Luleka Mhlanzi, one of our gold Grads recently took part in Poetry Africa, an international poetry festival held annually in Durban, South Africa.
The six-day programme featured interactions and engagements with the 16 poets through performances, readings and book launches with a number of poets featured each evening. In celebrating diversity, the festival included local South African and international poets from Egypt, the USA, Spain, Ukraine, Mauritius and Nigeria,” said curator, Siphindile Hlongwa. “This year we continue to celebrate women poets and cast our focus towards fiery female poetic voices that use their art to mitigate the gender-based abuse and violence that continues to plague the country.’’
Luleka is a performing poet, actress, creative writer and a youth activist who is currently based in Pietermaritzburg. She finds freedom in being unapologetic with her poetry, which is inspired by societal stereotypes, patriarchy, feminism, beauty standards, women enlightenment and life in general. The concept she is currently focusing on is “beauty revised” – challenging the dominant cultural expectations of what beauty is and taking a deeper, more realistic look. She says she is finding that she is creating a safe space for stories to be told, and is seeing women come forward to share.
She has travelled across South Africa to perform for audiences in Kwa-Zulu Natal, Eastern Cape, North West and Gauteng. She envisions her wings spreading further after finding that not only is she addressing underlying issues and finding healing for herself she is also healing, moving and inspiring others.
Luleka was a gold Peer Educator from 2008-2010 at KwaPata Secondary School in Pietermaritzburg, and went on to become a Lead Peer Educator for a year after finishing school in 2011. She relates how the gold Programme created an awareness for her around several issues; to be brave in being real and not shying away from life. Luleka feels that through these years she learnt how to recognize what was going on around her: “If there’s an injustice, I feel like I need to stand up and fight for it, even if it’s not mine.” She speaks about how developing through the programme allowed her to be comfortable with different cultures, and she found herself able to listen to all sides of a story.
We are so proud of Luleka, and how she’s carried the gold DNA into all areas of her life! We wish her all the best with her future…
Watch one of her performances here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kyxPvEmIr0Q