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Friday, September 15, 2023



(Above: Eugene Skeef. Pic by Jonathan Rees)

South African poet, percussionist, composer, educationalist and animateur, Eugene Skeef, will be the Featured Poet at the 27th edition of the Poetry Africa festival, taking place from October 5 to 17, 2023, in Johannesburg, Durban and Bloemfontein.

Skeef, who has lived in London since 1980, is an internationally-celebrated poet known for his outstanding work as an artist and his active role in conflict resolution.

Siphindile Hlongwa, the curator of the Poetry Africa festival, says: "We are particularly interested in his life as a young activist who worked alongside anti-apartheid leader Steve Biko to become one of the most dynamic cultural leaders on the global stage.”

Skeef’s passion for young people, the arts and education is deeply rooted. As a young activist, he co-led a nationwide literacy campaign providing education in schools, colleges, and communities across South Africa. He currently serves on the advisory committee of Sound Junction, an award-winning interactive multimedia educational project by the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music. Skeef is also a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and has served on the board of directors of the London Philharmonic Orchestra (LPO).

Throughout his career, Skeef has achieved notable milestones in the arts. In March 2005, he performed with his Abantu Ensemble at Buckingham Palace and was presented to the Queen as part of the historic Music Day to celebrate the diversity of culture in Britain. In June 2008, his orchestral commission by the LPO, Excite!, composed in collaboration with Richard Bissill, premiered at the Royal Festival Hall at Southbank Centre in London.

Renowned for his work in conflict resolution, Eugene Skeef is the Artistic Director of Quartet of Peace, an initiative that utilises music to foster peaceful resolutions to conflicts and poverty, with a special focus on engaging young people. In 2010, his collaborative project, The Battle Of The Wordsmiths, with writer Tunde Olatunji and producers Blue Hippo Media, was shortlisted for the PRS New Music Award.

“We believe that Eugene Skeef's presence at the festival will greatly motivate emerging poets, who are trying to discover and affirm how their voices can advance a culture of human rights, democracy and social justice”, added Hlongwa.

During the Poetry Africa Festival, Eugene Skeef will perform his poetry on stage, alongside other acclaimed poets, such as Rudi Francisco (USA), Sarah Lubala (DRC / SA) and Amina Bamba (Ivory Coast). The event will be compered by South African poet Masai Sepuru. Skeef will also conduct workshops at schools, community arts centres and a masterclass at the University of KwaZulu-Natal for students in the African Music & Dance programme.

The full Poetry Africa programme will be released on September 16, 2023, on Tickets will be available on Webtickets (Durban) and TicketPro (Johannesburg).

Poetry Africa is presented by the Centre for Creative Arts at the University of KwaZulu-Natal and hosted in collaboration with the Arts and Culture Centre at the University of Johannesburg and PACOFS.

Poetry Africa is supported by the University of KwaZulu-Natal, the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Sports, Arts & Culture, the National Arts Council of South Africa, the French Institute of South Africa and Total Energies.

For more information on the Centre for Creative Arts, click on the advert logo to the right of this article.