On a Tuesday evening prior to the International womens day Celebration, a number of Makerere students composed of highly poets, artists and story tellers gather for a Kelele At Makerere event, that brings poetic noise every Friday fortnight. This isn’t the usual Kelele At Makerere event, it is a Tuesday but due to a British Council and Kelele At Makerere initiative Lemn Sissay is invited.
New energy and expectations are at the back of many individuals minds: the celebrated British-Ethiopian poet, Lemn Sissay.
An impressive crowd long arrives before the main focus of the night. Many usual and notable poets at the Makerere art gallery grace the stage with amazing poetry, stories and songs. Wake, Zoey The Story Teller, Emma The Poet, Zombie, Bash Mutumba, Kirya, Laker, Baker, Lule and more notable acts show up. The event is courtesy of the British Council campaign or rather initiative #EastAfricaArts (and we shall have a post on that later.)
Young, budding poets are in full house attendance bringing the number to a full hand of hundred plus. On a Tuesday night, one would expect Campusers and other persons to just make it home to rest and think about the week a head- miraculously they turned up for this successful event. To witness the British poet of Ethiopian decency grace the Kelele At Makerere stage. He kills it with energetic performance, and touching revelations as a poet.
Lemn Sissay has that Bill Cosby look, and almost same humor as the comedian, but something unique about him, is the ability to own the moment, utilise the mood to his advantage in his per formative act. This is exactly what many left with last night, skills! . This makes him a relevant speaker, performer and entertainer, highly relate-able to the spoken word, poetry crowd. Not only does he wow the crowd with his poetry (especially Black Is and Let there Be Peace poems from Gold from the Stone ), he manages to respond to questions and gives insight on poetry and publication. This is actually one reason he is in the country; under the African Writers Trust organisation’s event : International Writers conference (Started 6th and closes today 8 March)
Some quote-ables from last night :
- Creativity is not a writers monopoly – when asked on conformity to a certain writing style of poetry such as pentameter.
- Write, edit, re-write then edit again and write your poem before you take it to stage – when asked about how to come up with good poetry
- I am a poet before anything else – when asked about his full time writing.
- When you create something you change the world
It was an amazing culture and artistic export for the young Ugandan poets, fans of poetry, story telling and spoken word. Lemn Sissay felt so at home, mixing and mingling and appreciating the sub-culture at Makerere. Besides his fitting pants, V-neck Tee and blazer that made him look youthful and energetic a performer, he performed with this mid 20’s vigor and brilliance. Given the crowd reaction he certainly inspired and wowed many.
He shut it down with eloquent owning of his various persona and the moment, with directive wit in the way he presented last night. According to the British council representative they aim to have such exports.
Quick Info About Lemn Sissay:
He is a celebrated Ethiopian-British performance poet, and Chancellor of the University of Manchester, Sissay released his first book of poetry in 1988 at the age of 21, and since the age of 24 he has been a full-time writer, performing internationally. More at Lemn Sissay
He will be performing and having discussions at the closing night of the International Writers Conference at Kati Kati tonight.