Gaborone — More than 30 poets and visuals artists from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) attended the 2nd annual SADC Poetry Festival in Gaborone, Botswana, last week under the theme "My Voice, Your Hand".
In his opening remarks, Reginald Bakwena of Thapong Visual Arts, Gaborone, expressed the need to create networks for both existing and upcoming artists as it gives a voice to SADC at large. He also urged the artists to seek and make use of the opportunities availed through arts.
Also addressing the artists at the event was Professor Jairos Kangira from the University of Namibia, who said: "The SADC Poetry Festival was founded in 2009 with the aim to promote regional cooperation and integration by gathering SADC artists from member countries annually to perform and discuss matters of mutual concern.
This festival has a very bright future. I see it establishing branches or chapters in each of the SADC countries in order to consolidate and strengthen artistic works in these countries," said Kangira.
During the festival, artists chanted and performed their artistic works to groups of art-loving spectators both at organised venues and in some shopping malls in Gaborone in a session dubbed "Street Poetry".
Asked on the experience gained at this year's festival Phinda Mkhonta, a poet from Swaziland, said: "I have learned and grown as far as art is concerned. I think artists should invest in themselves in order to be inspired."
Nqobile Malinga, a poet from Zimbabwe, said he liked the diversity of the festival and would like the poets to have a spirit of working together.
This year's festival was funded by Prince Claus Fund of Netherlands and organised by Artsinitiates-Southern Africa and Township Productions of Namibia in partnership with Alliance Francaise de Gaborone, Franco Namibian Cultural Centre, National Arts Council of Zimbabwe, Black Bremmer Swaziland and Extrapillar Botswana.
Three Namibian poets also attended the festival.