Saluting the legends

While celebrating World Poetry Day this week we have to note that none of what we have today in the form of poetry and the different movements would be here if iyt weren’t for the legends who long paved the way for us.

The following 9 legendary poets who have been instrumental in shaping the face of poetry in Southern Africa throughout the years. Your contribution to South African Literature and Spoken Word has been inspirational. The work you have invested in and the role you have played is encouraging. Because of you, we are.

Myesha Jenkins

Myesha Jenkins
Jenkins integrates life experience into concise, witty poetry that provokes and inspires. Visible in the Johannesburg poetry scene for the last ten years, she launched her second collection, Dreams of Flight at the UKZN’s International Festival in 2011. Her work has been featured in We are (ed. Natalia Molebatsi, Penguin 2009), Isis X (Botsotso Publishing 2005), and Baobab Journal.  She co-founded the all-female, Feela Sistah Spoken Word Collective and Jozi House of Poetry monthly sessions. She also contributed to the Arts for Humanity’s Children’s Rights Exhibit, collaborating with the visual artist, Louise Almond.

Phillippa Yaa

De Villiers wrote for television, taught mime and acted before publishing Taller thanBuildings (self-published) and The Everyday Wife (Modjadji, 2010, winner of the SALA award 2011for best collection of poetry). Her one-woman show, Original Skin, has toured in South Africa and to Germany. She co-edited No Serenity Here, an anthology of African poetry which translated into Mandarin in 2010 in Shanghai, and her poetry and prose appears in local and international journals and anthologies. She won the audience award and was the runner-up to the best writer award in Pansa’s 2005 national scriptwriting award, and in 2009 won the Writing beyond the Fringe award (National Arts Festival and Belgian writing organization Het Beschrijf) and was shortlisted for the Pen/Studinski prize in the same year. She is the recipient of the 2012 Overseas Scholarship for studies in Creative Writing at Lancaster University.
De Villiers was also chosen as this year’s Commonwealth poet. She read her poem “Courage”, written for the occasion, at Westminster Abbey in front of British royalty for a Commonwealth Day event organized by the Royal Commonwealth Society.

Makhosazana Xaba

Makhosazana Xaba
Xaba is a Writing Fellow at the Wits School of Public Health working on a book on the history of nursing in South Africa. She has published two books of poetry: these hands (Timbila, 2005) and Tongues of their Mothers (UKZN Press, 2008). Her poetry has been translated into Mandarin and Italian and published in anthologies in China and Italy.  Her long term project is a biography of a South African woman writer Helen Nontando (Noni) Jabavu. In 2005 Makhosazana won the Deon Hofmeyr Award for Creative Writing for her then unpublished short story, Running.  She holds an MA in Writing (with distinction) from Wits University. She co-edited with Karen Martin, Queer Africa: New and selected fiction (MaThoko’s Books, 2013).  Running and other stories (Modjaji Books, 2013) is her first collection of short stories

Natalia Molebatsi

Born and raised in Tembisa, Johannesburg, Natalia Molebatsi is a performance poet, writer, workshop facilitator and programme director.Molebatsi has performed in South Africa, Senegal, Italy, Zimbabwe, Holland, Kenya, Nigeria, Azerbaijan and England. She has performed alongside Alice Walker, Jayne Cortez, Zakes Mda, Myesha Jenkins, Lebo Mashile, Sindiwe Magona, Napo Masheane and Simphiwe Dana, among others.In 2009, Molebatsi performed at the Women in Africa and the African Diaspora (WAAD) International Conference in Abuja, Nigeria. That same year, she also appeared widely in Italy, where she performed at the Mantova International Literature Festival, Calendidonna Women’s Festival, Genoa International Poetry Festival, Firenze (Florence) International Poetry Festival and Sunsplash International Reggae Festival.Molebatsi was the host of ‘Evening with Alice Walker’ at the State Theatre in 2010. This was also the year that she made her debut at the Poetry Africa festival, where she was part of the main programme of poets. Her most recent performances include the Mangaung African Cultural Festival in Bloemfontein, Night of the Poets at State Theatre, as well as representing South Africa as part of the cultural events programme during the London Olympics.

Malika Lueen Ndlovu

Malika Ndlovu is an internationally published South African poet, playwright and performer whose poetry and plays have appeared on stages across South Africa and throughout the globe, including countries like Austria, Uganda, the United States and the United Kingdom. With a Degree in Performing Arts and Diplomas in Arts Administration and Advanced Theatre Research, she has a career spanning 18 years in the arts and arts management arena.As a poet, Ndlovu is the author of numerous publications including Born in Africa But (1999), Womb to World: A Labour of Love (2001), Truth is both Spirit and Flesh (2008) and a poetic memoir entitled Invisible Earthquake: a Woman’s Journal through Stillbirth (2009). She has also written two published plays titled A Coloured Place (1998) and Sister Breyani (2010).Between 2007 and 2010, Ndlovu worked as a project manager for the Badilisha Poetry X-Change, an international poetry festival. She is currently guest curator and presenter for BadilishaPoetry. com, which is a unique African poetry podcasting platform..

Raphael d’Abdon

D’Abdon is a writer, scholar, editor and translator. He holds a PhD in Linguistics and Literary Studies from the University of Udine (Italy) and is currently a Postdoctoral Fellow at the English Studies Department of UNISA. D’Abdon has read his poetry in Italy, Nigeria, South Africa and the United States, where he chaired a session on ‘spoken word and literature’ at the 2011 Chinua Achebe Colloquium, a conference that hosted poets such as Jayne Cortez, Sonia Sanchez, Yusef Komunyakaa and Prof. Achebe himself.D’Abdon has published articles, essays, translations, interviews, short stories and poems in several volumes and journals. He also edited I nostri semi/Peo tsa rona, an anthology of South African spoken word poetry.

Allan Kolski Horwitz

Horwitz was born in Vryburg in 1952 and grew up in Cape Town where he studied political philosophy and literature. Between 1974 and 1985 he lived in the Middle East, Europe and North America, returning to South Africa in 1986. Since then he has worked in the trade union and social housing movements as an organizer and educator. He currently lives in Johannesburg and is the coordinator of the Botsotso Jesters, a poetry performance group, and of Botsotso Publishing. His first book of poems Call from the Free State was published in 1979. Substantial selections of his poetry have been included in We Jive Like This and Dirty Washing, featuring the Botsotso Jesters, Essential Things (COSAW) and Throbbing Ink (Timbila,).

Kojo Baffoe

Editor of the men’s business and lifestyle magazine, DESTINY Man, Kojo Baffoe is an editor, writer, poet and entrepreneur with origins in Ghana and Germany, raised in Lesotho, and based in Johannesburg. Kojo has been involved in the poetry / spoken word movement in Southern Africa for last 10+ years erratically; has published two collections of poetry; and been featured in publications in South Africa, Canada and Brazil.He has performed extensively, highlights of which include touring the UK with the Hammer & Tongue Poetry Slam Tour, Urban Voices, Arts Alive Speak Your Mind and Poetry Africa SlamJam. He has written for and performed at corporate events and shows and has facilitated workshops and functions.He speaks on a range of topics including Re-defining Success, Getting Back To Basics, Finding Purpose and Fatherhood. He is poet laureate for Gordon Institute of Business Science, was founding editor of Blaque Magazine, has written for a range of publications including as a columnist (2009 – 2011) for City Press’ lifestyle supplement, 7, is an avid blogger and loves social media.

Lesego Rampolokeng

Daddy Ramps is a poet, novelist and playwright, who came to prominence in the 1980s, a turbulent period in South Africa’s history. Born in Orlando West, Soweto, in Johannesburg, he studied law, but has not followed this path any further. Rampolokeng’s poetry often challenges the established order, with some critics comparing his confrontational style to that of late Zimbabwean poet and novelist, Dambudzo Macherera. Rampolokeng’s first poetry offering was Horns for Hondo, published in 1991. This was followed by End Beginnings in 1993. Among others, his works of poetry and prose include Talking Rain (1993), Rap Master Supreme – Word Bomber in the Extreme (1997), The Bavino Sermons (1999) and more recently, Head on Fire (2012).

As an author, Rampolokeng has written two novels: Blackheart published in 2004 and Whiteheart published the following year. Directly influenced by the works of Frantz Fanon, he published the play Fanon’s Children

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