Get ready for a taste of Africa
Sharing diverse cultures
Poets with African roots hope to entrance audiences around Wellington this month with tales of their experiences of exile.
In the lead-up to Wellington’s annual Africa Day celebration on May 24, Poetic Voices of Africa will showcase the works of artists from Ethiopia, Kenya, South Sudan and the United States.
The poets will join forces to highlight the diversity of the African continent.
Poet Lewis Scott said although the continent comprised many countries, it was often projected as a ‘‘one-dimensional tragedy’’.
‘‘ If you asked Kiwis about Africa, most of them would be able to talk about South Africa because it was so visible because of Nelson Mandela. But a lot of them would be shocked when you tell them there’s more than 50 countries and those countries are very different,’’ he said.
The poets said being in New Zealand had given them the opportunity to meet and collaborate.
Their works spanned topics from war to politics to the hopes and dreams of humanity.
Poet/ musician Makuei Aken fled civil war in Sudan at 9 and settled in New Zealand in 2003.
When he was bored in class, he would write poetry and a teacher encouraged him to develop his craft.
Aken, now 24, said various American rappers inspired his style and technique.
In 2008, he collaborated with fellow Poetic Voices artist Samson Sahele from Ethiopia on a book, Beyond the Dark Journey, which compiled the works of young refugees in New Zealand.
They will perform with Inshirah Mahal, Wanjiku Kiarie, Tony Hopkins and Scott at four locations around Wellington this month having begun at Pataka Art + Museum on Sunday. Entry is free.
For information, go to african community.org.nz.