Pamberi sets up cross-border poetry slam

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Pamberi Trust together with the African Goethe-Institute of South Africa will from September 21 to 24 host the effervescent African Poetry Slam Movement dubbed “Afro Slam Poets” in Harare and Johannesburg.

The African Poetry Slam Movement will explode into life across borders with poets from seven countries joining in the “Afro Slam Poetry Express”, a multi-country slam series under the theme “Poetry in Migration”, implying transition between places and cultures, displacement and crossing of boundaries.

“‘Afro Slam Poetry Express’ 2011 kicks off in Harare, with workshops and explorations, and into poetry slam finale on September 22 at 7pm at The Mannenburg,” said Penny Yon of Pamberi Trust.

Yon said the poetry express would then shift gears and migrate to South Africa for an Afro-slam spectacle under the oak tree at Goethe-Institute, Parkwood, and Johannesburg on September 24 at 5pm.

She said 15 slam poets would compete in the Harare and Johannesburg slams and the competition would be collective so that the crowd would be swept up in the movement.

“The ‘Afro Slam Poetry Express’ presents South Africa’s thrilling Lungile Lethola, who represented South Africa in Detroit’s ‘World Poetry Slam 2009’ and appeared on television in South Africa and Canada, she is also a major new voice in theatre, television and film,” said Yon.

She said joining Lethola would be the poetry powerhouse, Kylobyte “KB” Kabelo, emerging from the dusty town of Hammanskraal, a former opera singer (tenor soloist) and dancer who has set the live poetry scene in South Africa aflame with his inspirational fusion of drama, poetry and rhythm.

Yon said Zimbabwe would be represented by Tendai Taki aka Madzitateguru, whose stage name is the Shona word for “forefathers”, a rapper and sometimes comedian with unstoppable wit and stage charisma who “uncovered” poetry quite by accident and couldn’t stop.

Also from Zimbabwe was the vivacious performance poetess, feminist, humanist, writer, activist and peace-builder with an iron will, Xapa, who speaks for the spirit, mind and soul.

“Other poets include Kenyan ghetto poet and rebel rapper Tim Mwaura, German poets, Mischa-Sarim Verollet and Philipp ‘Khabo’ Koppsell, Malawian poet, Chisoma Mdalla aka ‘Nyamalikiti’ and Botswana’s performance poet, writer and vocalist, Mandisa Mabuthoe amongst others,” said Yon.

She said in each of the two main slams in Harare and Johannesburg, up to five locally-based slammers would compete with featured poets for the “Afro Slam Poetry Express” title.

The art of live slam poetry and spoken word has taken off in Africa; new voices, bold and rebellious, are sweeping across the continent with humour, candour, street slang and infectious rhythm with an extraordinary new poetic imagery built on social consciousness.