Hifa’s poetry café hosts great poets

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With just less than two weeks to go before Hifa roars into life, poetry lovers, just like most arts enthusiasts, are also counting down to the prestigious festival, which is offering an interesting line-up of poets who will present their verse in the annual event’s Hivos Poetry Café.

For a number of years now, Hivos has been consistent in making sure that poetry lovers and artists get their share at the festival.

The programme is being curated by veteran Zimbabwean poet Chirikure Chirikure.

“The Hifa 2011 Spoken Word programme seeks to provide a platform for engagement, to stimulate dialogue through the celebration of African expression,” said Rose Mitchell of the Hifa communications department.

Poets from Malawi, Botswana, South Africa, Kenya and Ghana are expected to complement their local counterparts in a number of performances.

Each performer will have the liberty to interpret the themes in their own way — the hallmark of dialogue of free expression and closely related to the theme of the festival — “Engagement Party”.

“Engagement is all about communication, involvement, awareness and empowerment; it is about hearing each other speak,” said Hifa founder Manuel Bagorro.

“There has never been a greater need for dialogue in the world than now and there is no better way to dialogue, than to begin from within oneself, within one’s community, within one’s neighbourhood.”

Audiences should expect to have a feel of amazing spoken word and dub-poet collaborations and performances they have never seen before.

Opening the week of poetic celebrations running under the theme “Here We Go” on Tuesday April 26 will be a lineup of local and international poets and poets including Copenhagen-born poet, Morten Sondergaard, Pitika Ntuli, Valerie Tagwira, Bhekusa Moyo and Thanda Richardson.

On Wednesday the second day of Hifa the audience will witness artistic expression from arguably the best poets including Malawian, Q Malewezi, TJ Dema from Botswana, Ghanaian Quaye Kojo and Zimbabwe’s Mgcini Nyoni, Mbizo Chirasha and Claire Nyakujara tackling the theme “Rhythm in the Voice”.

On Thursday the theme will be “Reflecting, Expressing” and the host will be Blackheat deShanti.

Kenyan Ngwatilo Mawiyoo, Pitika Ntuli, Quaye Kojo, Mgcini Nyoni and Steve Chikotie are set to make their contributions at the festival.

“Future in our hands” will be the theme for Friday and South African Ewok, Q, Malewezi, Bhekusa Moyo, Richardson, Blackheat deShanti and Nyakudyara will be in the café. Saturday will be a special dedication to the late great Zimbabwean poet, Julius Sekai Chingono and the theme will be “Missing Tooth”.

South African, Ntuli, Morten Sondergaard, Daniel Mandishona, Mbizo Chirasha, Aura, Phillip Svosve and Aaron Yafele will grace the occasion.

“My poetry is my job” the theme celebrating the worker with host Chirikure Chirikure will wrap up the festival. To endorse friendship and to add sparkle to the celebration, to the dialogue, the programme will feature a celebrated poet from Denmark,” said Rose Mitchell.