School of Arts

Poetry Africa opening night wows audience

The 21 participating poets at the Poetry Africa festival
The 21 participating poets at the Poetry Africa festival

An enthralling line-up of 21 poets from around the world wowed the opening night audience at the Poetry Africa Festival held at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre.

The festival, now in its 22nd year, was hosted by UKZN’s Centre for Creative Arts (CCA) within the College of Humanities.

The festival 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.

Acting Director for the CCA, Ms Lliane Loots noted that the festival is a ‘celebration of the power of words to heal the world. Telling the truth is a revolution of the Arts and the spoken word. These are the voices of revolution.’

DVC for the College Professor Nhlanhla Mkhize opened the festival saying, ‘Poets play a critical role in society and have the poetic licence to criticise. This is significant considering the state of the country. We also need to nurture the talent of our female poets.’ He then paid homage to various female activists that gave their lives for freedom.

One of those activists was Albertina Sisulu who was given a moving tribute at the festival. The Wushwini Pan African Centre performed a riveting dance and praise poetry sequence chronicling Sisulu’s life. The tribute included performances by renowned storyteller Dr Gcina Mhlophe and poet Lebo Mashile.

Attending the festival was the granddaughter of Albertina Sisulu, Ms Ayanda Sisulu who was presented with a special painting of her grandmother (depicted as a nurse) by KZN artist Mr Welcome Danca, who is known for his work that shows the traditional Zulu way of life. ‘I am overwhelmed by this tribute and gesture. This is such an amazing surprise to honour my grandmother. This means a lot to my family and the nation,’ she said.

The 21 participating poets then took to the stage, showcasing some of their poetry and sharing their experiences as artists of the spoken word.

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