Durban – A University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) student received R22 000 and will represent South Africa at the 2023 World Slam Poetry Competition in Brazil next year.
Kwanele Nyembe, an Honours student in drama and performing arts, was crowned the National Poetry Slam champion during the recent Poetry Africa Festival.
Nyembe also known as Tory Saint, is a Durban-based poet, writer, actor, and dancer.
“There is a lot more work to be done. But today, we celebrate an evening spent with the best poets the nation has to offer. Gratitude to the Centre for Creative Arts (CCA) and UKZN for providing this platform for artists,” Nyembe said.
“South Africa has the best poets in the world, and I am grateful to Poetry Africa for echoing this established belief. I am looking forward to retaining the title next year in Brazil.”
Philip Meersman, of Belgium, a jury member for Slam Jam and head of the World Poetry Slam, said: “The use of Kwanele’s voice, the deliberate delivery in (not) using the microphone, the audience interaction, restrained emotions, biblical references together with decorticating the human body into its essence with texts that were harsh as well as blaming and bringing people together shows a well-deserved win. He is a true winner in every sense of the word, capturing and captivating his audience. He is a kind of magic that must be experienced live by the world.”
CCA director Ismail Mahomed said: “Congratulations to Kwanele. The 2022 Poetry Africa was an incredible success. The festival affirmed its place as the most relevant platform that brings together poets from across the world to share, critique and celebrate each other’s creativity. At the same time, the festival is a barometer of how poets read and interpret our social, political and global conditions. Poetry Africa is a dynamic advocate for social justice.”
Nyembe is the co-founder of Sink or Swim Podcast, a platform that serves as a media outlet for Durban-based performing artists to talk about their work and introduce to the world the person behind it. As a performer he has worked with the Embassy of Sweden in Pretoria together with non-profit organisation Hear My Voice, which curated a virtual series that incorporated creatives from different art sectors, including fashion, literature, music, spoken word, the media, the government and academia, for the purpose of co-learning, adapting to change and support during the peak of the pandemic.