The Centre for Creative Arts (CCA) within the College of Humanities, in partnership with the National Institute for Humanities, French Institute of South Africa, and Total, will host the 25th Poetry Africa International Festival from 11 to 16 October 2021.

The theme for this year’s festival is Unmute: Power to the Poet.

South African poet, playwright and producer, Ms Siphokazi Jonas will be the featured poet during the festival while another poet Dr Stella Nyanzi, a multiple award-winning medical anthropologist specialising in sexual and reproductive health, sexual rights and human sexualities in Uganda and The Gambia, will deliver the keynote speech during the opening of the festival on Monday 11 October at 11h00.

CCA Director Dr Ismail Mahomed said, ‘As the festivals presented by the Centre for Creative Arts continue to be celebrated for being defenders of democracy, social justice and social transformation, we are proud to have Stella Nyanzi and Siphokazi Jonas headline our festival programme this year.’

Ms Siphindile Hlongwa, curator of the Poetry Africa Festival added, ‘Both Stella Nyanzi and Siphokazi Jonas represent the strong women voices who have been a feature of the festival for a quarter of a century. They are fearless and unambiguous in letting their voices inspire hope. The poems give agency and impetus to the continued struggle for social justice.’

Due to COVID-19, most of the programme will be presented online, with two live events in Durban. More than 35 poets from South Africa, Africa, and the rest of the world will participate in the six-day programme presented in five daily slots, with feature performances, online engagements, competitions, book launches, seminars, and workshops.

The festival is also proud to host the following French-speaking poets from the African continent: Roi Bokon from Togo, Aziz Siten’k from Mali, Kissy Abeng and W Charly from Cameroon, and Tarik Ben Larbi from Morocco.

The Poetry Archive, a charity based in the UK that is dedicated to the production, acquisition and preservation of a unique digital collection of recordings of poetry read by the poets who created it, have collaborated with Poetry Africa to speak about the importance of protecting legacy and being aware of poetic lineages.

Other international partnerships are with Quay Words in the UK, supported by The British Council, the Lviv International Book Forum from Ukraine, the Embassy of Ukraine to the Republic of South Africa and the Brussels Poetry Fest.

The Poetry Africa Festival also recognises the importance of entrepreneurship in the industry and will present Let’s Publish NOW in collaboration with imphepo press.

‘It is a major milestone for the festival as well as all the poets who have blessed the Poetry Africa stage over the past 24 years. We pride ourselves on being an uncensored space for poets to engage, question and inspire. We are grateful for the support we have received from many partners over the years who continue to support the voices of our poets,’ said Hlongwa.

The Imbiza Journal for African Writing will publish a special edition during Poetry Africa. Other exciting initiatives include a documentary about Slam Poetry and an anthology that will be launched with support from the National Institute for Humanities and Social Sciences.

You can catch Poetry Africa free on Facebook and YouTube.

Click here for isiZulu version

Words: Melissa Mungroo

Image: Supplied