The Write & Sip Writer-2-Writer Poetry mentorship program of the Cameroon chapter of Writers Space Africa was held on Saturday, 9th July, at Quartier Mozart in Yaounde, Cameroon. This was held with sponsorship from the Arts Council of Wales through the Madarajra artist, Nnane Ntube. Write & Sip brought together ten Cameroon poets to explore languages and write about cultures.
Poetry is the most frequently used genre by emerging Cameroonian writers. Since 2016, WSA-Cameroon has observed the tendency of Cameroonians to use poetry to educate, inform, interrogate, and build connections. Poetry has therefore become one of the most readily utilized mediums of activism. The Write & Sip workshop explores this medium to create a cultural awareness in writing. The facilitators were Mpessé Géraldin, poet and short story writer and director of LEPAN AFRIKA Magazine, Free-T, who is a slam-poet, and winner of the 2018 National Slam-Poetry contest, and M.D. Mbutoh, poet, short story writer, and Founder of Access Point Africa.
Speaking on the art of writing poetry, Mpessé Géraldin said, “Le poème n’est pas une histoire mais le contour de l’histoire.” (Poetry is not storytelling but an outline of storytelling). In this light, he advised poets to use words in their context for relatability. On his part, M.D. Mbutoh submitted that “as writers, we are ambassadors of our cultures.” Free-T adds to this by saying, “our culture makes us unique; it is our selling point.”
The Write & Sip workshop incorporated major writing activities such as prompt writing with selected words and free writing activity on the theme “Memories from the Kitchen.” Poets were tasked with using their national and official languages to carve images of their kitchen experiences. It was a new beginning for some poets to integrate national languages, colors, and other cultural traits into poetry.
The Madaraja/Pont/Bridges project is conceived to connect artists, poets, and literary activists across Africa and Wales, thereby building bridges between them and reinforcing collaboration and networking. Write & Sip is part of a fascinating Madarajra/Pont/Bridges project, a Sub-Sahara Advisory Panel (SSAP) flagship that has found a home in the Cameroon chapter of Writers Space Africa. It is hosted by Nnane Ntube, coordinator of Writers Space Africa (Cameroon chapter).
WSA Cameroon is grateful to the Madaraja project and the Arts Council of Wales for the Write & Sip workshop, which will also be held in other cities such as Buea, Douala, Bamenda, and Dschang.