Poetry Africa is arguably the largest and longest-running poetry festival in Africa. Over the years it has hosted a wide variety of internationally-acclaimed poets from all over the world, with the main focus on Africa.
About 20 poets from South Africa, Africa, and different parts of the world feature during this year’s week-long edition. The programme includes a variety of performances, seminars and, most importantly, an archival exhibition of the past 19 years of the Festival.
Director of the CCA, Mr David wa Maahlamela, said: ‘In our attempt at ensuring that UKZN becomes the foremost academic institution in bridging the yawning gulf between academia and local communities, this year’s Festival recognises the significance of cultural leaders in influencing positive change in society.
‘This is our contribution to the World Poetry Movement’s worldwide effort to condemn war and promote peace on earth. In addition to celebrating the festival’s 20 years of existence, we are paying tribute to the 200th anniversary of the conception of the Zulu Kingdom. We’re expecting to host representatives from the Royal House and other prominent leaders from different government structures.’
The Festival also pays homage to South Africa’s first National Poet Laureate and one of the symbols of isiZulu poetry, the late Professor Mazisi Kunene. Kunene is best known for his poem, Emperor Shaka the Great. The intellectual revolutionary that he was, he consistently wrote his works in isiZulu first, then translated them into English.
In acknowledgement of his scholarly work in the field of the intellectualisation of isiZulu, this week (10 – 15 October) has been declared Mazisi Kunene Week.
In partnership with the Mazisi Kunene Foundation Trust, the Living Legends Trust and the KZN Department of Arts and Culture will bestow the inaugural Mazisi Kunene Poetry Awards on two legendary poets, Dr Don Mattera and iNyosi yeSilo BM Mdletshe.
The Festival also hosts workshops in schools, community arts centres, tertiary institutions and prisons in Durban and Pietermaritzburg with the evening programme at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre on the Howard College campus (UKZN).
UKZN’s School of Arts is hosting various seminars during the course of this week.
*Presented by UKZN’s Centre for Creative Arts, the 20th Poetry Africa is made possible by support from the eThekwini Municipality, KZN Department of Arts and Culture, Living Legends, The Goethe-Institut, Alliance Française de Durban, Mazisi Kunene Foundation Trust, and the World Poetry Movement. The Centre for Creative Arts is housed in the School of Arts, College of Humanities.