Ntozake Shange (1948-2018)


Ntozake Shange inspired so many to not be afraid of expressing their oppression. She opened the floor for taboo subjects, such as: racism, sexism, rape and the empowerment of black voices to be heard. A woman. A feminist. A game changer. A visionary. The list could go on. Her words come to mind, ‘Where there is a woman there is magic’, and she was magic.

Growing up in rural Jamaica there was no theatre apart from the nativity play at Christmas and the Passion play at Easter. So when a young teacher from Kingston took me to see For Coloured Girls it was an experience I never forgot.

Then I started touring the world with my poetry and who did I run into in Oslo Norway, but Ntozake Shange herself.  What a meeting that was.

Years later we toured Britain together and i wore a different colour of the rainbow every night in celebration of the woman who opened up my young brain.

Just as I had fallen in love with Coloured Girls so she fell in love with my Madwoman Poem and we recited to each other late in the nite.

I haven’t seen you for years but Shange I shall miss your presence n the world. You brought me and all your sisters a rainbow in our skies.

The last time I saw Ntozake Shange I was playing the lead in the London West End premiere of her play Love Space Demands. That was the height of my experience as a poet and actress and she flew in to see it. So many incredible memories of Shange, so many incredible songs.

When you live inside of her words you realize the genius she was.

Written by Olivia Aroh, words taken from texts by Jean Binta Breeze