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A royal night of the spoken word

It will be a royal night of the spoken word as the opening of Poetry Africa marks a double celebration; its 20th year as well as 200 years of the Zulu Kingdom.


The opening night of this international poetry festival, will be held at the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre on Monday 10 October at 7pm. The Centre for Creative Arts (CCA) will welcome former director Peter Rorvik, to present the celebration of two decades of Poetry Africa.

CCA- with principalfundingfrom the City of Durban- will also host Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi, an orator of note, to deliver a keynote address to mark the bicentenary of the Zulu Kingdom.

Dr Sazi Dlamini, the man credited with the preservation and promotion of indigenous KZN music genres like maskandi, mbaqanga and isicathamiya, will also grace the stage with a musical rendition.

The ethno-musicologist was recently honoured as an eThekwini Living Legend.

He will share the stage with the 25 poets taking part in this year’s festival.

Each of them will give a taste of what audiences can expect throughout the week-long programme of poetry exchanges, campus invasions, school visits, seminars, and workshops at various venues. Evening performances will be at the Elizabeth Sneddon and the finale, at the Bat Centre’s Sipho Gumede Hall on Saturday 15 October.

Participating poets include Jessica Mbangeni, a praise singer and story teller whose album Busisiwe –Tribute to the African Heroines, was nominated for a South African Music Award earlier this year.

Mxolisi Mtshali- of Zulu Love Letter fame- will serenade the audience, showing them why he’s called the love poet.

Nigerian-American writer, poet, mental health advocate and media personality Bassey Ikpi and fellow poet Bulelwa Basse (RSA), who is passionate about issues that affect youth and women, bring activism into the mix.

While Lucky Cafeous Tembo, a Zimbabwean musical maestro and a ChiShona wordsmith will share his craft.

Nairobi-born Ngwatilo Mawiyoo shares her experience in the African diaspora and her explorations and of the notions of home and identity.Co- founder of a Venezuelan festival of indigenous poetry, Mata-Uiroa Manuel Atan from Chile will also be featured at the festival.Returning to Poetry Africa after six years, is Philip Hammial from Australia who has an impressive 29 collections under his belt.

Other poets who will perform and take part in the weeks activities are Harry Owen(SouthAfrica), JahRose Nthabiseng Jafta(SouthAfrica),Kobus Moolman(SouthAfrica),Koleka Putuma(SouthAfrica),Leymen Pérez(Cuba),Lucky Cafeous Tembo(Zimbabwe),Malachi Smith(Jamaica),Mata-Uiroa Manuel Atan(Chile)Maya Wegerif(SouthAfrica),Max Makasi Marhanele(SouthAfrica),Mpho Ramaano(SouthAfrica),Mxolisi Mtshali(SouthAfrica),   Phumzile Zondo(SouthAfrica),Rethabile Masilo(Lesotho),Roché Kester(SouthAfrica),Rustum Kozain(SouthAfrica),Sizakele Nkosi(SouthAfrica).

The festival will also pay homage to South Africa’s first National Poet Laureate and one of the icons of isiZulu poetry, the late Professor Mazisi Kunene.The intellectual revolutionary will be honoured with the declaration of next week (10-15 October) as Mazisi Kunene Week.In partnership with the Mazisi Kunene Foundation Trust, the Living Legends Trust, and the Department of Arts and Culture, we will bestow the inaugural Mazisi Kunene Poetry Awards upon two legendary poets Dr Don Mattera and iNyosi yeSilo BM Mdletshe.

CCA director David wa Maahlamela said the festival would be; ‘An orchestra of a wide representation of both the national and international poetic landscape; a midpoint of voices, forms, age and identities. Above all, indigenous art-form is in the centre of this unique poetic experience.’

Opening night tickets and for any other performance at the Sneddon are R60 at Computicket. Students and pensioners pay R40.