It's not about the ones with the trumpets

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To enjoy an orchestra, one does not focus on only the trumpets.

During the recent Writivism Festival that was held in Kampala, I met one of the shortlisted writers Dayo. When I say met, what I really mean is actually talked to. I noticed that at the festival, many of us writers tend to be introverted and will not usually reach out. Anyway, that is besides the point. Dayo shared something he read today on Twitter,  “Where to find Africa’s Poets: Forget Stuffy Literature Departments and Head to the Scrubland“.

One of the things in the article that caught my attention was the fact that while the literati, as we know them, are busy forging and strengthening the form they know and love as poetry amongst themselves, poetry as a form is holding its own among cultures and languages in Africa and the Middle East.

The poets are not in the glitz and glamour or in the white collar, they are out in the field, communicating in the most refined form they know how, which to them is a normal occurrence. Wole Soyinka might be revered as a god but he alone cannot sustain the form and be the conduit of knowledge.

In Uganda, you will find several growing communities of poetry. The Lantern Meet, Luminous Sorrels, Open Mic, and others. I have learned from the Lantern Meet that poetry is not really about writing for prizes or for clout although I know many people write for that. Nonetheless, poetry is truly about a message and how well it can be passed on. When languages form poetry, it becomes a refined way of not just speaking, but communicating.

It’s not really the ones who are known that make an eco-system. It’s not just the hands and feet that make the body what it is. There are unseen things going on inside the body that make the body function as it does.

Christine Mungai’s thoughts on poetry reminded me that while some people get awards for doing things well, they do not make those fields what they are.

Like on Social Media : The Ugandan Twitter scene is obsessed with importance and numbers but let’s face it, communities do not comprise chiefs filled with self importance. Community is also about synergy, giving, receiving, like a blood stream. We do not know this but the person who should be glorying is the Jack Dorsey.

Twitter is nothing without other tweeps. Poetry is nothing without other poets.

A toast to community. 

1 Cor 12: 22 : No, much rather, those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary.

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3 thoughts on “It's not about the ones with the trumpets

  1. Very interesting thoughts. One of the things that stuck out to me about the Literature Departmental Poets vs. Scrubland Poets was the glaring difference in accessibility. It seems these "Oxford poets" have a bit of an elitist thing going on, whereas our Scrubland Poets had mass appeal. Poetry was and is accessible to a much wider spectrum of people in Africa than it seems to be in the literature departments of western universities. I find that interesting, because it might imply Africans in general have a greater sensibility for the literary arts than their western counterparts?

    1. I agree actually, reading the piece makes me understand the elitism that is going on. There is an intuitive awareness in Africa that is usually drowned out by the departments and the marketing they do. It allows me to look out for it and appreciate it more.


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