Xhosa community launches Mhlekazi International Poetry Festival

The Xhosa community in Zimbabwe launched the Mhlekazi International Poetry Festival in Bulawayo, Saturday, an event envisaged to be an annual event in Zimbabwe’s Showbiz calendar meant to uplift local artists.

The poetry festival was hosted under the auspices of Imbongi Yesizwe Trust in partnership with the World Poetry Festival (WPF) based in Colombia.

Held at the home of Xhosa Prince Mcleod Isolengwe Tshawe in Bulawayo, 10 local poets took to the stage at the inaugural event.

The 10 were Asa Phenomenon, Um’Africakazi, Lady Tshawe, Moyoxide, Delah Dube, Sox the Poet, Philani Nyoni, Tinashe Tafirenyika, Thandoe and Michelle Thanya.

Speaking at the event, guest of honour from South Africa, Dr Zolani Mkiva, a Xhosa royal and advisor to the AmaXhosa Kingdom, said Africans needed to demonstrate confidence in their local creative industry.

“This year has taught us many things, a year to right our wrongs. We made a decision to come to Bulawayo during the lockdown and decided once it was eased to an alert level, we will hold this function,” he said.

“We must begin a new chapter and journey together. I believe Zimbabwe has some of the most inspiring people in Africa. You continue to survive and live against all odds and navigate without looking back to a future whose destiny is the same anywhere in the African continent.”

The Mhlekazi International Festival was also made possible through the Mkiva Humanitarian Foundation, where its chairman – Dr Mkiva noted it must become part and parcel of the arts and culture calendar in Zimbabwe.

“Going forward, year by year we must gather in Bulawayo to make sure this festival takes place. It will recognise local poets and in the same use this platform to take Zimbabwean poets to global stages. This festival is sanctioned and supported by the WPF. I am also a board member of this world movement based in Medellin, Colombia. This festival fully joins ranks of other international events. It is a first for Bulawayo but will give great opportunities for poets here,” said the Xhosa royal.

During the same night, a Mntwanomhle Wine and Fashion Festival supported by the African Delphic Council, Union Africaine Legacy Projects, Institute of African Royalty and Sabela Music Productions was also launched.

A myriad of wine brands brewed and packaged in Southern Africa were available for tasting and promotion.

Dr Mkiva said he was currently working on producing his own wine range that is expected to be available in 2021.

“This is in line with self-reliance, promoting local production, consumption of local products, replenishing our approach to financial systems and repositioning Africa for a special place in the international arena,” he said.

The investment in these two entities was described by Dr Mkiva, also an ANC MP in the Eastern Cape, as a good gesture of what must be done in respective African industries.

“It is not just symbolic of what needs to be done but symptomatic of what the African agenda talks to. These two festivals are jettisoned to add value in the creative industry and hospitality industry going forward. They will certainly play a crucial role in the stimulation of the local economy,” he said.

Host of the Mntwanomhle Wine and Fashion Festival, Audrey Dlodlo, said the event was intended to give a platform for the promotion of clothing brands produced by African fashion designers.

 “Prominent role players in the fashion industry were invited to this high-level exclusive inaugural ceremony,” she said.

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