Young poets impress in Ann Bryant showcase

Finalist Siphosethu Nongena performs his poem titled ‘Inkululeko’ at the Westside Youth Centre Youth Arts Competition opening event
Finalist Siphosethu Nongena performs his poem titled ‘Inkululeko’ at the Westside Youth Centre Youth Arts Competition opening event
Image: Madeleine Chaput

The Westside Youth Centre launched their inaugural Youth Arts competition last Friday night at the Ann Bryant Art Gallery in East London.

Commemorating Youth Month, the event took the form of a poetry competition and saw more than 12 youngsters aged between 18 and 35 recite original poems.

Founded last year, the centre caters to the youth on the west side of the Buffalo River in areas such as Orange Grove and Rosemount.

“The kids from that side don’t have any development centres.

“There isn’t even a library, so we aim to fill that gap and give them an opportunity to develop their talents,” said Westside Youth Centre director, Vuyo Zambodla.

He said that the competition was a way to give developing artists a boost, by offering a platform where they can showcase and nurture their talents.

Winning the votes of the judges, the top three poets of the night were Wamkelwe Mbanga, Siphosethu Nongena and the group Amasiba Amanyange.

They will go on to the finals taking place on Saturday, and stand a chance to win R2000 as the top artist in their category.

Finalist Siphosethu Nongena said he hoped to become a well known Xhosa poet and being a finalist was a huge step forward for him.

The event will include visual arts and rap/ hip hop categories, from which another six artists will be chosen to attend the finals, with the best overall artist winning a further R3000.

“The prizes were all sponsored by the South African artist William Kentridge, and this would not have been possible without him,” said Zambodla, who is hoping to make the competition an annual event.

Many of the poets drew on the events of the 1976 student uprisings to communicate the struggles that the youth face today, drawing parallels between South Africa’s history and what it is like to be a young South African today.

The next phase of the Youth Arts competition will see the visual arts category judging and winners announcement take place this week.

The exhibition will open on Wednesday at the Ann Bryant Art Gallery’s Coach House, and will run until June 30. — madeleinec@dispatch.co.za

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