It is the slam season once again in Kenya; poets and poetry fans are readying up for what could be the biggest poetry event of 2016 in the East African nation dubbed the Poetry Slam Africa Festival. The event which kicks off on December 9 to 10 will see various acts compete against each other at the Nairobi’s French cultural center, Alliance Française.
According to the event organizers, the two-day event will constitute; an artists’ workshop for branding and intellectual property, a performance master class session, discussions on performance and its impact, the women’s slam, an all-star concert and a schools slam among other events.
“With some of the greatest conscious live acts on one stage, there will be showcases by some of the Region’s best poets, and musicians including the sensational Swahili Ally and Vitali Maembe from Tanzania.” Crea8ive Spills’ Creative Director Ian Gwagi, said in an interview with Afroway.
The 2016 contestant lineup will include this year’s preliminary round winners: SocraTess and Mgeni Roger who will go head to head with Becky, Shingai, Rozet, Jaaziyah, Saisi, McElfra and Mumbi for the grand slam. One of the preliminary winners, KalamuyaMshairi (KYM) opted out due to personal reasons.
Over the years, the slam poetry showcase has witnessed tremendous growth and hosted various top artists from across the region. This year, the event organizers made slight adjustments to the Slam Festival calendar which saw the number of events reduced, “With the aim of ensuring continuity and after-care for contestants, we decided to scale down the number of events to 3 in a year (preliminary rounds) culminating in a grand slam final at the end of the year.” Ian said “The winner gets to hold the title of Grand Slam Champion for that year and all the privilege that comes with the title. It also serves as the pre-selection of contestants to represent the region at the Cup of Africa Slam that brings together some of the best slam poets from across Africa and the Women of the World Poetry Slam (WOWPS) where we intend, for the first time, to send a representative from the women’s slam.” he added.
Cre8ive Spills which runs slam festival-the biggest poetry event in Eastern Africa-was born on September 9, 2010. Under Cre8ive Spills; the poetry slam has maintained its commitment to educating the masses, mentoring young poets and working towards mainstreaming poetry and spoken word.
Cre8ive Spills has successfully hosted a number of regular, seasonal and one-off concept events and activities including; Words Galore, Renaissance, Unchained Voices, the other side of the mirror, Dorphanage, Blame My Roots, 7 Poems, Frequencies, HiiChapta, Only A Few Survivors and many more.
“We also have a project called Rising Voices for communities, schools and colleges/ Universities and a web series yet to launch dubbed Amic and a Purpose. These activities havein the past proven to be works of great planning and dedication to give the best and leave the audience begging for more” Ian stated.
Kenya’s slam festival begun as Poetry Slam Africa back in 2008, the event was first organized by Imani Woomera, a former radio presenter at Capital FM (Kenya) aided by Buddha Blaze, one of the country’s leading event promoters with initial performances being held at Dass Ethiopian Restaurant, aimed at recognizing poets and spoken word artists while highlighting issues affecting Africa and the world with focus on artistry and creativity. Timothy Mwaura was crowned the first Slam king.
Kenya’s version of poetry slam provides a platform where young people can express themselves artistically on various social issues recognize and showcase the best spoken word poetry, while bringing together talent from across the region.
The likes of Pepe Haze (Co-Star alongside Lupita Nyongo in MTV’s Shuga 1), El Poet, Mufasa, Teardrops, Dorphan, Nuru Bahati and Rix poet of Fatuma’s Voice, H_Art The Band (Mordecai and Chira), Yung Nnoiz- Kenya’s two-time beat-box champion, Beatbox king Flowflani, Kenya’s popular TV and radio presenters Dan ‘Number 8’ Mwangi, Adelle Onyango have been crowned Slam champions in the past.