ramekoane. She says: “I am so happy to be selected as one of the winners of the Bridging Divides Poetry competition. I am thrilled that my poem, Appalled, had the ability to stand out and be selected for a win. Thank you so much FunDza.” Keep writing, Palesa!

Well done to everyone who submitted their poems. It takes courage to share your work, and we were so impressed with the quality of poems entered. In our eyes, they’re all winners!

Take a moment to also read our highly commended entries:


Sexuality by Mthokozisi Zwane
Remember Sharpeville by Mojalefa Makuwa
Listen by Anesu Jahura
Our Brothers by Jaco Burger
Tags Count by Jurgen Namupira
Universal Love by Chevonne Destorie
Divided we fall by Tsheofatso Ngwato


Believe in humanity by Lungelwa Kulati
Where are we now? by Johannes Hlagane Mpho
Let’s hold hands by Robert Isaacs Chiwala
Slaves of freedom by Darrionn Drew
You looked at me by Lungelwa Kulati