Poetry has long been used to communicate the most intricate and fragile aspects of human life. And to most, mostly in Africa, politics sits among those hot topics. Africa is dented by wars, from the days of the Great Conqueror Shaka of the Zulu People, to the awful genocide of Rwanda, and now the Extremists violence in Mozambique and Nigeria notably. The continient is also punctuated by a history of coups, dictatorships, and assasinations, with a few good stories of Nelson Mandelas and Haile Selassies. In this unfortunate stand-off, the index finger on the trigger has often been (repressive) politics or religio-political power being wrongly wielded.
War, in Africa, in recent days has taken on a different look, it does not necessary involve blood and physical loss of life but now expands the expanse of inequality among a people. Zambia and the rest of Africa, even the entire globe, have been plagued by corruption, unemployment, poverty, and hunger that are waged on people. That said, Word Smash Poetry Movement, has persistently added its voice to such matters to dream and create peace in the form of socio-economic change beneficial and accessible to everyone, especially the young people, women, and children, who are often collateral damage. To equip young poets and creatives, to see their art beyond verses of love and flowers we are encouraging them to speak also on social injustices and social justices
Word Smash Poetry works with young people; young creatives to imagine a tomorrow in which politics serves the people and above all equips and empowers the people to fully control their lives. Zambia went to the polls on 12th August 2021, and decided on who should lead them into the next 5 year-future. Opposition leader of United Party for National Development (UPND), Hakainde Hichilema’s victory breathed a new wind on the land and its people. Before and after his inauguration, creatives picked up their pens and wrote, also they picked up their voices and spoke their minds and hearts to the new leader. Among them, I found notable the submissions to the president of the Republic of Zambia Vanessa Chisakula’s ‘Letter to the President’, Ludo Freshe’s ‘We Are At War’, and Mwanangwa Zombe’s ‘Inauguration Poem’.
Their poems bring out a common message of hope for a better Zambia, and a distaste for politics that worsen people’s livelihoods. In Vanessa Chisakula’s poem, we hear her appeal to the new and 7th President of the Republic of Zambia to not forget who is boss and to get to work of fixing the broken economy, as it is the only way to remedy the broke spirit of the country:
Do not bite the finger that feeds you
It might switch spices for poison…
…Today goes in history
This economy needs fixing, Bally
We want basics, the rest we’ll cover ourselves…
Ludo Freshe, a seasoned Zambian poet and rapper, in her poem addresses the woes the Zambian people have succumbed and exalts the opportunity of a new day. She denounces corrupt leaderships, and wishes for peace:
We are at war…
When words of peace are treated like poison
Rolling off our tongues
And we have to watch our backs
So many people have no backbone of their own
But sometimes, a triumph for one is actually a triumph for generations to come
So, thank you for filling me with hope…
Adding his perspective, Mwanangwa Zombe turned to the preachy-voice of poetry and shared a sermon in poetry on what the moment of finally inaugurating a new president with new ideals means to him and to other millions of Zambians. Somewhere in the poem, you will hear thus:
…So, even as we clutch on the dreams of our forefathers
We relish this moment when we can begin to believe in the dreams of our own
Believe in the possibilities we have long hoped for
Believe in the prosperity of our nation we have long been owed
As we bestow in a man power
To lead us in building a nation we are all immensely proud to call our home…
Poetry in society plays a critical role of holding the spirits of people intact; showing the path to better reason; and delivering new dawns to everyone’s reality. As we learn from Zambia’s top spoken word artists, poetry can scold and reprimand wrong, poetry can dream and pursue these dreams fearlessly, and poetry can celebrate good and time. As Word Smash Poetry Movement, we have chosen to use poetry for all these roles and above all to drive authentic conversations on affairs of the youth in their communities. With an understanding that society shapes poetry, and poetry can shape society, we believe in the words and thoughts of young creatives and their urgency to make tomorrow bright but only if they write clearly and truthfully, only when they speak clearly and truthfully.
Note: Watch full Videos of the Poems being Cited by Clicking the images of the Poets.
Gerry Sikazwe is the Communication Lead at Word Smash Poetry Movement, a seasoned literary voice and enthusiast of youth development. He lives and writes from Lusaka, Zambia.