Poetry and film at World Social Forum

February 2007 -

The Centre for Creative Arts, based at the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal, Durban, South Africa, presented a provocative line-up of poetry and film at this year's World Social Forum. The WSF, hosted between 20-25 January in Kenya - it's first time in Africa - saw more than 50 000 people from global civil society descend on Nairobi to actively engage with the social struggles facing the world today.

The CCA, represented by Poetry Africa and the Durban International Film Festival, two of the four annual festivals it produces, formed part of Moving People: Africa-Asia Interface on Migration, Exile, and Diaspora, a South-South inter-organisational collaborative five-day event that encompassed art exhibitions, panel discussions, poetry performances, film screenings, music and theatre performances. Attendance at all CCA hosted events was encouraging but particularly so for the two Poetry Africa evenings - one was held at the GoDown Arts Centre, a hub of Nairobi cultural life, and the other at the WSF Culture Zone in Kasarani Stadium. Both events attracted well over two hundred people and highlighted the acute power of culture for the articulation of struggle and injustice.

Several noteworthy linkages emerged demonstrating the strength of the South-South partnership: Poetry Africa host, Pitika Ntuli was invited to the Zanzibar International Film Festival while poet Lebogang Mashile is in negotiations to publish one of her books with Kwani?, the Centre's Kenyan partners. Ntuli and Mashile were also part of the WSF opening ceremony where they were given the honour of introducing former Zambian president Kenneth Kaunda.

Poetry Africa poet-musician Chiwoniso proved immensely popular. She performed at the opening ceremony with her Zimbawean collegue Chirikuri Chirikuri. They provided an ideal close to the CCA's participation at the WSF when they were invited to grace the main stage at the closing ceremony. The Centre's partners for this initiative included @Culture, India (a network of Majlis, Magic Lantern Foundation, Point of View and various independent artists); Focus on Global South; Go-Down Arts Centre and Kwani?, Nairobi; Zanzibar International Film Festival; Al-Kasaba International Film Festival, Palestine; and HIVOS.

Pravasan Pillay is project manager at the Centre for Creative Arts, Durban