June 18, 2024


Irish Writers Centre

Free (booking required)

After studying the Frontier Wars and Europe’s invasion of South Africa in the 18th century, the establishment of the Cape Colony and the bravery of the Xhosa Warriors, Nandi Jola visited Robben Island in 2023 which has been for centuries the Island where people who were deemed dangerous have always been kept away from society. First, the island was occupied by people who had the leprosy, where Irish nuns tended to them through their commitment and duty of religion. Later, the Island experienced the invasion of the British, where prisoners of war were sent. In the 1800s, during the building of the British Empire, native Africans known as the Xhosa Warriors were sent in exile to Robben Island. It was this island where Jongumsobomvu Maqoma the Chief and Commander of the Xhosa forces during the Frontier Wars, lost his life while imprisoned. This act would change South Africa’s history forever. This Play is an innovative storytelling and oral history body of work influenced by the discovery of Chief Maqoma’s stick in the National Museum of Ireland, the stick came to Ireland in 1873 and donated to the Museum in 1880. The language of colonisation and migration comes to life through challenging whitewashed history and most especially opening the conversation on repatriations.

Maqoma, the Chief of the Xhosa forces during the Frontier Wars died on Robben Island. But how did his ceremonial stick end up in Ireland?

Find out more about Jongumsobomvu Maqoma here.

Nandi Jola was born in Gqebera, South Africa. She holds a Master of Arts degree in English (Poetry) from Queen’s University, Belfast. She is a poet, storyteller, playwright and creative writing facilitator. Nandi is well known in Northern Ireland and beyond for her work in the Arts and Museum and Heritage sector. Among her plays, the topically titled Partition and Mama Don’t Lie, engages with but also seeks to move beyond the Eurocentric themes, was commissioned as part of the Arts Council NI-supported Six Project and Smock Alley Theatre Rachel Baptiste Programme. Partition was opened at the Belfast Film Festival in March 2021 and Mama Don’t Lie showed in Dublin at Dublin Theatre Festival 2022. Nandi Jola’s poetry has been published in New Hibernia Review in America, Bologna in Lettere Italy, and Transposie Festival in Belgium and throughout Ireland. Doire Press published her debut collection, Home Is Neither Here Nor There, in 2022 and has been widely reviewed by Poetry Ireland, Queen’s University Belfast Dublin Book Festival and more. Nandi is the curator of The Golden Shovel Poetry Jukebox having been previously commissioned for a poem called “Black Irish” that featured in the James Joyce programme of the Centre Culturel Irlandais in Paris. Her next Poetry collection research on Anthropocene in South Africa in 2022. Nandi has taught at Queen’s University and Ulster University as a guest lecturer. She is currently working with Museums Northern Ireland on Colonial Legacy and Decolonization of Museums.

Access our Building

The Irish Writers Centre is currently housed in 19 Parnell Square, Dublin 1. This is a Georgian building which unfortunately does not have a lift. There are 5 steps into the entrance level. The majority of the event’s activities will take place in the Strong room which is on the second floor and requires climbing 55 steps in total. Please do inform us of any accessibility requirements you might have before the event so we can make any necessary arrangements.

If you have any questions about the event, please email

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