Poetavango Spoken Word Poetry was founded by Legodile ‘Dredd X’ Seganabeng in March 2008. Until 2010 Botswana’s Gaborone based Exoduslivepoetry! collective hosted the country’s sole poetry festival The Infinite Word Festival, when Poetavango was formed in Maun a good 600 kilometres north west of the capital city they too initiated a poetry festival adding to Botswana’s rather sparse arts calendar. One infers that since Maun is the gateway to the Okavango Delta the name Poetavango must stem from some word amalgamation of Poet and Okavango.
Dredd X who says the formation of the collective “was motivated by various factors including the will to promote the art of spoken word and poetry” takes some time to answer a few of our questions.
TJ: You are based in Maun how has this affected your reception how has your community, individuals and businesses alike, supported this collective’s efforts
DX: It took us by surprise, honestly. The community has always supported us from the first day. Their support is growing by the day and Maun has undoubtedly turned into the ‘home of poetry’. As for business, Poetavango is slowly gaining recognition. The support is not as much as it is perhaps supposed to be but in due course, we believe we will get total support from businesses and companies.
TJ: You have for the past two years held an annual poetry festival please tell us about it
The Maun International Poetry Festival (MIPF) is one of our aims that we ultimately reached. In the couple of years that we had it, it has proven to be an event that poetry lovers across the country always look forward to. It is also a platform where local and international performers can interact and share skills and ideas. It is slowly growing into a globally recognized event.
TJ: You have stated that one of the biggest challenges you have as a collective is funding for your poetry festival I believe this led to the postponement of this year’s festival by a month or two. You were eventually successful in hosting the 2nd MIPF who did you bring out this year as participating poets
DX: Some of the performers were affected by the postponement of the festival from March to May. We had expected poets from USA, Jamaica, Burundi, DRC, South Africa, Swaziland, Botswana and Zimbabwe.
Poets who made it through include; Prince Shapiro and Masoja Msize (South Africa), Upmost and Aero5ol (Zimbabwe), Donna Smith (Jamaica) and from Botswana we had; Barolong Seboni, Ntirelang Berman, Berry Heart, Psycho Cydd, Priskath, Juby Peacock, Mandisa Mabuthoe, Ngwao Putswa, Moroka Moreri, Vygos, Tautona, Dredd X, Keabonye, The UB Writers’ Workshop and more.
TJ: What for you is the value of art in the society – why is it important, if it is, to have painters and poets, storytellers and opera singers etc?
DX: They are the eyes of the society. They are the landmarks of the past, present and future.
TJ: And what of our friend sin the media, has the media been supportive
DX: Very much so. Newspapers, Magazines, Radios and Television have always been on our side -ever since we began.
TJ: In your opinion do Batswana artists/poets collaborate across the country
DX: There’s still a lot to be done here. Collaboration and working together is a vital thing for the development of the arts in our country. But there isn’t much of the collaboration happening. That is why Poetavango has come up with an initiative like the Festival where poets and performers from other collectives are invited.
TJ: When I was over for the MIPF 2011 I adjudicated a poetry competition for teenage girls, could you tell us what the idea behind that initiative was/is
DX: Neglecting school learners is tantamount to destroying the future of poetry. There is no way poetry can grow if we don’t encourage young and upcoming poets from school level. The Poetavango Interschool Poetry Slam is intended to promote poetry and the art of writing in schools, develop and nurture youngsters who will, tomorrow, be the future writers and performers.
Legodile ‘Dredd X’ Seganabeng is a recorded poet, published writer, guitarist and fine artist. He graduated with a Bachelor of Technology in Fine Art from the University of Johannesburg, South Africa and is currently a high school teacher of Art & Design. In 2010, he won the Bessie Head Literature award for the short story category and consequently the story (The Moon Has Eyes) was published. He has done a curtain raising performance for Jamaican heavy weight poet Mutabaruka in Newtown, Johannesburg in 2005 and also attended a workshop/symposium facilitated by British poet Linton Kwesi Johnson and American poet Jessica Care Moore. In 2008, he performed at the second instalment of the Jozi Spoken Word Fest in Johannesburg. He recently finished recording a 15 track poetry album titled 'Poetic Meditations' due for release by end of July 2012.