Seen at the 16th edition of Poetry Africa: UKZN’s
Vice Chancellor Professor Malegapuru Makgoba;
CCA Director Mr Peter Rorvik and one of the
performing poets Ms Werewere Liking of the
In his opening address at the 16th Poetry Africa festival, the Director for UKZN’s Centre for Creative Arts (CCA), Mr Peter Rorvik referred to the role of poets as voyagers keeping with tradition of poets as griots or travelling maskandis moving with messages from place to place.
‘Most of all, poets are voyagers of the imagination; poets are visionaries; they delve into the mysteries of the mind and the compulsions of creativity. Poetry is an invigorating voice of freedom, in a political sense and a creative sense, and we should empower our poets with our ears, our minds and our appreciation,’ he explained.
He also pointed out that Poetry Africa has across the years honoured the tradition by taking poetry out of the theatre into the city and surrounding areas, onto tertiary institutions in the form of campus invasions and more formal seminars and workshops, into community centres, libraries, museums, prisons, and open-air spaces.
Poets also visit schools to inspire youth, and the programme this year involves 54 schools. There has been expansion to Stanger, Pietermaritzburg, and into the Midlands of KZN. Elsewhere in South Africa Poetry Africa has opened up exchanges in Limpopo and rural Eastern Cape, and a number of times in Cape Town and Johannesburg. And apart from Malawi, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Poetry Africa has also presented programmes in Kenya, Mozambique, Colombia, and Reunion.
He mentioned that although Monday was the official opening night of the 16th edition of the festival, Poetry Africa had already been on the road for the previous eight days, with programmes in Malawi, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Cape Town.
In late September Poetry Africa participated in the Ordsprak fest in Uppsala, Sweden and Ordsprak poets are here for the Durban festival.
Rorvik concluded by saying, ‘My basic message is simple and consistent, and necessarily persistent: let us not take culture for granted; culture feeds the soul of society. Artists articulate the world around us; give expression to thoughts and feelings that resonate within our own lives. Artists are innovative, give us new perspectives, challenge our thinking and precipitate essential change. Let us support art and artists, let us celebrate the diversity of voices of different cultures that give vibrancy and richness to our societies.’
With a powerful line-up of poets and musicians including Saul Williams (USA), D’bi Young (Jamaica), Tumi, Oliver Mtukudzi (Zimbabwe), Werewere Liking (Ivory Coast), Madosini, Ewok, Jessica Mbangeni and many others, Poetry Africa runs at the Elizabeth Sneddon theatre until 19th October, culminating in the festival finale at BAT Centre on 20th. See www.cca.ukzn.ac.za for participant details and the full programme, including day activities at various other venues.