Human Rights Day virtual spoken word performance

Arts & Culture at the University of Johannesburg and the Centre for the Creative Arts at the University of KwaZulu-Natal are gearing up for the presentation of a free virtual Human Rights Day spoken word performance.

Two power-house curators joined forces to curate a specially commissioned poetry programme to mark the close of the 25th edition of the Time of the Writer Festival. The performance also marks UNESCO’s World Poetry Day and is inspired by South Africa’s Human Rights Day.

Poetry Africa’s curator, Siphindile Hlongwa, and UJ Arts & Culture’s poetry facilitator, Quaz Roodt, prepared a programme featuring, amongst others, Tanya Evanson (Canada), Tereska Muishond (SA), Elisangela Rita (Angola), Sara Garib (Sweden), Kwame Write (Ghana), Jeffrey Hartzenberg (SA), Sollly Ramatswi (SA), Komi Olaf (Canada), and Belita Andrea (Namibia/Nigeria).

The programme forms part of a series of collaborations that started between the Centre for Creative Arts at the University of KwaZulu-Natal and the University of Johannesburg Arts & Culture in April 2021 when the two institutions presented the inaugural Jazz Freedom Day Festival.

“Our ongoing partnership with UJ Arts & Culture this time round enables us to draw on the talents of two of South Africa’s foremost poetry event curators to present a programme of celebrated spoken word poets from across the globe to mark International Poetry Day and South African Human Rights Day”, said Ismail Mahomed, the Director of the Centre for Creative Arts.

Mahomed added that the voices of Spoken Word poets provide a dynamic commentary on events of the day.

“It gives a voice to the oppressed and it has strong agency in movements such as #BlackLivesMatter, LGBTQI+, Gender and Decolonisation and other movements where there is a strong focus on growing a society with values based on social justice”, he added.

Siphindile Hlongwa says, “In trying to curate a programme I have drawn on poets whose voices are active in the social justice space. An important aspect is to network poets who share the same values on matters pertaining to human rights”.

Quaz Roodt says, “Through their innovative work as writers and performers, these nine featured poets have consistently showcased how art and the artist should respond to human rights. This lineup is a beautiful representation of contemporary voices from around the world. It has been an absolute pleasure to co-curate this inspiring programme with Siphindile Hlongwa and the CCA.”

Reflecting on the partnership, Head of UJ Arts & Culture, Pieter Jacobs notes that, “one of UJ Arts & Culture’s most popular student offerings is a year-long poetry programme and this partnership increases opportunities offered to students. Additionally, there is tremendous value in role players on the arts and culture landscape working together on increasing access to good quality art.”

The Time of the Writer festival is presented by the Centre for Creative Arts at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. The festival takes place from 14 – 21 March 2022 and the poetry session in partnership with UJ will stream live on Monday 21 March at 7 pm. The festival can be viewed on and