Teaming up with Poetic Hour Battle East Africa from Kisumu-Kenya, the Echo Minds Poets, with an intention to challenge Africa’s prejudices and policies, put up a successful poetry show in Uganda.
With addition from other Ugandan poets, the team had an impressive public showcase on 30th July 2022 at Coffee City in Ntinda, Kampala where they delivered a poetry show themed “Africa the Chain Breaker” to the delight of a snapping and ululating audience.
As a first step of analysis, poets focused on what made their performances stand out from others, what made them a good poet in the eyes of the audience.
The choices the poets made emphasized their originality and were highlighted, classified according to linguistic and performative categories. After focusing on their uniqueness and performances, they as well avoided slipping into personal statements.
Mercy Geno Apachi a Ugandan Self-taught Spoken word artist, Mostly known as The Shy Poet who is a non-conformist and a firm believer in humanity, her work challenges, oppression and marginalization, drew a warm response for her poem, “The status quo.” is a poetry piece challenging citizens with the moral High horse, beholders of righteousness that impose their beliefs of what is right and wrong upon the rest. It is basically asking people to be free with their choices, marry when they can as well as know that it is alright not to know how to use forks and knives.
Consisting of 7 other female poets, the Echo Minds ladies, Carol Afroetry Ma (Team lead, Destiny Chaiga (The Midnight Owl) , Recho Vumilia (Ray the Lioness), Aimar, Pinkie and Brandy, equally stirred the crowd to cheerful whistles with their theme befitting African attires and content.
With this poetry event, you truly believe poets have found a Trans generational method of communicating, relating, and ultimately building a community in Uganda at a time when we need it most. For the Poetry Africa Words poems, contributing writers and poets talked about their involvement in Poetry Africa, they shared details of their work, as well as experiences of practice and life during the covid pandemic.
The stage art also looked amazing with a well raised stage. The audience, a sitting only crowd, was eager, involved, and cheered on the performers, the relationship between performer and audience was striking. The audience did not inhabit the role of quiet listeners.
Furthermore, the sound quality of the performances say volume, clarity, and so on as well as the performer’s voice (tone, language) were on point.
Then, the style of the piece like rhyme patterns and such, and the point of view of the author was displayed. Finally, the focus of performativity was epic, i.e., pacing, gestures, memorization, and eye contact, along with applied imagery and the theme of the poem.
Although there is no mandatory way of performing Spoken Word Poetry, the poet applied dynamics of tone, gesture, slang, and/or rhyme. Nonetheless, poets made several individual choices to give their performances a unique twist and use their bodies to embody their pieces, because “performance poems are presented to an audience with the whole body: in word, in voice, and in gesture”. For reasons of comprehensibility.
In essence, engaging in Spoken Word Poetry seemed to be quite beneficial to poets. When asked, poets mentioned enjoying the feeling of connecting with others and sharing their story, as well as a sense of emotional development they gain through the process of writing and performing poetry.
Still the performing poets were also the authors of the poems, and were personifications of what he or she presented in the poem. For the idea of realness if that is not the case, the poet can lose his or her credibility and jeopardize his or her reputation in the scene.
The audience was blown away, taken back in time, relearned history and reclaimed freedom and their identities as Africans, celebrated being Africans without restrictions on our geographical borders and Africa was celebrated. It shows the ubiquity and fixity of the concept of blackness, as if there is no growing out of it, no escaping it. One will always be seen as a black person, regardless of social status, education, or other achievements. There seems to be a feeling of confinement in relation to black skin.
It was a wonderful experience to hear the poems with the African artwork because their focus was about the techniques, skills and giving feedback. Being able to stand back, look at the art and listen to the poems was a fabulous way to end this unit.
Thanks to Richard Tinkasimire Baguma, Secretary General of United Nations Association of Uganda for supporting poetry with purpose and Destiny Gladys Chaiga “The MidNight Owl ” for playing a key role in the partnership. She is affiliated to the Echo Minds Poets. Her poetry stems from different societal issues that she observes, experiences from her life and future aspirations of things she hopes to do and live.
While the ambiance at Coffee City was a comfortable, accessible and resourceful place for the audience. Coffee City offers that and beyond as you enjoy refreshing coffee and entertainment in all one place, a venue offered by Nelson Tugume.
Some of the guest Ugandan poets of the event included, Lukas den Admirant, ,Mickey the poet, Dr.Brian Mars and Jordan Megolonyo aka Mister Rhymes
The event also included an impressive line-up of poets from Kenya, such as Greatness, Charles Tripple popularly known by the name BIGMAN and Mistari Za Wahenga.
Echo Minds Poets Co Ltd is made up of Female Poets striving to rewrite the script, reinvent themselves and change the narrative while East Africa Poetic Hour Battle is known by many for their passion for art, Talent Industry that took East Africa by storm as they hosted their first ever spoken word and poetry contest deemed as Poetic Hour Battle.
Hopefully this Echo Minds Poets “Africa the Chain Breaker show.” can become an annual event in the community.