For the past year WordNSound(S.A) in collaboration with the U.S, Belgium, Netherlands and the U.K
have been working on a two year Spoken Word project: Next Generation Speaks.
With the aim of empowering young voices from marginalized communities. Each organization is tasked with facilitating poetry workshops in their country. In July 2017a selection of the youngsters from each country will participate in the annual Brave New Voices Festival (San Francisco, USA). They will work together with American spoken word talent and artists and have the opportunity to perform at the festival.
On 22nd February we we officially kick started our Do Good Inc workshops in preparation for the
BRAVE NEW VOICES slam, with 21 students from the Africa School for Excellence in Tsakani.
With only just a group of 21 familiar and fresh new voices; some anxious; most, too shy to stand still long enough to pronounce their full names out loud. I decided that maybe standing in a circle and throwing around a flat soccer ball to find out why each individual has chosen the creative writing class over any other extra mural-activity would break the ice and guide us towards our objectives for the year but the objectives were sounding far too similar, out of fear of expression the students were copying from each other. Suddenly most were here to ‘learn to write’ and only after the writing exercise did the fuzzy and mysterious ‘I am here to learn to write’ change to: I shouldn’t run away from my problems; I need to face myself; I am here to challenge my shy nature. This was after I made every student close their eyes and imagine that their on a desert and are strapped of all their resources. There are no rules in the desert, they had have to write their way out. They can write about anything. I could center their energy through meditation, they were able to drown out the noise of the world; their families; their teachers and every ‘NO!’ they have ever encountered. With the healing nature of Samthing Soweto’s music playing in the background, they wrote. Hiding behind metaphors, like pink skies, reminding me of Inua Ellam’s definition of poetry, saying: ‘The poet lies.’ I was there, chasing the truth in every poem, probing ‘what does that mean?’ why that word? The answers varied. From I’m gay and… To my dad this… I had to pull out the subject matter from each hiding place and say:”Hey! That’s what you’re running away from writing about.”
In the end, we threw our flat ball around to find out what each of us learned. This is only the beginning though, we have a long way to go!