Kimathi Kaumbutho standing six feet high would clinch the top position in the first preliminary round of the Slam Africa Poetry competition 2017. Followed by the five feet tall Stella Kivuti, the two poets booked a slot in the finals of this year’s poetry festivals slated for December. The well attended event was held at the Alliance Francaise Auditorium.
The March 18th fete, as is the tradition, would see nine poets duel for the slot in the finals. The poets; George Agak Brandon, John Njoroge, Bob Kioko Alvin, Fred Kikete, Ivy Sumbi, Ivy Robi, David ‘Polyanna’ Otieno, Stella Kivuti and Kimathi Kaumbutho aka ‘Yours Truly’ tore down the mask of ignorance with their ear shattering pieces. It seemed as if they were possessed with something pragmatic and washed with vivid anger and pain, with euphemisms and subtlety to point at the wrong, paint it grim and lead to the light. Their mission on the stage was to restore hope, to condemn ills and to guide humanity towards embracing love.
One by one they came on stage, defiant and bold; they faced the dark silhouettes that formed the audience, as if their spirit guides were on fire, they let their hearts out. And after each round of soul tearing, they trouped to the stage to hear from judges. The judges surrounded by the glow of a reading lamp, some light from their phones, passed the verdict, the interdicted poets would wave good bye, and the struggle would continue, each time the numbers dwindling until the final three.
The MCs Devine Concept and Gufydox, during the interlude would entertain the audience with their kind of love-hate charade watching the two taunt each other is like watching a braggart boxer delivering punch after punch to a solemn opponent, but that is just the spirit of the game between the two long-serving MCs of the Slam Poetry Africa. Besides the humorous taunts, invited guests artists also grace the event.
Artists the likes of JKD- Just a Kenyan Dream, Nasara the poet, Phylis backed up by Bensoul (H-Art the Band), Figure Out, Mordecai Asap (H-Art the Band), Ndumbuisi Charles, El Poet and International Ghanaian Poet Hondred Percent performed during the various intermissions in the competition. Despite the lack of musical accompaniments, the artists did well to bring out their craft. Poets like El poet brought out beautifully his well composed piece, ‘The School Bell Rings.’ In another act, the Ghanaian Hondred Percent shaved off ignorance of technology users by pinning down the swollen wound of the suffering of Africa. He would also look at the common- use of the words ‘shit’, ‘fuck’ and ‘bitch’. He argued that in as much as we deride in using the curse words, it is of paramount importance that we desist from the use of the ‘bitch’ word especially in reference to women.