JOHANNESBURG - South Africa came second at the Coupe d’Afrique de Slam poesie (Africa Cup of Slam Poetry) 2018 held in Chad over the weekend.
Representing the country was 22-year-old Thuthukani Myeza, a Joburg born poet, rapper and songwriter.
Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa took to social media to congratulate Myeza on his achievement and the Gauteng Department of Education also expressed its support.
Myeza is the current SA National Poetry Slam champion following his win at the second National Poetry Slam against poets from all other eight provinces at Joburg theatre on 7 April this year.
The National Poetry slam is a Youth Development programme by Current State of Poetry (CSP) in association with Joburg Theatre.
In true cup fashion in Chad, 34 poets representing their African countries squared up against each other in group stages, then knock outs and at the finals on 10 November, South African went face to face with Senegal who were crowned champs.
“My gang (SA) had my back the whole time,” said Myeza.
“There was a moment when the National champion of Chad had a crowd of supporters and I felt alone until I read all the social media posts of people giving me love.”
Myeza said the support from Mthethwa and Gauteng Department of Education affirms that poetry has a place in South Africa and can be more than just closed sessions for "deep" people. “Poetry can unify and strength us as a nation,” he said.
“Government has seen excelling in poetry and literature is possible, and with more support this art can reach greater heights.”
Myeza said what needs to be done for poetry to be more accessible to the general public is more poetry books in schools. “Poetry books by African poets. More financial support for entities like CSP.”
Congratulations to South African National Slam Champion, Thuthukani Myeza, who has been chosen to represent South Africa at the Africa Cup of Slam Poetry in Chad. The ACSP brings together artists from 34 countries in Africa to promote a united Africa through our diverse art. pic.twitter.com/pSskPmLqzy— Min. Nathi Mthethwa (@NathiMthethwaSA) November 9, 2018
Vus'umuzi Phakathi of CSP said the competition at Africa Cup of Slam Poetry was fierce but Myeza was a warrior. “He made sure to bring his A game in every round.
All South African poetry houses and lovers of the art joined in on social media with the hashtags #AllSABehindMyeza, #SAinChad and #TogetherMeansBetter in support of Myeza,” he said.
“The journey was supported by our partners, Joburg Theatre, Business and Arts South Africa and Joburg based poetry trio Magnum Opus. We sent a champion to Chad and he sure delivered.”
Myeza returned to the country on yesterday. He is an alumni of the CSP program, winner of the Cuddle Sessions slam in 2015, two times winner of the CSP monthly slams, Gauteng Provincial Slam Champion 2017, and the SA National Slam Champion 2017/18.
Myeza is also the co-founder of the World of Words poetry sessions and the general manager of The East Jozi Project. He is @TheNeoZulu on Twitter.