The Spectacle That Was Badilisha Poetry X-Change!


Two weeks ago we headed to the Badilisha Poetry X-Change  held at the beautiful Young Blood Art Gallery on Bree street in the ever so breath-taking Cape Town. The Pan-African gathering kicked off at 7pm until 9pm, featuring African poets such as South Africa's renowned Professor Keorapetse Kgositsile, TJ Dema from Botswana, Tanzania's Caroline Anande Uliwa, Liyou Libsekal from Ethiopia and Siyabonga Ngcai from South Africa.

 It was a typical poetry affair, fun vibes, hosted by Didintle Ntsie who I kept on calling Queen Nandi, because of her outfit. Lol. I could hardly wait for 4th December, not only because I'm a poetry lover but also such events are usually held in Jo'burg so bringing this experience wrapped in Pan-Africanness had me count down like my life depended on it!

My biggest highlight was the legendary poet, Prof. Keorapetse Kgositsile. His witty approach while delivering his art wrapped in wisdom was rather captivating.  He read some of his poems including A New Day,  No Serenity Here amongst others.

Prof. Keorapetse Kgositsile

He spoke of imperialism and how in his words, "Our memories of the struggle will never die." While on imperialism, "....And I wonder why we are somewhere we did not aim to be."

There was so much to quote! I felt his presence was that of an African human library. Piles of wisdom were shared. Even though it was hard to choose the best, I had two profound statements that will forever live rent-free in my mind and better yet in reality.

  "You can do anything that you want to do, if you know what to do."

 He closed off with"So should I love my heart more because when I'm missing you, that's where I find you." The audience's reaction was everything! A long standing ovation and an overall moment of appreciation and acknowledgement of the legendary African storyteller was had from the roof all the way to the ground. Things our Pan-African forefathers would be proud of.

This had me think of people who've always told me poetry is just words nothing more to it. I refuse to believe that mind-set. Ever heard of words travel a thousand miles? Yeah, that. Just like reading, there are certain books you need to read at the right time, they will speak to you in whichever way possible. I feel the same applies to poetry, in a bit of a twisted way though; spoken word is designed for people it is intended to reach. Read target. Anyway, this is a debate for another day.

Ethiopian poet, Liyou Libsekal
Can I also highlight how normal it felt to be in the presence where three in four sisters were rocking nappy crowns while the rest rocked beautiful tribal print head wraps? It was a beautiful refreshing gesture, one I witnessed in modern-day Africa; 2015 to be precise.

Some poetry lovers were spotted.



MC for the night, Didintle Ntsie

This event was made possible by the support of International Fund for the Promotion of Culture (IFPC) of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization(UNESCO).
When I asked Linda when is the next event and whether it's going to be an annual event, she explained they can't really confirm that because they rely on funding. So thank you to IFPC and UNESCO for being so awesome.

There was no better way to end this year than a Pan-African gathering of such magnitude. A big thank you to Linda Kaoma and The Africa Centre for the memorable experience.
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