Poetry News

Badilisha Poetry Radio puts African poets' voices online

By Harriet Staff

On her blog Thoughts from Botswana, Lauri Kubuitsile directs readers to Badilisha Poetry Radio based out of The Africa Centre in Cape Town, South Africa. In a weekly podcast, Badilisha Poetry Radio plays recordings of poets spread out across the continent of Africa, as well as from Africans living around the world. Besides seeking out poetry through its curators and presenters, Badilisha also welcomes poets to upload audio recordings for submission and presents a series of live events in Cape Town that also make their way onto the podcast. The goal of The Africa Centre and Badilisha Poetry Radio is to make African culture available within the continent so that citizens can access more than just what's available within their own country or imported from the global north. As Kubuitsile puts it:

I've been thinking a lot about this very thing lately. After my recent interview about the books I read last year, I realised I've hardly read any books from other African countries except for South Africa. It is easier for me to buy a book from America or the UK than is is for me to buy a book from another African country. The books are just not available. There is something wrong with that. It appears this is the same for many areas of the arts.

The limitations on African poets are bidirectional; not only is there little access to material from other African countries, their work is vetted to a global audience through outside systems, keeping a very tight, closed loop on the definition of African literature and the new work its influence produces. According to the The Africa Centre, "New voices in Pan-African poetry have historically gained their global exposure and documentation through foreign publications and academic research. These narrow channels have limited the plethora of African writers, poets, and academics from being read and heard throughout the world." To help you catch up on all of the Pan-African poetry you've been missing, the site also features and impressive database of poets' recordings here.

Originally Published: February 7th, 2011