Roses are red, violets are blue, poetry slams are fun and you probably are too!
Slam Africa has been around for a while since the 2008 to be precise. However, slam poetry has been around way longer than that. A poetry slam is an event in which poets compete with spoken word performances before a live audience and a panel of judges. Originally started in the USA in the 1980s(yes, you read it right) Slam Poetry has spread like wild fire and now is a global phenomenon.
The Kenya Poetry Slam dubbed Slam Africa is currently run under Creative Spills, an artist collective that brings together writers, visual and performing artists. On the 22nd of January 2022,they hosted their 2021 Grand Slam competition.
The Grand Slam 2021 was an culmination of several virtual and in person preliminary events aimed at crowning the 65th Poetry Slam Africa Champion. The show was staged at the Kenya National Theatre where poets, poetry lovers and others convened at the main auditorium for the biggest showdown as slammers competed for the title of Slam Champion.As Harry Baker describes it, poetry slam was invented as a way to force people to watch poetry and poets could feel good about themselves after being crowned “champion”. Nevertheless masses show up to cheer on their favorite contestants hoping they would emerge victorious.
The curtain raiser of the event was none other than Olwah who came and gave a breathtaking performance. Then came the lovely Zaituni who awed the audience with her song “Ikue.” The mood was what most would say “good vibes and Inshallah” even as everyone joined in the singing the amazing melody.
At 3:45pm, eleven poets (many of whom where first time contestants) made their way on stage. After the first round, it was evidently clear no one was going out without a fight. First up was Poetic Will who kicked off the competition with a bang talking of how he thought gods cried when Jesus wept. It was a crafty way to put it and throughout his performance you could feel his emotions stretch through the words coming out of his mouth.
Second came Lexas Mshairi who had a way with words. He described life from the eyes of a poet, “Ni sawa kutojua place unaelekea” this was a take away from him even as he left us yearning to hear more from him.
Keith Malenga went next and ladies I believe you know this guy.”Girls love poets but not just any poet good poets,” he said and you could hear the ladies in the room backing him up on this.
Poets spilled blood and literal tears in a evening of feminism, culture, love, and everything in-between. Times like this are a reminder that youth voices are a staple in our communities.
Enigma kreative; just like his name you could tell from how he started his poems that he oozed of it. His descriptions were priceless you could actually see his words flying out of his mouth taking a life form as the went through the ears of the audience.
“Did you know that Tomorrow is something you waited for yesterday?” I didn’t think of it that way and Miss Connie Mumo went out of her way to remind us of that. Her poems had that nostalgic feeling all through, I can actually feel it right now, do you?
When Keith talked about what girls liked the audience was excited. Then came Suwai King telling of what girls are afraid of. After his performance you could clearly tell he had touched what the community needed to hear.
Following suite was Nyash, not Nyashinski as some of you dear readers were already thinking no. This amazing lady brought GBV to the table and indeed putting it in her words “not every man deserves kufeel kama king.”
Muthoni ni nani? Muthoni ni mimi she’ll respond to that question. She was a goddess sogo speak as she created life with her words, “Mr. Jailer Sir, am I what you pictured?” She brought a conversation on stage which was different from other performances .
The evening was still young and this strong poets were already giving the judges a tough time with their job.
“Hands Up kama bado crush wako anakulenga,” so many hands went up when Dominion said the line, the hands up came with chuckles. It was a fun experience with him on stage but was he the one?
Quick question before we continue. Who wrote the sad poem? Slim Shaka came out dressed in a mauve suit or so he described it. I thought it was pink but oh well. He had a way of telling stories, voice articulation and his diction was spot on.
This year’s Grand Slam was accommodating enough as the lady from Zimbabwe graced the stages showing her prowess and mastery in this line of art. Chioniso Tsikisayi was bringing the roof down with her piece, “Black women are like trees because melanin and chlorophyll were created for the same purpose to absorb light.” This was more than enough to make all the ladies in the house go goo-goo gaga for her, she was doing great job with her fans.
After the second round some of the poets sadly had to leave the competition. Lexas Mshairi, Poetic Will, Suwai King, Dominion, Connie Mumo and Keith Malenga didn’t make through. As sad as that was for the audience, the competition had to go on and so it did.
The day wasn’t over without performances from our guest poets. Black Poet from Uganda went first giving an exceptional performance, then came the 64th Slam Champion Timo GK, performing some of his exemplary works which included “Satan” which the crowd chewed up like the food for thought it was.
The moment of truth was here and with fingers crossed everyone was rooting for their favorite poet but it all came down to what the judges thought of their performances in all three rounds.
With only five contestants remaining who was it going to be? Who was going to be crowned champion? The cumulated results came in and on fifth place came Enigma Kreative, fourth place came Muthoni ni mimi, the second runners up was Nyash, first runners up went to Chioniso and Crowned The 65th Slam Africa Champion(The Nyar Ngaracho Memorial) was none other than Slim Shaka.
In overall it was a great day for poets and poetry lovers as the new King took his reign. For the other slammers congratulations too it took guts to try and if anyone asks you can always say this “ YOU CAN’T GRADE WORDS WITH NUMBERS.”
From me to you Cheers!!!!
Divine is a multidisciplinary creative, who has been able to perform for numerous crowds at different stages. By infusing poetry with chants and songs, he has given life to the words he speaks and makes his art more interactive for the audience.
He has been able to leave a mark in his career as an artist to remember in all shows he’s been part of projects like Minefields which works with young people to develop talents. He has been featured in shows like “It is spoken” airing on Y254 TV, Podcasts like “Array Shairi”
His art has been described as impacting since it is mostly based on day to day life.
As a creative he uses his art to provoke thought and bring change into society, stir up discussions around otherwise difficult topics.
You can reach and interact with him on Instagram as Divine.Poet254 and Laban Peace on facebook