Jeff Plumbline

Poet, songwriter, political blogger (rantingsofthetalakawa.blogspot.com) and Hip Hop Rap/spoken word artist Plumbline was born in Lagos Nigeria, in his Lagos Island hometown.

Growing up, he was influenced by local poets like the late Mamman Vatsa and later on caught up with the works of the Late Ken Saro Wiwa.

His defining moment was when he heard Kurtis Blow’s Basketball and If I ruled the World in the Early/Mid Eighties. Having been on Michael Jackson’s pop and Boney M’s Discotheque, this was to him a paradigm shift. By the time he was in high school, he started writing his own rhymes but did not go into active recording till 2006/2007, the time he concluded his Masters Degree in Applied Geophysics, five years after a first Degree in Geology.

He is a regular spoken word performer at Taruwa, Lydia Sobogun’s Poetry/Open Mic event hosted by Bez with a fiery delivery that earned him the title Taruwa Favourite. He performs at Anthill, and hosts a Spoken Word event, Chill and Relax at Life House, Sinari Daranijo, Victoria Island. He was also one of the Poets at Rhyme and Reasons for Jos, a gathering of Artists and Comedians to decry the Jos violence.

He has since teamed up with BigFoot (Micworx), Kraft (Kraftwork), and Steady of STOMProductions on an ambitious Hiphop/Spoken Word project.

James Matthews

James Matthews, poet, writer and publisher, has produced five books of poetry, a collection of short stories, a novel and an anthology of poetry, which he edited. Most of his work was banned under the previous government and was translated and published overseas. For 13 years he was denied a passport and was placed in detention from September to December 1976. Solitary confinement was widely used during the apartheid years; its purpose being to disorient, to dehumanize, to undermine the detainee’s sense of self-identity. James Matthews waged a struggle against this agenda with the one weapon the jailers couldn’t take away from him – his ability to turn words into poems.

In 1980 Matthews participated in the Frankfurt Book Fair, and in 1982 he participated in the Cultural and Resistance Conference in Gaborone. He was awarded a Fellowship at Iowa University, U.S.A. and was the founding member of the Vakalisa Art Association and founding member and Patron of the Congress of South African Writers. James Matthews is the first black person to have established an art gallery (Gallery Afrique) in South Africa, and is the first black to have established a publishing house (BLAC Publishing House 1974 -1991) The publishing house closed in 1991 due to constant harassment by the previous government. Matthews is the recipient of the Woza Afrika Award (1978), Kwaza Honours List – Black Arts Celebration, Chicago, U.S.A.(1979) and the Freeman of Lehrte and Nienburg, Germany (1982). In 2010, he was given an award by the City of Cape Town.

Jessica Mbangeni

Born and raised in the Eastern Cape, Jessica Mbangeni is one of South Africa’s most sought after female Imbongi (praise singer), and has made her mark in male dominated cultural terrain. Invoking the role of this ancient tradition, largely influenced by her grandmother’s isiXhosa storytelling in the village of Nqamakwe, she offers insightful commentary on contemporary affairs. She has performed alongside numerous musical icons, such as Dolly Rathebe and Dorothy Masuka.

Jemedari

Growing in the towns of Mombasa, Nakuru and Nairobi City, Jemedari is a spoken word poet and Hip Hop artiste. Having involved himself in poetry from school level competitions, his style is a gritty mix of English and coastal Swahili. His focus on topics is mainly politics and social justice, with the occasional dabbling in matters of the heart.

Epiphanie Mukasano

Epiphanie Mukusano is originally from Rwanda where she used to be a teacher. She has a Master’s degree in English Literature and now lives as a refugee in Cape Town with her husband and children.

Her poems have been published in Living on the Fence (2007) a collection of writing by women who are refugees from various countries in Africa. Epiphanie contributed When a name is lost to the collection of birth stories Just keep breathing (Jacana, 2008) and Cambridge University Press has published her children’s story Shema and the goat (2009). Epiphanie’s poem comes from her first poetry collection Kilimanjaro on my lap.

Dorian Haarhoff

Dorian Haarhoff (1944- ) a South African/Namibian poet, facilitates creative writing, and story-telling wordshops and acts as a one-on-one writing mentor. In a past life, a Professor of English Literature (Namibia), Dorian now tinkers his trade in the street markets of the world. Mythology, creation spirituality, whole brain theory, the new Physics, narrative therapy, Ubuntu, Eco and Jungian psychology and the poetic tradition influence his writing and work.

Passionate about developing innate creativity and imagination, he believes in the power of poetry to create new realities. He has been participating poet at Poetry Africa, SA and at the International Poetry Festival in Colombia, South America.

Selected publications:

Creative Writing teaching text

The Writer’s Voice: A Workbook for Writers in Africa (Zebra Press, Johannesburg 1998.)

Poetry:

Wrist and Rib (own publication, Cape Town, 1978.)

Stickman (own publication, Windhoek, 1981.)

Bordering (Justified Press, Johannesburg, 1991.)

Aquifers and Dust (Justified Press, Johannesburg, 1994.)

Tortoise Voices (Mercer, Cape Town, 2002.)

Drawing Water (Leopard Press, Durban, 2007.)

Poemegranites (Leopard Press, Durban, 2012.)

Editing of Poetry (Student Writing)

The Writers Eye: Namibian Poetry in Process (ed. D. Haarhoff, Basler Afrika Bibliographien, 1997.)

Drama Scripts:

Goats, Oranges and Skeletons (ed. T. Zeeman, Gamsberg Macmillan, Windhoek, 2002.)

The Missing Namibian, SAMP – (Swedish African Museum Project) performed in Sweden and Namibia , 1996 (unpublished.)

Children’s Stories/ Drama:

Desert December (Songololo, Cape Town, 1991, Clarion, New York, 1992 and Pan Macmillan, U.K., 1993.)

Water from the Rock (New Namibia Books, Windhoek, 1992.)

Legs, Bones and Eyes (New Namibia Books, Windhoek 1994, Puffin, 1996.)

Guano Girl (Justified Press, Johannesburg, 1994.)

Space Racer, graded reader (Kagiso, Cape Town, 1996.)

Grandfather’s Enoch’s Pipe, graded reader (Gamsberg Macmillan, Windhoek, 2002.)

The Water Diviner, short list top 3 African Baobab competition 2011

Alice in Welwitschialand (Environmental Play) Performed 1992, 1993 and 1994 NTN (National Theatre Namibia) and Grahamstown Festival. (unpublished)

The Colour of Water, Children’s Radio Drama Serial. Namibian B C, 1993.

Dejavu Tafari

Dejavu Tafari has been involved in the performing arts since her high school days. Having discovered her abilities as a writer at an early age, she has honed her skills in creative writing and used them as a means of social commentary, making a name for herself in the slam poetry scene as a writer and performer of note.

Having completed a Live Performance course at Cape Town’s A.M.A.C in 2004 and gone on to further her studies in Theatre Performance at UCT, her work fuses elements of physical theatre, contemporary live performance, music and story-telling to deliver impactful social commentary on issues such as spirituality, cultural heritage, child abuse, peer pressure, love and various other issues which affect the youth.

She currently co- owns NTUTOPIA PRODUCTIONS- a township-based production company and uses this platform to generate theatre and television productions which focus on telling stories that empower the black youth demographic by reinforcing positive values. She has gained popularity within the Slam Poetry scene as a result of her consistent performances at events such as UNCUT (Cape Tech); AFRO (UCT); Kopano (Langa); All N.YZ (Guguletu); GOEMARATTI (Cape Town) and various other youth- orientated initiatives around the Western Cape. She has recently collaborated with an acoustic ensemble called the Umthwakazi Band; adding indigenous Xhosa music to her witty lyrics to create a kaleidoscope of experimental word-sound-power that has been well received by her widening audience base.

Other performances include the Speak The Mind Poetry Extravaganza (Artscape Theatre Sept. 2009); Poetry on Long (New Space Theatre Jan. 2010); Verses (Feb. 2010); Badilisha Poetry’s 100 000 Poets for Change( 2011) and Woman To Woman( 2012). Dejavu is currently working on her debut album.

Chirikure Chirikure

Chirikure Chirikure was born in Gutu, Zimbabwe, in 1962. He is a graduate of the University of Zimbabwe and an Honorary Fellow of Iowa University, USA. He currently lives in Berlin, Germany, as a fellow under the 2011/12 DAAD Berliner Kunstlerprogramm (Artists in Berlin Programme). He also works as a performance poet and cultural consultant.

He worked with one of Zimbabwe’s leading publishing houses as an editor/publisher for 17 years, until 2002. After working as a consultant for a while, he went on to work for an international development agency as a programme officer for culture, for Southern Africa, based in Harare, until April 2011.
Chirikure has published the following volumes of his poetry: Rukuvhute (1989, College Press, Harare); Chamupupuri (1994, College Press, Harare); Hakurarwi – We Shall not Sleep (1998, Baobab Books, Harare) and Aussicht Auf Eigene Schatten (Shona and English poems with German translations) (2011, Afrika Wunderhorn, Heidelberg, Germany).

He has also contributed some pieces in a number of poetry anthologies, including Zviri Muchinokoro (2005, ZPH Publishers), Intwasa Poetry (2008, AmaBooks Publishers), Schicksal Afrika (ed. Horst Kohler) (2010, Rowohlt Verlag), No Serenity Here – An Anthology of African Poetry in Chinese, (2010 Moonchu Foundation).
His poetry has been translated into a number of languages. He has also written and translated a number of children’s stories and educational books.

Chirikure’s first three poetry books received first prizes in the annual Zimbabwe writer of the year awards. His first volume, Rukuvhute, also received an Honorable Mention in the Noma Awards for Publishing in Africa, in 1990. His other book, Hakurarwi – We Shall not Sleep, was selected as one of the 75 Best Zimbabwean Books of the 20th Century in a competition ran by the Zimbabwe International Book Fair in 2004. In that competition the same book got a prize as one of the best five Shona publications of the 20th Century.

Chirikure performs his poetry solo and/or with DeteMbira mbira music ensemble. With DeteMbira, they recorded an album of poetry and music, Napukeni (2002, Tuku Music/ZMC). He regularly performs and tours with musician Chiwoniso Maraire, with whom he has recorded an album of poetry with mbira music, Chimanimani .

With support from family and friends, he has also recorded an album of his poetry with contemporary music, Chisina Basa (2011, Metro Studios Harare/Inyasha Studios UK).

He has also written lyrics for a number of leading Zimbabwean musicians and he occasionally performs and has recorded with some of these musicians.

He has also contributed lyrics, translations and voice-overs in films and documentaries, and has acted in some theatre productions. He has also been an occasional contributor to the print media and used to run a radio programme for young Shona writers.

Over the years, Chirikure has participated in several international festivals, fairs, conferences and symposiums, as a performer, speaker or resource person.

Chiedu Ifeozo

Chiedu Ifeozo is a young Nigerian; he was born in Lagos in the early eighties and his family is originally from Ubulu-uku in Delta state, Nigeria. He completed his secondary school education at Kings College Lagos, and graduated with a master’s degree in Electronics Engineering from the University of Surrey, England. He returned from his studies in England in 2006. Although a keen engineer, he has always had an appreciation for the arts. From an early age, he began by drawing comic books and illustrations. Reading and writing became a passion in his teenage years, drawing inspiration from events in his daily life as well as in his Society. Thoughts on a page is his first book, a collection spanning over 12 years; it focuses mainly on topics such as, politics, social commentary, youth empowerment, inspirational poetry and romance.

He also edits and prints a quarterly anthology titled poetry for charity that raises funds for various charities. These include “These Genes”, a charity that supports sickle cell sufferers and the “Rose of Sharon foundation” which provides scholarships and reading materials for orphans as well as financial aid and skills acquisition programmes for widows. The contributors to the anthology are gathered from many diverse countries using facebook’s social networking platform.

Crystal Tettey

Crystal Tettey is a Malagasy/Ghanaian artist who is a member of EhaLaKasa- a group of young Spoken word poets who use performance art to inspire positive social change. She is fluent in English, French, Russian, Ga and Twi.

Cosmas Mairosi

A qualified primary school teacher, Cosmas Mairosi was born in Mudzi and grew up in the rural area of Rusape in Manicaland province, Zimbabwe. He is a performance poet, writer, arts trainer in children’s performing arts, vice chairperson of Budding Writers Association of Zimbabwe (BWAZ)’s and a member of Global Arts Trust.

He has published poems and short stories in Writers Scroll, Teacher’s Voice and New Voices magazines and is featured in an international anthology CHE IN VERSE published by Aflame Books. A compilation that includes two Nobel Prize Laureates and Allen Ginsberg. Cosmas has also published in State of the Nation, Contemporary Zimbabwean Poetry, an anthology of Zimbabwean poets. He has been broadcast on ZBC radio, television and BBC radio and television and has performed at the Zimbabwe International Book Fair since 2003, HIFA-Spoken Word.

His international debut was at the ANTUSA Games (10-14 April 2008) in Francistown, Botswana, which was a festival of SADC Teachers Unions. Cosmas Mairosi won first prize in the House of Hunger Poetry Slam at the Book Café and has twice been an International Society of Poets finalist. He has taught performance poetry and facilitates performance poetry workshops. Cosmas performed at Speak the Mind 2010 at the Artscape in Cape Town South Africa.

Chenjerai Hove

Chenjerai Hove born February 9, 1956, he is a Zimbabwean poet, novelist and essayist. He was educated at the University of South Africa and the University of Zimbabwe, and has worked as an educator and journalist. He has lived in exile since 2001, after his writings, especially Masimba Avanhu and a play, Sister, Sing Again Someday (both of which address the situation of women in Zimbabwe), as well as his criticism of the policies of President Robert Mugabe, brought him to the attention of the Zimbabwe government.

He currently lives in exile as the International Writers Project fellow in residence at Brown University’s Watson Institute for International Studies. Widely regarded as a leading figure of post-colonial Zimbabwean literature, Chenjerai Hove is the author of four novels – Bones, Shadows, Ancestors, and, in his native Shona, Masimba Avanhu (Is This the People’s Power?), as well as of three volumes of poetry, books of essays, and freelance journalism.

Albert Chitsanzo

Kalimbakatha Albert Chitsanzo is a Malawian poet who developed the interest of writing way back in primary school. Having his voice in print was his long-held desire. He has written numerous poems which have been published locally and internationally. On the international scene Snail’s Lament was published in The Penguin Book of Modern Poetry in 1998 edited by Gerald Moore and Ulli Beier. Africa Hunted was broadcast on South African Broadcasting Corporation in 2003.

In Malawi his poem Mangoes was published in 1993 in the standard 6 text book Primary School English Activities published by Malawi Institute of Education. Fiery Ball is anthologized in Unsung Song published in 2001 by Chancellor College Publications for O level students. Other poems have been broadcast in The Writers’ Corner Program on Malawian radio and Published in various Malawian newspapers. Albert is a founding member of Malawi Writers Union who uses his poetry to help develop a deep appreciation of literature in the minds of Malawian students.

Pippa Little

Pippa Little was born and raised in Tanzania. She is Scots but has lived mainly in England. A teacher, editor, higher education lecturer and literacy tutor, she has now begun writing full-time. Married with three sons, two in England and one in Mexico, and a labrador dog, she has a poetry collection titled Overwintering.

Patricia Schonstein

Patricia is an internationallly published, award winning novelist and poet whose works have been translated into five languages.

In 1984, in response to apartheid and the political violence in the Eastern Cape, she opened a non-racial pre-school. She wrote and self-published stories, poems and songs that had relevance to her pupils’ lives, and which were based on the same principles of peace she used in her classes.

After completing a Master’s Degree in creative writing at the University of Cape Town, she focused on full-time authorship. Although her novels are decorative, magical, opulent and richly furnished, they carry at core a deep, philosophical note as she exposes the emotional carnage caused by war and genocide.

Her novels reflect variously on the Holocaust, South Africa’s wars in Angola and Mozambique, Zimbabwe’s Chimurenga war and current dictatorship, the bombing of Dresden and apartheid.They also reflect on the way we ‘war’ against the earth and other species.Yet, despite these dark matters, her fictions are full of hope and joy and love.

Her poetry is another matter. Here she is blunt and to the point. She captures, in language that is at times paradoxically lyrical and beautiful, the full scale and horror of war, genocide, fratricide and our destruction of the natural world. Patricia’s is a voice for peace.

Pitika Ntuli

Pitika Ntuli is an internationally renowned poet, fine artist and academic. He is widely sought-after as a public speaker and commentator on arts and culture, indigenous knowledge systems and African scholarship. As an acclaimed poet, his poetry has been published in numerous magazines and anthologies.

Ntuli holds a Master of Fine Arts from the Pratt Institute in New York, USA. He spent his exile years in the U.K. where he helped establish one of Europe’s leading poetry circuits, Apples & Snakes in London. While in London, Ntuli also lectured in Fine Art and English Literature and he worked closely with Amnesty International and Index-on-Censorship.

Ntuli returned to South Africa at the end of 1994 and lectured at the former University of the Witwatersrand before joining the staff of the former University of Durban-Westville in 1995 as Head of the Fine Art Department.

Pitika Ntuli has held several portfolios on boards including the BAT Centre Trust, Universal Creative Arts and Artists for Human Rights. Ntuli was also co-director of the Awesome Africa Music Festival. He is currently Chair of the Ministerial Advisory Committee on Indigenous Knowledge Systems.

Pitika Ntuli has performed his poetry with leading musicians like the late Dudu Pukwana, Mervin Africa, Julian Bahula, Lucky Ranku and Eugene Skeef and has toured Europe several times with his poetry. His poetry has received critical acclaim around the world. In 2004, Ntuli performed at the inauguration of former South African President Thabo Mbeki.

Also a sculptor, Ntuli recently held a solo exhibition Scent of Invisible Footprints in Moments of Complexity at Museum Africa in Johannesburg. His book Scent of Invisible Footprints: The Sculpture of Pitika Ntuli is also an exploration of his art form.

Philani Amadeus Nyoni

Philani Amadeus Nyoni is a Zimbabwean poet, short story writer and actor. His writings have been published in newspapers and magazines including The Sunday News, Zimbabwe Metro, South Africa Metro, Consciousness.co.za and Ghana Poetry Foundation.

In 2006 he was awarded a First Class Award in the ‘Girls’ College Literary Competition, the following year he was awarded ‘Honors’ and won the Best Poem Award in the senior category. In 2010 his poetry was read at a cultural night in Wales organised by Kushinda Publishing, in the same year he co-wrote and acted in Cletus Moyo’s stage play titled And Now We Speak. He took part in the Drama For Life Festival in South Africa where he was part of the ‘A Lover And Another Poetry Slam’ where he represented Gauteng in the national championships.

In 2011 he co-wrote an opening act with Simo Mpapa-Majola for the festival. In that year he also featured in Lindela, a short film written and directed by Lilly Million about Lindela camp in South Africa where illegal immigrants are held before being deported to their respective countries. In 2012 he was part of the team that resurrected “Mlom’ Wakho Poetry Slams” in Bulawayo which was the second poetry slam in Zimbabwe after ‘House Of Hunger’ in Harare. He took part in the ‘Breaking Barriers Poetry Slam’ held in Harare during the Shoko Festival and also shared his works at Intwasa Festival. He is working with John Eppel as an editor on Philani’s first book, a forty-five poem anthology entitled Once A Lover Always A Fool.

Siyanda Solilo

Siyanda Solilo who is affectionately known as IThole lomgquba by his fans and dear supporters hails from the talent-rich Motherwell Township in the Eastern cape.

Ithole Lomgquba has been active around the Neslon Mandela Bay steadily building street credibility and networking with the like-minded artists. He has performed at sessions like the Elements Of Hip Hop, Grassroots arts Festival 2012, What’s Up sessions, Bring it to the cypher to mention a few.

SoProfound

Zimbabwean poet SoProfound started performing poetry in 2009 but became active in the poetry circles in 2010. He has shared his work at events such as the House of Hunger Poetry Slam Zimbabwe, Mashoko! (The spoken word and hip-hop event hosted by Magamba), House of Hunger Poetry Slam South Africa, The Experience (nu-verb), Poetry and Music (part of the poetry and… series).

Thobekile Mbanda

Thobekile Mbanda is a young gifted woman from Inchanga Kwa Zulu Natal now residing in Cape Town. She is a spoken word artist and community activist. Her work portrays her deep rooted passion for the well being of her people, promoting self-love, self-respect, identity and self-sustainment.

Her guitar inspires her lyrics and flow and is her companion. She holds high respect for poetry for she sees it as a catalyst of reaching the consciousness of the people who dare listen and considers herself as the voice of the beginning Thobekile wase Embo. She sees her work as a sacrifice of love for peace, unity, honesty and freedom for all.

Trudy Walmsley

Trudy grew up in Lusaka, Zambia in a culturally mixed household and moved back to Nairobi during Kenya’s move into a multiparty state which fueled her patriotic spirit. Her love for the arts, dance, painting, writing and stage performance in her formative years was key in shaping her world-view and she is intrinsically a seeker, a lover of God, truth, authenticity and inspiration.

She holds a BA in Communications from Daystar University.

Changing Winds is her first title about observations, angst and hope.

Timothy Wangusa

Timothy Wangusa (born 1942) is a Ugandan poet and novelist.

Wangusa is an ethnic Mumasaaba, born in Bugisu, in eastern Uganda. He studied English at Makerere University where he later served on faculty, and the University of Leeds (UK). He wrote his MA and PhD on British and African poetry, respectively.

Wangusa started working at Makerere University in 1969. He was appointed as Professor in 1981 (the first from his Bugisu. In his acceptance speech ‘A Wordless World’ he looked at how words were starting to lose meaning and there was a continuous shift from words and speech. Later Wangusa served as Head of Department of Literature and Dean of Faculty of Arts. He was also Minister of Education in the Ugandan Government (1985–86) and Member of Parliament (1989–96). Presently, he serves as Senior Presidential Advisor In Museveni’s government. Wangusa played a pivotal role in establishing the Department of Languages and Literature at Uganda Christian University, an Anglican University in Mukono.

His collection of poems Salutations: Poems 1965-1975 (1977), reissued with additional poems as A Pattern of Dust: Selected Poems 1965-1990 (1994), reflects his rural origins. The novel Upon This Mountain (1989) tells the story of Mwambu, who is determined to touch heaven, and describes his journey towards adulthood. The novel combines African folklore and proverbs with Christian symbolism. Its main theme is that of growing up in the Ugandan society and what challenges come with growing up in the traditional setting.

Wangusa was chairman of Uganda Writers Association and founder president of International PEN  Uganda Centre.