Juba, South Sudan,
June 16, 2021 – South Sudan has a pool of talents that have developed since the country attained independence in 2011. From entertainment to sports, these talents, commonly held by the youths, are largely unexploited – or even worse, underappreciated.
This has resulted in most youths giving up on pursuing doing what they are passionate about due to a lack of support, both financially and socially.
The government has mulled several so-called youths’ empowerment schemes but how such schemes empirically benefitted the youths in talents and entrepreneurial development is a discussion for another day.
However, not all youths surrendered their dreams amid the myriad of challenges they face; they refused to succumb to their circumstances and kept leaping through the dark tunnel where at the end, shines a bright light.
This week, Mandela Matur, also known as Ade (pictured), braces for an upcoming competition at a continental level. Matur is a poet and one of the poets who pioneered the Kahlimat Poetry Club in the capital Juba.
Prior to his nomination, he has authored four poetry collections, the best, according to Matur, is Stranded Lullabies, currently sold on Amazon at $12.42. The book discusses friendship, fear, the ever-tense political environment, retribution, loss, bitterness, and emotional decay.
The book scooped the NOMMO Literary Awards Poetry Book of the year in 2019, against poets from South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Malawi.
Now he is up for the 2nd Edition of the African Cup of Slam Poetry (ACSP) scheduled from July to November this year in Ethiopia where he will compete against 42 other African countries in a jaw-breaking race to bring the medal home.
Ade told Nyamiledpedia in an interview that the African Cup of Slam Poetry accepted him into the competition after seeing just one piece of his poetry work.
“Basically, ACSP reaches out to the top poets in their countries to represent the country in the competition and they reached out to me, send them my first piece and I was signed up,” he said.
“The first round begins on the 12th of July, which is a knockout round since there are about 43 African countries, and the ones who emerge from there are then heading to Addis for the second rounds,” he told Nyamilepedia.
Asked what it means to represent South Sudan at a continental competition, Ade said “It makes me happy that we are getting the recognition we need as a nation.”
To him, the nomination is also a message to the continent and the world that South Sudan has talented slam poets.
“It feels really great and gives me some sense of accomplishment because they didn’t think there were slam poets in South Sudan and yet here I am representing South Sudan in a continental competition, where each country has sent their top poet,” he said.
A call for support
Like in any competition where support is a necessity for confidence and victory, Ade appeals to South Sudanese citizens at home and in the diaspora to always back and appreciate local talents.
“I would love them to just recognize their own. There are very many young talented South Sudanese out there in different disciplines who are doing amazing work but we never think that our work is good enough!” Ade lamented.
“Appreciate your own talents, and all it takes is just by showing them we see you and we are right behind your back. That’s all I would ask [for],” urged the poet.
From authoring an award-winning poetry book, Ade described his journey as a rollercoaster and a journey of self-discovery.
“My poetry journey has been quite a rollercoaster, those who are in Juba witnessed my growth. I’m one of the first few poets who pioneered spoken word poetry in South Sudan through Kahlimat Poetry Club, and yes I have competed in poetry slams before moving to South Sudan but it wasn’t continental.
“Basically my journey has been that of self-discovery while familiarizing South Sudanese to the art of the spoken word. It’s fair to say, I am creating an army of spoken word artistes,” he said.
The African Cup of Slam Poetry was scheduled for November 2020 but had to be postponed to this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Other countries that will take part in the competition include South Africa, Algeria, Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Comoros, Congo, Ivory Coast, Egypt, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Equatorial Guinea, Kenya, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Morocco, Mauritius, Mauritania, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Uganda, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Sao Tomé and Principe, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Chad, Togo, Tunisia, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
Editorial note: This article was modified upon request by the source. We have made a few changes including the frequent use of Matur, instead of Ade. The event is also taking place from July to November as opposed to what was previously reported. Any inconvenience caused is sincerely regretted.