#SanaaAfricaFest15: Celebrating the threads that bind us

We’re thrilled to announce the poetry line up for the Sanaa Africa Festival boasts poets who are no strangers to the Word N Sound stage. Our CEO, Afurakan Mohare, will be sharing the stage with reigning Queen of the Mic, Vuyelwa Maluleke, Nova Masango and Athol Williams on Friday 22 May at Moyos, Zoo Lake.

SANAA Africa Festival 2015 - banner (wordnsound-article image)

SANAA Africa Poetry Festival 2015
18h00 on 22 May 2015, Moyo, Zoo Lake

Afurakan Thabiso Mohare
Best known as Afurakan, Thabiso Mohare is the leading voice of Johannesburg’s underground slam poetry. Recognised for his stage improvisations of hip-hop tunes, his style has caught the attention of many slam poets and writers across Africa thanks to its rhythm and provocative nature. Afurakan has played a vital role in the growth of the spoken word movement in Johannesburg and South Africa, and is a regular at schools and community centres, performing for the purpose of spreading the word. He is the co-founder of Word N Sound Poetry and Live Music Series – a ground- breaking poetry development project that has been running in Johannesburg since 2010.

Some of Afurakan’s performance highlights include:
– Opening ceremony of the Africa Cup of Nations (2013)
– London Olympics (2012)
– Arts Alive (2012)
– Shoko Festival, Zimbabwe, Macufe (2012)
– World Festival of Black Arts, Senegal (2010)

Vuyelwa Maluleke
Vuyelwa Maluleke is a Johannesburg based spoken word artist, scriptwriter and actor. She has a BA in dramatic arts from the University of Witwatersrand. Vuyelwa describes herself as a storyteller: “It is when I am most honest. It is also the hardest thing to do for me – to hand my work over so publicly to audiences. I love the relationship between writing and performance, for me that sharing between audience and performer: that immediacy is like church and communion. There is so much magic there.”

Vuyelwa says she owes her poetry to the township where she spent her schooling years commuting on her way to private schools and University: “Seeing privilege and poverty streets or desks away from each other gives you perspective. It gives you stories. It gives you peoples’ characters too.”

Some of Vuyelwa’s career highlights include:
– Published a chapbook Things we lost in the fire with the African Poetry book Fund and Akashic Books (2015)
– Shortlisted for the Brunel University African Poetry Prize (2014)
– Awarded the Leon Gluckman Prize from the University of the Witwatersrand for the student with the most creative piece of work (2013)
– Regional winner of the Wits Drama For life Competition (2012)

Nova Masango
Nova Masango is a writer and poet based in Johannesburg. An anthropology postgraduate and feminist, she is deeply passionate about social justice, women’s rights, the excellence of Africa, literature and the arts. Nova is currently a member of the recently founded Feminist Stokvel, an organisation centred around creating nurturing spaces for black women, and also writes for Rookie Mag, an American website for teenage girls that was founded by renowned fashion blogger, Tavi Gevinson. She is the ambassador of Johns Hopkins’ Health and Education South Africa’s Zazi campaign, which uses positive media messaging to encourage girls and women to make progressive sexual health decisions. In November 2014, Nova was a delegate of UNAIDS and the World Health Organisation in Switzerland in order to further her work.

Some of Nova’s career highlights include:
– Performing alongside academic, sculptor and poet, Pitika Ntuli to the accompaniment of the Siphiwe Shiburi Trio at the Orbit Jazz Bistro in Johannesburg (2015)
– Having her poetry featured in hip hop musician Reason’s new song Endurance with Hip Hop Pantsula
– Writing the Nelson Mandela tribute that was performed at the Metro FM Music Awards (2014)

Athol Williams
Athol Williams is a South African social philosopher and poet. His poetry explores the mysterious connections that exist between people, our connectedness, and our connections with nature. Within this context of our connectedness he then explores the absurdity and destruction of conflict. His poems are occasionally peppered with humour to balance his heavy topics.

Athol’s poems have appeared in numerous literary publications in South Africa, US and UK where he has frequently been invited to read his work, including a recent reading at the Sackler Museum at Harvard University. He has published two books of poetry under the pseudonym AE Ballakisten, edited a poetry collection and published a children’s book. Athol is the founder of Read to Rise, an NGO that promotes youth literacy. He holds degrees from Harvard, MIT, London Business School, London School of Economics and Wits, and will continue his philosophy research at Oxford in 2015.

Find out more about the Sanaa Arts Festival here.
Get the full Festival programme featuring film, theatre, art, music and dance here.
Buy your tickets here.

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