Monday, August 18, 2008

The Gig @ GICC

The International Festival for the Power in the Voice sponsored by the British Council took place from the 14-16th of August. On Saturday night, the grand finale (or the Gig as we were told the participants referred to it as) was held at the Gaborone International Convention Centre. Teams from Botswana, Mauritius, Mozambique, South Africa, United Kingdom, Zambia and Zimbabwe participated in the fair (Thursday to Saturday afternoon) and all performed at the grand finale on Saturday except for Zimbabwe. I’ve heard only through a fairly convoluted grape vine that Power in the Voice was banned by Mugabe and friends around the time of the elections, so this could have been the reason why they did not perform at the grand finale.

Power in the Voice involves singing, story telling, rapping, and performance poetry. Young people, guided by established performance poets and rappers who act as mentors, competed in their own countries and the winning teams came to Botswana.

The grand finale was wonderful. The best teams were Zambia and South Africa, in my opinion, but it has to be taken into consideration that the Mozambique team performed in Portuguese so I am not a fair judge there. The Zambian team’s performance was about the right to education, while the South African team did an interesting piece about a misguided announcement regarding the end of the world.

Other performers on the night included Botswana’s own queen of poetry and one of the mentors for the Botswana team, TJ Dema, who had the whole hall roaring even before she spoke a word. Her piece “Street Vendor” was performed in her understated way that pulls you in and then clobbers you over the head with the most powerful words like:

She prays tonight it comes with no fist because on her street the women still gather and meet to count calories to feed their young ones’ empty bellies with sun baked promises fulfilled on backseats and hidden alleys.
Not for fame or fortune, she has never met either, not for glory neither. She simply sells what she has and
when there is nothing left she sells who and what she is.

Outspoken from Zimbabwe was excellent too. But for me Lemn Sissay’s performance of his poem “Invisible Kisses” was absolutely exquisite. It is the most beautiful love poem I have ever heard, and the way he performs it brought tears to my eyes. With lines like:
If there was ever one
To whom when you run
Will push back the clouds
So you are bathed in sun;

How can you not fall in love with words like that? (Read the full poem at his website here) I realise I’m likely coming to the Lemn Sissay party very late, but I am here to stay. I might even have to add him to my list of stalking targets. I absolutely loved him.

As for the Power in the Voice Fair that preceded the main event, my father taught me that if you have nothing good to say keep quiet, and, though I don’t always abide by those words usually to my detriment, in this case, silence is the route I will follow.


Karen said...

This sounds wonderful. I'm so glad you got to attend. Don't you just love finding new artists to stalk, er, um, follow... uh, enjoy?

Lauri said...

Yes Karen. Unfortunately I only found Mr Sissay on the last night or physical stalking would have defintiely ensued. Now I must, sadly, be only a cyber stalker until I get myself to UK!

tj dema said...

oh my Lauri, I must admit I haven't been by in a while to sneak a peak into your world, happened to be in the neighbourhood. lol on the whole Lemn Sissay conversation you ladies are having, the man does cast quite an impression...ummh his work i mean, ofcourse

Lauri said...

TJ, your comments suggest that youknow more about Mr Sissay than you are divulging. Please feel's only the whole world that is listening.

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