Badilisha Poetry X-Change is both an online audio archive and Pan-African poetry show delivered in radio format. Now the largest online collective of African poets on the planet, Badilisha has showcased and archived over 350 Pan-African poets from 24 different countries. It reflects the myriad of rhythms and rhymes, voices, perspectives and aspirations from all corners of the globe.
Africans have limited access to the vast poetic work of both historical and contemporary African poets. There has never been an archive of these poets’ work that is both expansive and easily accessible. It means that many Africans are not inspired and influenced by their own writers and poets and this negatively impacts their personal growth, identity, development and sense of place.
In comparison to their counterparts on other continents, African poets receive little exposure for their work and few viable career opportunities. Both factors are imperative to their development as artists. For instance, of all the published books in the world, the works of African authors comprise only two percent. This imbalance exists for a myriad of reasons, but can to a large extent be attributed to the reality that both within Africa and beyond, reading and listening to African voices is not prioritised.
Badilisha was initiated in 2008 as an annual, large-scale international poetry festival. It produced festivals for three years, as well as a series of related poetry interventions in the form of seminars, workshops and training programmes. The project as of 2012 evolved into an audio archive and radio show, aiming to address two key issues: the absence of any readily accessible archive of Pan-African poets and the need for a new stage in which Pan-African poetry could reach a global audience.
Badilisha Poetry X-Change has archived over 350 African poets from 24 different countries from both the continent and the global African Diaspora. Each week, two new poets are featured on the website and via podcasts. These poets represent a broad range of voices, genres and language, thereby reflecting contemporary trends and evolutions in the medium along with some of the historic giants of African poetry.
Badilisha’s extensive network of Pan-African poets and poetry organisations enables to create much-needed exposure and viable opportunities for Africa’s poets.
Badilisha Poetry is a project of the Africa Centre. The Africa Centre is a physical entity as well as an ongoing philosophical journey that explores how Pan-African cultural practice can be a catalyst for social change. The Africa Centre was established in 2005 as an international centre for creativity, artistic excellence and intellectual engagement. Based in Cape Town, South Africa, the Africa Centre’s social innovations extend across the African continent.