For three years, the Maun based poetry group Poetavango has run the Maun International Poetry and Literary Festival.

Last year it expanded from a weekend event to a weeklong event.

This year they are re-branding themselves at the Manu International Arts Festival.

The new festival is acknowledging that music and visual arts have always been a part of the Festival.

They are expanding to include more of the arts sectors including dance, comedy, and theatre, as well as others.

It runs from the 25th of October to the 1st of November in various venues around Maun.

There are plenty of events, and many of them are free, so there is no reason not to attend something during the week.

“We are writers and poets, performers and storytellers. This aspect of the arts comes first for us,” says Legodile Seganabeng, Chairperson of Poetavango Spoken Word Poetry.

“But we’ve realised that we can also provide support platforms for other forms of art too. And hence the decision to bring aboard the festival ship art forms like music, comedy, dance, and visual arts.”

This year the festival will feature performance poets from all around the country and international acts from Zimbabwe, United States of America, Canada, Lesotho, Malaysia, South Africa, Kenya, Tanzania and Belgium.

Some of the performers include, Poem The Ansa (Bots), TJ Dema (Bots),Ngwao Putswa (Bots), Quin Diva (Bots) Angelina Bong (Malysia), Juliet Kego Ume-Onyido (Nigeria),Croc E Moses (Canada), Protest Poet (Zimbabwe), as well as others.

Sponsors and partners are, amongst others, the Ministry of Youth, Sport, and Culture, Embassy of the United States of America, Botswana Tourism Organisation, Maun Lodge, Cresta Riley’s Hotel, Wired Productions, Grafi Xtreme, and Okavango Artists Association.

As the only literary arts festival in the country, I have been happy to support the festival every year.

Last year I ran a writing workshop, read at the library, and ran a session with primary kids- I had a great time.

I suspect this year will be no different.

Some of the events to look forward to include:

•    If you enjoy slam poetry and want to see the talent the youth of Maun have, you should make sure you get to Maun Life Centre from 8 am to 1 pm on Saturday 25th October for the finals of the Interschool Poetry Slam.

It is a free event.

•    On Sunday the 26th at the Nhabe Museum starting at 7:30 pm there will be the Cultural Night, a night of traditional music and Setswana praise poetry.

P20 will get you in.

•    On Monday the 27th of October, the Book Exhibit at the Nhabe Museum will have its opening.

It starts at 7 pm. Books from Batswana and Botswana resident writers will be on display and for sale.

The display and sale will continue through the 31st of October.

Immediately after the official opening on the 27th, there will be a book reading and storytelling event around the campfire where writers will share their work with the public.

Artwork will be on display and a jazz band will be playing.

The event is free and open to everyone.

•    On Tuesday the 28th starting from 5 pm at the Nhabe Museum, there will be a performance from the differently-abled community of artists in Maun.

It will include poetry, music dance and theatre. The event is free and open to the public.

•    On Wednesday the 29th, everything will be happening at Nando’s Parking lot when the Open Street Jam takes place.

Local and international poets will perform as well as the finalists in the Interschool Poetry Slam.

There is open mic for people who register. Everything starts at 6 pm and is free.

•    If you like comedy, then you better be at Cresta Riley’s Hotel at 6 pm on the 30th of October for The Comedy Experience. Entrance is P50.

•    On Friday the 31st, there will be the Poetry and Jazz Night at Cresta Riley’s Hotel. Entrance is P90.

•    The Poetry and Dinner Final Night is on Saturday 1st November starting from 6 pm. Entrance is P200.

Other events during the week include school talks, sessions at the public library, workshops, and motivational talks in the schools.

This year’s Festival looks to be the best so far- make sure you get there!

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