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Archive for the ‘Zimbabwe’ Category

Sterling Line-up Announced for the 2015 Time of the Writer Festival

The lineup for the 18th Time of the Writer Festival has been announced, including the who’s who of South African literature.

Presented by the Centre for Creative Arts (University of KwaZulu-Natal) and made possible by support from the Department of Arts and Culture, the City of Durban, the French Institute (IFAS) and the Goethe Institute, the 18th edition of the festival will take place in Durban between 16 and 21 March.

The lineup for the 2015 Time of the Writer:

NoViolet Bulawayo, Zimbabwe

Carol Campbell, South Africa

Imraan Coovadia, South Africa

ZP Dala, South Africa

Ousmane Diarra, Mali

Dilman Dila, Uganda

Jacob Dlamini, South Africa

Ekow Duker, South Africa

Craig Higginson, South Africa

Mandla Langa, South Africa

Thando Mgqolozana, South Africa

Kirsten Miller, South Africa

MJ Mngadi, South Africa

Nthikeng Mohlele, South Africa

Given Mukwevho, South Africa

Futhi Ntshingila, South Africa

Sue Nyathi, Zimbabwe

Charlotte Otter, South Africa

Margaret Von Klemperer, South Africa

Mzilikazi wa Afrika, South Africa

The theme for this year’s festival, Writing For Our Lives, calls attention to the urgent continuing struggle of all writers in speaking truth and bearing witness to the times through their words. Globally writers are combatting censorship when the truth is too hard to swallow, challenging the reader’s perspective and sparking a passion for literature in our youth.

During this activity-rich week, audiences can expect to engage with a multitude of award-winning writers, from a wide range of political and social contexts, on the creative and technical processes and perspectives which shape their writing.

Evening readings and discussions will take place at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre (Howard College Campus) while wide reaching free day programmes are spread across Durban and the surrounding areas as part of the festival’s ongoing efforts to promote and nurture a culture of creative expression through reading and writing. This includes school visits, a publishing forum and a range of seminars and workshops.

Ticket information

Ticket cost R25 for the evening sessions and R10 for students on presentation of a student card. Workshops, seminars and book launches are free of charge. Book through Computicket Tel: 0861 915 8000 or 011 340 8000 or online at or at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre from 6 PM.

For more information contact the Centre for Creative Arts, University of KwaZulu-Natal by phone on +27 31 260 2506/1816 or email

We Need New NamesEsther's House’n Huis vir EsterTales of the Metric SystemnullA Killing in the Sun
AskariWhite WahalaThe Texture of ShadowsUnimportanceSister MoonKusemhlabeni Lapha
Rusty BellThe Violent Gestures of LifeDo Not Go GentleThe PolygamistBalthasar's GiftJust a Dead ManNothing Left to Steal

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Poetry Africa Workshop and Kenya Seminar

Poetry Africa hits Johannesburg for a one-off showcase on 11 October at Alexander Theatre with a star-studded lineup of poets and musicians which includes Chris Abani (Nigeria), Didier Awadi (Senegal), Chiwoniso (Zimbabwe), Kwame Dawes (Ghana/Jamaica), TJ Dema (Botswana), Khadijatou (UK), Myesha Jenkins, Lebo Mashile, Oswald Mtshali and Shailja Patel (Kenya). The event is organised by the Centre for Creative Arts (University of KwaZulu-Natal), and supported by the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund (principal funder), Mimeta, and Hivos.

Also on offer is a free Poetry Writing Workshop with Kwame Dawes and a seminar on the Kenyan Trials by Shailja Patel.

Using writing exercises and communal critiques, the workshop with Kwame Dawes will explore issues of form, content, and sentiment within the larger context of the work of established writers from various literary traditions, but especially those of Africa and the Diaspora. Participants should bring pen and paper, and a copy of a poem written by a poet they admire. Kwame Dawes is an acclaimed writer of fiction, nonfiction, plays, and a prolific sixteen collections of poetry. He is also an actor, producer, an accomplished storyteller, broadcaster, and was the lead singer in Ujamaa, a reggae band. Winner of a Pushcart Prize, Kwame Dawes is Distinguished Poet in Residence at the University of South Carolina where he directs the SC Poetry Initiative and the University of South Carolina Arts Institute. He is also the programming director of the Calabash International Literary Festival in Jamaica. The workshop is hosted at Goethe Institute, 119 Jan Smuts Avenue, Parkwood, at 5:30 pm on Monday 10 October – visit for more information or call 011 442 3232.

Shailja Patel’s seminar Seen And Unseen: Windows On The ICC-Kenya Trials will unpack one of the most important stories in Kenya’s history that is playing out now, in real time, in the chambers and corridors of the International Criminal Court. This story encompasses all the other narratives, of land, ethnicity, power, dynastic politics, going back to the formation of the Kenyan state. Kenya’s future as a nation hangs in the balance – the seminar questions whether the cycle of impunity will finally be broken? Shailja Patel is a founding member of Kenyans For Peace, Truth and Justice, the civil society coalition that pulled Kenya back from the brink of civil war in 2008. Her poems have won awards on 3 continents, and been translated into 15 languages. In 2011, she was named one of Fifty Inspirational African Feminists by the African Women’s Development Fund, and she has been selected by Poetry Africa as the 2011 Letters To Dennis Brutus poet for 2011. This seminar takes place in the Graduate Seminar room, South-West Engineering building, Wits East Campus from 16:00 – 17:00 on Tuesday 11 October. Enquiries can be made to 011 717 4051.

The Poetry Africa tour also travels to Malawi, Zimbabwe, and Cape Town before culminating at the main Poetry Africa festival in Durban (17-22 October). See for more information.

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Waving Not Drowning: Writing and the Psyche at the 2011 Time of the Writer

Chiz Boys

Standing in for Amanda Patterson, who was called away from Durban, session chair Petina Gappah asked French writer Marie Darrieussecq and Angolan writer Ondjaki why they choose to write novels. Why that form in particular? Darieussecq answered that she likes the novel because it “opens windows, but does not close them, remaining fundamentally ambiguous”. Ondjaki said he chose it because it was a literary, rather than just a documentary, form. He explained that sometimes his short stories grow into novels.

An Elegy for EasterlyPig TalesThe WhistlerMoving onto the theme of the session, “Painting the Psyche”, Gappah asked the writers about their experiences with psychotherapy. Darrieussecq is a trained psychoanalyst. She said she saw three therapists before she wrote Pig Tales, which “saved my life, and my books”. She said it enabled her to “get rid of family rubbish, and ‘navel gazing’”, and to realise that “other people do exist”. She said for her writing three hours a day is good enough, as she has a husband and three children to see to, and that consulting her patients “cures” her too – in that she has to be there for them, and forget about herself for a while. Ondjaki was more reticent, saying of his experience of therapy, that it had been “very hard”.

Gappah steered the conversation around to the writer’s feelings about intertextuality. Ondjaki said quoting from other authors was “like having dinner with good friends, being in fine company in a tender, not pretentious way”. He explained that the way in which he inserted these quotations in his books was a “balance, a secret game”.

Darrieusecq said that quoting writers she likes was a way of thanking them. She said when she feels depressed, looking at her library of favourite books cheers her up: “they are there, and I love them”.

On the matter of translation, Ondjaki said that countries like Angola and Mozambique need to develop successful language strategies. He asked why they don’t have their own institutes to promote writing in Portuguese. Darrieusecq explained that she is Basque, but writes in French because she can reach a broader audience. Her work is, however, translated into Basque.

Someone from the floor asked the writers about magical realism in their work. Ondjaki said that Angolan reality is filled with magic anyway, so writing about it does not constitute a separate genre. Darieussecq noted that although she was comfortable with her texts being put under the magic realism flag, she did not like genre writer Gabriel García Márquez, who once said French was soon going to be a dead language, a statement with which she vehemently disagreed.

Ondjaki ended the session poetically, explaining that when he writes about his childhood, he “misses it”. He said for him it was at times like drowning, similar to the experience of psychotherapy, and that on those days he cries a lot, but nevertheless manages to write.

Zuma's BastardSahar ElmougyAfter the interval, blogger Azad Essa and Egyptian writer Sahar el Mougy grappled with issues of Muslim identity, guided enthusiastically by Chris van Wyk. Essa, who writes for Al Jazeera in Doha, said that web journalism has led to boundaries becoming blurred, as commentators become participants. Of the recent revolution in Egypt he said when the protesters suffered, so did the journalists. He explained that when social media intersects with mainstream media, new and important stories get told.

El-Mougy, asked to comment on the influence of feminism in her work, said the Egyptian dictatorship had been patriarchal, and that feminist work would only thrive under a democracy. She said she writes to challenge norms, because she sees so many Egyptian women internalising patriarchal discourse, and oppressing their sons and their daughters. Essa read an intriguing piece on women wearing the burqua, from his book Zuma’s Bastard.

Essa said about satire that he thought humour makes things manageable, although there were some things that should not be made fun of, for instance, the Israel-Palestine conflict. He said it was too soon to tell if his satirical approach had succeeded in making the local and global Muslim communities he targeted interrogate their attitudes more deeply.

Simon Manda, Maude SaundersAziz Hassim, Shruti Bhikha, Brian ErikssonIkbal Moosa, Yusuf Moosa, Evrahin EssaMichael Foster, Jill Rayner and Bruce Nxumalo

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Image courtesy Sahar el Mougy

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Writers on Racism and Sexism at the 2011 Time of the Writer

Andrew Oken, Anthony Ojowe, Mike Mwale, Petina Gappah and Ethel Chingu

Special to the CCA blog by Sarah Frost

An Elegy for EasterlyThe first half of Wednesday night’s Time of the Writer Evening Session was ably chaired by Sarah Nuttall, who asked probing questions that got Petina Gappah (Zimbabwe) and Ellen Banda-Aaku (Zambia) talking in constructive ways. When asked about how she foregrounds character in her short stories, Gappah responded that her collection An Elegy for an Easterly is currently being translated into Tswana, Venda and Shona and that the stories have been given characters’ names as titles. She said for her focusing on character is a way of writing ‘big’ short stories.

Responding to Nuttall’s question of how she writes about ‘the ordinary’, while bringing in the element of the ‘spectacular,’ Gappah explained that she had tried to write ‘the Great Zim novel’ but that it didn’t work. She prefers to tell ordinary stories as a way into the extraordinary. She noted how useful ‘eavesdropping’ is for her, in order to gather new material.

Ellen Banda-Aaku spoke of growing up in Lusaka in Zambia, and of how when Zimbabwean military squads came in and bombed freedom fighters’ houses there, she and her siblings still had to dress and go to school – she reminded the audience that in the midst of political turmoil, ordinary life must go on, emphasising that literature must reflect this.

Nuttall noted that both writers’ texts evince an “ascerbic, even caustic, wit”. Gappah recognises that “the world is a very strange place,” and tries to capture that in her writing. In contrast, Banda-Aaku said she was not even aware that she wrote in such a way.

Gappah is at present unable to write about Zimbabwe. She wrote An Elegy for an Easterly while working as a trade lawyer in Switzerland. She noted that distance gives perspective. She is currently writing a book that she says has “nothing to do with Zimbabwe”. Banda-Aaku said the literary culture in Zambia is quite stagnant. She said a fresh mindset was needed at all education levels. She called for a stronger feminist approach towards writing in order to change patriarchal attitudes.

On the topic of Feminism, Nuttall asked Gappah why she so admires Michelle Obama. Her response was that “she’s a brilliant, stylish woman”. More soberingly, and possibly more substantially, Ellen Banda-Aaku reminded us that Michelle Obama has the benefit of a platform that many equally capable black women do not have. The two writers embraced before Nuttall thanked them for their contributions to what was a fruitful discussion.

Sally Howes, Kerry Cullinan and Sarah Nuttall

Fine Lines from the BoxJohannesburgThe tone was somewhat more elevated after the interval as Karabo Kgoleng invited esteemed academics Professors Njabulo Ndebele and Achille Mbembe to talk about “literature as a country’s conscience”. Ndebele make the solid point that he is “tired of racism”, referring, more specifically, to the furore at the University of the Orange Free State. He argued that the OFS occurrence was not an issue of racism, but one of “how to raise kids to behave properly”.

Kgoleng then asked Ndebele and Mbembe their opinions on a quote from Che Guevara that states “Revolution is inspired by love”. Ndebele said that, for him, love was “a dangerous word, in that it can be both trite, and profound”. He said one should care first for the citizens of one’s country, rather than the political party one belongs to. He called for a system of electoral representation, rather than party representation “so that we can choose excellent leaders”.

Mbembe said he believed the role of the arts is “to testify to that which is emerging, pointing to possibilities of what might be, premised on love and an ethics of care – the belief that each life counts and must be protected against premature unjustified death”. He said we have to learn to close the gap between life and text, and that listening was an important tool for doing this.

Questions from audience members followed the discussion, responding to Kgoleng’s plea to “tweet it, but on the mike”.

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Cape Town, Malawi, Zimbabwe – Poetry Africa On Tour

14th POETRY AFRICA International Poetry Festival

Tour: Cape Town ICC, 26 September/ Zimbabwe: Harare : Manneberg and Book Café 28 & 29 September/ Malawi: Blantyre Arts Festival 1 October

Poetry Africa on Tour

Featuring a rich representation of African poetic and musical voices, Poetry Africa on Tour kicks off at the Cape Town ICC on Sunday 26th September. Further satellite programmes take place in Harare, Zimbabwe, on 28th and 29th, then Blantyre, Malawi, on 1st October before culminating at the main Poetry Africa festival in Durban from 4th to 9th October.

Now in its 14th year Poetry Africa is organised by the Centre for Creative Arts (University of KwaZulu-Natal), one of the earliest initiators of African literary festivals the CCA also produces the Time of the Writer festival. Supported by the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund (principal funder), Mimeta, Pro-Helvetia Arts Council of Switzerland, and Hivos, Poetry Africa on Tour is an effort to celebrate the beauty, power and impact of poetry with ever-wider constituencies and to stimulate meaningful cultural exchange between artists, audiences and countries.

Tour Lineup

Visual artist, musician and poet Charlotte Hill ONeal aka Mama C was a former member of the Black Panther Movement in the USA but since 1972 has lived in Tanzania where she is co-director of the United African Alliance Community Centre. Mama C uses poetry as a form of honoring heritage and spreading unity through art, and has produced a book of poetry and four albums of poetry and music.

The twice Pushcart Prize-nominated Frank M. Chipasula is a Malawian poet, fiction writer, editor and publisher who currently teaches Black literature and creative writing at universities in the USA. Chipasula’s poetry addresses the state of post-colonial Africa, artistic social responsibility and the accessibility of the creative medium.

South African poet, performer, actress, columnist, television presenter and producer Lebogang Mashile was in 2006 awarded the Noma Award for Publishing in Africa for her first poetry collection. Co-founder of the popular Feel a Sistah! Spoken Word Collective, Mashile also featured in the film Hotel Rwanda, and in a cross-media collaboration with choreographer Sylvia Glasser and Moving Into Dance Moiphotong.

The only artist in the lineup not from Africa is Mutabaruka, the legendary poet, author, radio host and social critic from Jamaica. With a background steeped in Rastafari, political activism, spiritual awareness and black consciousness, and as a leading figure in the establishment of dub poetry, Mutabaruka is one of the prominent icons of that island nation, and already a cult favourite in South Africa. Also an actor, Mutabaruka starred in Haile Gerimas award-winning Sankofa in 1993.

Poet, sculptor, artist and academic Pitika Ntuli (South Africa) spent his exile years in the U.K. where he helped establish one of Europe’s leading poetry circuits, Apples & Snakes, in London. Ntuli sits on several ministerial committees and is widely sought after as a public speaker and commentator on arts and culture, indigenous knowledge systems and African scholarship.

Barolong Seboni (Botswana) is currently a Senior Lecturer in the English department at the University of Botswana. Seboni has published several works of poetry, edited numerous literary collections and has a popular weekly column in the newspaper Mmegi. Seboni is the co-founder of the UB Writers Workshop and the Writers Association of Botswana.

Concord Nkabinde (South Africa) and Erik Paliani (Malawi) are two innovative musicians in the contingent who will provide an opportunity for exciting Poetry Africa collaborations. Malawian songwriter and guitarist Erik Paliani, who has also lived in Zimbabwe, Botswana and South Africa, has made a name producing albums for Zamajobe and Hugh Masekela, while Concord Nkabinde is a musical director, recording producer, and one of South Africas most sought after bass guitarists. Concord has worked with Abdullah Ibrahim, Hugh Masekela, Johnny Clegg, Zim Ngqawana, Darius Brubeck, Deepak Ram, Ray Phiri and Gito Baloi amongst others, and has been involved in numerous cross-cultural collaborative projects and genre-fusing initiatives with artists from around the world.

The Cape Town leg of the tour will feature a unique double-hander between two of the sharpest rappers/word artists in the region, Comrade Fatso (Zimbabwe) and Ewok (South Africa). The explosive and controversial Comrade Fatso calls his art Toyi Toyi. It is this radical form of Shona/English street poetry and political critique that saw Fatso and his band Chabvondokas House of Hunger album banned in Zimbabwe. With a background in theatre and live music performance, Ewok works within the Durban hip-hop scene promoting a return to the original roots of hip-hop culture. He is a two-time Poetry Africa SlamJam champion and a top-five placer at the World Slampionship in Rotterdam (2005). Both Comrade Fatso and Ewok have albums out and both are very active on the national and international performance scene.

South Africa’s acclaimed storyteller, playwright, author and actor Gcina Mhlophe will also be part of the Cape Town experience as well as the Durban edition of the festival. Her charismatic performances contribute to the preservation of storytelling as means of keeping history alive. Mhlophe’s work has been translated into numerous languages and received significant national and international awards, including university doctorates.

One of Kenyas new generation of poets Ngwatilo Mawiyoo joins the tour for Zimbabwe, Malawi and Durban. A performance poet who draws on her musical background and work as an actress, her Blue Mothertongue collection of poems set in Nairobi and the African Diaspora focus on notions of home, loss and healing.

In each of the centres the tour will also showcase local poets.These include Khadija Heeger, Ronelda Kamfer, Mbali Kgosidintsi, Madosini, James Matthews, Malika Ndlovu, Ari Sitas, and Kelwyn Sole In Cape Town; Julius Chingono, Batsirai Chigama, Chirikure Chirikure, Freedom Nyamabuya, Outspoken, Musa Zimunya, and Comrade Fatso’s Chabvondoka in Zimbabwe; while in Malawi the programme includes Linda Gabriel, Chigo Gondwe and Q Malewezi.

Tour Partners

One of the tour objectives is to develop partnerships and skills exchange with cultural organisations in the respective territories, and principal partner organizations for this project are African Arts Institute in Cape Town, African Synergy Book Café in Harare and the Blantyre Arts Festival and Nation newspaper in Blantyre. Apart from the performance showcases other activity programmes include panel discussions, workshops and meetings with local artists.

  • For more details on Poetry Africa and the tour contact the Centre for Creative Arts on +27 31 2602506, visit or follow us on twitter @PoetryAfrica

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The 2010 Poetry Africa Lineup (PLUS: Poetry Africa on Tour to Cape Town, Harare and Blantyre!)


Poetry AfricaPoets from around South Africa, Africa and the world will descend on Durban for an exhilarating rollercoaster of words, rhythms and ideas at the 14th Poetry Africa international poetry festival, which takes place from 4 to 9 October. Organised by the Centre for Creative Arts (University of KwaZulu-Natal), and with principal support from the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund, Poetry Africa’s exciting week-long programme is preceded by a three-stop Poetry Africa tour to Cape Town, Zimbabwe and Malawi.

Over twenty poets from twelve different countries will feature in the main Durban programme and the full lineup will each present an introductory poem on The Opening Night of the festival (4 October, Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre), providing an ideal précis of the diverse voices the public can expect during the rest of the week. The week will thereafter feature 5 poets every evening, through to 8 October, before the rousing Festival Finale at the BAT Centre on 9 October. Each evening at the Sneddon Theatre will begin with curtain-raising performances by poets representing the various active Durban poetry circles. Another unique aspect of this year’s festival is the residency of Concord Nkabinde and Erik Paliani. Nkabinde, an acclaimed bass guitarist who has performed with the likes of Johnny Clegg, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Ray Phiri, Phil Manzaniera, Zim Ngqawana, Darius Brubeck, Deepak Ram and many others, will collaborate with Malawian producer, musician and singer-songwriter Erik Paliani in nightly musical curtain-raisers. Nkabinde and Paliani’s passion for collaboration provides the perfect metaphor for the cross-cultural artistic meetings that Poetry Africa seeks to stimulate.

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Announcing Poetry Africa on Tour: Cape Town, Harare, Blantyre

Poetry Africa on Tour is an effort to celebrate poetry with ever-wider constituencies and to stimulate meaningful cultural exchange between artists, audiences and countries. With the support of the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund (principal funder), Mimeta and Pro-Helvetia Arts Council of Switzerland, the 2010 tour kicks off at the Cape Town ICC on Sunday 26th September, featuring Frank Chipasula, Mama C, Lebo Mashile, Gcina Mhlophe, Mutabaruka, Barolong Seboni, Pitika Ntuli, includes musicians Concord Nkabinde and Eric Palliani and a unique collaboration between Comrade Fatso (Zimbabwe) and Ewok (South Africa). With the exception of Mhlophe and Ewok, and with the addition of Ngwatilo Mawiyoo, the tour continues with shows at Manneberg and Book Café in Harare on 28th and 29th, before being part of the Blantyre Arts Festival in Malawi on 1st October. In each of the centres the tour will also showcase local poets, and incorporate workshops, discussions and engagements with artists and cultural activists.

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The broad selection of poetic voices, forms, and cultures at the festival includes the vivid verse of Frank Chipasula (Malawi). Apart from poetry, the BBC Poetry Prize winning and twice Pushcart Prize-nominated Chipasula is also a widely-respected writer, academic and editor. The African lineup also includes Kenyan Ngwatilo Mawiyoo, a poet whose intelligence and subtlety is abundantly evident in her first book of poems Blue Mothertongue, a collection which examines notions of home, loss and healing. Returning to Poetry Africa after an absence of six years is poet and academic Barolong Seboni (Botswana), whose astute grasp of history and its meaning, is spread over numerous acclaimed collections. Charlotte Hill O’Neal, better known as Mama C, is an American-born visual artist, musician and poet, who was a member of the Black Panther Movement before relocating to Tanzania in 1972. Her collection Warrior Woman of Peace was launched in 2008 and her fourth album of poetry and music is forthcoming. Both in his words and music the captivating voice of internationally celebrated Souleymane Diamanka (Senegal/France) offers an expressive cultural bridge between his French home and his Fulani ancestry.

The strong South African presence this year includes established luminaries and exciting new voices. Pitika Ntuli combines a vast store of African mythology and history, a keen awareness of the contemporary and an astonishing ability to improvise in his evocative poetry. Storytelling and myth also figure large in the verse of Durban icon Gcina Mhlophe. Lebo Mashile, arguably the best-known contemporary South African poet, brings to the Poetry Africa stage her candid and richly weaved words. The award-winning poet and playwright Kobus Moolman will present poems from his new collection Light and After as well sneak peaks at his next collection. Light and After (Deep South), a sparse and bravely honest work will be launched at the festival. Other launches include: Piece Work (Modjaji Books) by Ingrid Andersen and Scent of Footprints (Unisa Press) by Pitika Ntuli, Xaba.

Poetry Africa welcomes back the 2005 DaimlerChrysler Award for South African Poetry winner Gabeba Baderoon, the author of three collections of complex and intensely lyrical poetry. The Afrikaans-language poet Ronelda Kamfer’s entry into South African literature has been memorably described by poet Charl-Pierre Naude “like a Guy Fawkes’ rocket at Pentecost”. Kamfer’s remarkable ability to artfully filter the political and social through a personal lens marks her as a young poet to watch. Natalia Molebatsi combines spoken word and singing in an intoxicating cocktail that touches base with genres such as jazz, dub, hip hop and reggae. Well-known Durban poet Busiswa Gqulu, like Molebatsi, combines poetry, song and performance to startling effect. Another well-respected Durban poet, Marí Peté, explores dreamscapes, everyday experiences, and the thin membrane between these states of being in her poetry.

The international presence at Poetry Africa is particularly strong this year. Celebrated poet, author, radio host, actor and social critic Mutabaruka was the first well-publicized voice in the new wave of Jamaican poets making themselves heard in the early 1970s. He has recorded numerous poetry albums which have helped forge the unique genre of music commonly referred to as dub poetry. As an actor, Mutabaruka has starred in Haile Gerima’s award-winning Sankofa (1993).

In honour of activist and poet Dennis Brutus (1924 -2009) Poetry Africa introduces the Letters to Dennis segment featuring a poet of high excellence who reflects Dennis’s passion for human rights and integrity. The Letters to Dennis references the famous poem Letters to Martha, written while Dennis was in prison. The Letters to Dennis poet for 2010 is Ghassan Zaqtan of Palestine. At one time the editor of the Palestine Liberation Organisation’s newspaper, Ghassan Zaqtan is one of Palestine’s most respected poets and his urgent yet paradoxically gentle and contemplative poetry abounds with luminous imagery.

Jayne Fenton Keane (Australia) is a highly awarded and respected poet whose blend of poetry-song cycles, spoken word-music fusions and shamanic performances have challenged and inspired audiences and critics around the world. Poet, writer-activist and translator Meena Kandasamy (India) uses writing, translation and activism to confront her womanness, her Dalitness and her Tamilness – three categories of belonging that continue to enshrine a history of resistance to oppression. Jorge Palma (Uruguay) is a poet and storyteller whose sensitive and elegant poetry is most concerned with addressing and dissecting the human condition, while Italian Claudio Pozzani is poet and musician whose work has been translated into more than ten languages.

Saturday, 9 October sees a full day of activities at the BAT Centre, with poetry workshops, open mic opportunities, the Durban SlamJam all culminating in the Festival Finale on Saturday night which includes a performance by the Imperial Tiger Orchestra, a Geneva-based band that performs songs from the Golden Age of Ethiopian modern music (1969 – 1978). Although this six-piece orchestra’s repertoire consists primarily of revamped and reworked Ethiopian music, they are not to be mistaken for a covers band. Instead the Imperial Tigers explore uncharted territory in this form, playing with textures and dynamics, adding distortions and noise to complete beautiful new pieces based on the Ethiopian originals.

There is also a packed daily programme utilizing the expertise of festival participants includes performances, seminars, workshops, a prison programme, poetry competitions, and school visits all aimed at inspiring heightened interest in poetry.

Organised by the Centre for Creative Arts (University of KwaZulu-Natal), the 14th Poetry Africa festival is supported by the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund (principal funder), Humanist Institute for Development Cooperation (HIVOS), City of Durban, Arts and Culture Trust, Pro-Helvetia Arts Council of Switzerland, Mimeta, and the French Institute of South Africa.

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Poetry Africa 2009: Special Report from Sarah Frost, with Photos from Liesl Jobson

A special report from two regular BOOK SA contributors. Text by Sarah Frost, images by Liesl Jobson.

The 13th Poetry Africa International Poetry Festival, hosted by the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Centre for Creative Arts, was, as usual, an intense conflagration of poetry, ideas, and people, from SA, Africa and beyond. As one of the poets selected for the Durban Showcase, I participated in the pre-festival performance of 12 poets and slammers representing Durban, at The Workshop Shopping Centre’s Amphitheatre. I was struck by the vitality of the young Zulu poets who performed, and saddened that the bulk of their subject matter was promiscuity, HIV, and social/sexual violence. Good that the poets are grappling with real issues though – and that they were given a platform for this.

David Rubadiri, eminent Malawian academic and diplomat, set an appropriate tone for the rest of the fest with his keynote address at the opening night, in which he explained how excited he was to be part of a Creative Writing Programme at UKZN, honouring African writing with his dignified words. The lineup from Africa also included Poetry Africa returnee Susan Kiguli (Uganda), who last performed in Durban in 2000. Kiguli, an academic and widely recognised as one of the most important poets in East Africa, grabbed the audience’s attention with her sincere delivery, her strong narrative style, and her accurate and loving descriptions of life in Africa.

Odia Ofeimun, from Nigeria, and dubbed the “gentleman poet” by Ewok (two-time Poetry Africa SlamJam champion, participating poet and compere), delighted the audience, particularly with his lyrical love poems. Nina Kibuanda (Democratic Republic of the Congo), poet and actor, made the connections between theatre, musicality and poetry explicit in his performance. Tania Tomé (Mozambique), poet and singer, also mirrored a sense of theatre plus an interest in traditional culture in her poetry. Malawian singer and poet Chigo Gondwe cast herself as an “ethno-urban-hiphop-soul-poetess”, revelling in the positive aspects of the Africa continent.

The strong SA lineup this year included poet and novelist Mogane Wally Serote, although – for this listener, the great man seems to have lost some of his earlier (idealistic, yet hard-hitting) impetus. This was certainly not the case for Lesego Rampolokeng, an influential contemporary SA poet, whose political and emotional edginess I found energizing and challenging. Jennifer Ferguson, a multi-award winning performer, composer, poet, and classically trained pianist, wowed us with her powerful voice and evocative lyrics, focusing (overstepping her time limit occasionally) on landscapes of the spiritual. Diminutive in stature but not in energy or voice, Sindiwe Magona, already known as an author and playwright, launched her first anthology of poems at the festival, Please, Take Photographs (Modjaji Books). Liesl Jobson, an established SA poet, charmed the audience with her quaint, yet ascerbic, poetry using humour to convey basic home truths. Loftus Marais, whose debut collection of poems, Staan in die algemeen nader aan vensters, has been received with critical acclaim, won me over with his poem about politics and a poetry “engagee” – clearly a poet with vision and potential, and a keen eye for describing his mother city, Cape Town. Bongani Mavuso, poet, radio presenter, and senior producer at Ukhozi FM launched his latest anthology, Zibuyela Ezimpandeni (Shuter and Shooter) at the festival. His commitment to developing Zulu community identity is commendable.

From further afield, Indian poet Anindita Sengupta, an emerging voice in Indian poetry, read interestingly subtle (rather than didactic) feminist poems. İlyas Tunç, from Turkey, but with a strong SA connection, having just finished work on a mammoth anthology of contemporary SA poetry in Turkish translation, read quite curiously resonant poems, exploring language and imagination.

All the poets mentioned above were heard at evening performances taking place at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre during the week. Apart from these, a packed daily programme included performances, seminars, workshops, poetry competitions, and school visits. The CCA must be complimented on its efforts to integrate Poetry Africa with the broader, and less advantaged, eThekwini community. The last day of the festival, Saturday, saw a full day of activities at the BAT Centre, which included poetry workshops, open mic opportunities, the Durban SlamJam all culminating with the Festival Finale on Saturday night. Leading Zimbabwean protest-poet Outspoken, together with his band the Essence, rhymed truth to power, and played the Festival out. Here’s to the 14th Poetry Africa Festival in 2010, long may this vibrant cultural event make Durban a poetic landmark!

Liesl Jobson’s 2009 Poetry Africa photos

Anindita SenguptaAnindita Sengupta & Estelle David RubadiriBongani Mavuso leads the crowd singing Mshini Wam Jennifer Ferguson Lesego Rampolokeng Mongane Wally Serote Tiny Mungwe, Nina Kibuanda & Lesego Rampolokeng Mathabo Kunene & Sindiwe Magona Rose Mokhosi Loftus Marais & Jennifer Ferguson Zuki Vutela & Odia Ofeimun Angela Spencer, Corinne Sandwith & Susan Kiguli Contributors to Zibuyela Ezimpandeni Jericho Myekwa, Lwazi Dlamini & Emanuel Luthuli Andries Gouws, Ingrid Winterbach & Corinne Sandwith Ewok Yewande & Kole Omotoso At the launch of Zibuyela Ezimpandeni Peter RorvikChatsworth Youth Centre teens read their poems Ilyas Tunc & Pravasan Pillay Njabulo Nyembe, Professor Zulu, Mistral de Robillard, Mongane Serote, Sibusisiwe Buthelezi, Thashini Moodley, Nosipho Mngadi Mongane Serote Oriel Buntting, Karen Pearce & Cedric Sissing Anindita Sengupta & Susan Kiguli Lesego Rampoloken & Jenifer Ferguson Loftus Marais, poet Ilyas Tunc Original manuscript of Mazisi Kunene Mathabo Kunene Lesego Rampolokeng Tania Tome Outspoken The tide is out - the view from the Royal Hotel Odia Ofeimun Bongani Mavuso Loftus Marais Chigo Gondwe Zuki Vutela Sindiwe Magona & Germaine Kitchen Mrs Rubadiri & Susan Kiguli Jennifer Ferguson, Loftus Marais & Anindita Sengupta

Monica Rorvik’s photos of this article’s contributors

Sarah FrostLiesl JobsonLiesl Jobson

Poetry Africa 2009 was oganised by the Centre for Creative Arts (University of KwaZulu-Natal), the 13th Poetry Africa festival is supported by the Department of Arts and Culture, Humanist Institute for Development Cooperation (HIVOS), National Arts Council, French Institute of South Africa, Pro-Helvetia Arts Council of Switzerland, Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, African Synergy Book Café and the City of Durban.

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2009 Poetry Africa (Programme)

The Centre for Creative Arts at the University of KwaZulu Natal, Durban, is pleased to unveil the programme for the 2009 Poetry Africa International Poetry Festival. We give the full programme both as text at the CCA homepage and as a streamed document below. The latter may be downloaded or printed directly from Scribd. Please note that there has been one change to the programme – given beneath the Scribd embed.

Poetry Africa 2009: Programme

Programme update

Poetry Africa regrets to announce the cancellation of Indian poet Sunil Gangopadhyay’s participation in the 13th Poetry Africa Festival which runs in Durban from 5-10 October. There has subsequently been a programme reshuffle and legendary Malawian poet and this year’s opening night keynote speaker David Rubadiri will now also present his poetry during Gangopadhyay’s slot. Poet, novelist, playwright, university professor and diplomat, Rubadiri was born in Liuli, Malawi, in 1930. He attended King’s College, Budo, in Uganda from 1941 to 1950 and thereafter studied at Makerere University, where he graduated with a BA degree in English Literature and History. He went on to the University of Bristol in England (1956-1960), where he obtained an MA degree in English Literature.

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13th Poetry Africa – International Poetry Festival – Durban – 5-10 October 2009

5 to 10 October promises to be a stirring week of words, rhymes, performance and ideas, as the 13th Poetry Africa international poetry festival ignites Durban with poetry from around South Africa, Africa, and the world. Hosted by the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Centre for Creative Arts, Poetry Africa’s intensive week-long programme kicks off with a pre-festival showcase of Durban-based poets at The Workshop Shopping Centre’s Amphitheatre on 4 October at 11h00.

The poets performing at the showcase were chosen from a week-long open audition held at the Centre for Creative Arts. Some of the selected poets will also perform curtain-raising poems on three separate evening at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre as well as battle it out for the Durban SlamJam crown on 10 October at the BAT Centre. The festival week encompasses introductory performances by the full lineup of participating poets at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre on Opening Night, 5 October. Opening Night will also include a Keynote Address by legendary Malawian writer and poet David Rubadiri. The week will thereafter feature 4 poets every evening, through to 4 October, before the perennially rousing Festival Finale at the BAT Centre on 10 October.

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African and South African Films at Durban International Film Festival 09

The 30thDurban International Film Festival, marks a special point in history of this, South Africa’s longest running festival which continues to celebrate cinema and the art of filmmaking. In the last three decades, African films have remained central to the programming of the DIFF and despite significant downsizing of the overall number of films in the programme, the focus on African content has not shifted. The Festival is proud to present 77 African films, comprising 9 feature films, 28 documentaries and 49 short films. Despite challenges in respect of financing and audience interest for African cinema, a stream of well crafted films continue to get made on the continent, and DIFF is a valued showcase for a selection of such films.

DIFF opens with the South African premiere of internationally acclaimed Durban-made feature My Secret Sky directed by Madoda Ncayiyana, a moving tale of two orphaned rural children and their adventures on the streets of Durban. Other South African films premiering at the festival include the South African Bollywood romantic comedy For Better For Worse by Naresh Veeran, South Africa’s first Xhosa feature length film Intonga by JJ Van Rensburg and Long Street, a second offering from Revel Fox, director of The Flyer. Savo Tufegdzic’s controversial first feature named Crime – Its a way of Life is an unflinching portrait of the psychology of crime in South Africa. Steve Jacobs’ Disgrace is an Australia production of the adaptation of JM Coetzee’s Booker Prize winning novel, and stars John Malkovich with Durban actress Jessica Haines. Anthony Fabian’s Skin is a South African-UK co-production based on a true story about Sandra Laing who was born to a white family during apartheid, but happened to be black. The world premiere of White Lion is an exquisitely shot story about an albino lion cub rejected by his pride yet revered by the Shangaan tribe, great family viewing. Another film suitable for children is The Seven of Daran – The Battle of Pareo Rock, a Dutch production directed by Lourens Blok, shot in South Africa, about two children’s adventures with a mythical giraffe.

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