Ingrid Jonker (19 September 1933 – 19 July 1965) was a South African poet. Although she wrote in Afrikaans, her poems have been widely translated into English, German, French, Dutch, Polish, Hindi and Zulu. She reached iconic status in South Africa owing to the intensity of her work and the tragic course of her turbulent life.
Ingrid was born in the Northern Cape and attended Wynberg Girls’ High School where she began writing poetry for the school magazine and she produced her first collection of Afrikaans poems, Na die Somer (“After the Summer”) at the age of thirteen. Her first published book of poems, Ontvlugting (“Escape”) was published in 1956 and her second collection of poems Rook en Oker (“Smoke and Ochre”) in 1963. While this collection was praised by most South African writers, poets and critics, it was given a cool reception by the more conservative white South African public and Ingrid became known as one of the Die Sestigers, a new literary movement, embracing secularization, modernity, racial tolerance and sexual freedom.
Rook en Oker won Jonker the £1000 Afrikaanse Pers-Boekhandel literary prize as well as a scholarship from the Anglo American Corporation and she was able to realise her dream of travelling to England and spending time in Europe in The Netherlands, France, Spain and Portugal.
Ingrid began working on a new collection of poems shortly before her death and a selection of these poems was published in the collection Kantel Son (“Toppling Sun”). Nelson Mandela read her poem, “Die kind (wat doodgeskiet is deur soldate by Nyanga)” during his address at the opening of the first democratically elected parliament on 24 May 1994.
Profiles of OMT Scholars