Vol.23 No.191

Tuesday 19 December 2006    
   Cartoon Strip  
   Business Week  
   Arts/Culture Review  
Arts/Culture Review
Botswana's oral poetress scoops award


12/19/2006 10:42:20 PM (GMT +2)

Botswana's spoken word poetress, Andreattah Chuma, proved local poetry has become of age when she came second at a world poetry slam event-the four continents' slam championships.

The event, held in 13 UK cities from November 22 to December 12, attracted poetress from Australasia, Africa, Europe, and North America. In second place, Chuma was tied with Elvis McGonagall of Scotland, who is also the current world slam champion.

The calm - looking IT graduate, who is also one of the outstanding performers at local spoken word organisation, Exodus Live Poetry, has been in the United Kingdom competing with the best poets and poetress in the world. Her competitors included the following: Europe: Elvis McGonagall (Scotland) - The current world slam champion Henry Bowers (Sweden) - World slam championships runner-up 2005 Africa: Kojo Baffoe (South Africa), North America: John Akpata (Canada) - Capital Slam Champion 2005 Sonya Renee - 2004 US National Slam Champion Australasia Penny Ashton (New Zealand) - Critically acclaimed comedy poet Thom the World Poet (Aus) - Legendary travelling street poet.

The slam sessions moved from one city to another and the Botswana poetress wowed the crowd with her Maya Angelou - inspired renditions. According to the rules of the competition, the crowd decided the winner by scoring points which were collated by the judges.

Slam poetry competitions began in the US in the 1980s but has since spread to the rest of the world.

It was the first ever world slam poetry in the UK, but Chuma says the attendance at all the 13 venues was just amazing. She said she was invited by the organisers of the event to represent Africa along with South African, Kojo, after the event organisers had spotted her talent in the Exodus Live poets' video last year.

The former UNISA student says she could not believe the magnitude of the audience response to her renditions. " I was up against the best in the world. I was competing with established poets who have written books, released CDs and world champions. I was an under dog in terms of achievements. I recall one of them has been in the game since 1972, that's a long time", she says in an interview with Showbiz. Chuma says the world tour also opened her eyes. She said in all the 13 cities, the audience was looking for her CDs and they just could not understand why such a talented poetress has not released a recording.

" For sure I would have made a lot of money from the sales of the audio, looking at the demand for it during the world tour." She said as a response to that, she is seriously considering putting together a collection of her works on CD. " Ideally I want to release the book and the CD at the same time, but I won't rush the process. I will take my time and release the material when I feel it is ready", she told Showbiz.

Chuma also feels that she has learnt a lot from contestants from the rest of the world as each presented in various styles. " I have also learnt that unlike here, rap and poetry is considered one and the same thing, they merge. Locally people regard rap as something completely different from poetry such that you have a group of rappers there and poets that side", Chuma said.

She said she also learnt that good poets overseas do earn a living from poetry as a profession, unlike here. She, however, hopes to use the valuable lessons learnt from her overseas trip to market poetry as a form of entertainment that should be appreciated by consumers just like they enjoy music. Send us your comments about Mmegi newspaper Search For Old Newspaper Editions To advertise contact us through email

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