Art & LifeSocietySpoken word: Poetry’s cool in the desert


Posted on Friday, 11 December 2015 11:03

Spoken word: Poetry’s cool in the desert

By Martha Mukaiwa in Windhoek

Photos© All rights reservedPerformance poetry has come out of the shadows in the Namibian capital, Windhoek

A hush has fallen over Windhoek's usually rowdy Old Breweries bars, punctuated by finger snaps and the clink of whisky glasses. But the rapt crowd has come out for the bards, not the booze.

"Bandwagon poetry fans. Oh, is poetry cool now?"

I come from generations of nappy haired, all tones of brown skinned women [...] Women who you don't dare to interrupt

In early September poetic rising star Anne Hambuda had a little something to say to fad-followers on Twitter. Having recently made her debut at Spoken Word, Namibia's monthly platform currently celebrating 10 years in existence, Hambuda was slightly sore at the aging platform's overdue fame.

Spreading from the Warehouse Theatre in Windhoek Central, down the road to Jojo's Music and Arts Café and sporadically springing up at Chopsie's Pub next-door, performance poetry is moving swiftly into the mainstream.

Instead of a once-a-month, relatively underground affair filled with hecklers, friends and low-key fans, performance poetry as presented by Windhoek's socially conscious millennials is in-demand entertainment at corporate and private functions.

Even a local church has invited its squirming flock to follow them to a bar to see the likes of Playshis the Poet drop bars like: "This is a democracy not a mockery. We have a right to speak on the state's hypocrisy."

With words and lyrics on existentialism, love, the human condition, black excellence and feminism, the poets don't shy away from expressing their anger over Namibia's rising cases of domestic violence, which stand in stark contrast to poems celebrating the wonder of women.

"I come from generations of nappy haired, all tones of brown skinned women. From Ou Lokasie to Katutura. Women who you don't dare to interrupt..." So goes a poem penned by Nunu 'Truth' Namises.

 "Maybe the forum offers something more visceral and immediate than the glut of digital downloading and mass entertainment," says D, a poet in his sixties, whose first poetry anthology will be published by Wordweaver Publishing in the middle of next year. For now, though, he is thinking of how he can safely set himself alight at one of the next Spoken Word shows.

Fearless and famed, D joins the young and the rhyming in their peddling of poetry that Truth says is not just for the odd or the artsy but is an inclusive tool for social change. Or simply to say: "I am here. These are my words. Listen."

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