The Revolution is a Woman by Toni Stuart

A collective poem compiled and written by Toni Stuart at the 4th African Feminist Forum, 10th – 12th April, 2016 in Harare, Zimbabwe. The poem uses words, phrases, ideas and thoughts shared by the women throughout the forum.


the revolution is a woman

a black, queer, radical,

Azania House-occupying,


Tahir square-protesting raised fist


pumping, bashing, smashing, tearing

down Patrick’s invisible walls


the revolution is a woman

a hijab-wearing

veil-discarding, veil-reclaiming

church-going, silent-praying, God-denying voice


piercing through the obsidian night

to reach always for the light on the horizon’s edge


the revolution is a woman

reworking the histories that have shaped her:

fashioning the steel of a broken arm into a power salute

moulding her violated waist into an unapologetic swerving hip

shattering the chains of a shackled ankle into a defiant dancing leg


clearing the rubble under which her daughter’s soul is buried

her relentless fingers scratched and bruised

to let the light sear this seed, turning cement into soil


this work that breaks her heart

this works that feeds her soul


the revolution is a woman

loving a woman in the shadows

so she can love her children with some safety in the light

praying for strength to defend her love against the pulpit

arguing for her right to defend her love against the bench


the revolution is a woman

who speaks not only for herself

hear her sing:

this land is woman’s land

            this continent is woman’s continent

            we will never tire

            we are proudly queer


teeth biting back at the hand muffling her voice

until she breaks free into a ceaseless whispered prayer for love

and unending ululation for liberation


the revolution is a woman

born into the light of feminist fires

standing in the flames of rage and love

burning tirelessly so her sisters will not die sad


the revolution is a woman

fighting (loving)

fighting (loving)

fighting (loving)

for the soul of Nigeria, Mali, Burkina Faso, Uganda, Ghana, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Occupied Azania, Benin, Mauritania, Zambia, Mozambique, Swaziland, Angola, Niger, DRC, Liberia, Sudan, Egypt, Senegal, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Liberia, Cameroon, Chad, Central African Republic, Kenya, Burundi, Rwanda, Guinea, Togo


the revolution is a woman

fighting (loving)

fighting (loving)

fighting (loving)

for the soul of the world


Toni Stuart is a South African poet, performer and spoken word educator. Her work has been published in anthologies, journals and non-fiction books locally and abroad. Her performances include, a group show at the Paris Autumn Festival 2013 (as part of France South Africa Seasons 2012/2013), poetry installation Here To Listen (London, 2015), poetry & film exhibition From My View with filmmaker Shelley Barry (South Africa, 2013); Stretching Silence with visual artist Firdous Hendricks (South Africa, 2013); sound installation Between Words and Images with curator & visual artist Ernestine White (South Africa, 2013). In 2014 was part of the Scottish Poetry Library’s Commonwealth Poets United exchange. In 2013 she was named in the Mail and Guardian’s list of 200 inspiring Young South Africans. She has an MA Writer/Teacher (Distinction) from Goldsmiths, University of London, where she was a 2014/2015 Chevening Scholar. She is one half of international poetry/music duo Gertrude & Jemima with UK poet/drummer Remi Graves.


instagram: @tonistuart83

twitter: @nomadpoet