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African Poetry To The World

Namibia -based poet and presenter Ashwyn Mberi recently captivated audiences with his powerful performance at Gazza’s music symphony show led by conductor Alex Fokkens.

Having collaborated with renowned director John Manzelli in the past, Mberi was invited to participate in the event, delivering a thought-provoking protest poem that resonated with the Namibian artistic community.

As Mberi explained, the director contacted him with the idea of creating a piece of poetry that would shed light on the challenges faced by Namibian artists. Despite battling the flu, Mberi says he crafted the impactful poem ‘We Are Here’, which became the tagline of the event.

The poem served as a rallying cry, reminding both the Namibian government and the corporate world of the vital presence and contributions of local artists.

“I wrote the poem and it was inspired by my own creative experience and having been a part of many creative experiences in Namibia through ‘The Gathering’ and other shows,” he said. ‘The Gathering’ was a live performance show he curated at the former Warehouse Theatre in Windhoek.

‘We Are Here’ captures the resilience and significance of Namibian artists, intertwining their past achievements with present challenges and the hope for a brighter future. It emphasises that artists are not merely present for the audience’s entertainment, but rather they serve as a reflection of society. It highlights their role in delivering a message that goes beyond the stage and instruments, and weaves together references to influential Namibian artists, musicians, designers, poets, painters and film-makers who have left an indelible mark on the cultural landscape.

In its final lines, the poem emphasises the necessity for mutual elevation and the urgency to take action, reminding listeners that artists are here and should be acknowledged and supported.

While Mberi’s focus has been primarily on his own projects, he expressed his pride in witnessing the growing poetry scene in Namibia. Although he hasn’t been able to attend as many shows as he would like, Mberi commended the efforts of individuals like Franklin Muningirua, the host of the NBC poetry show ‘Frankly Speaking’, who have worked tirelessly to keep poetry alive in the country.

He emphasised his satisfaction in seeing many performers and organisers who were once mentored by him now making their mark in the industry.

Mberi’s dedication to nurturing talent has clearly paid off, as the seeds he planted have blossomed into a vibrant poetic community.

“I remember there was a time when it felt like most of the poetry shows were just stemming from my team, but it’s really good to see that we planted seeds, and those seeds are coming to fruition. I hope to be able to see a whole lot more of these shows.”

Currently, Mberi is working on recording his first poetry EP, set to be released in the last quarter of the year. The eagerly awaited collection promises to showcase Mberi’s poetic prowess and provide listeners with deeper insight into his creative world.

In addition to the EP, Mberi has been actively involved in producing videos and writing theatre plays. His diverse artistic endeavours continue to captivate audiences and demonstrate his versatility as a poet.
Beyond his poetic pursuits, Mberi also works hard in the world of television presenting. His engaging presence and captivating commentary have earned him a role as a commentator at Namibia Media Holdings’ NTV.

Alongside his television commitments, Mberi continues to mesmerise audiences with his performances, ranging from corporate events to supporting world-renowned artists like Burna Boy for the ‘Love, Damini’ tour to Namibia. Furthermore, his talent for poetic storytelling has found a new outlet through his contributions to Tambula, a website supporting local entrepreneurs, where he wrote poems specifically crafted for the launch of the various products.

Mberi’s remarkable performance at Gazza’s music symphony concert showcased his immense talent and ability to convey poignant messages through poetry.

With his upcoming poetry EP and ongoing projects, Mberi remains a prominent figure and multifaceted creative force in the Namibian artistic community.