Prof Kofi Awoonor,78, died on the first day of the terrorist siege of Westgate shopping mall (21 September 2013) in Nairobi, Kenya.Ghanian-born poet,Kofi Awoonor, had agreed to be the first major African poet to be part of the African Poetry Book Series. His New and Selected poems with an introduction by fellow poet and scholar, Kofi Anyidoho, will be published in 2014 with assistance from the African Poetry Book Fund, established by Glenna-Luschei Editor ofPrairie Schooner,Kwame Dawes, also from Ghana. Kofi, who was in town with his son Afetfi, who sustained shoulder injuries, was attending the StoryMoja Hay Festival at the same venue where over 150 people gathered to bid him farewell. The farewell evening opened with singing of the Kenyan and Ghanaian national anthems. Dr Auma Obama, Presidnet Obama’s half sister sent a tribute as did Nigerian children’s author Atinuke. Some of those who read his works include celebrated authors Peter Godwin(Zimbabwe), Kwame Dawes(Ghana), Nii Parkes (Ghana), Warsan Shire(Somalia), Teju Cole(Nigerian-American), Billy Kahora and Binyavanga Wainaina.
Professional storyteller Aghan Odero Agan said : “We, the arts community will celebrate him as a giant on whose shoulders we will stand to see far”.
“We are devastated by the loss of Professor Awoonor, but hope must prevail,” said StoryMoja founder, Muthoni Garland, in announcing the tribute. The festival had to be cancelled after news of the attack. “[Awoonor] is as a poet of witness, of great lyric grace and a remarkable capacity to combine his command of traditional Ewe poetics with a modernist lyric sensibility,” says Dawes. “That makes him one of the great African poets to have appeared in the twentieth century. His agreement to be a part of this series is a tremendous coup. We are extremely pleased.”
Awoonor, a political activist and national Ghanian hero, has been a champion of African poetry throughout his life. In addition to lecturing in English and African literature at the University of Ghana, he directed the Ghana Film Corporation, founded and directed the Ghana Playhouse, and served as an editor of the literary journal Okyeame and as an associate editor of Transition.Awoonor sought to incorporate African vernacular traditions—notably the dirge song tradition of the Ewe people—into modern poetic form,” notes the Encyclopedia Britannica. “His major themes—Christianity, exile, and death are important among them—are enlarged from poem to poem by repetition of key lines and phrases and by use of extended rhythms. Each poem in Rediscovery and Other Poems (1964), for example, records a single moment in a larger pattern of recognition and rediscovery.”
Also an internationally published author, Kofi Anyidoho, the editor of the New and Selected poems, is an achieved scholar. He serves on editorial board for several journals in Ghana and has been guest editor of Matatu, a journal of African culture and society that is published in Amsterdam. Awoonor’s other volumes of poetry include Night of My Blood (1971), Ride Me, Memory (1973), The House by the Sea(1978), and The Latin American and Caribbean Notebook (1992). His collected poems (through 1985) were published inUntil the Morning After (1987).
legend , Novelist , Writer ,Poet ,
Filmmaker and Dramatist Aaron Chiundura Moyo
opened the Girl child Voices Fiesta – 100TPC 2013 with
a bang at Budiriro3 Primary school in the high density suburb of Harare
,Zimbabwe today from 215 pm to 430 pm.
2013 program is hive of activities with the theme Defining girlchildVoices through Artistic Fusion, shaping artistic
skills and development girl child talent in schools and bring them for final
day to celebrate what they created in workshops and receive certificates to
motivate and inspire them horning their creativity.
opened his facilitation by saying “ndainzi
Matanda mufirimu ndabvezera” .He acted in1989 with the
Great Ambuya Mlambo. He told
participating primary school children that the role of the writer, poet
and actor is to expose community rot , corruption , child abuse and other
abnormalities like drug abuse and
narrated vividly his life background which Is a trailblazer and mesmerizing , that he grew in farms where he was working , he stated grade 1 at 15 years old , and
living under difficult circumstances in
poor and down trodden families but all this led him to be the best creative
he wanted to be , that create the super
shone writer of 15 shona novels on which
some of them where set books in schools , he says today some ministers and top
people , business man and bankers learnt some of his books in
school , books include CHEMERA MUDUNDUNDU , ZIVA KWAWAKABVA,
KURIDZA NGOMA NEDEMO,WAKANDIBAYA PANYAMA NHETE.The prominent writer have
also delved into children books writing.
participating students were happy , motivated and excited to meet the Legendary
Shona Literature Chekov of Zimbabwe in person , his deep , fertile ,well
thought folklores and tales brought the
Budiriro3 Primary Library down with creative creative joy.
his Nganos , readings with an
sharp resonating instrument CHIPENDANI
,the one he claim was made by his father in Zimbabwean farms of Kwekwe ,
children went dancing when this homemade traditional instrument was
whistled that supported our theme Defining
GirlChildVoices through Artistic Fusion.
the pen whistle/CHIPENDANI and
Storytelling Legend Moyo led Children in
impromptu writing skills session and the outcome of the writings will be
featured on grand fiesta on the 8th of October with other schools,
guests , reporters at First Floor Gallery in Harare , further enhancing child
participation and promotion as well as motivation. The stories created by students
who were from the range of 10 to 13 years were of high quality and of good taste.
at the event was Pamela Murambiwa the Librarian and Writers Club Coordinator at
Budiriro3 Primary School,Mrs Makolama Library Club Member,Mr Sakutukwa , Mbizo Chirasha , Kudzai Mutiti of
GirlchildCreativity Project. The Program was also graced by the Deputy Head of
who participated were chosen because of their quest to write, prove their
talent and their ardency readership culture at their school and werechosen from
Ganda in Grade 6 Green /12 years,
Mitchell Kanguru 7 Blue/13 years, Ronald Ndalama 7Blue/13 years,Larrisa
Chirasha 4 Orange/10 years,Mitchell Museredza 5Blue/11 years, Esther Yobe
6BLUE/12 YEARS,Simbarashe Gatsi 5 Blue/11YEARS,Caroline Mawondo 6blue/12
Years,Donald Sakutukwa 5Green/11 years.
children will participate on the Festival at First Floor Gallery on the 8th
We appreciate the role that is being played by the American Embassy
Public Affiars section in facilitating grants for such , Great thanks 100TPC
for involving us in annually activities that promote the poetic/story creative
energy , the Zimbawean media , schools
and Friends ,our next port of call
is at Vainona High in Borrowdale with Shoe Lambada Poet and Kresiah Mkwazhi photographer will be kleading a
working on writing ,poetry /photograghy
and Scope- the project is run coinciding with the 100
Thousand Poets for Change founded by Michael Rothenberg
Poet , Critic and Creative Projects Experts in United States. The project is
run in more than 40 countries around the world
including Zimbabwe . Mbizo Chirasha is the Coordinator of this event in
Zimbabwe through GirlchildCreativity Project. The Zimbabwean 100 Thousand Poets
for Change is run as GirlchildVoices Fiesta in Zimbabwe every year 28th of
September every year. GirlchildCreativity Project was asked to be part
of this program because they are working hard to develop, motivate and
inspire young girls to define their voices, find their space the creative,
arts and literary prowess. The Young girls are identified in schools ,
dropouts , children homes and other youthful communities they
are mentored through artistic seminars , close up with their role models
and performances programs, check ,www.girlchildcreativity.blogspot.com ,girlchildcreativity project on
face book and girlchildcreativity photo stream onflikr.comfor more information and past events.
Letter of Partnership from 100 Thousand poets
100 THOUSAND POETS FOR
100 Thousand Poets for Change
Guerneville, CA 95446
Mr. Mbizo Chirasha,
am writing to you to invite you and Girl Child Creativity Program to organize a
poetry reading, workshops, and arts
event in Harare, Zimbabwe on September 28, 2013 in conjunction with 100 Thousand Poets for Change. It would
be a great honor to have your participation and representation in this global
event once again. Our partnership with your group over the years has been a
great inspiration and we look forward to your continued participation.
you know, 100 Thousand Poets for Change is a global poetry initiative begun in
March 2011, with the vision that poets and artists around the world would
organize local poetry/art events simultaneously as a means to discuss real
political, environmental and social change within the guidelines of peace and
sustainability. The first 100 TPC event was on September 24, 2011 and was a
great success with over 600 events in 95 countries. Because of this first
year’s success we held our second global event on September 29, 2012 and there
were nearly 700 events in 110 countries! So the support for this artist driven
movement for peace and sustainability continues to grow.
support the 100TPC global initiative the website 100TPC.orgwas launched
and Event Location Blog Pages were created, by city and country, for each event
organizer. We encouraged event organizers to post poetry, art, videos, and journals
on their pages to document their local 100 TPC events.
response to the call to action was so great that Stanford University
volunteered to archive all of the 100 TPC Event Blog Pages for posterity, as
their way of supporting 100TPC, and to acknowledge that the 100 Thousand Poets
for Change movement is indeed historical.
Thousand Poets for Change events include poetry readings, parades, musical
concerts, workshops, flash mobs, skype sessions, art exhibitions and live
streaming. The results are transformative, and a new global poetry and arts community has been created with
peace & sustainability as it’s major mission. Poets and artists are daily
being empowered to get to know one another across borders, using real time
events and social networking, and we hope that through the 100TPC event we can
help redirect the dialogue
of the day and turn the narrative of civilization towards peace and
TPC will continue to organize poets and artists for peace and sustainability.
We have already set September 28, 2013 as the next 100 TPC global event, and it
would be a great honor to hear the voices from Zimbabwe as part of this global movement. Please feel
free to contact me to register for the event at firstname.lastname@example.org. (The new event location blog pages for
2012 will continue to be archived by Stanford University).
you can find the 100 Thousand Poets for Change 2013 Facebook event page at: https://www.facebook.com/events/101528880036977/?fref=ts
special news for the 100 Thousand Poets
for Change 2013 initiative is that we have added a 100 Thousand Musicians for Change program to our initiative. This
program has become very popular and will help to bring all the arts together
for an awesome 100 Thousand Poets for
you so much for your continued support and interest in this project. Your
friendship is valued throughout the 100TPC community. I look forward to continue hearing from
you, Girl Child Creativity Project and the poets of Harare, Zimbabwe!
Thousand Poets for Change is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization
2013 Theme- Defining Girl Child Voices through
Main Objective - to make young girls
realize their potentials and use their potential to
create positive space and voices for themselves and communities. Target groups- Young talented girls and
boys in Schools. 2013
3 orientative , motivational ,
identification and skills development and inspirational workshops
will be held in 3 different schools that include Morgan High , Vainiona
High and Budiriro3 and Glen View Primary schools- Mentors of this
workshops will include a seasoned
photographer, a seasoned female visual artist
,Mbira workshop and storyteller and writer and
these seminars will done both in practice and they are
participatory and they will be under a video shoot to prepare
a visual video mobile exhibition that will be shown on the last
official day of the Voices Fiesta. Poems, photographs and artistic works will
be selected for an official exhibitions and recitals on the 08th October.
Such will coincide with feedback seminar between students, media
and guests to the final event.
Programming 02 October - 2pm -4pm Budiriro 3
Primary School - Workshop on story telling
and poetry Writing - by Aeron Chiundura Moyo- the facilitator will read his
stories and poetry and partake participants in a practical writing skills
03 October -2pm -4pm- Vainona High School Photography , writer s workshop- by Shoes
Lambada [ Writing]and Kresiah Destiny Mkwazhi [Photography]- the facilitators
will also pass writing skills and how you can fuse writings and
photography in a bide to create photo poetry and photo stories.
04 October- 2pm-4pm- Morgan High School Visual Arts practical workshop ,
Performance Poetry and Mbira- Zanele Mutema , Mbizo Chirasha and a
Mbira musician- participants will be taken through a journey of visual
arts inspirational process , the creativity and
resonance of Mbira music and your voice in performance poetry leading to a
visual ,musical poetry experience 08- October -530-730 pm-First Floor Gallery Grand Fiesta day-Small exhibition of
poetry/visual works produced during workshops, story and poetry presentations
by participants and young guest poets, Discussion forum/Press talk
by organizers , facilitators and participants with Guests.
Artists, Facilitators and Coordinators
Karen Magunda [20 yrs] - Guest of Honor on
the Grand Fiesta. Young girl of 20
years pf age ,grew up in Mufakose .She finished high school at Roosevelt high and she is first year student at Midlands State
University. She is a song writer, choreographer and singer. She founded FAM
in 2012 - a Foundation Arts Movement mentoring ,promoting and
marketing young artists. She destined for greater heights. Mbizo Chirasha - the Fiesta Curator and Coordinator/ Zimbabwe
Producer of 100 Thousand for Change. He is a performing poet , widely
travelled , extensively published globally. He is the Founder of many literary
and creativity initiatives in Zimbabwe . He is the Founder of
GirlChildCreativity and its Creative Director.
- Kudzai Mutiti: Assistant Fiesta Coordinator, a second year social studies student
at the University of Zimbabwe. She is endowed with passion , maturity
and drive. She have also worked with IIFF international Images Film
Festival 2013 as a venue manager and discusant. Tariro Kambasha-Grand Fiesta Presenter a Young singer of 21 years with a
dream to reach dizzy heights , a singer of dancehall , presenter
and budding film maker as well as an advocate of GirlChild.
Aeron Chiundura Moyo- Writng and stories
Facilitator -Veteran writer ,novelist and Boradcaster
Shoes Lambada-Poetry Writing Facilitator -Poet, Writer ,Organizer and Coordinator of
Zimbabwe Poets for Human rights
This story was taken from this website: http://www.appoet.org/2013/07/18/poetry-in-politics-west-hollywood-to-zimbabwe/ It was published on this site by Stephen Cass.
In West Hollywood
Since moving to Los Angeles a little over a
month ago, I haven’t had the chance to attend an open mic. That was
until last night when I ventured out to West Hollywood to Da Poetry
Lounge. My goal was to survey the local poets, not to read any of my
own work. Through my observations, I could not help but notice the timid
voices behind powerful poetics. To their defense, for some of them it
was their first time divulging such intimate information in a public
forum, but it was rather peculiar to me that the collective voice of the
group was rather quiet.
What brought about this general lack of confidence in a form of
expression that so heavily relies upon honesty and charism? Seeking
answers, I looked to the protesting poets of Zimbabwe whose story is
beginning to pull the attention of the world.
On The Streets of Harare
There are a number of young artists acting out against political
corruption, voter fraud, a manipulation of public opinion, and a general
lack of fundamental liberties in an effort to hold their leaders
accountable. They call themselves, “Zimbabwe Poets for Human Rights”
and they are potentially in the midst of changing their political
landscape with a presidential election coming up on July 31st.
The current president Robert Mugabe has served in is position since
1987, winning four subsequent elections since. Starting in 2002, his
campaigns have been riddled with accusations of various kinds of fraud.
Policies like the Public Order and Security Act and the Miscellaneous
Offenses Act have been put in place to seemingly interfere and suppress
public opinion and voter turnout.
These acts grant additional power to the executive party and police
force through the limitations they set upon the public. Some of these
provisions include punishments for unauthorized wearing of camouflage,
ringing a bell, playing music in a public place, or generally appearing
mischievous (Miscellaneous Offenses Act). In 2005 over 700,000
individuals lost their homes and businesses through Operation
Murambatsvina. Opposing political parties, as well as the United Nations
argue that this was a way of ostracizing many of the less affluent
communities in Zimbabwe by forcibly removing them from their homes for
what the administration claims to be an effort to stem illegal housing
and the spread of infectious disease. After all of this, it is safe to
assume that many of the citizens have had enough. Their current form of
protest is poetry, their prose acting as an effort to both rally and
inform the public of the alleged corruption.
Zimbabwe Poets for Human Rights
The coordinator of Zimbabwe Poets for Human Rights, Robson Issac
Shoes Lambda, has been on the forefront of this cultural crusade to hold
their leaders accountable for their actions, as well as working to
enact both political and voter reform. In his poem, “Politicians and
Governancy,” he expresses the need for the public to head to the polls
to promote this type of change. “Voting is the beginning of the end of
complaining,” he says with conviction, “And abstaining is donating your
right to choosing. I choose to choose by voting and choose laughing over
fighting, voting over sloganeering and voting over fighting”
In West Hollywood many cries were similar to those of the Zimbabwe
Protesters; though not with the same sense of enthusiasm, conviction, or
urgency. Their words rang true, there was no doubt about that, but they
came out as murmurs. Thoughts of police brutality, racial barriers,
media censorship, and fallen soldiers plague the pasts of some of these
Southern California poets. Many gave off the feeling of being helplessly
trapped in a system that is entirely out of their control. Their
general distaste in the current state of our society was not
complemented with a resolution. The death of the young man Trayvon
Martin acted as inspiration to many of these young poets as they try to
come to terms with, what they felt was, a police officer getting away
with murder. One particular poet wore a hooded sweatshirt in solidarity
for the deceased Martin. While the audience generally supported the
young woman as she read, the passion was nowhere to be found in the
room. There was no outrage, no tears, only a lightly struck chord that
faded away once the next poet began.
The Zimbabwe Poets for Human Rights are in a position to have a
genuine impact in their looming elections as they seek a change to their
current state of life and many are not going to sit idly by. Having
been under oppressive circumstances for decades now, they aim for the
restoration of their essential human rights. Their passion comes from
recognizing the opportunity for improvement in a bleak situation that
once may have been out of their control.
Unification in Poetry
What is it going to take for western poets to do the same and rise up
as a unified voice? It’s a gentle balance between facing great societal
injustices and having a platform to bring about change. At this very
moment, the content is already there, it’s just a matter of finding a
suitable voice to broadcast it. If an election is what it takes to usher
in some form of poetic justice nowadays, we have three long years ahead
of us. We can either stay silent in apathy or make as much noise as we
possibly can. The Zimbabwe Poets for Human Rights chose the latter and
we could be in the beginning stages of our own poetic movement if things
continue down this path; for the more that is at risk, the louder