Dr Stella Nyanzi talks about unmuting poetic voices at Poetry Africa Festival

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By Kedibone Modise Time of article published

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On Monday, the twenty fifth annual Poetry Africa Festival welcomed over 800 viewers to the competition’s official opening at the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Centre for Creative Arts.

This second digital version of the occasion provides a jam-packed programme, with over 30 periods and over 80 individuals from 24 international locations.



“The Covid-19 pandemic could have shut down our theatres, galleries, music halls and museums, however Covid-19 has not shut down the voices of our poets.

It is the poetry that has held us collectively by means of these two darkish years,” commented Poetry Africa curator Siphindile Hlongwa.

“This 12 months’s competition recognises the facility of the poet. Behind their Covid-19 masks, the voices of our poets have continued to stay unmuted,” added Hlongwa.

Speaking to this 12 months’s competition’s Slam Jam, School Competition, and Open Mic competitors, CCA director Ismail Mahomed stated: “We have been overwhelmed by the enthusiastic response from younger individuals to our public participation programme.

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“We are delighted to supply younger individuals a platform alongside legendary poets. We hope that the cross-over of ideas, rhythms and their voices would be the threads by which we weave a greater nation.”

The competition’s opening additionally included an introduction to the poet, author and performer, Siphokazi Jonas, who joins in 4 of the competition’s periods and screening her film #wearedyinghere throughout the competition.

Jonas was particularly chosen to symbolize the competition’s theme: Unmute: Power to the Poet.

In her keynote speech titled Unmuting Democracy, Dr Stella Nyanzi spoke about the facility of unmuting the highly effective voices of artists.

“It could be very empowering to publicly speak about unmuting. You see: for a few years in my nation, Uganda, I’ve been struggling exhausting to unmute my poetic voice.”

She continued: “If democracy is to thrive within the completely different international locations and societies that comprise our African continent, then inventive thinkers, writers, artists, and performers have to be allowed freedom of expression.

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“Poets have to be unsilenced, unmuted, the gags torn, and the boots on our Adam’s apples lifted. Unmuting crucial, inventive voices are necessary for democracy to thrive.”

Nyanzi is a human rights activist, poet, medical anthropologist, feminist, queer rights activist, and scholar of sexuality, household planning, and public well being.

Under the theme, “Unmute: Power to the Poet“, the digital competition is freely accessible and may be watched by way of Facebook and YouTube.

The full programme is now obtainable right here.

As a part of the competition, Poetry Africa hosts one stay occasion titled “Emfuleni” at The Playhouse Theatre in Durban on Saturday, October 16, at 6 pm.

“Emfuleni” might be hosted by Khwezi Becker with poets Gcina Mhlophe, Lebo Mashile, Mbali Malimela, Siphokazi Jonas, Thando Fuze and Toni Giselle Stuart. Tickets are R180 and obtainable on Webtickets.

The twenty fifth annual Poetry Africa Festival runs until Saturday, October 16.

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