20th Poetry Africa International Festival set to thrill audiences

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The Centre for Creative Arts (CCA), within UKZN’s College of Humanities will host the 20th Poetry Africa International Festival from 10 to 15 October 2016.

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 poetic voices from all over the world, with the main focus on Africa.  

Approximately 20 poets from South Africa, Africa and different parts of the world will feature in this year’s week-long edition. This year’s programme will include a variety of performances, seminars and, most importantly, an archival exhibition of the past 19 years since the festival was launched.   

Mr David wa Maahlamela, Director of the CCA, 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 will recognise the significance of cultural leaders in influencing positive change in society.’

‘This will be 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 will pay 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 will also pay 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 these into English.

In acknowledgement of his scholarly work in the field of the intellectualization of isiZulu, the week of 10 – 15 October will be declared Mazisi Kunene Week. In partnership with the Mazisi Kunene Foundation Trust, the Living Legends Trust, and the Department of Arts and Culture, will bestow upon two legendary poets the inaugural Mazisi Kunene Poetry Awards: Dr Don Mattera and iNyosi yeSilo BM Mdletshe.

As part of acknowledging artistic and creative wealth in indigenous African languages, ten izimbongi will render an uninterrupted celebratory performance of 20 izibongo accompanied by orchestral harmony.

The festival will also host workshops in schools, community arts centres, tertiary institutions and prisons in Durban and Pietermaritzburg and the evening programme will be at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre, Howard College Campus (UKZN). The festival finale will be at the BAT Centre. UKZN’s School of Arts will also host different seminars during the course of the Mazisi Kunene Week.