Packed House for 18th Poetry Africa Festival Opening
The appreciative audience was introduced to the poets and heard about highlights of the week-long Festival. CCA Project Manager Ms Tiny Mungwe said this year’s event, bringing together a diverse mix of voices to narrate the story of our times, featured 24 poets from a variety of countries in Africa and overseas.
‘The Festival showcased world class poetry and participants got the chance to visit schools, community centres and campuses across Durban as part of the community’s outreach programme. A big part of this year’s focus is the Goethe-Institut Conference on the Spoken Word in Africa that we hosted,’ said Mungwe.
‘The Conference involved organisers from across the continent sharing ideas on mobilising to increase the impact of spoken word across Africa through collaborations, networks and shared experiences.’
Speaking at the opening, the Head of the eThekwini Municipality’s Parks, Recreation and Culture Department, Mr Thembinkosi Ngcobo, said Poetry Africa was an important event which allowed people to reflect critically on narratives about the transformation of the country.
‘Poetry Africa creates a space for the production and development of society and encourages the critical voice. I hope this Festival continues to grow and some day will be held in other African countries, making it an African event.’
A special tribute was made to honour the life and times of legendary South African Poet, Writer, and Activist Mafika Pascal Gwala, who died last month.
In recognising his contribution towards freedom of expression and equality for students of all races, as well as his remarkable contributions to South African poetry, a short video was shown.
It was an extract from the documentary Word Down the Line - screened at this year’s Durban International Film Festival - which featured South African writer, playwright and performance poet, Mr Lesego Rampolokeng, and Gwala discussing Black Consciousness and Gwala’s poetry.
A leader of the slam poetry scene in Mali, Mr Aziz Siten’k, later wowed audiences with his poem A Glimmer of Hope.
‘I’m so grateful to Poetry Africa for including me as one of their poets for this year and allowing me the opportunity to defend African poetry in Mali. It has been a great experience to be a part of this,’ he said.
* Organised by UKZN’s Centre for Creative Arts), the 18th Poetry Africa Festival is funded by the City of Durban and the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Arts and Culture, Goethe Institut and the French Institute of South Africa. The Centre for Creative Arts is housed in the College of Humanities at the University of KwaZulu-Natal and is a special project of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Professor Cheryl Potgieter.