Malawi today joins the rest of the world in commemorating World Poetry Day (WPD)amid calls to support female poets.
Pen Malawi president Alfred Msadala said poetry development in the country is slow, especially among women despite many of them being talented and skilled.
“Women are talented. When one listens to what comes out of their mouths in their natural setting, one cannot help but admire the rich poetic language. Even during funerals, when women mourn, they are poetic.
“But despite this, when it comes to publishing and perfomances, women are not given a chance and men are always in the lead,” said Msadala.
He, therefore, said this year, Pen Malawi is giving women a voice during the WPD commemorations under the theme ‘At The Mortar’ (pamtondo)’ so that Malawians can appreciate women’s talent.
Renowned poet Robert Chiwamba said although oral traditional poetry is the richest, it is on its death bed in the country.
“Many local poets are opting for English spoken word as consumers are loving this genre these days,” he said.
However, Chiwamba said vernacular spoken word has made tremendous progress such that almost all radio and TV stations have poetry programmes.
“At this point, it is important for us as a people to take poetry to the youth. Poetry can be used to advance so many issues and the youth can use it to talk about issues that affect them,” said Chiwamba, who recently won a Unesco communications award for his collaboration with Sangie on the song Ngwazi Zazikazi.
He added: “Poetry enriches our lives greatly.It entertains, educates and informs. Further, traditional poetry is also a tool for preserving our local languages and cultures which defines and unites us as a people.”
WPD was set aside by Unesco in 1999 during the 30th session in Paris with the aim of supporting linguistic diversity through poetic expression and to offer endangered languages the opportunity to be heard within their communities.
It also encourages oral tradition of poetry recitals and teaching as well as partnership with music and dance.
The main event to mark the day takes place this afternoon at Jacaranda Cultural Centre (JCC) in Blantyre where local female poets will showcase their poetic skills.
They will be supported by poetry champions Susan Kiguli and Beverly Nambozo Nsengiyunva from Uganda.n