Bhekumusa Moyo, Zimbabwean protest poet and playwright
What role do you think storytelling – in communities, families or even individually – can have in creating social change?
Storytelling is a powerful communication tool for social cohesion, recording history and development. It can inspire change or incite a people to act on a social issue. Our personal stories are also a source of energy. Each story told has the potential for inspiring the next person. The experiences we go through can be used as a learning tool by those who haven’t experienced those things. I derive my own personal mojo from stories of key pioneers of pan-Africanism.
Tell us a little about your own experience with writing and performing in Zimbabwe.
Writing and performing in Zimbabwe is a life-changing experience. It certainly has its ugly phases – the darkest corners being draconian laws inherited from colonial Rhodesia. The laws that make the lives of critical and protest artists like me hell are the Public Order Security Act and the censorship board. These have curtailed any work which challenges those in power. Minus these challenges of arrest, persecution and banning, though, Zimbabwean audiences are supportive of art that speaks truth to power.
Which of your works are you most proud of having written?
I am proud of 1983-The Dark Years. This is a politically charged play on the Gukurahundi genocide which swept Matabeleland from 1980 through to 1987, leaving a trail of sorrow and deaths numbering around 20 000. The play was banned in 2010 but, with support from Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, we managed to stage it in various places. This year, after Mugabe, the play had a week of full houses at Theatre in the Park in Harare. I’m also proud of one of my poems called They Shall All Fall. This poem speaks of how people will dethrone dictators no matter how strong they are. Here’s an extract – “All that flies lands sometime / one by one in no particular order / they shall all fall.”
What language(s) do you use to write and perform in? Do you think choice of language is a political act for artists?
I write in Ndebele and English. Ndebele is my mother language. I will not stray far from it, as it carries rich idioms, proverbs and expressions of my people. Even when I perform, I juggle English and Ndebele. Language is a political act. My English must have deep roots to the imagery of my community so that I don’t struggle. Language, like culture, carries the essence of the peoples’ struggles. Language is the heartbeat of a community and yes, it’s a political tool too for engagement or disengagement.
There are many ways of protesting. Using literature – both written and oral – has a long and powerful tradition in Africa. Who are some of the protest writers who have inspired you?
I am greatly inspired by Athol Fugard, Professor Chinua Achebe, Christopher Mlalazi and the general struggles of my people, especially the women and mothers of my village who always show resilience even in the face of travesty.
Have you ever found it difficult to be a politically active writer in Zimbabwe?
Yes, Zimbabwe has very draconian laws, as I alluded to earlier. The censorship board is the biggest culprit – a club of old men who make it difficult to be politically active as a writer.
Of course, the elections are coming up very soon in Zimbabwe. What role do you think writers – whether they are poets, singers or journalists – play in this important time?
Chinua Achebe says that ‘writers give headaches.’ I feel it is important for artists at this time to inspire debate on the elections and comment strongly on institutions and individuals who can make or break the election. Artists must motivate citizens to vote, inspire peace as well as play the watchdog role and whistleblowers in cases of human rights abuses.
What kinds of opportunities would you like to see for African writers and storytellers in the future?
I am hoping that universities will embrace storytelling as a medium of passing on information. This can be done in formal learning spaces or creating festivals within academic years for African writers to bring their wisdom. I’d also love to see more writing residencies and literature festivals for different language activists. Storytellers must be brought to the table as much as other professionals to educate and speak openly on issues of social change.
Reading and telling stories with your children is a powerful gift to them. It builds knowledge, language, imagination and school success! For more information about the Nal’ibali campaign, or to access children’s stories in a range of South African languages, visit: www.nalibali.org.
This year in another collaboration between InZync Poetry, the Stellenbosch University Museum, the Bellville Public Library, Cape Town Central Library, the Fugard Theatre and Open Book Festival, the Cape Town Poetry Slam returns to Cape Town, with three prelim slams and a final slam at the Fugard Theatre on 8 September.
In 2018 we are looking for the second Cape Town Poetry Slam Champion! There will be three prelim slams, one in Stellenbosch, the second in Bellville and the third in Cape Town.
The top three poets from each of the prelims will move onto the second round, which is the final, at the Fugard Theatre in collaboration with the Open Book Festival, and the poets will battle it out for the title of Cape Town’s Poetry Slam Champion!
All of the prelims and the final will be hosted by amazing local poets such as Allison-Claire Hoskins, Roché Kester, Samora Magwa, Quaz Roodt and there will be live beats by DJ Deco.
The judges for this year’s slam are Cape Town rapper Jitsvinger, poetry slam champion, writer and performer Siphokazi Jonas and Lingua Franca spoken word movement director Mbongeni Nomkonwana. The final will also include a short performance by each of the judges.
MCs and judges at Cape Town Poetry Slam 2017
There are lots of prizes up for grabs for the winners of the prelims and the final, all to the value of R14 200. Cape Town’s Poetry Slam Champion will walk away with R2 500 in cash, a R500 Book Lounge voucher and a video poem to be produced by InZync!
The winners of each prelim will also participate in a workshop to prepare them to battle it out for the title of Cape Town’s Poetry Slam Champion. Budding poets can sign up on the day of each prelim, it is first come first serve, with a maximum of 25 sign ups per prelim.
The details of the three prelim slams are as follows:
Prelim 1: 11 August – Stellenbosch University Museum, 13:00 Prelim 2: 18 August – Bellville Public Library, 13:00 Prelim 3: 25 August – Cape Town Central Library, 13:00
The final is on 8 September at the Fugard Theatre at 20:00.
Tickets will be on sale for R50. Bookings will be open from early August and can be made at Webtickets.
InZync Poetry is a Non-Profit Organization based in the Western Cape dedicated to the expansion of multilingual and multimodal poetry platforms in the Cape.
Our founders are Adrian ‘Diff’ van Wyk and Pieter Odendaal and together our team run poetry workshops with emerging poets called the INKredibles, and host poetry shows. In 2016 InZync collaborated with Koleka Putuma to create a video for her poem ‘Water’ and released an EP of poems called InterVerse. In 2017 InZync Poetry hosted the Cape Town Poetry Slam, and in 2018, we published the multilingual poetry anthology ConVerse in collaboration with Woordfees.
InZync has collaborated with many local and international poets to bring multilingual poetry to Cape audiences.
In an extraordinary debut, Megan Ross writes the uneasy truths about unexpected motherhood and all its emotional detritus. In deftly and experimentally navigating the angst, joy and self-reckoning that comes with the choices and misadventures of young womanhood, this is a collection that brings together the evocative with the provocative, and the feminist with the personal, in a bold and startling poetic style. Hallucinatory, image-wet, and navigating the eternal tides of spirit and body, Milk Fever is a chimeric dreamscape in which a woman reconfigures, remembers and rebirths herself.
Date: Thursday, 26 July 2018
Time: 6:00 PM for 6:30 PM
Venue: Love Books, The Bamboo Lifestyle Centre, 53 Rustenburg Rd, Melville, Johannesburg | Map
Investigative journalist Jacques Pauw and Cape Town writer and poet Ken Barris were among the recipients of the 2018 Media24 Books prizes awarded in Cape Town on Thursday, 14 June 2018.
The Media24 Books prizes are awarded annually for books published by the Media24 Books division and Jonathan Ball Publishers, also part of Media24, in the preceding year. This year, prizes to a combined value of more than R200 000 were awarded in six categories.
Jacques Pauw won the Recht Malan prize for nonfiction for The President’s Keepers, published by NB Publishers under the Tafelberg imprint. According to the judges, The President’s Keepers will be remembered, along with #GuptaLeaks, for the change it brought about in South African society and the ANC. “The power of The President’s Keepers lies partly in the explosive revelations it makes, but mostly in that for the first time a broad-based narrative connected the dots between the private and public interests propping up Zuma at all costs. South Africans live in a better country today than a mere eight months ago, partly thanks to Pauw.”
The Herman Charles Bosman prize for English fiction went to Ken Barris for The Life of Worm and Other Misconceptions, a short story collection published by Kwela. The judges called it an extraordinary collection that combines the mundane with the surreal in illuminating but often deeply unsettling ways. It is a collection that keeps the reader “constantly intrigued, amused, repelled and acutely aware of South African realities”.
Novelist Eben Venter won the WA Hofmeyr prize for Afrikaans fiction for the fifth time with Groen soos die hemel daarbo, published by Tafelberg. The novel, which explores modern sexuality, intimacy and identity, was lauded by the judges for its finely honed style of writing. The other books on the shortlist were Die wêreld van Charlie Oeng by Etienne van Heerden and As in die mond by Nicole Jaekel Strauss.
Marlene van Niekerk received the Elisabeth Eybers prize for Afrikaans and English poetry for In die stille agterkamer, ekphrastic verses about the paintings of Dutch painter Jan Mankes (1889–1920). The collection, published by Human & Rousseau, was described by the judges as “a gripping yet meditative reading experience”. Also shortlisted were Nou, hier by Corné Coetzee, Radbraak by Jolyn Phillips and Alles het niet kom wôd by Nathan Trantraal.
The judges were: For the Recht Malan prize: Jean Meiring, Elsa van Huyssteen and Pauli van Wyk; for the Herman Charles Bosman prize: Johan Jacobs, Molly Brown and Ann Donald; for the WA Hofmeyr prize: Francois Smith, Sonja Loots and Kerneels Breytenbach; for the Elisabeth Eybers prize: Henning Pieterse, Bibi Slippers and Charl-Pierre Naudé; for the MER prize for youth novels: Nanette van Rooyen, Henriëtte Linde-Loubser and Betsie van der Westhuizen; and for the MER prize for illustrated children’s books: Piet Grobler, Marjorie van Heerden and Magdel Vorster.
Words lift off the page to animate the body, as Poetica and #cocreateSA again team up to present a phenomenal programme of readings, performances, discussions and workshops using rap, poetry and the spoken word,at #cocreatePOETICA. The event, now in its third year, runs as part of Open Book Festival, brought to you by the Book Lounge and the Fugard Theatre. This year it will run from 5 to 9 September, in Cape Town.
“This year’s #cocreatePOETICA celebrates three years of partnership between the Dutch Consulate General and the Open Book Festival Poetica programme. Through our national campaign, #cocreateSA, we have established a successful collaboration. Even though our countries differ, there are many parallels in the public and cultural debates on identity, integration and transformation. By cocreating cultural interventions, we have and continue to build mutual understanding and trust between the Netherlands and South Africa,” says Bonnie Horbach, Consul General of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
Previous years have seen Dutch and South African artists collaborate to create performance pieces on issues pertaining to history, language and culture. Last year #cocreatePOETICA took this further with a three day series of interactions exploring place, language and identity, culminating in an event where results were shared with the public.
The #cocreatePOETICA line up once again includes a world-class selection of established and emerging artists, and partnerships with groups that are fundamental to the Cape Town poetry scene. #cocreatePOETICA is delighted to work with InZync, Lingua Franca, Grounding Sessions, and Rioters Session in 2018.
Artists not to be missed include Babs Gons, a Dutch writer, performer, theatre director and teacher of creative writing. She is part of spoken word collective De Vurige Harten Club (The Fiery Hearts Club) and Club Spoken, an agency of professional performance artists. Gons is also a juror of the J.M.A. Biesheuvel Prize for short stories and hosts various programs, including the musical-literary show Babs’s Word Salon. For many years she was the artistic director of Poetry Circle Nowhere, and before that she organised a monthly platform for young poets and writers in Paradiso, Amsterdam. She joins #cocreatePOETICA thanks to support from the Dutch Foundation for Literature.
Swedish poet and playwright Athena Farrokhzad’s debut collection of poetry Vitsvit (White Blight) has been translated into 12 languages and staged several times as a play. It explores the topics of language, body and family within a context of revolution, war, migration and racism. Her second book, Trado, published in 2016, is a collaboration with the Romanian poet Svetalana Cârstean. Farrokhzad joins #cocreatePOETICA thanks the Embassy of Sweden’s support.
Dean Bowen and Sjaan Flikweert at #coecreatePOETICA 2017. Pic supplied.
Ivan Words is a Dutch spoken word artist, musician and songwriter. His work explores what expression as a necessity means. Words is the co-founder of spoken word platform Spoken World and has on several occasions been a house poet for FUNX and a speaker for TEDx. In 2016, he won the House of Poets Poetry Slam in Rotterdam. He also facilitates workshops, is a presenter, and performs in theatre productions.
Canadian poet and anthropologist Roseline Lambert published Clinique, her first collection of poetry, in 2016. The sequel The Uniform was published in the magazine Exit, earning her the Félix-Antoine-Savard Prize for Poetry 2017. Her work has been published in reviews such as Estuaire, Art le Sabord and la Revue de la Compagnie à Numéro. Her approach to writing is built through the integration of ethnographic and theoretical texts in her poems.
Peruvian Jorge Vargas Prado is a poet, narrator, editor and cultural manager. He has published storybooks, poetry anthologies and a novel, and works as a translator. Vargas Prado has been part of the editorial team at Dragostea Publishing House and participated in the musical projects Chintatá and Ishishcha. The most important part of his work is related to Peru’s originary languages, endangered due to Peruvian colonial racism.
Gabeba Baderoon is the recipient of the Daimler Award for South African Poetry and is on the editorial board of the African Poetry Book Fund.She co-directs the African Feminist Initiative at Pennsylvania State University and her collections of poetry include The Dream in the Next Body, The Museum of Ordinary Life and A Hundred Silences. Her new collection, The History of Intimacy, is due later this year.
Sindiswa Busuku-Mathese won the 2018 Ingrid Jonker prize for poetry for her debut collection Loud and Yellow Laughter. Books Live called the collection ‘an uncommon balance between emotional tenderness, creative flexibility and analytical and structural integrity’. The collection was also shortlisted for the 2016 University of Johannesburg Prize in the Debut category. Busuku-Mathese has published poems in local and international poetry journals such as New Coin, New Contrast, Prufrock, OnsKlyntji, Aerodrome, Sol Plaatje European Union Anthology and Dryad Press: Unearthed Anthology.
Award-winning writer and performer Phillippa Yaa de Villiers’ poetry has been published in numerous magazines and anthologies. Everyday Wife won the Poetry Award at the 2011 South African Literary Awards and she was chosen as Commonwealth poet in 2014, reading her poem Courage, written for the occasion, at Westminster Abbey. Original Skin, her autobiographical one-woman show, has toured to great acclaim in South Africa and abroad. Her latest collection, Ice Cream Headache in my Bone was published in 2017.
Roché Kester’s poetry has been published in the UWC Creates anthology titled This is My Land and her prose has been featured in Powa’s Women’s Writing anthology titled Sisterhood. She currently coordinates the weekly poetry event, Grounding Sessions, and was co-curator of #cocreatePOETICA at Open Book Festival 2016.
Puleng Lange-Stewart is a writer, theatre and film maker. Her primary focus is in interdisciplinary performance and multimedia integration. She was one of three shortlisted writers in the national PEN student writing competition in 2016 and her writing has appeared in the 2017 African Literature curriculum at UCT. Her first independent short film Until the Silence Comes was selected for the Cape Town International Film Festival 2017 and was nominated for an audience award at the Shnit International Short Film Festival 2017.
Mbongeni Nomkonwana’s list of talents includes actor, playwright, theatre director, poet and standup comedian. He won the Cape Town DFL LOVER+ ANOTHER poetry slam 2012, and went on to compete in the national finals. Nomkonwana has since performed at OFF THE WALL poetry sessions, at InZync Poetry, 2012 HEAIDS Conference at UCT, Jam That Session, Brand House Marketing Campaign, and Last Poet’s: Rhythm Poetry1. He is co-founder and resident poet at Lingua Franca, and in 2013 he teamed up with Lwanda Sindaphi to coordinate the poetry for the annual Baxter Zabalaza Theatre Festival.
Poet and Executive Director of InZync Poetry Pieter Odendaal also works with SLiP (the Stellenbosch Literary Project). His PhD at the Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane centres on performance poetry as a way to promote tolerance in socio-ecological systems. Some of his poems appeared in the collection Nuwe Stemme 5 and his debut collection is out this year.
Recently named as one of Forbes Africa’s ’30 under 30’ Koleka Putuma is an internationally acclaimed poet, theatre maker and spoken word artist who has toured extensively abroad and in South Africa. Her debut collection Collective Amnesia is in its seventh print run, and is a fearless, unwavering exploration of blackness, womxnhood and history. Putuma’s numerous accolades include the 2014 National Poetry Slam Championship and the 2016 PEN South Africa Student Writing Prize.
In her debut collection Milk Fever, Megan Ross writes about unexpected motherhood and all its emotional detritus, the angst, joy and self-reckoning that comes with the choices and misadventures of young womanhood. Ross is the 2017 winner of the Brittle Paper Award for Fiction and an Iceland Writers Retreat alumnus. She was a runner-up for the 2016 Short Story Day Africa Prize and the 2017 National Arts Festival Short Sharp Stories Award.
Lwanda Sindaphi has an extensive career as an actor, playwright, theatre director and poet. He won the 2011 DFL + LOVER Another Poetry Slam and went to compete in the National finals. He was included in Badalisha Poetry’s Top 10 poets in Africa and is the co-founder of Lingua Franca Spoken Word Movement. His play Kudu recently enjoyed a successful run at the Baxter Theatre Centre and he won best Director at the 2013 Baxter Zabalaza Theatre Festival for his play Death the Redeemer. Other theatre highlights include touring internationally with The Handspring Puppet Company on Warhorse.
Toni Stuart is a poet, performer and spoken word educator, working between London and Cape Town, across various inter-disciplinary collaborations with a range of artists. She has performed here and in Europe and her work has been published in anthologies, journals and non-fiction books in South Africa and internationally. Stuart was the founding curator of Poetica at Open Book Festival.
Writer and performer Adrian van Wyk became the youngest poet to win the Verses Poetry Slam at the age of 17. He is host and organiser of the InZync Poetry Sessions, events organiser for the Stellenbosch Literary Project, as well as a monthly facilitator for the InZync Poetry workshops which are focused on helping school children between the ages of 16 and 18 to become poets and tell their story.
The eighth Open Book Festival will take place from 5 to 9 September at the Fugard Theatre, D6 Homecoming Centre, The A4 Arts Foundation and The Book Lounge from 10:00 to 21:00 each day. For further information and the full programme, which will be available in early August, visit www.openbookfestival.co.za.
Open Book Festival is organised in partnership with the Fugard Theatre, The District 6 Museum, The A4 Arts Foundation, The Townhouse Hotel, Novus Holdings, The French Institute, The Canada Council for the Arts, The Embassy of Sweden, The Embassy of Argentina, The Dutch Foundation for Literature, UCT Creative Writing Department, University of Stellenbosch English Department, and Central Library, and is sponsored by Leopards Leap, Open Society Foundation, Pan Macmillan, NB Publishers, Jonathan Ball, and Penguin Random House.
An award and anthology on the topics of gender, human rights and sexuality, for writers and photographers across Africa.
Gerald Kraak (1956–2014) was a passionate champion of social justice, an anti-apartheid activist and the head of the Atlantic Philanthropies’ Reconciliation and Human Rights Programme in South Africa. He authored the European Union Literary Award-winning Ice in the Lungs (Jacana, 2005), which explores South African politics, and directed a documentary on gay conscripts in the apartheid army. He is remembered for being kind and generous, delightfully irreverent and deeply committed to realising an equal and just society for all.
Created in honour of his extraordinary legacy, this new annual award is made possible in partnership with The Other Foundation, and will advance Gerald’s contribution to building a society that is safe and welcoming to all. The unique and vital anthology will feature English language writing and photography from and about Africa. Exceptional works which explore, interrogate and celebrate the topics of gender, sexuality and human rights will be longlisted and published in a Granta-like anthology. The overall winner is awarded a cash prize.
Rather than general discussions of these subjects, the judging panel will select pieces which engage with gender and sexuality in ways that promote new insights into human rights matters on our continent.
Only the very best work submitted will be shortlisted and published in an anthology, with the winners to be announced at a 2018 award ceremony, hosted by The Other Foundation and attended by the authors of the top three submissions. The overall winner will receive a cash prize of R25 000.
Our aim is to ensure that the anthology and information about the award will be disseminated as widely as possible throughout the African continent. To this end, Africa World Press (Ethiopia), Amalion (Senegal), FEMRITE (Uganda), Kwani (Kenya), Weaver Press (Zimbabwe) and Wordweaver (Namibia) will be associated with the project.
About The Other Foundation: The Other Foundation is an African Trust that gathers support for those who are working to protect and advance the rights, wellbeing and social inclusion of people of all sexual orientations and gender identities –and gives support in a smart way that helps groups to work better for lasting change. To learn more, please visit www.theotherfoundation.org
About The Jacana Literary Foundation: The Jacana Literary Foundation (JLF) is a not-for-profit organisation which seeks to promote and foster writing excellence from Africa through a number of initiatives. By securing funding for key projects, the JLF aims to publish literature that might not otherwise see publication for purely commercial reasons. This allows the JLF’s publishing partner, Jacana Media, to produce literature which supports the concept of bibliodiversity. We believe that it is through the reading and writing of local creative works that the truths of our lives are best told.
· journalism / magazine reporting
· scholarly articles in academic journals and book chapters / extracts
· social media / blog writings and contributions (Which deal with the topics of gender, sexuality and/or human rights.)
Submissions must be in English and from Africa.
The winner is awarded R 25,000 and publication by Jacana Media and its publishing partners.
The project is funded by The Other Foundation, and administered by the Jacana Literary Foundation (JLF).
Submissions will be open from 24 May 2018 to 25 June 2018.
The subject matter of the work must relate to gender, human rights and/or sexuality in Africa.
Works which fall within one of the following categories are accepted:
• photography / photographic essays
• journalism / magazine reporting
• scholarly articles in academic journals and book chapters / extracts
• social media / blog writings and contributions
Entries must have been created by a citizen of an African country. Written submissions must be in English.
Up to three entries are permitted per author, across categories. Each entry must be submitted on a separate electronic entry form.
Please number your pages, use a font size of 12, Times New Roman and 1.5 spacing (avoid unnecessary formatting, such as borders).
Materials must not exceed 15 000 words or 8 images.
Images must be 300 dpi high resolution.
Images will be published in an image section on matte art paper and not in the body of the text.
We are looking for work which tells a story or illustrates an idea. If one photograph achieves this, then we welcome the submission of that single image. It is, however, more likely to be accomplished through a collection of photographs or a photographic essay.
We accept unpublished as well as previously published works.
No handwritten or hard copy entries can be considered. Submissions must be made via the online portal.
Entrants’ name should not be included on the manuscript being submitted, as the award is judged blind and the author remains anonymous until the shortlist has been selected.
There is an opportunity to use a pseudonym should one be required.
Intertextuality and references must be appropriately attributed and permissions from copyright holders obtained. This includes poems; song lyrics; quotes and excerpts from books, newspapers, magazines, journals; and reproductions of artwork, photographs or other forms.
Submissions are considered to implicitly indicate the entrant’s permission for their work to be published in the anthology, if shortlisted, for no payment or royalty.