Clicking On Countries

Posted on 30/10/2014
By Commonwealth Foundation

Badilisha, Blog
The Badilisha Poetry X-Change map

I’m in Canada listening to Jamaican dub poet D’bi Young singing, “living inna time/where di blood is marketable”; now I’m in Kenya listening – “in the city blood spews as rocks fly/ to kill kinship” – these are words by Ngwatilo Mawiyoo; and I rest for a while in Uganda with Jessica Horn, “howling belly full of gunfire/ rumbling like raging sky”. Spending time as I did today on The Badilisha Poetry X-Change left me in an dislocated daze.
Badilisha describes itself as ‘an online audio archive and Pan-African poetry show delivered in radio format’, but the site offers much more than a collection of podcasts. If after listening to one of the featured poems you feel ‘pride’, ‘sorrow’, or ‘fear’, you can record that by selecting from, and then clicking on, a range of emotions. While listening to ‘Life’, a poem by South African based poet Marina Kabwe, I see two people felt ‘reflective’ while another was left ‘captivated’. What I feel about this kind of emotional cataloguing is not for public consumption, and neither is it on the list. Better is the ‘enlarge poems’ feature – it zooms you into the writing, which is handy when wanting to block out the clutter of emails and social media requests.
Badilisha says that it is now the largest online collective of African poets on the planet’ showcasing over ‘350 Pan-African poets from 24 different countries’, and eleven different languages are represented here. In fact, I’m listening to a poem in IsiZulu as I write.
Could this website encourage a global conversation between African poets in the diaspora and those living in Africa itself, or is this collection of poems a sprawling hyperlinked epic? Whatever the answer, I lean back, listen to another poem and click ‘Jubilation’ as I close down my browser.
SW, Commonwealth Writers

Go Back To The Blog