The Event for dance4life was on Saturday, March 30th! The four steps of the dance4life program were incorporated into The Event: Inspire, educate, activate, and celebrate. All youth who have been a part of the dance4life program were invited to attend which means there will be up to 1,300 students present! We worked tirelessly to make sure The Event was not only educational and engaging, but also a true celebration for the achievements of the youth in the program.
When I first came to Botswana in 2008, I felt like poetry was everywhere. You just had to reach up and pick it out of the sky to hear it. Now, after immersing myself even more into the hip-hop and poetry scenes, I see that yes, it is everywhere, but even if you don’t look for it, it will find you, hit you like a sandstorm and knock you flat.
Let me say it again. Poetry in Gaborone is everywhere. It’s in the late night cipher sessions around braai stands loaded with meat, the hip-hop stations on the radio, the open mics that seem to happen every night somewhere in the city.
While I realize focusing on poetry is somewhat a departure from the hip-hop that is my focus here, it is not such a stretch. The two creative worlds are always intermingled, but even more so in Botswana. Here, many poets are also emcees and vice versa. At poetry nights there will be at least one or two performers who will ask the DJ for a beat and spit verses in Setswana and English. Poets judge rap battles and emcees host poetry shows.
In exploring the world of poetry here and its relationship to hip-hop and society at large, I decided to focus on three poets that I have interacted with extensively. All three recently served as teachers for a series of creative arts workshops for youth in the low-income neighborhood of Old Naledi for a project I have been part of starting called Arts for Change (videos and blogposts on that initiative coming soon). Enjoy what they have to say in the video below and read on for more information on them and full performances of their poems.
If the fashion centers of the world had a baby sister, Prishtina might be it. Fashion is expression, a form of art, and people here love to play with style. Edona Reshitaj, an actress and musician, looks like she could be a duchess or a heroin from your favorite film noir – but the fact of the matter is she works hard, juggles multiple obligations and talents in order to maintain a steady life that allows her to be creative and incorporate her passions as part of her career. Edona and I were introduced to one another by Albulena Jashari from my last post. Communities here are pretty tight nit, which I love, and Reshitaj often plays in collaboration with Jashari, a testament of how supportive Kosovoans are of one another’s artforms.
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Now that we’re about half-way through, I thought we would rewind the past five months and also take a look at some plans for the future. It’s a pretty good time to do this, incidentally, since it’s holiday season in just about every part of the world. Last week, Hindus celebrated one of their most cherished festivals Holi. Like many Hindu religious festivals, “playing Holi” is less of a formal display of faith and more of a street party commemorated through a bombastic display of powdered colors, water, the use of mind-altering substances (which happen to be legal on religious holidays such as this), and dancing. Though not directly related to the LGBTQ movement, the use of paints and colored powders in street-side festivities provides an apt visual for what the festival symbolizes, namely the breaking-down of social norms and acceptability, the celebration of life in various dimensions, and the arrival of spring. I avoided most of the chaos on the streets for fear of my camera getting irreparably damaged.
Take an auto rickshaw to Mumbai’s upper-west suburb Andheri. On Linking Road, just before reaching Infinity Mall, make a right on a “choti gali” and go to the building at the end of the street. On the top floor is Apicius, a chic, scenic venue where Mumbai’s premier, queer-oriented open-mic will be taking place. Meet the event’s anonymous organizers: Modern-day business managers by day, and LGBTQ activists by night, “Sherlock Homo” and “MJ” lead Mumbai’s effort in promoting free-speech and equality vis-a-vis their edgy, open forum-style website Gaysi: The Gay Desi. Today, they’re managing “Dirty Talk,” a live, open-mic featuring a diverse array of musicians, comedians, writers, and artists, with radio host sensation Rohini Ramnathan as the MC. As the name suggests, Dirty Talk has developed a reputation for crossing boundaries of all kinds:
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