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Saturday, October 1, 2011


Poetry Africa performance showcases take place in Blantyre (October 8), Johannesburg (October 11), Harare (October 13), and Cape Town (October 15) with seminars, workshops, talks, panel discussions and schools programmes in some of the centres.

The tour includes a number of participants who do not feature in the Durban programme (see article on 15th Poetry Africa), such as Kwame Dawes, Chris Abani, Lebo Mashile and Chiwoniso.

Acclaimed writer of poetry, fiction, nonfiction and plays Kwame Dawes, was born in Ghana but spent most of his childhood and early adult life in Jamaica. He is also an actor, playwright, producer, broadcaster, and was the lead singer in Ujamaa, a reggae band. Winner of a Pushcart Prize, Dawes has produced a prolific 16 collections of fine poetry.

Controversial Nigerian-born Chris Abani’s first novel got him arrested, and his play Song of a Broken Flute (1990), resulted in a sentence as a political prisoner. He is the recipient of major PEN awards, and his most recent book of poetry, Sanctificum (2010), is a sequence of linked poems, combining religious ritual, the Igbo language of his Nigerian homeland and reggae rhythms.

Always a popular performer is the iconic South African poet, MC, actress, television presenter and producer Lebo Mashile, who in 2006 was awarded the Noma Award for Publishing in Africa for her first poetry collection.

Adding a musical touch is Chiwoniso (Zimbabwe), who has emerged as one of the defining experts in the art of mbira playing, accompanied by her incredible singing.

Other participants on the tour include Didier Awadi (Senegal), TJ Dema (Botswana), Shailja Patel (Kenya), Jaap Blonk (Netherlands), Khadijatou (UK), Tibass Kangu (DRC). Gabeba Baderoon and Sandile Dikeni also present in Cape Town; Myesha Jenkins and Oswald Mtshali in Johannesburg. Talented Malawian poets Babangoni Kubvala Chisale, Benedicto Wokomaatani Malunga and Qabaniso ‘Q’ participate in the Blantyre Showcase; Zimbabweans Dikson and Xapa will share their skills in Harare.

Click on the Centre for Creative Arts advert at the top of this page or visit for the full programme of activities, biographies, and photos of participants. Contact the Centre for Creative Arts for more information on 031 260 2506/1816 or e-mail

Organized by the Centre for Creative Arts (University of KwaZulu-Natal), the 15th Poetry Africa International Poetry Festival is supported by the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund (principal funder), Humanist Institute for Development Cooperation (HIVOS), Mimeta, French Institute of South Africa and the City of Durban.