Special Projects

Artist Protection Fund

The Poetry Archive and Poetry Africa both have a commitment to promoting poets and the benefits of poetry through their work, providing opportunities for people of all ages to have meaningful engagements with poetry.  Both organizations believe in promoting access to poetry not only for its own sake but because of its life enhancing potential.  The two organisations have established an Memorandum of Understanding to work together on mutually beneficial projects, promotions and activities.

Poetry Archive

The Poetry Archive and Poetry Africa both have a commitment to promoting poets and the benefits of poetry through their work, providing opportunities for people of all ages to have meaningful engagements with poetry.  Both organizations believe in promoting access to poetry not only for its own sake but because of its life enhancing potential.  The two organisations have established an Memorandum of Understanding to work together on mutually beneficial projects, promotions and activities.

Mafika Gwala Lecture

The Mafika Gwala Memorial Lecture presented by the Centre for Creative Arts at the University of Kwazulu-Natal in partnership with South African History Online celebrates and highlight the extraordinary work of literary legend, public intellectual and social justice defender, Mafika Gwala.

South Africa lost one of its finest poets, Mafika Pascal Gwala (67), when he passed on Sunday 5 September 2014. The poet, born in Verulam, KwaZulu-Natal, on 5 October 1946 was known for his writings in both in English and Zulu and his involvement in politics dates back to the 1960s. He used his pen to speak out against the injustice of apartheid, actively served in the Black Consciousness Movement and was a member of the Black South African Student Organisation as well as the Black Communities Project, in Durban.

He, along with writers, Mongane Wally Serote, Mbuyiseni Mtshali, Mandla Langa and James Matthews were a group known as the “Soweto poets” in the late 1960s. In an interview with the  Mail & Guardian in 2006, Gwala described his involvement in the Black Consciousness Movement as a trend that was necessary “in bringing in what the white opposition [to apartheid] couldn’t bring into the struggle”.

One of his best-known poems is  The Children of Nonti, which was published in 1977. He had a knack for fusing rhythm into his writing. According to Gwala, fellow poet James Matthews once asked him: “How do you get to make music in the flow of your lines?” But the musicality in his poetry was not something he did consciously. Music just flowed in his veins and spilt onto paper.

Gwala has influenced a number of contemporary poets in South Africa. Since his passing in 2014 the University of Kwazulu-Natal in partnership with South African History Online has presented the annual Mafika Gwala Memorial Lecture to continue to inspire a current generation of poets, writers and public intellectuals.

In 2020, due to the national lockdowns imposed in terms of the National Disaster Act to combat the Covid-19 pandemic the annual Mifaka Gwala Lecture was presented as an online webinar featuring public intellectuals, authors and creatives Fred Khumalo, Sam Moodley, Eugene Skeef, Ndumiso Ngobo and Bridget Thompson in a discussion moderated by Ari Sitas.

The 2021 Mafika Gwala Memorial Lecture presented by the Centre for Creative Arts in partnership with South African History Online will take place at the opening of the 25th edition of the Poetry Africa festival on Monday 11 October 2021.