Phillippa Yaa Villiers

Phillippa Yaa Villiers

February 17, 1966 – ...
Countries: South Africa

Phillippa Yaa de Villiers (born 17 February 1966) is an award-winning South African writer and performance artist who performs her work nationally and internationally. She is noted for her poetry, which has been published in collections and in many magazines and anthologies, as well as for her autobiographical one-woman show, Original Skin, which centres on her confusion about her identity at a young age, as the bi-racial daughter of an Australian mother and a Ghanaian father who was adopted and raised by a white family in apartheid South Africa. She has written: "I became Phillippa Yaa when I found my biological father, who told me that if he had been there when I was born, the first name I'd have been given would be a day name like all Ghanaian babies, and all Thursday girls are Yaa, Yawo, or Yaya. So by changing my name I intended to inscribe a feeling of belonging and also one of pride on my African side. After growing up black in white South Africa, internalising so many negative 'truths' of what black people are like, I needed to reclaim my humanity and myself from the toxic dance of objectification." She has also said: "Because I wasn't told that I was adopted until I was twenty, I lacked a vocabulary to describe who I am and where I come from, so performing and writing became ways to make myself up." As Tishani Doshi observes in the New Indian Express: "Much of her work is concerned with race, sexuality, class and gender within the South African context."