national Arts Festival Banner

Friday, June 25, 2021


After over two weeks of sharing over 200 video poems on their social media, the recent Poetry Africa competition came to a close during the afternoon of Youth Day, after which the winners were announced on June 21, 2021. The annual international festival is curated and presented by the Centre for Creative Arts at the University of KwaZulu-Natal and will celebrate its 25th edition in October of this year. The Festival provided a vital opportunity to commemorate the 45th anniversary of Youth Day.

This online version of this competition made it possible for entrants for anyone in South Africa in any language to participate in the competition. The organisers received submissions in all official South African languages and shared a special acknowledgement of two submissions. Kiara Naidoo from VN Naik School for the deaf in Durban submitted her poem titled Deafinately in sign language while Jeffrey Oasarib from Stellenbosch submitted his poem titled Khâima #khamkhoin in the Khoikhoi language.

The audience choice – which was the poem with the most likes on Facebook - was won by 19-year old Malete Morongwa Vanesa from Hammanskraal, with a poem titled Honouring the Students of 16 June.

The second prize went to 23-year old Nomawethu Gama from Ntuzuma, Durban, with her poem Born for War. The jury said: “She understood the assignment and delivered. We loved how she took the war all the way back to the womb!”

The winner of the competition is 26-year old Lethu Nkwanyana from Stanger with his poem Uprising. “He evoked some good imagery that didn't even need the video. He followed the theme throughout, and his poem is well executed in both English and isiZulu. In fact, he knew he was in a competition and was in it to win it,” said the jury.

Nkwanyana does not only take home a cash prize of R3,000, but his poem will also be published in the Poetry Africa anthology, and he has won himself a spot on the 25th Poetry Africa line-up.

“Thank you so much, it has always been my dream to be part of Poetry Africa. I am so grateful and happy,” said Nkwanyana.

The June 16 Poetry Project is one of a series of Poetry Africa Interventions supported by the National Institute for Humanities to document the relationship between spoken word poetry and the social justice movement.

See the winning videos on