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Epic Night : Lafarge Zimbabwe Poetry Slam Thrills, as Sox The Poet Is Crowned Champion

Lafarge Poetry Slam Winners Picture By Sa Dee Lensworks
Lafarge Poetry Slam Winners Picture By Sa Dee Lensworks

If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart. These wise words of the iconic Tata Madiba, Nelson Mandela, rang ever true as the cocktail of languages on display, from English to Kalanga, at the Lafarge Poetry Slam brought by Intwasa, drowned the audience in a swirling pool of emotion, self-introspection, and laughter.

From arrival at the venue prior to the event’s punctual commencement, a welcome improvement from the prior year, the preparedness of the hosts was indicative that the stage had not been set for mere entertainment, but fireworks themselves. The event’s theme, ‘building back better, building back stronger’, was the premise for the first of three thrilling rounds.

It was opened by 2018 Lafarge Poetry slam champion Thando with her piece entitled Blinded, and despite her great work describing how even people needed building, her own poetic building wouldn’t stand tall enough to progress to the next round. In a round where more than half of the 20 competing contestants were separated by only five points, the unconcealed judges had an unenviable job. Thaluso The Poet, with the first vernacular piece of the evening presented in Ndebele.

He was warmly welcomed, and certainly did not disappoint, as he chronicled a story of a child who ought to listen to his mother irrespective of external factors like opinions and time of day! We cascaded through themes of marriage, time, sexual identity, war, and even skin-deep beauty, but all, for the most part, beautifully woven into the concrete theme of the evening. Despite the solid efforts from all the poets in the first round, God’s will had it that Godswill Muzarabini would be building back stronger as he went 3 points clear of his closest rival, only 1 point shy of a perfect score of 30. His performance resonated with the audience as he eloquently, in Ndebele, uttered his seething frustration with spitchis (speeches) instead of actually… building for better!

An act that punctuated that of the competing poets was that by a young girl who to true to her demeanor, was called Angel! She passionately spoke about the day of the African child, as she took the audience on a journey of the oppressive events that occurred south of the Limpopo in the build-up to June 16, 1976. Her presentation carried a heavy punch all the way from content to delivery, and the MC was definitely spot on in awarding her an honorary 30/30 as we eagerly await the flourishing of a poetic giant in our midst.

As though such a guest appearance was not enough to display the calibre of the poetic stage we feasted our eyes upon, in the interval to the next round, 2019 NAMA Outstanding Poet winner, Likhwa OkaNcube, graced the stage to exhibit his poetic prowess. He left the already enthused audience highly expectant, as some seemed to feed off the wordsmith’s fluent wordplay that reigned on the attentive listeners.

The MC once alluded to the fact that slam poetry was partially a game of luck, and this was made manifest in the second round as Godswill fell from grace. Conversely, Sibonginkosi “Siboe” Netha was thanking God true to her name as she built back stronger after the second attempt in round one with a very emotive speech, and now found herself top of the building with her piercing piece where she shared that, “I speak so loud because if we don’t speak, they’ll (men) kill us and say we enjoyed it”. The second round was thus the end of the road for Black Phar-I whose ease of linguistic gymnastics left people gobsmacked, and goodbye to Sinkende who said his farewell with a well-crafted serenade.

After a lively sing-along interlude with “Gregory Lovejoy”, Khana ‘the mad Poet’ Moyo, Comfort Ndlovu from Kezi, and Ngonidzashe Paradza from Masvingo were the last casualties after 3 excellent poems from each of them that saw them fight through to the finals. However, bipolar personalities presented by Sox The Poet, where he exposed duplicity that leaves people smiling with sad eyes, the expose by Anele Chinembiri “KGT Anele” of societal ‘fakeness’ as a disease permeating from devices to the actual human, all complimented by Siboe’s vivid imagery of the girl enslaved in selling herself, had the judges between a rock and Lafarge cement, as the trio progressed to a tiebreaker.

The tiebreaker presentation was unthemed like the two prior rounds, but the poets had to consolidate their thoughts to 1-2 minutes. Siboe kicked off the proceedings with her powerful piece which emphasised that though life wasn’t a race, she was running, running, running away from rape.

Not to be outdone, Sox dug deep and even schooled the audience on the Cartesian plane, except this time of promiscuous love and how the maths just fails to add up! His allusions to songs such as ‘sexual healing’ but with an emotional disconnect, had the audience eating out of his hand, and earned him a near perfect 49/50 all judges considered, which translated to a chart-topping 30/30 under the slam criteria.

Lafarge Poetry Slam Winners Picture By Sa Dee Lensworks
Lafarge Poetry Slam Winners Picture By Sa Dee Lensworks

KGT Anele concluded the day’s presentations with a great Christian apologetic piece titled Dear Mr. Atheist, as he raised the pertinent existential questions of morality by asking, “What is the basis for your moral bearing?” amongst other thorny cosmological and ontological questions. His efforts were not enough however as Sox’s unrivaled performance put on his shoes and left his competitors in the dust settling for second and third with Siboe and KGT Anele taking home $600RTGS, and $400RTGS respectively, whilst Sox took home the coveted $1000RTGS, with all the winners flanking their cheques with horns.

An overall enthralling event, masterfully put together by the organisers to ensure that the excess to the capacity audience had a wonderful night out. The poets with their vivaciousness exhibited that poetry is not only for the introverted in nature, but can appeal to audiences of varied interests and backgrounds! After such an event, it can hardly be disputed that Lafarge has helped cement Bulawayo’s proud status as the cultural hub of Zimbabwe.



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