Botswana.  Over the past two years professional poets have been visiting  young people in  Botswana, Mozambique, South Africa, United Kingdom, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Mauritious to encourage development of writing and stage skills. Theyhave created a momentum around  the spoken word . 

The Power In The Voice is a youth orientated festival of poetry and performance,  ameans of encouraging and supporting these new voices. The Power In The Voice festival  in Botswana is  where they come together. It’s The British Council’s most ambitious literature development programme in Southern Africa to date.  I am at The Gaberone Sun hotel in  the capital of Botswana  five thousand four hundredand eighty two miles from home.

The festival comprises of about four performance stages, ten workshop areas,  accommodation.   It’ s a hot house environment.  It is a festival of youth, of possibility, of change.  It all comes to a head on Saturday with a performance to a thousand people at the GICC centre. This is Africa and arts development work  at its best.  

So what the hell am I doing here?  I am here primarily to give a masterclass atGaberone University at the end of the week, and to MC various events in thedaytime of each day of the week.  In the evenings  I shall be reading on stagealongside the poets at the festival  venues.  

I’ve toured throughout Africa.  But who are the new generation of poets?  I am fascinated to see what the subject matters and styles will be.   As the tour bus scoops us up and rumbles from the airport we are given a taste of some of what is to come,  stand alone  billboards larger than the tour bus  line the roads  from the airport to the hotel,  proudly advertising the event The Power In The Voice. 

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