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Thursday, October 7, 2021


(Above: Makhafula Vilakazi)

For the 25th consecutive year, the Poetry Africa festival, presented by the Centre for Creative Arts at the University of KwaZulu-Natal takes place from October 11 to 16 2021. The festival sets the stage for poetry from South Africa, all five regions of the African Continent, and around the world. The majority of the festival programme will be presented online and is accessible for free. The programme is now available on their website:

(Right: Torsten Tebogo Rybka)

With the theme: Unmute: Power to the Poet, the festival aims for the audience to remain inspired by the voices of our poets. The audiences can expect to be mesmerized by their voices and messages that are like vaccines that cautiously brings us back into the light of the darkness and the new dawn.

Some of the headlining South African poets of the festival include musician and poet Buhlebendalo Mda, spoken word artist Gubhela, celebrated poets Lebo Mashile, Makhafula Vilakazi and Torsten Tebogo Rybka.

(Left: Lakhiyia Hicks)

The festival also includes an impressive line-up of international poets, such as actress and poet Lakhiyia Hicks from the USA, British-Trinidadian dub poet and TS Eliot prize winner Roger Robison from the UK, Ukrainian poets Yuliya Musakovska and Andriy Lyubka and Margot Delaet from Belgium.

Other South African poets included in the line-up that includes over 80 participants from over 25 countries, are Lethu Nkwanyana, Siphokazi Jonas, Natalia Molebatsi, Africa Dlamini, Athol Williams and many more.

(Right: Margot Delaet)

“Our 25th anniversary is a significant milestone. It provides us with a vital opportunity to reflect and celebrate the Festival’s legacy but it also allows us to critically reflect on our society and the movement for social change. We salute and honour all the poets who have walked this road with us and who over the last 25 years have given us the words to express feelings, share experiences, address issues of poverty, social injustice, struggles and survival. This year’s Festival recognises the power of the poet,” shares curator Siphindile Hlongwa.


Programme highlights

As part of the 25th-anniversary celebrations, the organisers are launching an anthology, a journal and a documentary during the festival. The anthology titled #Hashtag Poetry is a collection that aims to remind the reader that poets and wordsmiths may seed social justice in hashtags and slogans, but it is all of us who are called to reap the harvest in action and with deeds. The journal, released in collaboration with Imbiza Journal, includes seasoned poets who appear alongside new dynamic voices. The essays, features, book reviews and poems make for an interesting and edifying read.

A Poetics For Transformation is a short documentary film made from the festival video archives of Poetry Africa over the years, combined with animated illustrations, a call-and-response soundscape and photography. It seeks to explore poetry’s conscientising capacity within the broader ecology of social justice.

The French Institute of South Africa also partnered with the Centre’s Poetry Africa festival during 2020. As part of this partnership, the festival is proud to host the following French-speaking poets from the African continent: Roi Bokon from Togo, Aziz Siten’k from Mali, Kissy Abeng from Cameroon, W. Charly from Cameroon, and Tarik Ben Larbi from Morocco.

The Poetry Africa Festival will be presented by the Centre for Creative Arts with the support of the National Institute for Humanities & Social Sciences, The French Institute of South Africa, and Total Energies.

Unmute: Power to the Poet will be the theme for the 25th edition of the virtual festival, which is freely accessible and can be watched via and

The full programme is now available on: