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Ghana's Mutombo The Poet presents Africa's spoken word to the world

Sat, 6 Oct 2012 Source: Ofori, Oral

Today my piece will be on Spoken Word; a form of poetry that often uses

alliterated prose or verse and occasionally uses metered verse to talk


about happenings in a society. This style of poetry is mainly in the first


person singular and generally from the poet’s point of view, it is mostly


themed on personal or current events. In entertainment, spoken word


performances generally consist of storytelling or poetry. Noted


practitioners of this art form are Hedwig Gorski, Gil Scott Heron, Spalding


Gray and well known Ghanaian born spoken poets like Kwame Dawes and Mutombo


The Poet on whom much will be revealed in this piece.








I have always been a lover of both the linguistics and written words so


when they are made much more finer and intricate to become poetry, I become


a complete sucker for that. It was therefore no surprise that I was slowly


but surely falling in love with this young Ghanaian stand up poet named


Mutombo The Poet. Early this year, I discovered two things: Mutombo and


this online radio solely dedicated to poetry called Badilisha Poetry Radio


that can be checked out here:


http://badilishapoetry.com/en/radio-african-poetry-readings/ Both


discoveries have not stopped intriguing me.








Watch 'Just another black boy'; a recital by Mutombo The Poet:


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mfw54cLJkfg








Mutombo The Poet will soon be featured on Badilisha Poetry Radio. There are


other Ghanaians whose work are featured on there from the likes of lesser


known poets like Tahiru Hamid Seinu, Crystal Tettey, Mr. Re, DK Osei-Yaw


and one of the more known and well recognized Ghanaian poets; Kwame Dawes

of whom I'll talk more about in later paragraphs. For now the spotlight


will be on Mutombo who begun his romance with poetry from his high school


days. As a student of Accra Academy, a senior high school for boys located


in Ghana's capital city, Mutombo majored in English Literature where he


noticed that he had a great way with words and discovered he could actually


write poetry in 2005. This discovery encouraged him to start going on road


shows in 2006.








Before winning his first ever award at the 1st Ehalakasa Poetry slam in


2010 at the Alliance Francaise in Ghana which further catapulted him into


the limelight, Mutombo worked on his current job as a Microsoft Certified


Systems Engineer. Whiles doing that he was mainly writing for himself on


varied issues; he drew inspiration from sources ranging from politics,


social, spiritual and personal life experiences. When asked who or what


has been his greatest motivation and inspiration in the world of African


and world poetry, he responded 'I wont really affirm that a particular


person inspired me, when I discovered this beautiful art form, I was


listening to poets like Saul Williams, Taalam Acey, Gil Scott and Maya


Angelou. I enjoy reading, listening and watching them perform. I would say


my greatest inspiration has been the people I encounter in everyday life'.








In 2006 Mutombo started doing public performances and appearing on


acknowledged shows and stages for the very first time in Ghana, he was


however not the first spoken poet in Ghana at the time because it was


during that period that he first came across a poet named Sir Black who had


been performing before Mutombo became a household name. Poetry has been a


part of the Ghanaian Culture for centuries but today, other musical genres

like Highlife and Hiplife has made it less popular. Within Hiplife and


Highlife are some artistes who dabble in poetry occasionally, especially in


local Ghanaian dialects. Mutombo himself plans on doing poems in his local


Ghanaian dialect of Twi very soon to rope in his non-English speaking


Ghanaian fans: he says 'I have a couple of poems in Twi but I'm yet to


performed them'.








Up until recently in Ghana, there were no poetry pubs, clubs or venues,


thanks to efforts by Mutombo, Sir Black and other poetry lovers in Ghana,


all this is gradually changing even though these places only exist in


smaller numbers. This is an example of the difficulties faced by people


plying this particular trade in the entertainment industry in Ghana.


Mutombo believes the government is not giving the necessary attention to


spoken word poetry because they fail to see the value and importance it


holds especially in preserving the history of linguistics in Ghana. 'It is


sad to see that a lot more spoken languages in the country are either not


taught in schools or spoken by their original owners today' he laments.








Hearing Mutombo speak with such passion about African and Ghanaian poetry


brings to my mind one of the most prolific spoken poets of Ghanaian


origins; Kwame Dawes (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kwame_Dawes) who is also


an Emmy Award winning writer. Kwame Dawes was born in 1962 and spent most


of his formative years in Jamaica. He is a writer of poetry, fiction,


nonfiction, and plays. His book titled Bob Marley: Lyrical Genius, remains


the most authoritative study of the lyrics of Bob Marley till today. Dawes


has published fifteen collections of poetry. His most recent titles include


Back of Mount Peace (2009) and Hope's Hospice which you can hear him recite

here: http://badilishapoetry.com/radio/kwamedawes/ In 2009, Dawes won an


Emmy Award in the category of New Approaches to News & Documentary


Programming: Arts, Lifestyle & Culture for his project on HIV/AIDS in


Jamaica.








I'm sure Kwame Dawes will be full of encouraging words for Mutombo's


fledgling career and I personally want to see Mutombo's work featured on


Badilisha Poetry Radio and indeed any medium that promotes the art of


spoken poetry in Africa and the entire globe. Mutombo The Poet says he


learns everyday, with every poem he writes and with every performance he


makes. Reminiscing on how far he's come, Mutombo believes without tooting


his horn that he has made some head-way by making lots of people in Ghana


fall in love with spoken word poetry and that is already heart-warming. The


poet is presently looking forward to performing in other countries and


ultimately touring the globe. He says this after having gotten over one of


the most impressionable memory on his career. This unforgettable moment


happened when he first performed live on national television on TV3 in


Ghana--'I remember the tension and fright that went through me right before


my appearance. That moment will always live with me, always' Mutombo


recounts.








There are a lot of other young and upcoming poets in Ghana and across


Africa today who are aspiring to achieve or are already replicating what


Mutombo The Poet does which gives him hope: 'I have come across so many


poets who are doing so well, but like I always say, there is always room


for improvement and though they say think out of the box, I prefer to


contradict that impression by saying do not even be in the box at all.

Everything that you write should be an improvement on your previous work'


he encourages.








The artiste who records under the label of Pidgen Music in Ghana gave


thanks to local artists who have helped shape his career, some of whom are


Wanlov The Kubolor, Mensa, King Ayisoba, Yaa Pono, Lady Jay, Kwam1 and


Kweku Ananse all of whom he thanked for making his first ever album;


'Photosentences' (the Photosentences album can be sampled and purchased


online here mutombodapoet.bandcamp.com) come to life. Photosentences is


enjoying a lot of support and air play in Ghana right now with Mutombo


presently working on his second album which would be out by the middle of


2013. He plans publishing a book of poetry in the very near future as well.



































Oral Ofori, +1202-706-9881, oralofori@gmail.com, Freelance Writer (


www.oralofori.blogspot.com), Wikimedia Ghana Enthusiast, Broadcaster,


Retail Specialist, Music Promoter, Artiste. http://about.me/oralofori/

Columnist: Ofori, Oral