Poetry Africa provides a space for intercultural exchange and dialogue by hosting an extensive community outreach programme characterised by poetry readings, performances and workshops in community centres and campuses. The outreach programme also includes visits to schools across Durban where ideas about poetry are shared.
Opening the festival performances was the UKZN Amahubo Ensemble, headed by renowned musician Mr Mbuso Khoza, who is also the Andrew Mellon Foundation Artist-in-Residency at the University.
Dean and Head of the School of Arts, Professor Nobuhle Hlongwa said, ‘Poetry Africa aims to be the driving force behind the promotion and development of the spoken word.’ She also condemned Afrophobia and violence against women and children.
Acting Director of the CCA, Ms Lliane Loots said, ‘We sit within the confluence of decolonising our historical, political and cultural relations with the Euro/America axis, forced to re-negotiate our place within the African continent in which continued and escalating gender-based violence consumes us. Through this festival we embark on using this cultural and artistic space, as a place of memory and of speaking truth to power.’
Loots added that Poetry Africa was pleased to welcome a very strong contingent of African poets. ‘At a time of South Africa’s on-going and more recent shameful xenophobia attacks against foreign nationals, we specifically dedicate Poetry Africa 2019 to the on-going belief that our poetic voice and all our art, is the very fabric of healing and of shifting mind-sets. The Festival also heralds the start of a long-term relationship with Nigeria as we begin an extensive exchange programme that links poets from West and South Africa. Open mind, open heart and the power of poetic words that open!’
The participating poets then took to the stage, showcasing some of their poetry and sharing their experiences as artists of the spoken word.