Bulawayo poets join Shoko ‘Battle of the Cities’ slam

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POETS from the Sunshine City (Harare) will today take on those from The City of Kings & Queens (Bulawayo) in “The Battle of the Cities Poetry Slam”, with the audience as the judges.
Nhimbe Trust joins Page Poetry Alive in partnering the event with Shoko Festival, which will be streamed on the Shoko Festival Facebook page from 7pm. This is part of the Phoenix Edition of the festival which will explode online from today to September 27.

Representing Bulawayo are popular young poets Sox the Poet, Tina Tafirenyika, Thandokuhle Tinkie, and Delah Dube. Reprsenting Harare are Kuda Rice, The Unspoken, Banshee and Shaldo, and the Slam Master is the acclaimed poet “Madzitatiguru”.

Viewers get to vote from the comfort of their homes and the footage will be left on the page overnight to gain more views. People can vote in that period as well and the winner will be announced the following day.

Nhimbe Trust’s Lisa Sidambe said the festival collaboration comes under Nhimbe’s “Re-linking Communities Through Culture Project”, funded by Culture at Work Africa and co-funded by the European Union.

“The collaboration works to advance one of the objectives of the re-linking project, which seeks to ‘build across tribal divisions and in the spirit of inclusivity, acceptance and respect for the value of the diversity of cultural expressions and their significance to national identity’.”

Sidambe said: “We are excited to be partnering with Page Poetry Alive and Shoko Festival as part of efforts aimed at enhancing the visibility of artists as voices that drive social change. Accessing new stages and new audiences means that we increasingly are tapping into a wide network of communities that become consumers of the messaging of the Relinking Communities Through Culture Project.”

Page Poetry Alive founder and head of the Slam organising team from Page Poetry Alive, Peggie Shangwa, said: “We hosted the first ever Digital Poetry Slam in Zimbabwe entitled ‘Slam.ZW — The Lockdown Poetry Knock-Outs’ in May 2020 in partnership with Moto Republik. This is a follow up to that slam, taking the notch up to a National Slam as we partner with Shoko Festival and Nhimbe Trust.”

The Bulawayo poets joining Shoko 2020 from Bulawayo are young and fresh, and raring to go.
Sox The Poet (Sondlane Dube) is a spoken word poet and youth activist who gained recognition in the Bulawayo arts world in 2019 after winning the National Lafarge Poetry slam, and has performed widely on different stages in the city, including Intwasa Arts Festival.

He is the founder of Project Being Human and Bandiwhilila Trust, writes for The Bold Dialogue, and hosts a poetry podcast, Verse Connoisseur.

Sox said: “It’s about time Harare and Bulawayo went toe-to-toe in a controlled and healthy competitive environment. Shoko Festival is a prestigious opportunity and anyone would be honoured to have the pleasure to partake in such a platform.

Thandokuhle “Tinkie” Sibanda was drawn to poetry in high school and after many learning experiences grew to reach the finals of national talent show Starbrite. Gaining confidence, in 2017 she signed up for the Lafarge Poetry Slam emerging the winner. She started performing on big stages such as the Bulawayo Arts Awards and the Women,

Wine and Words event of 2018 and Intwasa Arts Festival where she was crowned the poetry slam champion.
In 2019 she received two nominations from Bulawayo Arts Awards.

Delah Dube found her love for poetry through acting. She has won several prizes including Intwasa Arts Festival Poetry competitions 100 Girls 100 Voices where she won first place in the Individual Poetry Competition and third prize in the Intwasa Poetry Slam and was the only Zimbabwean woman to qualify for the final round.

Dube also won first place in the Albert Nyathi Talent Search 2019 in the poetry category, and this year had her first international performance at the Sawubona Music Jam in Soweto, South Africa, where she performed a fusion of music and poetry
In 2017, Tinashe Tafirenyika received a Bulawayo Arts Award (BAA) for her poetry, and became the first woman and youngest person to receive a National Arts Merit Award (Nama) in Spoken Word Poetry in Zimbabwe, which she won again in 2018.

She released her first poetry video, Sarah Baartman that year. At the beginning of 2019 her account of the Zimbabwe Shutdown was published in Brittle Paper, one of Africa’s leading literary websites where she became a columnist for the Nigerian poetry blog Konya Shamsrumi.

Tina said: “It’s great to be part of the Shoko Festival poetry slam after seven years. What makes it particularly exciting this year is getting to see all the young talent, their new ideas, techniques and passion are refreshing.

It’s sad that because of coronavirus the performers don’t get to feed off a live audience as it is now online, but this is the inevitable next step in performing art and I believe that the lockdown has just made us grow into it sooner than we had anticipated.”

Bulawayo Slam poetry has had an interesting history in Zimbabwe, starting back in the mid-2000s when the first Bulawayo-Harare exchanges took place at the legendary House of Hunger Poetry Slam at the Book Café in the capital.

One of the emerging poets at the time was Tswarelo Mothobe, who went on to open and run the Mlom’wakho Poetry Slam, a powerful platform for Bulawayo poets and freedom of expression which has seen the rise of good slam poets from Matabeleland.

From a humble microphone on a humble platform, poets of Zimbabwe have grown to establish an excellent reputation and are now catapulted into cyberspace for all the world to see as our world goes online. Lovers of poetry and the arts are invited to watch, like, share and vote!

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