It was a day of action yesterday in Port Elizabeth as more than one hundred Nelson Mandela Bay artists and their supporters marched to the City Hall to submit their memorandum to the municipality.

These artists were chanting songs, beating drums, demanding that their artwork be recognized. This march follows the realization by the artists that the industry is suffering and it is sadly ignored by the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality. 

One of the organizers of the march, Mongezi Ncwadi, said that the march was the second step in airing the grievances long withheld by artists in the bay. He said that as artists they have been engaged in meetings with those in authoritative position within municipality, to address these issues but they feel that those meetings did not help hence they decided to march.

In addition to the lack of recognition by the NMB Municipality, Ncwadi made note that payment for the artists who performed at the Iphulo Performing Festival in March was delayed – another sign of the lack of respect from the organizers of the event – in addition to the Municipality.

Mzimkhulu Tom, a poet from New Brighton said that the only time the municipality knows they exist, is when there are Grahamstown poetry auditions. Even then, he said, “only a few people are selected”. He added that poetry should be considered and there should be more developmental structures for it like in other genres.

Mzikhulu said that he once spoke to one of the officials of the Grahamstown auditions asking him question about why the poets are remembered on during the these auditions, where are there no workshops and poetry festivals and is there no funding for poetry. He says that there only response he got was that the concerns would be forwarded to the manager and since then he did not hear anything from them instead them blocked him on WhatsApp.

The artists say they will not rest until their problems are solved and while they are still waiting, they will continue to do the beautiful work that they are doing. Ncwadi said, “While we are in the struggle, let us also make our work speak for us as well”.

Sphamandla Gwinta

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