By Maris Feeley
It’s #WorldPoetryDay! Celebrate with us by enjoying these examples of incredible literature and personal expression by poets from across the African continent.
1. “Homeward” — Bassey Ikpi
Bassey Ikpi, a Nigerian-born but America-raised poet, captures audiences with her spoken word ode to her grandmother in Homeward. Visiting her unfamiliar family, she laments, “It breaks my heart to realise that I can only love her clearly in English.” Ipki lets us into her uncertainty and struggles to find somewhere she can call home.
2. “Do not fear the past” — Zuhura Seng’enge
“Do not fear the past.
It is painful
but it is real
Blood was spilt and people died
but love and unity had survived.”
This poem is not only a reflection on history, but also a call to action for young Africans to reclaim it. Tanzanian poet Zuhura Seng’enge acknowledges the complicated past experiences of African countries, but maintains hope for the future.
3. “Bottoms Up!” — Ama Nuamah
“To the children we call our future
Who have no shoes to put on their feet
Who have barely any food to eat
Who believe in some unreal hope
But still dare to dream
Wild and free.”
A toast to optimists in bleak situations, Ama Nuamah’s poem embodies how bright minds can be trapped by lack of access to basic necessities. She’s based in Ghana, but as we’ve mentioned on the ONE blog before, obstacles to essential needs (such as electricity) affect many nations across Africa. Celebrating the strength of citizens working against such tough odds is so important!
4. “I am an African” — Puno Selesho
South Africa’s complex social and political legacies have led to a diverse range of identities, an idea Puno Selesho works to address. She challenges the idea that there is only one way of being South African, and urges everyone to take pride in who they are.
5. “One” — Sage Hasson
“Billions of people all struggling to [fulfill] seeming different agenda
But we all are in pursuit of one collective destiny
We all need just one
Sage Hasson, of Nigeria, emphasises unity and focus in this poem. Maybe we here at ONE are biased towards this gem in particular, but no one can deny the powerful message of individuals coming together to make a difference for themselves and for others.
6. Felukah’s poem for Africa
Felukah is an Egyptian artist whose poem is a love letter to Africa and all of its potential. In the poem, she speaks on Africa’s “potential for greatness and the greatness itself,” and its reach is far beyond the continent — it’s global.