Africa's Digital Poets [world Service]

Episodes

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01Africa's Digital Poets - Part One - The Documentary2017040520170406 (WS)

How digital platforms are serving poets in Africa

Investigating global developments, issues and affairs.

Johannesburg-based poet Thabiso Mohare (‘Afurakan’) looks at how digital platforms are serving poets across the continent, from emerging writers to established voices, and particularly those carrying forward ancient oral traditions. He meets the poets and entrepreneurs spearheading developments, and explores the possibilities of what the digital space can offer poets in African countries where there is a lack of publishing infrastructure, or publishers are pulling back from poetry.

Badilisha Poetry X-Change, based in Cape Town, is creating an online audio archive of the work of African master poets across the continent, carrying out valuable work in preserving and archiving oral traditions, or orature. Linda Kaoma is Badilisha’s project manager, and it is her job to track down such poets and record them. Also based in Cape Town, but looking north across the whole of Africa, Bozza offers the opportunity for anyone with an internet connection to share their poetry, music and video content, in any language, and talk to their own community.

Thabiso talks to Mak Manaka, one of the poets excited by the opportunities to carve their own path, not only against those who value a published collection as proof of your worth, but also against the European model of success. And he talks to a mentor, professor Keorapatse Kgositsile, the poet laureate of South Africa, asking what the role of the poet has always been in African societies, how that translates into the online space, and what he sees the pitfalls as being.

(Photo: Poet Thabiso Mohare. Credit: British Council)

01Africa's Digital Poets - Part One - The Documentary20170405

How digital platforms are serving poets in Africa

Investigating global developments, issues and affairs.

Johannesburg-based poet Thabiso Mohare (‘Afurakan’) looks at how digital platforms are serving poets across the continent, from emerging writers to established voices, and particularly those carrying forward ancient oral traditions. He meets the poets and entrepreneurs spearheading developments, and explores the possibilities of what the digital space can offer poets in African countries where there is a lack of publishing infrastructure, or publishers are pulling back from poetry.

Badilisha Poetry X-Change, based in Cape Town, is creating an online audio archive of the work of African master poets across the continent, carrying out valuable work in preserving and archiving oral traditions, or orature. Linda Kaoma is Badilisha’s project manager, and it is her job to track down such poets and record them. Also based in Cape Town, but looking north across the whole of Africa, Bozza offers the opportunity for anyone with an internet connection to share their poetry, music and video content, in any language, and talk to their own community.

Thabiso talks to Mak Manaka, one of the poets excited by the opportunities to carve their own path, not only against those who value a published collection as proof of your worth, but also against the European model of success. And he talks to a mentor, professor Keorapatse Kgositsile, the poet laureate of South Africa, asking what the role of the poet has always been in African societies, how that translates into the online space, and what he sees the pitfalls as being.

(Photo: Poet Thabiso Mohare. Credit: British Council)

01The Documentary2017040520170406 (WS)

Thabiso Mohare looks at how digital platforms are serving poets in Africa.

02Africa's Digital Poets - Part Two - The Documentary2017070520170706 (WS)

The poets and how the digital space is influencing the way they write and perform

Investigating global developments, issues and affairs.

The role of the court poet or griot was to point out to the powers-that-be that they were messing up. Some of the most vital work being produced and performed now still reflects that role, as poets carve their own path, tackling issues as they see fit, or as part of protest movements such as Fees Must Fall in South Africa.

Johannesburg-based performance poet Thabiso Mohare talks to poets who write to agitate, and assesses how much the digital age is influencing the way emerging poets write and perform their work. The phenomenon of certain poems going viral (by Warsan Shire and Suli Breaks for example), and the Def Poetry Jam shows available online, drew several of South Africa's most prominent young performance poets to their chosen craft. But with the development of digital across Africa, their focus is shifting. They are not just looking to the West any more. Although US influence is strong in spoken word poetry, digital is allowing emerging poets to look instead to their home-grown talent for inspiration, and to foster Pan-African approaches. As well as enabling African narratives, some digital platforms are also affording more chances for people to use their mother tongue to speak to their own communities, which mainstream print publishers have rarely been interested in, or able to support.

(Photo: Thabiso Mohare. Credit: British Council)

02Africa's Digital Poets - Part Two - The Documentary20170705

The poets and how the digital space is influencing the way they write and perform

Investigating global developments, issues and affairs.

The role of the court poet or griot was to point out to the powers-that-be that they were messing up. Some of the most vital work being produced and performed now still reflects that role, as poets carve their own path, tackling issues as they see fit, or as part of protest movements such as Fees Must Fall in South Africa.

Johannesburg-based performance poet Thabiso Mohare talks to poets who write to agitate, and assesses how much the digital age is influencing the way emerging poets write and perform their work. The phenomenon of certain poems going viral (by Warsan Shire and Suli Breaks for example), and the Def Poetry Jam shows available online, drew several of South Africa's most prominent young performance poets to their chosen craft. But with the development of digital across Africa, their focus is shifting. They are not just looking to the West any more. Although US influence is strong in spoken word poetry, digital is allowing emerging poets to look instead to their home-grown talent for inspiration, and to foster Pan-African approaches. As well as enabling African narratives, some digital platforms are also affording more chances for people to use their mother tongue to speak to their own communities, which mainstream print publishers have rarely been interested in, or able to support.

(Photo: Thabiso Mohare. Credit: British Council)