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Media report for the Kistrech Poetry Festival
Tendai Maduwa
August 26, 2013

The Kistrech Poetry Festival was a unique gathering that brought together more than 40 African and International poets to read their poems, present papers and share experiences in creative writing. The poets who attended the festival were from countries such as Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, India, Thailand, Egypt, Cypress, Philippines, Mexico, Lithuanian and Santiago-Chile. The event was so unique from all other festivals because it took poetry away from the city concrete buildings to its context the people. We performed in people's huts, orphanages, animal precinct, national perks and we have also visited the local cultural but most selling tourist tribe called the Masai Mara tribe, which is more or less just as our own Zimbabwean Tonga tribe from Binga. That was where we have experienced the root and origin of the Kenyan culture which was now intertwined with the poetry festival. This tribe shared with us their norms and we enjoyed their meals such as Matoke, Chapati and Pilawo to mention afew. Matoke, a mixture of boiled bananas, tomato soup and marton meat, which is claimed to be the local selling meal was borrowed from Uganda and then adopted to become the Kenyans staple diet. We went to the Kisii University where we have facilitated some literature discussions with students of literature language.

After the festival I personally embarked on my East African tour which started at the University of Nairobi where I performed at an audience of more than 1500 people, then I also performed at the Kwani Open Mic session, where I graced the slam as the guest poet, the podium had more than 150 audience, which was a great turn up to show how much people appreciate poetry in other countries. I also performed at the Nairobi Television (NTV). I then left Kenya and performed at the University of Dar re Salam, University of Zambia, then finally I get home. But really I was impressed on how other countries appreciate the poetry industry.

The festival has benefited me to the great extend, it managed to establish me as an international artist. I learnt and experienced new ideas on how to promote our own poetry, other people's norms and that was an eye opener which challenged me to start thinking outside the box and dream huge in the industry. I am now thinking broad and dreaming of seeing things even beyond the horizon. Above everything it established some contacts and connected me.

The Zimbabwean local spoken word industry (Poetry) is still a seed which need to be irrigated, cultivated and patiently wait for it to beer fruits. It not like we don't have poets no, we have well talented established and aspiring (upcoming) poets who have potential but lacks support and exposure. There is much to be done to put the local poetry industry on the international market. I am glad I have managed to represent my country and managed to convince the global audience that we have the capacity, then they at least appreciated my work. There is need for maximum efforts for us to reach the expected standards like other countries for example in Zimbabwe you cannot organize a one man's poetry show and have more than 50 people, they don't even appreciate it. But I managed to have a massive audience at the University of Nairobi. We need a situation whereby one poet can hire the Sheraton 1000 seater conference hall and manage to fill up the podium. We should first convince the local communities to appreciate us poets. It looks like we have very few poetry venues and limited platforms to expose our works. In the same vein of thinking, the baskets that fund poetry activities are very few, so sometimes ideas can die at a premature stage because of lack of support. So generally poets have a race to run and a serious battle that need to be fought until the wining point.

As an established poet who takes this a profession, I have much that I owe to fellow spoken word artist. Poetry is a profession just like any other professions that need to be taken seriously with respect though sometimes difficult and dry. It is not easy to fully commit yourself in this industry because it's not that paying but I have decided to do that and I am seeing a brighter future in this career. Therefore I have a pivotal role to play and prove other aspiring poets who are at the cross roads on whether they should consider this industry as a full time career or not because of the difficulties involved. I mean challenges are there to test our capacity, pave a better way to our success, and above everything the more the challenges the greater the potential one has. Besides the hidden plans I am running around to look for funding to launch my poetry recording project called "The African Drumbeat" which I have collaborated with a South African Poetry Queen Lungile Lithola.

I was the only Zimbabwean at this event. I am going to organize something massive that is going to help expose fellow poets, especially those talented but who lack exposure and opportunities to be at international platforms. My organization Awake Zimbabwe Trust is busy right now organising something that has never happened in Zimbabwe. So I will not unpack it for now, but I am confidently promising the nation and the world at large a blast.

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