I have my words and I have my expression – Adrian ‘Diff’ Van Wyk

Boipelo Mokgothu   


AMAZINK – Through a “rap battle” to former prime minister DF Malan, the award-winning performance poet and writer, Adrian ‘Diff’ van Wyk, managed to make some audience members shift uncomfortably in their seats while others were left to ponder his message.

Adrian Van Wyk. Picture taken by Courtney Koopman
PHOTO: Courtney Koopman

Van Wyk, also a history student at Stellenbosch University, was performing at an InZync-poetry session at Amazink in Kayamandi. He has won the Versus Poetry Slam and has worked with Marlene van Niekerk and Antjie Krog in a conference in honour of the cartoonist Zapiro.

“I’m going to take you back to 1948,” said Van Wyk when he took to the stage to perform his poem “Diff vs. Malan”.

At the end of the poem, he shouts “The power is ours.” His poem clearly had an effect on his audience.

According to Van Wyk the poem was actually a rap battle to DF Malan. He was commissioned, along with other poets, to write a poem based on the life of Malan. “We spent a month in the archives of Stellenbosch University and working with the collections of Malan.” Van Wyk said while Malan’s artefacts were recorded and detailed, the history of some other people were not even preserved.

In his poem, Van Wyk says that despite Malan’s legacy trying to disturb their flow, “we will stand firm on this shaky ground”.

Van Wyk said when he came to Stellenbosch he was shocked that there were no poets or artists to speak about what is happening here. “We needed a platform to express ourselves and that was when Pieter Odendaal initiated the idea to start the InZync Poetry Sessions in 2011.”

They decided that the sessions will take place in Kayamandi. “We wanted people, some who have never been to a township, to go there.”

Van Wyk was part of the student protests last year but now he expresses what is happening through his poetry. “I get criticised a lot that I am ‘not on the ground’ anymore but I dislike violence and me doing poetry still makes me involved.”

He believes he must remember that he has a responsibility. “Yes, I have a poetic license and freedom of expression but when it starts being hateful then it becomes oppression and no longer expression.”

Van Wyk explains that poets say a lot of things that people do not want to hear. “It is not hurtful, it is just uncomfortable and we need to face the harsh truth.”

Growing up in Kuilsriver influenced his interest in poetry. “There was a lot of hip-hop around me and my family is also into poetry so I also got into it. “




Adrian Van Wyk. Picture taken by Courtney Koopman .jpg


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