On February 16th, the eight strongest slam poets from across the continent will congregate in Addis Ababa to compete for the continental trophy. They emerged as the finalists after winning against 25 other poets in the early stages of the competition Africa Cup of Slam Poetry. They will meet in Addis Ababa together with other artists from several countries, for the competition as well as to exchange, learn from each other, and work to promote the art of slam poetry across Africa.
“We are excited to finally hold the last stage of the competition and be able to select the Africa Slam Poetry Champion 2022! The competition was hard in the group stages and round of 16. The eight finalists are very talented slam poets both in the content of their texts and their performance, so we are expecting a tough competition in Addis, but one that promises great entertainment!” says Baana Enono, AKA Faithfull, Secretary General of CASP, Coupe d’Afrique de Slam Poésie.
The eight finalist countries are Algeria, Botswana, Cameroon, Chad, Guinea, Madagascar, Mauritius, and Togo.
Urban culture for youth expression
Slam poetry is an art form that is gaining popularity among youth, especially in urban communities across the world. It is a tool that can be used to educate young people, but above all it’s a tool for young people to develop both their thinking and expression. Slam poetry is the artform where poetry is read aloud, or performed, in front of live audiences. It is often done as competitions where judges evaluate the artists based on their texts and performances.
Slam poetry is characterised by social engagement and community involvement. Teaching young people to slam stems from the desire to bring them into a movement and give them tools to express themselves and develop an identity.
Africa Cup of Slam Poetry was initiated to build this movement and create a panafricain community of slam poets. Each member country hosts their national competitions where they select the candidate to represent their country in the African Cup.
The first edition of the competition was held in N’Djamena, Chad, in 2018. Candidates from 20 countries came to compete, Al Faruq from Senegal emerged as the first Africa Champion of Slam Poetry. South Africa came in second place and Gabon in third. In addition to the cup, there were workshops, debates, panel discussions, and concerts with over 4,000 participants and audience members.
CASP in Ethiopia
The second edition of the Africa Cup of Slam Poetry is being held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. It is organised by the team behind Poetic Saturdays, a monthly slam poetry event in Addis as well as other cities.
“We are excited to bring the Africa Cup of Slam Poetry to Ethiopia. The slam community has grown significantly over the last few years, both in Addis and now across the country. We are proud to showcase both our rich culture and technical advancements to the continent. During the first edition of CASP in Chad, we made great connections with our peers from other countries. We learned so much and left with new energy and excitement both for slam poetry and for the panafrican movement. After that, we knew we wanted to host CASP in Addis, and bring this energy to our own community,” says Biniam Getaneh Kifle, CASP Ambassador for Ethiopia.
The Africa Cup of Slam Poetry is organised as a collaboration between the central association and the national ambassadors in each member country. The members can apply to host the next edition in their country. Ethiopia was selected as the host country for the second edition both because of the passion and commitment from the ambassador and Poetic Saturdays and because of the many benefits the location provides. With the headquarters of the African Union and the significant network of Ethiopian Airlines, Addis Ababa is a natural hub for a panafricain movement like CASP.
Covid took it digital
The second edition was meant to take place in Addis Ababa in November 2020, but of course the pandemic changed the plans. At first, the competition was simply postponed, but once it became clear that the pandemic would take time, Poetic Saturdays proposed to collaborate with the tech innovation community in Addis and host the competition virtually.
The first stages of the competition were held virtually in July 2021. Candidates from 33 countries competed in the group stages, held over 4 days. The winners move on to the Round of 16, also held virtually. After the virtual stage, there were eight finalists selected who moved on to the quarter finals to be held in person in Addis.
The negative of the pandemic was turned into an opportunity when the festival was held virtually. During the initial stages, the competition had participants, including jury members and guest artists, from over 40 countries. The pandemic accelerated the use of digital tools across the continent and the world, tools that continue to be used to promote slam poetry and the panafrican movement.
The event in Addis Ababa
The Cup itself will take place as a four day festival February 16 to 19 with events and activities on each day, culminating in the main event with the finals on the 19th.
Wednesday 16th: Opening Ceremony; Poetry workshops. Venue: Creative Hub
Thursday 17th: Press conference; Poetry workshops. Venue: Creative Hub
Friday 18th: Poetry evening: performances by guest artists and CASP ambassadors from all finalist countries, poetry fireplace, fashion show. Venue: TBD
February 19th: CUP Finals, music performances form across Ethiopia, Ethiopian dance. Venue: Entoto Park
The events will be live streamed on the Facebook page Coupe d’Afrique de Slam Poésie, CASP.
CASP as organisation
Coupe d’Afrique de Slam Poésie, CASP, is an association with headquarters in Yaounde, Cameroon, where it was founded in 2016. It functions as the network organization supporting and organizing slam communities across the continent. The main activity is the Africa Cup of Slam Poetry, a continental competition that takes place every two years.
Its mission is to make culture a development tool to promote the next generation. To this goal, they organise cultural activities that allow young people to become full citizens through the development of cultural skills. This is done through trainings, competitions and festivals.
CASP is a “Panafricanist” event that brings together artistic talent from Africa and globally. CASP creates synergy, unification in the artistic scene and hence works on a united Africa. Slam Poetry, the celebration of words, has become an important cultural expression in many African countries over the past decade. CASP promotes Slam Poetry as a uniting force.
Poetic Saturdays, host of the event in Ethiopia
Poetic Saturdays is a monthly creative platform that has been in operation for almost 3 years. It is a tight-knit group that was able to operate in two different cities in Ethiopia.
Along with the monthly event, the team collaborates with many international organizations such as UN Women, US Embassy, Earuyan Feminist Solutions, Goethe Institute and many more.
Poetic Saturdays S / C Alela events and multimedia)
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