Poetry Africa Festival celebrates the beauty of the spoken word

Lebo Mashile

Multi-award winning poet and activist Lebo Mashile. Picture: Instagram

Published Oct 13, 2020


For the 24th consecutive year, the Poetry Africa festival, presented by the Centre for Creative Arts at the University of KwaZulu-Natal sets the stage for poetry from South Africa and around the world.

The festival which kicked off on Monday, October 12, will end on Saturday, October 17.

Monday 12 October, the festival was officially opened with a keynote address by Lebo Mashile after which the audience was treated to an audio-visual experience of the recently released audiobook Collective Amnesia by Putuma Koleka.

“It is even more important to hold and nurture poets in 2020 because only poets can make sense of 2020,” said Mashile.

Commenting on the show, Siphindile Hlongwa, curator of the festival said: “Most arts centres are still closed as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and many artists continue to be without an income.

“The Poetry Africa festival in its online format has enabled the Centre for Creative Arts to create some work opportunities to support artists.”

This year’s Poetry Africa festival features a series of collaborations with various partners. “Most notable amongst these collaborations is a partnership with the French Institute of South Africa (IFAS) supported by Total SA”, said Ismail Mahomed, Director of the Centre for Creative Arts.

As part of this partnership, a poetry collection will be published in early 2021 with publishing house impepho press. The poets who will feature in the book were selected following a call for submissions looking for talented young South African poets.

IFAS is organising more exciting events throughout Poetry Africa festival, including three professional development workshops with famous poets revolving around the theme “Living as a poet”, these webinars are streamed live on Tuesday, October 13, Wednesday, October 14 and Thursday, October 15 from 11 am to 11.30 am.

The French Institute of South Africa is also presenting special guest, Cameroonian poet Nnane Ntube.

Ntube believes in the power of poetry to change mindsets and in quality education.

Nnane Ntube. Picture: Supplied

She volunteers her services to mentor young girls, graduates and dropouts.

Her dream is to have parents of her community believe in the creativity of their children and the power of literature.

She is the coordinator of CLIJEC (Cercle Littéraire des Jeunes du Cameroun) and literary coordinator of Writers Space Africa, Cameroon chapter (WSA-C).

IFAS presents “Digging: The Fluidity of Language”, a digital collaborative experience of choreo-poems advocating for social change.

Award-winning choreographer and dancer Musa Hlatswayo’s work has courageously explored the controversial and complex issues relating to identity, masculinity and patriarchy.

He is passionate about developing critical voices for the cultural sector.

In this programme, he gathers a group of dancers to team with giving physical expression to the poems of Natalia Molebatsi, Sibongile Fisher and Menzi Sibiya.

Natalia Molebatsi. Picture: Supplied

The festival programme is presented Poetry Africa Festival social media platforms, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Click here for the full programme.

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