Poet Siphokazi Jonas to deliver bespoke work prior to Ramaphosa’s SONA 2021
Cape Town - One of the many radical changes to this year’s State of the Nation Address includes the switch from the traditional praise singer to a poet.
Renowned spoken word performer Siphokazi Jonas will deliver a two-minute bespoke work prior to President Cyril Ramaphosa’s 2021 SONA at 7pm on Thursday.
Best known for her hard-hitting GBV play #WeAreDyingHere, Jonas said on Wednesday that she hoped it would be an opportunity to highlight the importance of the arts in South Africa.
“There is a dearth of talent in this country which needs to be celebrated and supported, even more so during this ghastly pandemic.
“I also hope that young people in the country and around the globe will be challenged and inspired by seeing someone who looks like them doing this work and to do what they can with what they have,”Jonas said.
“Traditionally, SONA has been graced by praise poets who are an important feature of oral literature. This shift towards spoken word is important because of the way in which this form engages with the moment – it is not about praise but reflection and unpacking issues with nuance while calling for accountability.
“I hope that in subsequent years, many more poets will have this opportunity and that we will use it to challenge and ask important questions of ourselves and our leaders.”
Jonas’s spoken word performance is part of a candle lighting ceremony led by Ramaphosa in honour and remembrance of South Africans who lost their lives during the Covid-19 pandemic.
She posted a teaser of her piece on Twitter ahead of her performance on Thursday.
“There is a flood inside our house,— Siphokazi Jonas (@Siphokazi_J) February 10, 2021
The water climbs the walls when we weep,
it does not let us breathe.
Everything is wet with grief.”
Full #sonapoem Thursday 11 February on Parliament of South Africa YouTube channel or on their DSTV.
BETWEEN 18:30-19:00.#sona2021#sona210poem pic.twitter.com/jQVu7wvmvU
As writer and performer, Jonas has produced multiple one-woman poetry shows in Cape Town and Johannesburg and has been a featured act at numerous poetry sessions and festivals around the country.
She is co-producer of the #WeAreDyingHere short film, an adaptation of the stage production of the same name,
The play, which Jonas co-wrote and directed, takes a hard look at the prevalence of the violent culture of harassment, abuse, rape and femicide in SA.
Jonas has also performed alongside renowned musicians including, Sipho “Hotstix” Mabuse, Freshlyground, Pops Mohamed, Dizu Plaatjies, Dave Reynolds and just recently was a keynote speaker at Music Exchange 2020.
She made history in 2016 as the first African poet ever to perform at Rhetoric in Los Angeles, California, the biggest Christian spoken word event in the world.
She is the English Poetry Editor for the New Contrast journal and also currently works online as the Performing Arts Director of an elementary school in Gainesville, Florida.