Two days of slamming sets Bulawayo alight

BULAWAYO - Spoken word was one of the major highlights at the just-ended Intwasa Arts Festival as more than a dozen poets clashed in an exhilarating two-day showcase that took place at the National Gallery in Bulawayo, last week.

Dubbed “The Gathering of Poets”, the slam was the place to be where diversity, beauty and quality of African performance poetry were showcased with a remarkable aplomb of ingenuity.

The occasion had poetry enthusiasts enjoying the moment as artists got a platform to freely articulate and express themselves through the uncensored spoken word.

However, those who attended the event can attest to a wide-ranging scope of thought that the upcoming and seasoned poets exhibited.

Their cautiously arranged rhythms and rhymes irresistibly sent the audience wild.

The poetry sessions became highly charged as the poets dropped verses from their uncensored works, tackling such issues as governance, dictatorship, Gukurahundi massacres, lack of freedom of speech, romance and praise poetry among others.

The audience could be seen enjoying the act as poet after poet took the already frenzy mood to another level with their well-thought and arranged verses.

But it was talented Harare-based Tinashe Muchuri who on the last session of the event proved a hero.
He threw the auditorium into fits of laughter with his popular signature “Chigaro”.

Surprisingly even though the vernacular Shona language was used in reciting, the poem “Chigaro” managed to receive appreciation from the multilingual crowd.

Muchuri commented on the poetry extravaganza, saying: “It was good in the sense that you could feel something different in the whole setup. The style and expertise exhibited by both seasoned and upcoming artists was wonderful,” Muchuri said.

Muchuri advised the young and upcoming artists to also use their mother tongue in poetry as a way of promoting and preserving their culture.

“From what I have seen here, these young stars like reciting in English, which is not bad, but they should also learn to do the same way in their mother languages so that at the end of the day it defines who we are.”

“In Harare it’s almost 50-50 as we have many who recite in both languages while some opt to recite only in English,” said Muchuri who took part at the Intwasa Festival for the second time.

Bulawayo-based seasoned poet Mgcini Nyoni told the Daily News that since the festival’s inception some eight years ago, this year’s poetry slam was the best.

“This festival was consistent and meaningful in terms of performances by local poets, from the first night to the last one,” said Nyoni who doubles as a playwright.

Harare poets, Muchuri, Batsirai Chigama and Elizabeth “Zaza” Muchemwa shared their experiences with Bulawayo-based artists.

City of Kings poets included Nyoni, Bhekumusa Moyo, Sthandazile Dube, Likhwa ka Ncube, Black Tie, Solwazi, Mthabisi Phili, Tracy Sibanda and Philani Nyoni.

South African poet Thabiso Mohare whose stage name is Afurikan who recently bagged an International Poetry Slam title at Shoko Festival in Harare also showcased his prowess in Bulawayo proving why he sailed through in the tightly-ontested title.

Mohare, Emma Mybe, Nomsa Mazwai all from South Africa, Chigo Gondwe from Malawi, and Kenyan  Tim Mwaura made up part of the star-studded lineup.

But before the regional artists graced the Intwasa Festival they all took part at Shoko Festival where Afurikan was the winner.

The competition which was part of the Shoko Festival was held at Harare’s Book Café last Thursday.

 It ran under the theme “Breaking Barriers” and 12 poets battled for supremacy.

Bhekumusa Moyo also a slam commissioner shared some useful nuggets of wisdom with the poets.

“It is sad that some artistic works could not make it to the festival simply because they were banned.

“You know why your works are banned? It is because what you will have created is what people want to hear and someone somewhere does not want people to hear the truth so don’t look back, that’s our job,” said Moyo who is also a playwright.

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