Word Exhibition, 1998 - 2022

Imbizo Arts,

Live Performance

An archival trove of stories about black township life in the '90s, ranging from benignly sad to violent and sometimes humorous, will be on display. The exhibition features beautifully designed posters mounted on wall-to-wall, hand-crafted wooden boards. The project is the brainchild of Mxolisi Nyezwa, a writer and poet in New Brighton township who asserts that the work of archiving the traumatic period of the birth of democracy in South Africa through poems and short stories written by school-going children and out-of-school youths in Gqeberha, in the mid-'80s and early '90s, is a crucial segment of post-apartheid history.

"In the '90s, there was no social media or a Facebook community to belong to. Young people, often growing up on their own, mostly depended on street art, graphic installations, and linocut depictions of state brutality. They used pen and paper to compose poems and plays to make sense of living under a repressive state. Many times, they searched for and found creative ways to perform their stories in public halls, sometimes in shebeens without any state funding".

Nyezwa further elaborates that "Those harrowing experiences of a fledgling democracy, although extremely painful at times, must provide us with direction to liberate young people today from our country’s dark history. The ceremony of Imbeleko must be done immediately to cleanse South Africa and stop the flowing of blood in the streets and the witchcraft."

In collaboration with the Imbizo Arts Center, three creative writing sessions will be conducted to nurture a passion for reading and writing among school learners. Established in 1998, Imbizo Arts is a writing project initiated by a local collective of writers and artists. It aims to offer professional opportunities for poets, writers, and artists, fostering a public understanding of contemporary arts and literature while providing arts education to local youth.

Join three writing sessions with Imbizo Arts Center, inspired by the powerful narratives in the original Word Exhibition 1998 - 2002, creating a dynamic interplay between literary exploration and visual storytelling of '90s township life. Book yout ticket here: https://tickets.mbaf.co.za/event/9/word-exhibition-1998-2022


National Arts Council

Masibhale Writers

About the Artists

Mxolisi Nyezwa, born in 1967 in Bhilawa (New Brighton), is an accomplished author with three poetry books in English: "Song Trials" (2000), "New Country" (2008), and "Malikhanye" (2011). Additionally, he has published a collection of isiXhosa poems titled "Ndiyoyika" (2016). His poetry has been featured in numerous anthologies in South Africa and internationally.

In 1997, Nyezwa established the multilingual cultural journal Kotaz, a venture he continues to edit. Furthermore, he serves as a publisher of Xhosa books under the Imbizo Arts imprint. Beyond his literary pursuits, Nyezwa manages a small business and an urban chicken farm located in Motherwell, just outside of Gqeberha.

  • Target Age Group
  • Age Classification
    All audiences
  • Reason for Classification

  • February 16, 2024
    14:00 - 15:30
    Mendi Arts Centre
  • Name
    Mendi Arts Centre
  • Location
    Mendi Arts Centre, New Brighton, Gqeberha
  • Directions
    The Mendi Centre has secure parking , through the entrance on Mendi Road.
  • Map Link
  • Accessibility Info
    Mendi is fully accessible to wheelchair users as there are no steps on the performance and exhibition levels.
  • Wheelchair Directions
  • Primary Language
    isiXhosa, English
  • Accessibility Information
  • Event Format
    Live Performance