DExZA: Berlin meets Johustleburg!


Fresh out of our fifth Festival, we’re getting ready to host 5 German artists for our next international project, DExZA. In just three weeks, we’ll play host to Isabel Aguirre, Olad Aden, Amewu, Dalibor, Akua Naru, Mara Genschel and El Congo Allen.

It would be remiss of us not to match their delegation with a South African line up that is just as diverse and talented. We can’t wait to see what will happen when we throw Afurakan, Lwazilubanzi Mthembu, Charl-Pierre Naud and Vuyelwa Maluleke into the mix.

We caught up with the DExZA project manager, Isabel Aguirre to find out more about what we can expect at the end of this month.

What is DExZA and why did you choose South Africa?
DExZA is an international exchange of poetry and music where 8 artists present their art to each other in order to create something new out of this encounter. New texts, new songs and sounds will be the end result.

We chose South Africa because of its renowned and thrilling poetry and music scenery. Poets such as Lebo Mashile, Keorapetse Kgoositsile, Phillippa Yaa de Viliers, Kgafela oa Magogodi, Ewok have already performed in Berlin, we are curious to see more!

How did your partnership with the Word N Sound Live Literature Company come about?
When we began our search for a partner for this collaboration, Phillippa Yaa de Villiers was in Berlin. She highly recommended Word N Sound and following your work virtually, we were immediately convinced that this would be a perfect match!

You did a similar project in Kenya, please tell us about your experience and highlights were?
Kenya was crazy…I think I left part of my brain cells with Tusker beer in one hand, watching the artists do their thing on stage :), or getting lost, or going to hospital, or smashing the studio with their lyrics…

Please tell us about the artists you are bringing, what can we expect from the German delegation.
The German delegation is very diverse! We have Mara Genschel, she is a successful published poet who experiments with music and creates moments of reflection and possibly even irritation. Dalibor Markovic is a spoken word artists who includes Beatbox within his poems! His words are “thunderstorms accompanied by beats”. Amewu is a an MC who could also be considered a poet. His double time Rap includes philosophical, political, and even silent thoughtful verses. El Congo Allen is a Cuban musician, based in Berlin. He already played the trumpet and percussion with Aloe Blacc, Tony Allen, Jimi Tenor and Lauryn Hill amongst many others. In addition he has his own formations such as Afrikun and Los Negros. Akua Naru is an MC and poet. Her songs are jazzy and full of soul! She tours internationally and is based in Germany. I am very happy that all of these artists are part of the German delegation! It’s gonna be crazy!

How are you feeling ahead of this trip? What are you most looking forward to and what worries you the most?
We are very excited and happy! Very curious of what is going to happen and whether the artists like and appreciate each other’s works, possibly resulting in the desire to want to create something anew together.

I am mostly looking forward to all of the events, because each one will be very different. Nothing is predictable and we look forward to laying the necessary groundwork in order to bring this challenging and ambitious endeavour to fruition.

The only 2 worries consists of: will everybody arrive? Almost everybody flies in from different cities, base transit issues and flight connections could be an issue. We hope they all will arrive in Johannesburg on time. The second worry: Funding… still searching for money… but we will make it work…undoubtedly…


DExZA is a project by No Boundaries e.V. and Word N Sound Festival. In cooperation with Literaturwerkstatt Berlin. Sponsored by Heinrich Böll Stiftung. Financially supported by the German Foreign Office/German Embassy Pretoria, Goethe- Institut Johannesburg, Goethe-Institut Head Office Munich, Berliner Künstlerprogramm des DAAD.


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