Botswana. Over the past two years professional poets have been visiting young people in Botswana, Mozambique, South Africa, United Kingdom, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Mauritious to encourage development of writing and stage skills. They
have created a momentum around the spoken word .
The Power In The Voice is a youth orientated festival of poetry and performance, a
means of encouraging and supporting these new voices. The Power In The Voice festival in Botswana is where they come together. It’s The British Council’s most ambitious literature development programme in Southern Africa to date. I am at The
Gaberone Sun hotel in the capital of Botswana five thousand four hundred
and eighty two miles from home.
The festival comprises of about four performance stages, ten workshop areas, accommodation. It’ s a hot house environment. It is a festival of youth, of possibility, of change. It all comes to a head on Saturday with a performance to a thousand people at the GICC centre. This is Africa and arts development work at its best.
So what the hell am I doing here? I am here primarily to give a masterclass at
Gaberone University at the end of the week, and to MC various events in the
daytime of each day of the week. In the evenings I shall be reading on stage
alongside the poets at the festival venues.
I’ve toured throughout Africa. But who are the new generation of poets? I am fascinated to see what the subject matters and styles will be. As the tour bus scoops us up and rumbles from the airport we are given a taste of some of what is to come, stand alone billboards larger than the tour bus line the roads from the airport to the hotel, proudly advertising the event The Power In The Voice.