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Sunday, October 4, 2020


(Eugene Skeef playing udu)

For the 24th consecutive year, the Poetry Africa festival, presented by the Centre for Creative Arts at the University of KwaZulu-Natal from October 12 to 17, 2020, sets the stage for poetry from South Africa and around the world. It promises to be an enriching experience with the sound of over 30 poets performing live, their passionate, inspirational perspective on life and current events and the power and beauty of the spoken word. An innovation this year is that due to the Covid-19 the entire festival programme will be presented online.

Some of the headlining South African poets of the festival include award-winning poet, playwright and theatre director Koleka Putuma; 2019 Poetry Africa Slam Jam winner Tory Saint; actor, writer and performer Nomakhwezi Becker, Nongoma-based Menzi Sibiya, the internationally-known poet, writer and singer Natalia Molebatsi; actress, writer and performance poet Lebo Mashile; academic and poet Makhosazana Xaba, and poet and social philosopher Athol Williams.

(Left: Athol Williams)

The line-up also includes an impressive line-up of international poets, such as acclaimed novelist and poet Chris Abani from the US; America’s most widely read poet Nikki Giovanni and Nigerian born, London based poet, playwright, performer, educator and lawyer Tolu Agbelusi; UK-based South Africa born percussionist, composer, educationalist and animateur and poet Eugene Skeef; award-winning poet Safia Elhillo from Sudan, based in the US. Catalan poet Maria Sevilla; Ostap Slyvysnki from Ukraine; Lisette Maneza from Rwanda residing in Belgium; Feling Capela from Mozambique and  Nnane Ntube from Cameroon complete the international line-up.

Other South African poets included in the line-up are Moses Seletisha, Maneo Mohale, Diana Ferrus, Masai Sepuru, Sarah Godsell, Sindiswa Zulu, Thando Fuze and Sibongile Fisher.

(Right: Diana Ferrus)

“It is with great pleasure to present this year’s line-up in celebrating the 24 years of Poetry Africa, the Poetry Africa stage illuminates poetry as a tool for social change and I am honoured to support and promote the work that is going to be presented in the festival. I invite you to embark on this exciting journey and celebration of poetry” shares curator Siphindile Hlongwa.


Programme highlights

Poetry Africa Festival consists of many collaboration programmes with valuable partners.

Word ‘n Sound will present a Tribute to Myesha Jenkins that will include the late poet’s poetry which formed and shaped the poets of today. This is their way of saying thank you to Jenkins. In reading her poems and composing their own, they will transform their lives. In sharing their dream, they transform one another.

The Windybrow Arts Centre is passionate about developing young voices in and around the Hillbrow, Doornfontein area. As part of Poetry Africa, they will be showcasing the best of the Windybrow’s young voices.

Held in conjunction with the Poetry Africa festival, the Open Mic, Slam Jam and Schools Competitions are open to all poets residing in South Africa and aim to encourage creative expression in young people while functioning as a springboard for the future poets of South Africa. With the festival’s long-standing commitment toward nurturing a culture of performing poetry, this competition has received a broad appeal that continues to grow with each edition of the festival.

Other Poetry Africa collaborators this year are South African History Online, IFAS, Drama For Life, Concerts SA, Centre for Jazz and Popular Music, iSupport Creative Business, Hear My Voice and the World Poetry Slam Centre.

You can catch Poetry Africa for free on Facebook and Zoom, and the full programme will be announced shortly.

The festival is made possible by the support from US Embassy South Africa, French Institute of South Africa, KwaZulu-Natal Department of Arts at Culture, Windybrow Theatre and Institut Ramon Llull.

To stay updated, follow @Poetry Africa on Twitter and Instagram or like the festival on Facebook at