When Deft Poetry Festival was launched a year ago, not many were sure of what was to come. Years after local poetry festivals attracted multitudes, it was time to try bring attempt poetry lovers and poets together to celebrate the art.
The inaugural edition registered relative success with some big names in the industry appearing on the big stage at Amaryllis Hotel in Blantyre.
Come July 31, poets and poetry lovers were back at the venue. This time around, the event, was properly organised.
At exactly 14:43 hours, director of events Nicole Kamwendo welcomed patrons and set the ball rolling.
The big hall was filled to capacity with other patrons standing at the back as every seat was occupied.
This was a statement that poetry is loved in Malawi.
Mfumu Chiswe set the tone for the event with his poem in vernacular titled Chipwete. He kept patrons on their toes with the flowery use of language while at the same time dropping pieces of advice in between.
After Chiswe, Eneya Kachigamba also recited in the vernacular. Then Eric The Poet took to the stage supported by musician McLuther, who has been just returned from the United Arab Emirates. While McLuther played the guitar, Eric recited stanza after stanza in English.
Then patrons got a taste of poetry from the fairer sex. Elvina Kaufulu opened the door for women with her poem titled Woman. In her poem, she talks about how prejudiced a woman is and how unrealistic expectations are from a woman. Her recital attracted applause from the patrons.
After a few other performers, Shadreck Moffat and Omega the Poet also recited their pieces in quick succession. Both were impressive proving that the poets on the performance list had done their homework.
But when poet Raphael Sitima entered the hall carrying a luggage bag, the mood in the hall changed. Patrons felt he was in for some comic poetry and they were right. Sitima quickly took off the black suit he was wearing and was in rugs as he recited poems on poverty.
Then he did his all-time hit poem titled Chala Changa in which a voter laments wasting time to vote.
Patrons were in stitches throughout his set as he mixed poetry with some comic elements.
Then patrons were treated to music performances by Praise Umali. The talented singer proved that experience is a good teacher as he strummed his guitar while belting out his melodious tunes. Another artist who entertained guests was Winnie who did various covers of famous artists.
The veterans of poetry refused to be outdone as they too took to the stage to partake in the feast. Robert Chiwamba, Q Malewezi, Phindu Zaie Banda, Yona Mlakatuli, Taddja Nkhonjera, Patwell Phiri and Sylvester Kalizang’oma all proved why they are a household name.
Towards the end of the day, when host Nicole Kamwendo announced that the event was coming to an end, patrons protested. As they left the venue, it was obvious they had gotten more than they deserved.
In random interviews, patrons expressed satisfaction with the quality of poems recited at the festival.
“It is clear that these poets took their time to come up with good poems. The blend of vernacular and English poems was on point. This festival is for everyone,” said Christabel Phiri, a patron.
Other guests at the event included Mikozi Network chief executive officer Blight ‘Ekcess’ Chiligo, Caleb Thole and Entertainers Promotions director Tonderai Banda, among others.
The event was sponsored by Centre for Sports, Culture and Arts, Amaryllis Hotel, Inspire Marketing Group, Ride Malawi Cars, Nyasa Proterties and Real Estate, Kwaharaba Arts Café, Beata Events, P-Edge, The Citizen Talkshow and Hookline.