Gonsalves Mpili started writing poems at the age of 16 during his secondary education. He is now a graduate from the Institute of Finance Management, and still continues to write. He is the organiser of Woman Scream, a worldwide movement to fight violence against women through art and poetry.
Leungo Frank is a poet based in Gaborone Botswana.
Kibrom Habtu is a poet based in Mekelle Ethiopia.
Precious Molatedi was born in the village of Goodhope in the far south of the country of Botswana. Performance arts had always been her ‘thing’ since early age. While in secondary school, Precious was an active member of the drama club, within which she recited her poetry. Coming to live in Maun has opened her eyes and granted her the wish to become a full-fledge poet as she met the local wordsmiths and started learning more about the written and spoken word.
“Kela Griot is a creative, radio head, writer, poet and lover of humanity. She has been writing for more than 15 years but it wasn’t until four years ago that she was drawn out of her shell to set foot on a stage.
She has been on numerous platforms since: the Basadi Jam With A Purpose, Writers Lounge, Kagiso Arts Expo, Art by Night, The Bangkok Sundays, Snapshots, Restorative Justice Women’s Fair, Show Face, Poetic Joint and Fanatic Poetry Sessions to name a few. She has gone on to be one of the founding members of the New Age Poetry Movement, as well as co-founder and host of the Juiced Poetry Sessions.
She describes herself as deep empath and suspects that’s why she is a medium for poetry and other stuff. She hopes to help humanity art itself back to love, one poem and outlandish creative disruption at a time.”
The name, Tshepo Molefe. Also known as Blackhole on stage. This pseudo name is a reflection of who and what I am, from my short nature (which I inherited from my mother) to the anger that I bring on stage and the hatred I am still trying to extinguish with my pen.
I write to change perceptions and hopefully to inspire change in a person’s life and view on things such as love, what poetry is and the misconception of man being invulnerable. I feel like as poets, it’s our duty to not only just write to be dope or to compete, but we need to touch life with our craft and build a better society through our wordsmith. That is what my art aims to do, and one day will.
Livhuwani Mashao was born Livhuwani Takalani Mashao on March 8, 1993, in Vosloorus, Gauteng. As a young boy he was exposed to Edgar Allen’s anthology and he grew up with a great passion for poetry and music. At the age of 15 he was introduced to Nasir Oludara Jones’, Nas, music and he fell in love with his writing style, fashion sense and demeanor.
Livhuwani began to write poems and raps, performing at school and church as he was being inspired by the divine life of Jesus Christ. Still growing and studying theology, Livhuwani hopes to reach out to his peers in style using witty rhyme schemes and word play. Livhuwani is currently taking theatre classes at Johannesburg theatre with the well known Souht African film director, Mr. Duma Ndlovu, being his lecturer. “Stage presence is a good trait to an all-round performer” Livhuwani alludes in most of his interviews.
Pakama Mlokoti, born on May 12 1994 in Mthatha, is currently based in Port Elizabeth pursuing a career in poetry. She is a writer, peformer and film maker in progress.
Pakama began competitive poetry in 2013 winning the Candlelight slam and Consent is Sexy Poetry slam. She also came second place on the Udubs Got Talent finals.
She has performed at various stages across the country including the Inzync Sessions in Cape Town, the Word N Sound stage in Johannesburg as well as Atheneaum Little Theatre in Port Elizabeth.
She also represented Eastern Cape in the National Slam For Your Life finals at the Soweto theatre where she won and is current a National Slam Champion.
Deborah Seddon is an academic and a poet who was born in Harare, Zimbabwe, but is now based in Grahamstown, South Africa, where she teaches South African, African-American, Afro-Caribbean, and English Renaissance literature in the Rhodes University English Department. Her academic research is focused on South African orature and the transnational aesthetics of spoken word poetry. She is a founding member of the Cycle of Knowledge, a poetry organization consisting of students, school learners, and poets from the local community. The Cycle of Knowledge was created in 2013, and is a community engagement partnership between the Rhodes University English Department and the Writers’ Movement: a group of poets located in Joza, Grahamstown. The weekly sessions of the Cycle of Knowledge alternate between meetings on campus and in Joza, and provide a range of educational activities around writing, reading, and performing poetry. These include discussions of the work of South African and international poets, creative writing exercises, poetry ciphers and open mike sessions, editing and group feedback sessions on individual works, performances on campus, in town, and at local schools, recording poetry in video formats, collating biographies of the poets involved, and documenting the group’s activities.
Since 2006, Deborah has been a member of Aerial Publishing, a self-financing community publishing project based in Grahamstown, which received its start-up funding from the Centre for the Book in Cape Town. The committee annually calls for manuscripts of poetry and prose, mainly from Grahamstown writers, and chooses two per year to publish. Aerial Publishing edits, designs, and prints all their publications themselves, using funds raised by the sales of their books.
Deborah has published academic papers on South African literature and orature, African-American literature, South African engagements with Shakespeare, and on pedagogy in post-apartheid South Africa. Some of her poems appear in Writing From Here and Aerial.
Sandra Chinonye Vivian Nwadi is a lawyer, negotiator and mediator, poet, writer, singer and songwriter from Nigeria. Her poems have appeared in Reflections From Bwari, Sentinel Magazine, YNaija, various newspapers and blogs.
She was nominated as one of the top ten best original songwriters and vocalists in Opera Abuja song contest in 2011. She has also performed some songs and poetry at events in London, Berlin, and Paris.
Some of her songs and audio poetry can be found on MySpace: sandrachinonyeviviannwadi.
Kirsty Mclean was born and raised on a farm in Bulawayo Zimbabwe in 1978. She lived in New Zealand for 11 years, but now lives in the UK with her five year old daughter.
Ashraf Booley is a young poet from Cape Town whose love for writing birthed at the age of sixteen. He works as a digital content producer by day, where he keeps his other passion alive – food. His poetry has featured in a handful of anthologies and his tenacity has seen him recite poetry alongside two of his favourite poets – Rustum Kozain and Gabeba Baderoon. Ashraf writes to challenge oppressive institutions, as a form of catharsis, expression and firmly believes in poetry as a medium to voice the voices of those who have been silenced.
Darren Carolissen was born and raised in Stellenbosch, South Africa. He started writing at the age of 13. He started writing lyrics and eventually found his way to poetry. Since then he has been chasing this form of storytelling with a fierce passion.
Andrew Manyika, is a Writer, Performance Poet, Comedian and MC based in Johannesburg. He has performed at Poetry Festivals and Fashion shows, hosted Award Shows and weddings, and taken to prominent comedy & poetry venues in South Africa and Zimbabwe.
Sometimes referred to as “the Gentleman of Poetry” due to his penchant for wearing 3-piece suits, Andrew began to make his mark on the local poetry scene when he won the Gauteng Drama For Life Slam in 2011; and he placed second in the DFL National Grand Slam. Preceding this was a victory in the University of Johannesburg International Students poetry competition, and being published in a departmental university diary. In November of 2011 he took 3rd place at the WordnSound Poetry Festival Open Mic Finale and has been extensively involved in WordnSound from that time, now consulting as their Marketing Officer.
Highlights of his poetry career include having performed at the BAT Centre (Durban 2012); the State Theatre Pretoria Night of The Poets; Johannesburg International Motor Show 2011 (for team Mazda); TEDx Johannesburg 2013; The opening of the Living Arts Emporium Gallery.
In 2012 his poem “Make Up (Your Mind)”( http://www.youtube.com/watch%3Fv%3DO_4Ck4FEva8 ) was nominated for the inaugural Word N Sound “Perfect Poem” award, and has gone on to receive generous airplay on Radio2000, featured on SAfm and flighted on EDTV and LoveWorld Sat (DStv). Other media appearances include: E-tv Sunrise; Zoned.tv; Soweto Tv, Mzansi Insider, Power FM, VOW fm and UjFM.
In 2012 Andrew emerged from a national audition process as one of ten poets to be selected for the Macufe Festival. He has subsequently been host or performer at the Word N Sound Festival (2011-13), Melville Poetry Festival (2012 & 2013); The Gospel Revolution Conference; The 2013 Izimbongi Poetry Festival and co-produced the inaugural “Slam For Your Life”. In May 2014, Andrew made his Debut appearance at the Harare International Festival of the Arts (on both their comedy and poetry stages).
It is this peculiar mix of comedy and poetry that has enabled Andrew to bring a fresh perspective to MCing. He is the current host of the Word N Sound Awards (where he is a 2-time nominee) and has hosted Night of the Poets 2014, and co-hosted the Glory-to-Glory Revival Centre Year-End of Year function. In 2013, he MC’d the Divine Adoration Concert; and Given Illustratives 1-man show.
He has taken to the stage performing stand-up comedy at Wish, the Comedy Underground; Kitchener’s; The Box; Parkers, and the “Bang Bang Comedy Club” (Zim).
Alongside Napo Masheane and rapper ProVerb, Andrew is profiled in the 5th Anniversary edition of the online poetry magazine: www.poetrypotion.com.
Being a born-again Christian, Andrew strives to represent Christ well through his art.
He is the holder of BCom Marketing Management & BCom (Hons)Strategic Management degrees and is an emerging entrepreneur.
Catch him on: @drewmannshow Andrew Manyika
Deanna Rodger is an actor and spoken word poet. She is the youngest UK Poetry Slam Champion (2007/8) and completed vocational acting training in The National Youth Theatres (NYT) REP Company 2012.
She has written and performed as a poet and actor in 2012 Olympic Team Welcome Ceremonies (NYT commission), Buckingham Palace (NYT commission), Speakers House (NYT commission), 10 Downing street (somewhere to_ commission) and Honey Coated Dream (Lyric Hammersmith commission) as well as delivering two TedX performances (Southwark and EastEnd). She has recently completed the audio book recording of ‘Feral Youth’ by Polly Courtney and is currently writing her one woman show ‘LondonMatter’ which has received support from POP Productions (IdeasTap, Sky Arts), Roundhouse Camden, The Albany and the Arts Council.
She is co founder of two popular spoken word events Chill Pill and Come Rhyme With Me (Spread the Word, New Writing South) and is in poetry collectives: Point Blank Poets (Biennale UK Artist International award 2011) and Keats House Poetry Forum, as well as leading on Podium Poets (Spread The Word) and workshops in and around the UK.
Amira is a creative artist, poet, writer and educator, born in Ethiopia, based in the U.S.
She focuses on using creative mediums as a narrative tool, with a particular interest in alternative narratives of the global south: “owning and telling our ‘own’ stories while advocating for viewing ourselves through our own lenses, recognizing that stories are born with a right to be told”. Her creative artistry deals with promoting the African cultural aesthetics, documenting narratives of journey -stories we live in. While producing and curating these stories, she hopes to assess social issues, explore the beauty of arts, culture, and wisdom of the global south, in connection to the world.
She is a regular contributor to Pambazuka News and chief writer, as well as editorial team member at AfricaSpeaks4Africa.org. She is currently at work on, in collaboration with a South African poet and Kenyan writer, producing Podcast stories (Afro’pick and coffee) that accentuates the everyday stories of the African disaporans, residing in America.
Black pearl was born and raised in Zimbabwe. The 25 year old poet emerged on the performance scene in June 2010. Her poetry is impeccable and captivating to all poetry lovers. Her work depicts life as she experiences it, pointing out beauty, and humor. Blackpearl has taken part in events that include Harare International Festival of the Arts, 16 Days of Activism against Gender based violence, Acoustic Nights (hosted by Zimbabwe German Society and Wildfire Events), Intwasa Festival, Sistaz Open Mic, Bocapa amongst others.
Billene “Bilu” Seyoum – avid word lover and travel enthusiast has been splashing words to paper since the age of twelve capturing her experiences of faces, places and spaces. Her poetry aims to take listeners and readers on a journey of re-imagining different imaginings of everyday existence. Having lived in five countries and traveled wide, Bilu’s poetry embraces her global identity.
Bulelwa Basse is the Founder of Lyrical Base Project, an arts and culture organisation which seeks to elevate the profiles of writers from marginalised communities through community-publishing projects and performance poetry (merged with music, dance, visual arts) at cultural and corporate events.
She has collaborated nationally with various arts education institutions and literary establishments, such as Kgare Ya Africa, Centre for the Book, Iziko Museum’s Education Department, Cape Town Language Committee, Artscape Theatre, Badilisha Poetry and the City of Cape Town, in the capacity of Language Facilitator, Published/Performance Poet, Guest Speaker and Events Co-ordinator.
Her writing has been published by the Poetry Institute of Africa, University of KwaZulu Natal Press, Department of Arts and Culture, The British Council and Oprah Magazine.
Basse is passionate about aligning herself with women empowerment projects such as Bona Magazine’s Women Empowerment Club, True Love Magazine’s Winning Style and Move Magazine’s empowerment initiatives, for which she’s both hosted and performed her poetry as a motivational tool.
Bulelwa is former Editor of Muse, an online poetry publishing and profiling magazine, and has earned herself a performance platform on, Poetry Delight, where she’s affectionately known on stage as, Miss “Sassy” Basse, following her satirical poem entitled: My Lyrical Sass, which confronts the societal nature of portraying women as sex-objects.
Her creative and business path has seen her represent her country as an arts and cultural-exchange ambassador in India (Coimbatore and Kerala) and tour the UK (England). But South African stages have always been her favorite arena of her work at play.
Bongiwe Dlamini was born in Swaziland on the 29th of September 1973, and grew up in Simunye in the Lowveld. While in Swaziland, she engaged with people from all parts of the continent and the world; Swaziland was during the 70s and 80s an alternative destination and exile for many due to Apartheid in South Africa. She relocated to Johannesburg in the 90s and began performing professionally as a musician in Johannesburg in 1995.
Whilst living shortly in Italy, she sang in a cruise ship for six months, coming down from Italy, though, Israel, Egypt, Seychelles, Mauritius, Madagascar and South Africa. Bongiwe is a member of the Trio Spirits Indigenous, a Afrocentric musical group that has performed in several spaces in Mbabane, at the Bushfire Festival and at the Grahamstown Cape Town. The other band members are Thobile Magagula and Gcebile Dlamini. Bongiwe has chosen Maputo as her creative base, where she now lives.
Kyle’s poetry is by no means conventional; it does not follow grammar rules or structure. It definitely won’t go down in history as some of the best-written work. Kyle does not care about that! He cares about changing people’s perspective on topics of the mind and spirit, topics like society norms, love, and social media. He cares about sharing that feeling you get when you hear something that resonates with you, when the goosebumps shoot up your arms and that inspirational shiver slides down your spine. He wants people to be able to relate on a human level and say, “I understand where he is coming from because I feel the same emotions he does on a daily basis.”
Kelwyn Sole grew up in Johannesburg and has degrees from the University of the Witwatersrand and the School of Oriental & African Studies, University of London. He has published widely in local and international books and journals, mainly on issues pertaining to South African and postcolonial literature and culture, as well as being involved in published debates and polemics. He has also published six individual collections of poetry. He has won the Olive Schreiner Prize, the Sydney Clouts Prize and the Thomas Pringle Award for poetry, and was a runner-up for the Noma Award for Publishing in Africa. He has won the AA Mutual Life/Vita Award and the Thomas Pringle Award for his critical work.
The Blood of Our Silence (Johannesburg, Ravan, 1988)
Projections in the Past Tense (Johannesburg, Ravan, 1992)
Love That is Night (Durban, Gecko Books, 1998)
Mirror and Water Gazing (Pietermaritzburg, Gecko/University of Natal Press, 2001)
Land dreaming: prose poems (Pietermaritzburg, University of Kwazulu-Natal Press, 2006
Absent Tongues (Cape Town, Hands-On Books, 2012)
good little children are seen and not heard; so HUGGEES spent early performing years more focused on looking pretty and less on speaking up. with a background in folk dance and steelpan, there were many opportunities to glitter across various stages in north america. HUGGEES left a chorus of primary schoolmates in trinidad and tobago to perform with a family band throughout canada and then later spent a year with a touring performing arts company based in seattle. during that transient time HUGGEES soon looked to thoughts for companionship. after winning a few speech art competitions, a personal relationship with poetry began; organizing spoken word events and performing spoken word quickly followed. HUGGEES now cohosts on community radio in both spoken word and caribbean music programming.
this for HUGGEES is the return from a much needed break from the spotlight. while working with under-served families, HUGGEES uses art as a therapeutic recreation tool. the motivation to engage audiences once more, stems from the continual exposure to communal secrets and the commitment to be more open in order to continue needed conversations around healing. there is power in performance.
HUGGEES is determined to be a carton voice, playwright, dohl player and other artistic ventures as breath allows.
Kneo was born and raised in Johannesburg, with a mother who built a home for him and his siblings out of nothing. His mother raised him with considerable effort and some comfort but he had to find his own feet, and as such he is studying law at the University of Cape Town. His poetry emerged from his love of love, philosophy and history, as well as his experience of being a part of the liminal class of the ‘born frees’.
Kerry Hammerton has published poetry in various South African and UK literary journals. Some of her poems were included in the anthology Difficult to Explain (Finuala Dowling ed.) and Africa, My Africa (Patricia Schonstein ed.). These are the lies I told you, her debut poetry collection, was published by Modjaji Books in 2010.
Keith Gottschalk published his collection of prison & other protest poems, Emergency Poems, in 1992. He served on the executive of the Congress of South Africa Writers, COSAW, in the 1980s, and today hosts the Lansdowne Local Writers’ Group. He has performed and published over 160 poems, the latter in many magazines.
A Fulbright scholar, Keith lectures in Political Studies at the University of the Western Cape.
Kate Ellis-Cole is an enigma. Always perfectly styled, she carries herself with a secret confidence that’s almost regal. Grace and eloquence spill from her lips in conversation and it’s difficult not to form certain preconceived expectations when this soft-spoken lady steps on stage: she’s white, she’s a woman and she clearly sounds privileged. And then she opens her mouth. Kate’s poetry and subject matter is far from what the initial impression would lead one to expect. From political satire to the strong cross-cultural ties she experiences with land and country, her poetry reflects magnitudes of conscientious and sensitive living and there’s something about her and the unapologetic sincerity with which she speaks and performs that’s endearing and mesmerising.
Legodile Seganabeng hails from the village of Tonota, Botswana. Seganabeng is a recorded poet, spoken word performer, published writer, guitarist and fine artist.
His interest in writing began during his high school days. He holds a Bachelor of Technology Degree in Fine Art from the University of Johannesburg, South Africa. He also holds a Diploma in Creative Writing. He is currently a senior secondary school teacher of Art & Design with specialties in printmaking, photography and graphics. As a freelance writer, he has published several articles in local and international newspapers and magazines.
Seganabeng is founder and chairperson of the Maun based Poetavango Spoken Word Poetry movement. With his Poetavango team, he has brought to the country an annual poetry and literature gala dubbed the Maun International Poetry Festival. In 2010, he won the Bessie Head Literature Award in the short story category. The book, The Moon has Eyes and Other Stories was published in 2011 by Pentagon Publishers, Botswana. On performance stages, Seganabeng is known exclusively as Dredd X. His poetry album, Poetic Mediations, is due for release soon.
Other than performances in local festivals, Seganabeng performed at the Jozi Spoken Word Fest in 2008, Johannesburg. Before then, he regularly performed with the Timbila collective in Johannesburg between 2002 and 2004. Alongside a renowned South African poet Zwesh Fi Kush, Dredd X has performed at the Oppikoppi Festival in Pretoria 2003. He also curtain raised for the Jamaican poet Mutabaruka and was part of a symposium facilitated by Linton Kwesi Johnson (UK) and Jessica Care Moore (USA) in Newtown, South Africa, in 2005.
In early 2012, his poem Effects of Goodbye was featured, alongside poems by 13 other Batswana poets, in a prestigious literary journal, Prairie Schooner, a publication out of the University of Nebraska.
Artist and Writer Jacqueline Kibacha, also known as the Pretty Poet, has a passion for words and a heart to raise the voice of the voiceless. As a creative strategist she uses her poetry to document and respond to the tensions that occur in the world around her and the human soul within.
Originating from Tanzania, living in the Middle East and currently settling in United Kingdom, Jacqueline Kibacha has gained an understanding of issues faced by her brothers and sisters across continents in the light of different cultures, faiths, relationships and politics. It’s hard to be exposed to so many places and not gain a love and appreciation of the colours, textures and rhythms and sounds from East to West. All of these are incorporated in her poetry and music.
Her pre-poetry performance background is in acting and singing. Being a soloist in various choirs, classical to gospel, and also the lead female vocalist of a reggae-funk band that was born in the North East of England. Her creative influences include artists such as Lauryn Hill and Nina Simone who match the weight and richness of their voice with lyrical content that is thought provoking and socially aware.
Kibacha has been a newspaper columnist but has also studied and enjoyed creative writing and is fascinated by the power of words. Through organising music events she has cultivated an eclectic taste in music, which fuelled experimentation that started with sounds and words. In her pieces she fuses the love for words with music, collaborating with DJs, musicians and producers to create poetry with a purpose beyond words on a page.
With a professional background in project planning and community development Jacqueline Kibacha works with like-minded organisations to set up projects that use creativity to address needs, gaps, issues and obstacles in the community.
Jacob Oketch is a poet and a freelance journalist based in Nairobi, Kenya. He has been performing and writing poetry for almost a decade. At the moment,he is preparing to publish his first collection of poetry. He is also in the process of releasing a poetry CD that features other two poets from the East Africa region.
Oketch is a postgraduate student in journalism at the University of Nairobi. He has worked with a number of foreign and local cultural institutions to promote and publicise poetry including Goethe institute Nairobi, Italian institute of Culture Nairobi, and Kwani Trust. He has featured as a backup vocalist in a Kenyan musician’s CD besides also previously featuring in an acapella group. In addition, he has also acted in plays staged by theatre groups in Kenya, most notably the University of Nairobi free travelling theatre. He has written articles for various magazines published in Nairobi.
Evans Nganga is a Kenyan contemporary artist, dancer, poet, yoga instructor and beadwork craftsman who concentrates on performing arts based on African traditions and modern art. The past few years have included months of varied art projects, workshops and performances with both local and international artists, choreographers and dancers and travel for research and performances.
He has received his artistic academic training through open forums, seminars and self study, while practical training included dance workshops and apprenticeship receiving instructions in choreography and electronic media at the tertiary level. Evans has choreographed a Solo Dance Piece titled the poem performed at Encounters from Africa festival, the annual festival of solos and duests at Goethe Institute in Nairobi and Dance Week in Kampala, Uganda.