20th Poetry Africa Festival Ends on High NoteGeneral

Poets and artists who performed on the closing night of Poetry Africa.Poets and artists who performed on the closing night of Poetry Africa.

The grand finale of the 20th Poetry Africa Festival, organised by UKZN’s Centre for Creative Arts (CCA), was held at the BAT Centre in Durban.

CCA Director David wa Maahlamela said: ‘Returning to its historic venue, the festival finale embraced the irreplaceable memories of the past 20 years on which the foundation of this edition stands.’

This year’s exciting Festival programme consisted of workshops, open mic performances, book launches and musical and poetry performances.

The following book launches took place at Ike’s Books on Florida Road on the last day of the Festival: Tihlùngù Ta Rixaka: Dikixinari ya Ririmi ra Xitsonga by Max Marhanele and Vonani Bila; House Without Walls: Poems by Kyle Allan; and My Muse: In the Healing Seasons by Hector Kunene and Nthabiseng JahRose Jafta.

An archival exhibition of the past 19 years of Poetry Africa was also on display at the Bat Centre gallery.

As part of the closing of the Festival, a Department of Arts and Culture Showcase was hosted by Zulu love poet Mxolisi Mtshali and featured izimbongi (praise singers) highlighting the artistic and creative wealth of indigenous African languages.

Another feature of the Festival was the annual Slam Jam event where Durban poets competed for the title of Poetry Africa Slam champion. Final performances from Poetry Africa participants were also presented.

Kenya poet Ms Ngwatilo Mayiwoo described the festival as enriching and powerful. ‘This is a great poetry event that showcases the talents of amazing spoken word artists and I hope to return in the future. Well done to the organisers of the Festival.’

South African poet Professor Kobus Moolman said: ‘I am very grateful to be part of Poetry Africa again. There is a unique audience make-up that comes to the Festival and it is always a delight for me to share my work with them. They are open, vibrant and incredibly responsive.’

Melissa Mungroo