21st Poetry Africa Opens to a Packed Sneddon Theatre
Poetry enthusiasts packed the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre for the much anticipated opening night of the 21st edition of Poetry Africa. This landmark festival, organised by UKZN’s Centre for Creative Arts (CCA) within the College of Humanities, introduced Festival goers to the poets and the highlights for the week.
Acting Dean and Head of the School of Arts Professor Nobuhle Hlongwa welcomed guests to the Festival while UKZN staff member and Jazz musician Ms Thulile Zama provided musical entertainment for the evening.
Addressing the audience, acting CCA Director Ms Chipo Zhou said, ‘This year, Poetry Africa turns 21, a testament to the commitment of UKZN to the development of the performance arts, not only in KwaZulu-Natal, but internationally. Poetry is a powerful tool, it opens up dialogues about pertinent social issues. This year’s poets have robust intellect to challenge stereotypes and world views.’
Co-curator for the Festival and poet Ms Mandi Vundla added, ‘This year’s line-up of poets is a reflection of the current industry. While the Festival opens up a platform for the poets, partnerships are equally important as it further allows us to expose talent across all spheres of the international Arts spaces.’
South African poet Natalia Molebatsi sees the Festival as an exciting space for a poet to be in as it allows for the exchange of ideas about the spoken word and to address social and world challenges. ‘After a performance, audiences are able to reflect deeply on the sentiments raised in a poem. It is sort of a gift to the audience by the poet as the message and feelings behind the poem stays with them longer. It is a deep introspection.’
Zimbabwean poet Andrew Manyika added, ‘Poetry Africa is the one of the longest, most recognised festivals on the continent and to be part of the line-up is no easy feat.
‘The participating poets touched on various issues and they connect with audiences and that is what poetry is all about. Poetry chronicles history and the lived experiences of the poet. I will continue supporting this festival because of the impact it has on people.’
Words: Melissa Mungroo