Opening of Izimbongi Poetry Festival

The festival opening kicks off with Professor Keorapetse Kgositsile’s citation by Phillippa Yaa De Villiers, followed by the UJ Arts Academy poetry students’ production Behind these Eyes. Professional poets Sabelo Soko, Vangile Gantsho, Siphokazi Jonas and Mandi Vundla wrap up the evening.


Sabelo Soko

Sabelo Soko is a writer (isiZulu and English), performer and creative entrepreneur from eMkhondo, in Mpumalanga. His work has been published by Geko Publishing, Times Media as well as Panorama Publishers. In 2017 Soko released a poetry studio album titled Umkhondo, under the multimedia company, SabzHero Creations. Umkhondo follows his 2014 debut spoken word project, an EP titled 2380. He has collaborated with Kiri Pink Knob Arts, as both writer and performer, on stage productions such as Poetry Overload Vs Sketching Hard. He has also written and appeared on numerous low budget films on the Lokshin Bioskop circuit. Soko structured and facilitated the Hip Hop Meets Literature workshop for the Jozi Book Fair 2013 and 2014. He currently facilitates poetry workshops countrywide. He is the founding member of WordUP, a live performance platform with a diligent focus on poetry and organic music; he is the founder of Mpumalanga Made Me, a lifestyle brand in the province; as well as the co founder of the Mpumalanga Poetry Slam League. Sabelo Soko is passionate about the art of telling stories and even more so with the skill of owning those stories.

Vangile Gantsho 

Vangile Gantsho is a poet, healer and co-founder of impepho press . Unapologetically womxnist, she has travelled the continent and the globe, participating in poetry plays, events and festivals. gantsho is the author of two poetry collections: Undressing in front of the window (2015) and red cotton (2018). She holds an MA, with distinction, from the University Currently known as Rhodes (2016) and was recently named one of Mail & Guardian’s Top Young 200 South Africans of 2018.

Siphokazi Jonas

Siphokazi Jonas holds a Masters degree in English Literature as well as an undergraduate degree in Drama and English. As writer and performer, she has produced four one-woman poetry shows in Cape Town and Johannesburg. Jonas has been a featured act at numerous poetry sessions and festivals around the country. Her experience with spoken word and performance has led to multiple invitations to judge poetry slam competitions in Cape Town and Johannesburg. She has also performed alongside renowned musicians including, Sipho “Hotstix” Mabuse, Freshlyground, Pops Mohamed, Dizu Plaatjies, Dave Reynolds. Jonas made history in 2016 as the first African poet ever to perform at Rhetoric in Los Angeles, California, the biggest Christian spoken word event in the world. In 2016, she was the runner up for the Sol Plaatje European Union Award. Until recently, she was a Teaching Assistant at UCT and she lectured part-time on South African literature and oral poetry. She runs writing and performance workshops for children and adults as part of her Page to Podium series. Siphokazi also guest teaches spoken word and performance at an elementary school in Gainesville, Florida.

Mandi Vundla

Mandi Vundla is a Soweto born writer with a blood line that runs through KZN. The Co-editor of ‘Home Is Where The Mic Is’: an international poetry anthology of performance poets reshaping the face of poetry post 1994. The undefeated two time Word N Sound poetry slam champ has been working actively in the Poetry Scene for last seven years