Paul The Poet is the winner of the Resounding Voices Poetry Slam and Open Mic Sessions held at Golden Lifestyle, Nobody Moremedi Park on Saturday.
Resounding Voices Poetry Slam and Open Mic Sessions was themed under 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Voilence, activism against Women and Children abuse.
The event was hosted by Jack Rams, and sponsored by the National Arts Council, Department of Sport, Arts and Culture, Golden Lifestyle and Mamochabo Business Enterprise was a resounding success and an enlightening.
Paul The Poet walked away with R3000 cash prize as the first winner of the first Resounding Voices Poetry Slam Competition.
Runners-up for the slam competition were Poetic Dee who came third and walked away with R500 cash prize, and Malebo Nkgoeng who came second and won R1500 cash prize.
The theme of the session was based on 16 Days of Activism against Gender Based Voilence. Activism for No Violence against Women and Children.
The topics covered by poets encompassed a wide range of critical issues.
It included discussions on sexual violence, addressing the physical and mental health challenges that victims face, confronting various social ills that perpetuate violence, fostering social cohesion and support within communities, and advocating for justice for victims of violence and abuse and to call out abusers and the failing justice system.
ABOUT PAUL THE POET
Tebogo Joseph Sekwhela, well known as Paul The Poet was born and bred in Gauteng, Johannesburg, Tembisa Ivory Park Ext 2. He is a University of Limpopo second-level Performing Arts student currently residing in Ga-Thoka.
Sekwhela’s poetic prowess first came to light in Grade 8 when his creative art educator tasked the class with creating praise poems.
“I was first introduced to poetry in Grade 8 at Eqinisweni Secondary School when our creative art educator assigned us to create our own praise poems, and mine was highlighted as the best in the class.
The following year in Grade 9, the same creative art educator from the previous grade put my name forward to enter a yearly poetry competition of high schools in the vicinity of Ekurhuleni District called Sekgarona Competitions.”
“Through the competition, I encountered an established Spoken Word Artist named King Zwai The Poet, who was training us to prepare for the competition led by Mr. Shishenge, who is an established poetry author and activist in Midrand known for his published poetry book ‘My Gospel Scriptures.’ King Zwai The Poet, known for his published poetry book ‘In My Stolen Yard,’ basically molded and fathered Paul The Poet, as Paul’s writing technique was fundamentally built on King Zwai’s blueprint.”
Reflecting on the state of poetry in Limpopo, Sekwhela highlights a financial hurdle. He says the difficulty in accessing funds for community poetry initiatives impacts the vitality of this expressive art form.
“My observation of the state of poetry where I currently reside in Limpopo is that it is in a detrimental state, as most veteran participants of this craft venture out of it for one common reason: it is hard to access funds for poetry events initiatives around communities. Therefore, it becomes hard to organize poets in one place to give this art momentum and keep it alive, as enthusiasm alone cannot get the job done; venues need to be booked at a price, so it’s a financial concern more than anything.”
As a Performing Arts student at the University of Limpopo, Sekwhela is practicing theatre under the veteran Nigerian theatre practitioner, playwright, and thespian Dr. Ola-Kris Akinola, well known for his two plays, an adaption of Oedipus Rex titled “The Prince Of Sovenga” and a play tackling GBV titled “Ghost Twerkers.”
“Currently, we are looking forward to kickstarting rehearsals in early January to prepare the plays to go to Rhodes University in February following an invitation by the Rhodes University vice-counselor Prof Mabizela after witnessing both plays the previous June during the Annual National Art Festival held yearly in Grahamstown Makhanda, Eastern Cape.
The focal point of taking specifically the play addressing GBV, ‘Ghost Twerkers,’ is to create awareness about the abuse of women and children nationally by performing for schools around Makhanda.”
On winning the Resounding Voices Poetry Slam and Open Mic Sessions, he expressed gratitude for his fellow poets and acknowledged the complexity of his competitors.
“I feel very elated triumphing in the slam as I have utmost respect and admiration for fellow poets I participated with, the likes of Poetic Dee, Poetic Lion, Karamel The Poet, and Malebo. The victory was sweeter because they are all complex writers and vibrant performers.”He says practicing theatre and being multilingual gave him the competitive edge to win the slam.
“My performative element has to inevitably be on par, and also mixing languages since I am a hybrid with my father being Pedi and my mother being Xhosa; therefore, mixing the two languages, I believe gave me the upper hand over other performers.”
The prevailing crisis of Gender-Based Violence in the country deeply concerns Sekwhela. He sees poetry as a powerful medium to raise awareness and appeal to fellow men, striving to alter the mindset of abusers.
“Gender-Based Violence is evidently at its ultimate height in the country, with a scandal emerging from social media every week, which is typically a girl dying at the hands of her boyfriend. I believe the only solution is creating awareness, pleading with our fellow men through the medium of poetry. Otherwise, what other ways can be applied to get to the perpetrators.
These are people we live with in our communities, and by entering the competition, I am making an offering as a poet to mitigate this problem by attempting to alter the minds of the abusers and to sympathize with the victims.”