4 Min Read

BYO Percussion: An Evening of African Poetry and Storytelling

Before I write this review, it feels strange to be a white person telling you about an Evening of African Poetry and Storytelling. Do we really need another white perspective in this world drenched in colonisation? We don’t, but I was given complimentary tickets to write about this show, so I need to write about it. I’ll try my best to elevate their voice and encourage you to attend. This show reinforced my sense of my voice as not a critic but as someone who attempts to entice people to experience shows; to dare you to attend.

As you walk into the theatre, you’re immediately immersed. A blue light cast over five poets and a three-piece band gives lounge room vibes, as if you’ve been invited into their home.

An Evening of African Poetry and Story Telling. Photography by Apurva Gupta.

The show opens with an affirmation for the audience to immediately engage and be open to what’s to come. It gently sets the precedent. MC Kuda Ndlovu kicks off the evening with one of his many talents you’ll witness throughout the night. He excellently undertakes his MC duties by providing the background. All of the speakers have a shared experience as an outsider, drawing on their life experiences to explore themes of home and belonging. It doesn’t matter if you can’t relate to their life narrative, you’re welcomed to resonate with any of the words in any way regardless. You are not a viewer; you are a part of it. The evening flows like a gathering of friends, of which you are one.

Over the course of the show five people share their stories with us in a raw and courageous display of vulnerability. The least I could do was be as open in my reception of it as they were in their writing. 

Kuda begins with a piece about notions of home. His spoken word delivery flows beautifully. There are moments you can feel him resisting the urge to surrender into the flow of a rap; another one of his talents you will later be exposed to. Ayuba Musah (a.k.a Ayuba SOQS), the nominated Minister for Vibes makes me wish such an office existed as the promises of good vibes only are met. (no shade Albo, thx for the arts funding xoxo).

Lisa Watson delivered a line in her piece that reminded me why I wanted to come to this show in the first place. (I was intending to purchase a ticket before I was invited to write about it.) She said something about a piece of your heart all over home which made me think of something someone said to me when I went to Africa for the first time (Zambia, specifically). When you leave Africa, you leave a piece of your heart there. I resonated with Lisa’s notions of home in people rather than places. At another point in her story, she mentions not being indigenous to this country, eliciting thoughts of the Aboriginal diaspora within the country we call “Australia.” I’ve never before held thoughts simultaneously about colonisation in “Australia” and pan-Africanism.

An Evening of African Poetry and Story Telling. Photography by Apurva Gupta.

This show provides an important perspective from African immigrants that we aren’t exposed to enough here. If you decide to go, BYO percussion. Whether it’s your heartbeat or an external source. The immersion was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before. Your clicks, applause, cheers, and percussion are all a part of the show. I hope my review entices you to come to this show and be open. It inspired me to be raw and desperately encourage you to consume the fruits of their artistic labour of love. If you want to feel something, go to this show. Whatever that feeling is will be up to you.

An Evening of African Poetry and Storytelling is on now at The Blue Room Theatre until Feb 4.