While most of us judge poetry as the best units of language arranged and exploring figures of speech in rhyming order, we tend to forget that such verse can be acted and be told in a storyline.
This is what Poetry Association of Malawi publicity secretary, Silvestre Kalizang’oma, has done by dramatising his poetry and putting it on DVD.
Presented in the style of a dramatic-comedy and set in urban and rural locations, the performance captures the whole gamut of emotions.
Showcasing stunning pieces of metaphorical expressions excellently complemented by mature acting, the presentation is appealing to all ages.
“It’s an excellent way of bringing poetry to people who don’t like poetry because it gives context to the art,” says the Zimbabwe-born Kalizang’oma.
The stories in the evocatively titled Unkalindanji Moyo? DVD are subtly put across by the performance of the main character, Kalizang’oma, in an inspiring fashion.
He cuts a Socratic figure who is more keyed to language and allegory; eliciting truths in an ideal and resourceful display.
He explains the idea behind the DVD: “The concept was hatched after noticing the dwindling reading culture which is quickly being replaced by movie watching and I wanted to take advantage of that by giving people their preferences with an ingratiatory touch. I am also aware that the country is undergoing a technological revolution at a fast rate and I didn’t want to be left behind.”
He is disinclined to talk about the inspiration behind the title of the DVD compilation, only saying: “The story behind the title is confidential and I will keep it that way even though people think it’s a reaction to my wife’s death, Stonard Lungu or Geoffrey Zigoma. Suffices it to say, it is based on a true life story, besides that the title encompasses all the themes in the compilation.”
Kalizang’oma then expresses optimism about the success of the project.
“I feel it will have a huge success, considering that it’s the first of its kind. This means I won’t have competition on the market. I also derive courage from the fact that I roped in accomplished actors and film directors. People like Frank Naligonje of the ‘Atcheya’ fame and Nicolas Mbonela, the man behind the ‘Nancy’ character, are professionals who know how to act, direct films and write scripts. The two have also brought some elements of comedy in it.
“I have been in poetry and acting for twenty years and having passed through rough times and climbing greasy poles, I can’t come out with an immature and an unappealing production. It has taken me three years to come up with this and I invested a lot of money and energy in the project and so much sacrifices,” says the man from Nthiwatiwa Village, Traditional Authority Ndindi, Salima.
On his part Mbonela believes that the project will be sustainable especially considering that Kalizang’oma, Naligonje and himself have since formed a poetry arts group which they are calling Mankhuma a Ndakatulo.
“Over the three years we have tried our level best to explore stories in the compilation with the main character adding witty verses. This will also go a long way in helping us to reap from our sweat because, to say the fact, poets and comedians in the country get almost nothing from their talents. When we go out to perform as individuals we spend a lot on transport, accommodation and many other necessities and when Kalizang’oma approached me and Naligonje to assist him in the project, we were more than willing to take part because this is progressive thinking,” observed Mbonela who is also in the process of putting his Nancy character on DVD and stage.
Mbonela said Unkalindanji Moyo? has been tailor made for all ages and people would find its poetry enriching.
“It’s a revolutionary piece of art that can’t be equalled,” he added.
The DVD was directed by Naligonje.