Poetry is the oldest genre in Literature and Africa has its own fair share of highly successful and globally acclaimed poets. This post presents a List of Selected African Poets and their Works. We arrange the list according to the countries of the poets. However, the list is not exhaustive. There are many more African poets whose names are not here.
List of Selected African Poets and Their Works
Let us see the list of these African poets…
Assia Djebar was born in 1936, Algerian writer. She also worked in theatre, coproducing the play Rouge l’aube (Red Dawn, 1960), and wrote poetry, collected in Poemes pour l’Algerie heureuse (Poems for a Happy Algeria, 1969).
António Jacinto, full name António Jacinto do Amaral Martins, born in Luanda, Angola 28 September 1924, died 23 June 1991 in Lisbon, Portugal, was an Angolan poet. His works include: Poems, 1961, Éditions Casa dos Estudantes do Império, Lisbon. Poema da alienação (Poem of alienation)
Paulin Joachim was born in Cotonou, Dahomey (Benin) in 1931 and he received his education in Dahomey, Gabon, and Lyon, France. After leaving Catholic University Law School in Lyon due to lack of funds, Joachim became secretary to the French poet Philippe Soupault, active in several student journals, and eventually received his Diplôme de l’École Supérieure de Journalisme in Paris. Joachim became Political Editor of France Noir and Editor-In-Chief of Bingo in 1960. In 1971, then a French citizen, Joachim became Manager of the illustrated journal of Africa, Décennie 2.
Joachim has published two volumes of poetry entitled Un nègre raconte (1954) and Anti-grâce (1967) as well as numerous essays and poems in the acclaimed journal Présence africaine. Joachim revered the contribution of David Diop as reflected in his poem of homage. His work reflects this in its bold, crisp style. However, Joachim’s work is clearly influenced by the surrealism of his sometime mentor, Philippe Soupault. This blend of styles adds a romantic quality not present in the work of many of his African contemporaries. Clearly captured by the emotional force of the poetry medium, Joachim’s work is engaging not for the rebelliousness of Diop or Senghor but for his exploration of the pathos of the human soul.
TJ Dema is a Botswana based poet. She runs an arts and performance management organization and is chairperson of The Writers Association of Botswana. She is a founding member (alumni) of the acclaimed Exoduslivepoetry Collective, who have coordinated Botswana’s sole annual poetry festival since 2004. TJ Dema was a 2005/06 participant in the British Council’s Crossing Borders project and 2008/09 Power in the Voice mentor, and has shared the stage with leading international artists in the United Kingdom, India, France, South Africa and Zimbabwe. Her work has been featured on the BBC, SABC 2, SABC Africa, SA FM, BTV, Gabz FM, Yarona FM, and RB 2, and translated into French and Chinese.”
Sandra Kanzie is a poetess from Burkina Faso who writes in French. Her works include: Les Tombes qui pleurent [Gravestones which weep] Ouagadougou: Imprimerie nouvelle du centre, 1987. (61p.). Poetry.
Francis Bebey. Born in Cameroon in 1929, Francis Bebey was educated in Douala, Paris, and the U.S., receiving his degree from the Studi-école de la Radiodiffusion Outre-Mer, Paris. Terse and poignant, Bebey joins his contemporaries Tchicaya U Tam’si and David Diop in using poetry as a sharp instrument for dissecting racial injustices. It is remarkable not for its meter or imagery, but for its unabashed attack on literary convention and global inequity. Bebey’s poetry can be taken in tandem with his other music, and writings as a lifetime of efforts to highlight North-South cleavages. Yet, his work transcends rhetoric by ameliorating the cleavages he identifies.
Corsino Fortes is a poet from Cape Verde who writes in Portuguese. Corsino Fortes’s first book Pão & Fonema [Bread & Phoneme] which appeared in 1974 made an immediate impact. Pão & Fonema is a compressed, intensely lyrical book, and yet it has an epic arc which maps out a very Cape Verdean odyssey. The first canto focuses on the islands’ typical hardships, such as droughts, and the second on the Cape Verdean experience of emigration. The poem sequence ‘Postcards from the High Seas’ is from the second canto. The third canto looks forward to an independent Cape Verde where islanders can settle and build the country. Fortes was born in 1933 in Mindelo on Cape Verde’s São Vicente Island. After Pão & Fonema he published Arvore e Tambor [Tree and Drum] (Publicações Dom Quixote Lisbon) in 1986. He finished what he had long seen as a trilogy in 2001 with Pedras de Sol & Substância which was collected with the previous two books under the title A Cabeça Calva de Deus [The Bald Head of God] (Publicações Dom Quixote Lisbon).
Born in 1959 in Chad, Koulsy Lamko was exiled from his country in 1983. A playwright, poet, writer of short stories and tales, and author of several screenplays, Lamko produced a CD album in 1997 of mixed poetry and music entitled Bir Ki Mbo, in collaboration with Stéphane Scott and Rémi Stengel as a tribute to Thomas Sankara. Other poetry works have been published in Revue Noire in 1994 and La Phalène des collines in 2000. Koulsy Lamko is currently Director of the University Centre for Arts and Drama in Butare and teaches Creative Writing and the Performing Arts at the National University of Rwanda where he is reading for his doctoral thesis, which focuses on emerging theatrical aesthetics in Africa.
Poet Nassuf Djailani wrote in Invitation to a Voyage that he just introduced. This book, compiled by the South African poet Stephen Gray, contains the best French poetry from the African islands in the Indian Ocean. For this volume, poems from Madagascar, Mauritius and Reunion, but also from the much less well known Comoros islands and the tiny Mayotte, Djailani’s homeland, have been translated into English for the first time.
Bernard Binlin Dadié. Côte d’Ivoire (1916- ) Dadié was born near Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire in 1916. He was educated in Dakar and eventually became the director of the Institut Français d’Afrique Noir (IFAN, is also known by its later name, Institut Fondamental d’Afrique Noir) there. He then returned to Côte d’Ivoire to take a political post. Though Dadié focused much of his attentions on his political career, he was the prolific author of six volumes of poetry. His passion for the French language led him, along with his contemporary Leopold Senghor, to make a great contribution to the adaptation of the French language to African voice. A self-reflective poet, his work drives at African cultural repression and an exploration of the human condition, while remaining free of the political discourse common in Senghor’s work.
Democratic Republic of Congo
Jean-Baptiste Tati-Loutard. Congo (1938- ). Tati-Loutard was born in the Congo in 1938. He studied in Brazzaville, earning his degree a few years later at the University of Bordeaux. In 1966 he returned to Brazzaville to teach at the Centre d’Enseignement Superieur. With his rise in stature, he became a leader of the Congolese cultural movement, climaxing to a position of Minister of Culture and Arts in the late 1980s.
Tati-Loutard made his mark on Francophone poetry as a leader of the generation that followed Leopold Senghor and David Diop. Where Senghor and Diop sought to use their voice to break away from the confining rhyming verse of the earlier works of Birago Diop and Jean-Joseph Rabearivelo in favor of a free rhetorical verse, Tati-Loutard has worked to develop the stature of Francophone African poetry through a return to more classical styles of un-rhyming meter. As a student of Aimé César’s “Negritude,” Tati-Loutard seeks a black voice to answer the challenges of the human condition.
Abdourahman A. Waberi is novelist, essayist, poet, academic and short-story writer. Abdourahman Waberi was born in Djibouti City in 1965. He went to France in 1985 to study English literature. Waberi worked as a literary Consultant for Editions Le Serpent à plumes, Paris, and as a literary critic for Le Monde Diplomatique. He has been a member of the International Jury for the Lettre Ulysses Award for the Art of Reportage (Berlin, Germany), 2003 & 2004. Waberi worked as an English teacher at Caen, France, where he has lived for most of time since 1985. He was awarded with several honors including the Stefan-Georg-Preis 2006, Heinrich-Heine-Universität, the Grand prix littéraire d’Afrique noire in 1996 and the Prix biennal – Mandat pour la liberté – offered by PEN France, 1998. In 2005, he was chosen amongst the “50 Writers of Future” by French literary Magazine Lire.
Taha Hussein (November 14, 1889—October 28, 1973) (nicknamed “Dean of Arabic Literature”) was one of the most influential 20th century Egyptian writers and intellectuals, and a figurehead for the Arab Renaissance and the modernist movement in the Arab World. His works include: Pre-Islamic Poetry 1926, Poetry and Prose 1936
Juan Tomás Ávila Laurel (born 1966 in Santa Isabel, Spanish Guinea – now Malabo, Equatorial Guinea) is an Annobonese writer from Equatorial Guinea. Juan Tomás Avila Laurel is a member of the “new” Equatorial-Guinean literature movement, a generation of young authors whose first texts began to appear in the 1990s. He is considered one of the leading representatives of what has been called “New Guinean lyricism”. His work is characterized by and incisive criticism of the social and political realities, and the economic inequalities, in his country in particular and in Africa in general. He has participated in literary activities of the Centro Cultural Hispano-Guineano at Malabo and has written novel, poetry and essay. He works as an editor in chief for El Patio, published by theCentro Cultural Hispano-Guineano.
Ararat Iyob, Eritrean fighter poet: Whose prim Catholic upbringing gave way overnight when she became a radical freedom fighter — all it took was for the Ethiopian government to tell her to change one poem. She refused and went to jail and was beaten.Ararat Iyob worked as an interpreter in a refugee camp in Sudan. She continues now to fight, both in her book of English poetry, Blankets of Sand (Red Sea Press, 1999), and in her newest poems, written in Tigrinya, which blend sound-sense-humor potently, blithely, rock-steadily.
Tsegaye Gabre-Medhin, is Ethiopia’s premier versatile and prolific man of letters. For half a century now he has been continuously productive as poet, playwright, essayist, social critic, philologist, historiographer, dramatist, synthesist, peace activist, artistic director on matters national, continental and global. Even if he has yet to be awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature, he has often been more appreciated and duly honoured abroad than in his own land. Perhaps this is in keeping with that old Ethiopian saying to the effect that ‘a prophet is often not esteemed in his own country.’ In this day and age, when most of us have been preoccupied and indeed consumed by wars and rumours of wars in Ethiopia-Eritrea and elsewhere in the Horn of Africa, it seems as though there is nothing else of positive value or of grave concern that deserves or commands the attention of Ethiopians. Today we shall take time out from violence and war and reflect on the life and works of Poet Laureate Tsegaye Gabre-Medhin who is a living legend, a literary hero, and as one observer described him recently, Ethiopia’s “biblical sage”.
René Maran (Fort-de-France, Martinique, 8 November 1887 – 9 May 1960) was a French Guyanese poet and novelist, and the first black writer to win the French Prix Goncourt (in 1921). Born on the boat carrying his parents to Fort-de-France where he lived till the age of seven. After that he went to Gabon, where his father Héménéglide Maran was in the colonial service. After attending boarding school in Bordeaux, France, he joined the French Colonial service in French Equatorial Africa. It was his experience there that was the basis for many of his novels, including Batouala: A True Black Novel, which won the Prix Goncourt. La Maison du Bonheur (poetry, 1909), La Vie Intérieure (poetry, 1912)
Nii Ayikwei Parkes (resident in the UK) Noted performance poet and BBC radio host, his poetry chapbooks include Eyes of a Boy, Lips of a Man (1999) and M is for Madrigal (2004). His poem was recently chosen with other poems from some distinguished African poets as part of a public poetry initiative to feature African writing in the media spaces of the London Underground. He has worked with and written for children, and is an effective literary voice for African writing in the UK, networking and serving in various public initiatives for the arts. Parkes has just completed a novel, ‘The Cost of Red Eyes.’
Ama Ata Aidoo, born in 1942, Ghanaian. Much of Aidoo’s poetry, which has appeared in numerous volumes and anthologies, was collected in her first volume, Someone Talking to Sometime (1985). Her second volume of poetry, An Angry Letter in January (1992), voices the range of struggles in her experiences as an African, a woman, and a writer. Aidoo has also published two children’s books, The Eagle and the Chickens and Birds and Other Poems (both 1987). She has taught literature at universities in Ghana, Zimbabwe, and the United States.
Ahmed Sékou Touré, (1922-1984). Sékou Touré’s career as a poet was limited to his Poèmes militants (1978). A terse volume of revolutionary poetry, Poèmes militants can be regarded as much as a treatise as an artistic expression. Austere and direct, what it lacks in literary creativity it makes up for in vehemence and fervor. Poèmes militants reflects Sékou Touré’s charismatic leadership style. It is a raw expression of his vision, void of encumbering description.
José Carlos Schwarz (December 6, 1949 – Havana, May 27, 1977) was a Guinea-Bissauan poet and musician. He is widely regarded as one of the most important and influential musicians of Guinea-Bissau. Schwarz wrote in Portuguese and French, but he sang in Creole. In 1970, he formed the Cobiana Djazz band with a group of friends. After the independence of Guinea-Bissau, Schwarz became the director of the Department of Arts and Culture, and also the responsible for youth matters. In 1977, he started working at the Embassy of Guinea-Bissau in Cuba. On May 27 of the same year, Schwarz died in a plane crash near Havana.
Wanjohi Wa Makokha (b.1979) is the nom de plume of J. K. S. Makokha, a Kenyan poet and critic. His pseudonym is a combination of the surnames of his maternal and paternal grandfathers. Wanjohi’s debut collection, Nest of Stones: Kenyan Narratives in Verse (Langaa, 2010) has been received warmly by pundits and readers in Kenya, East Africa and the Diaspora. The book memorializes the 2007-2008 Kenyan Crisis. Poems in Nest of Stones are inspired by Post-Election Violence (PEV) incidents and antecedents.
Wanjohi has been writing poetry since his years as an undergraduate at Kenyatta University in the late 1990s and early 2000. He is currently working on a second volume of poetry that will appear in early 2012. Wanjohi is one of the younger generation Kenyan writers Stephen Derwent Partington has called recently, “the Vennyan Poets”. He admires and is inspired by the works of the following poets, among others: Whitman, Hughes, Allen Ginsberg, Eliot, Okigbo, Awoonor, Okot, the Mad Mullah, Muyaka bin Ghassaniy, Abdilatif, Mapanje, Jimale, Micere, Brutus, Shailja and the young Mbizo Chirasha of Zimbabwe. Wanjohi’s poetry has appeared in journals and magazines of creative writing and arts across Africa and abroad. He teaches African, Caribbean and South Asian literatures at the Institute for English Philology, Free University of Berlin, Germany. A committed literary critic, he has edited several new scholarly books on African literary criticism and postcolonialism.
Thomas Mokopu Mofolo (December 22, 1876- September 8, 1948) is considered to be the greatest Basotho author. He wrote mostly in the Sesotho language, but his most popular book, Chaka, has been translated into English and other languages. Thomas Mofolo was born in Khojane on Dec. 22, 1876. He was educated in the local schools of the Paris Evangelical Missionary Society and obtained a teacher’s certificate in 1898. While he was working at the book depot in Morija, some of the missionaries encouraged him to write what was to become the first novel in Southern Sotho, Moeti oa bochabela (1907; The Traveler of the East). The edifying story of a young Sotho chieftain’s conversion to Christianity, it is cleverly interwoven with traditional myths and praise poems. Its success prompted other young teachers to try their hand at fiction writing, thus launching one of the earliest literary movements in sub-Saharan Africa.
Bai Tamia Johnson Moore (12 October 1916 – 10 January 1988), commonly known by his pen-name, Bai T. Moore, was a Liberian poet, novelist, folklorist and essayist. He also held various cultural, educational and tourism posts both for the Liberian government and for UNESCO, and was the founder of Liberia’s National Cultural Centre.
Maryam Ahmed Salama (born 1965) is a Libyan writer and poet born in Tripoli. She received her undergraduate degree from the Department of Literature and Culture at al-Fateh University in 1987 and works currently in the field of translation with an emphasis on historical studies. Her works of prose and poetry have been published in Libyan and foreign newspapers and magazines. She currently works at the Old Cities Project in Tripoli Ms. Salama has a number of book titles to her credit including Dreams of an Imprisoned Child, poetry (Ahlam tifla sajina). Libya: Dar al-Firjani, 1992
Jean-Joseph Rabearivelo (1901-1937). Rabierivelo’s poetry reflects the tragic life he led in the early years of French colonial rule in Madagascar. He received a limited education in Catholic schools, but his knowledge and understanding of the French language came from his insatiable reading of French literature. Unlike Senghor or David Diop, Rabeiarivelo was born too early to benefit from French colonial beneficence programs. Where Senghor and Diop were able to confront the African struggle against colonialism from French soil, Ravearivelo was isolated in Madagascar.
His early work was published in local literary magazines, but the oppressive colonial government did not allow him to develop his work by traveling to France. He was forced to work as a proof-reader at a local publishing house to survive. In 1937 Rabearivelo finally saw his opportunity to go to France under a French program to represent the colony.
However, despite his growing prestige on the island, the colonial administration decided to send a group of Malagasy basket-weavers instead. Crushed by the loss of what he saw as his one opportunity to fulfil his life’s ambition, Ravearivelo committed suicide. His five existing volumes of work reflect his passion for French poetry as seen in his symbolist, surrealist, and romanticist borrowings, and his deep-felt understanding of Malagasy culture, but they also reflect his struggle against a severe colonial system that cut short his work and, eventually, his life.
Born in 1967, he was awarded the Jean-Joseph Rabearivelo Poetry prize in 1987 for his early poems. His first play, The Prophet and the President (1989), won the Tchicaya U’Tamsi Prize for theatre, but its performance was disallowed by the Madagascan government. He has also published two novels, Le Lepreux (The Leper, 1992) and Nour, 1947 (2001). Dreams under the Shroud (1998) is his collection of short stories.
Dr. Frank M. Chipasula (born 16 October 1949, Zambia) is a Malawian writer, editor and university professor. Previously a professor of Black Studies at the University of Nebraska at Omaha and Howard University, Chipasula has also worked as the education attaché at the Malawian embassy in Washington, D.C. Chipasula went into exile as a result of the Hastings Banda government. His volume of poetry, Visions and Reflections (1972) was the first published prose by a Malawian writer.
Souéloum Diagho, the contemporary Tuareg poet, comes from Tessalit in the North of Mali. His father is a Tuareg and his mother a Fula. He is married and lived for a time inBelgium. He is author and editor of the 2001 work Poésies touareg: le chant des saisons (Tuareg poetry: Song of the seasons), a collection of some 175 traditional poems. Although primarily writing in French, he is in the tradition of Ghaylan Ibn ‘Uqbah, seeing the Tuareg as quintessentially Keltamacheq (speakers of Tamasheq), nomads of the desert. His poems speak of the desert, a space swarming with life, palpitating like the heart of planet, the richness of its silence and the force of its people. He comments on our Western world and on our fears
Mohamed Ould Bemba, Mauritanian poet, who won the final episode of Abu Dhabi’s famous ‘Prince of Poets’ contest. The contest is organized by the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage
Malcolm de Chazal (12 September 1902- 1 October 1981) was a Mauritian writer, painter, and visionary, known especially for his Sens-Plastique, a work consisting of several thousand aphorisms and pensées. In 1940 he began to publish in Mauritius a series of volumes consisting of hundreds of numbered thoughts and ideas entitled Pensées. In 1945, a seventh volume of Pensées, bound with another collection of unnumbered aphorisms entitled Sens-Plastique appeared, and two years later a separate Sens-Plastique, Volume II, appeared. It was this latter volume on which the Gallimard edition of 1948 was based that brought Chazal into prominence in France.
Said Achtouk (1925 – September 7, 1989) was a Moroccan poet, musician and songwriter. He was born in the village of Izouran ’Idaou-Bouzia, in one of the renowned tribes of the Sous, the Achtouken. Achtouk died on September 7, 1989 in Rabat.
Couto was born António Emílio Leite Couto on July 5, 1955 in the city of Beira, Mozambique’s second largest city, where he was also raised and schooled. He is the son of Portuguese emigrants who moved to the former Portuguese colony in the 1950s. At the age of fourteen, some of his poetry was published in a local newspaper, Notícias da Beira. His anthologies include: Raiz do Orvalho (poetry, 1983), Raiz de orvalho e outros poemas (1999)
Eduardo White – Born in 1963, with eight collections of poetry, White is one of the leading writers of Mozambique. He was indeed honoured as Mozambican Literary Figure of 2001. Among other literary prizes, he won the Mozambican National Poetry Prize in 1992.
Dorian Haarhoff, (born 1944) is a South African-Namibian writer and poet. Haarhoff wrote his first poem in 1955 and has been published numerous books. He was also an English professor at the University of Namibia. As of 2004, he worked in the creative writing department at the University of Cape Town.
Abdoulaye Mamani (1932–1993) was a Nigerien poet, novelist and trade unionist.
(1930-1967), Nigerian poet, the two collections of verse that appeared during Okigbo’s lifetime established him as an innovative and controversial poet, although his poetry also appeared in the important West African cultural magazines Black Orpheus and Transition. The two collections—Heavensgate (1962) and Limits (1964)—reveal a personal, introspective poetry informed by a familiarity with Western myths and filled with rich, startling images. Labelled obscure by some critics, his poetry is demanding and allusive. It draws as freely from modern poets, such as T. S. Eliot and Ezra Pound, as it does from the Roman Catholic religion of his family in Ojoto. Okigbo maintained that his poetry should be viewed as an organic whole as it expressed his coming of age as a poet.
Born in 1963, the poet now lives in Bremen, Germany, from where he has maintained a prolific online and other publishing presence. He was a winner of the Association of Nigerian Authors Poetry Prize in 1997 for his book Chiaruscuro. His other collections of poetry are Flower Child, Second Act, The Bremen Poems, If Only the Night, Heart’s Field and eef on reef (published in late 2007). He has also edited an anthology of new Nigerian poets and published a prose journal of personal musings, Belltime Letters.
(Resident in the US) – he has won the Association of Nigerian Authors Poetry Prize, Ogaga Ifowodo’s books include Homeland and Other Poems, Mandiba and The Oil Lamp (2005). A former political activist from his student days in Nigeria, Ifowodo’s poetry is highly regarded by his Nigerian contemporaries. He now lives in the US.
(Nigeria, US) Abani’s novels includes The Virgin of Flames (2007), Graceland (FSG 2004/Picador 2005) and Master of the Board (1985). There are two novellas, Becoming Abigail (2006) and Song for the Night (2007). He also has four collections of poetry and has won many awards for his writings, including the PEN Hemingway Book Prize and is currently a university professor in the United States. Chris Abani is also a jazz musician.
Author of Naked Testimonies, Adewale-Gabriel has also edited work by her contemporaries and was a founding member of WRITA, an organisation supporting writing by women. She is much travelled and honoured as a poet.
(Resident in the US) – Born in 1964 and widely exhibited as an artist, Oguibe is also a prize-winning poet. His second book of poems, A Gathering Fear, won the 1992 Christopher Okigbo All-Africa Prize for Literature. His other poetry collections include A Song of Exile and Songs for Catalina. He is also the author of a book of essays, The Culture Game (2003).
(Resident in Canada) – Poet and Professor of African Literature Pius Adesanmi’s The Wayfarer and Other Poems won the Association of Nigerian Authors in 2001. He has been a noted critical voice and promoter of work by the younger African writers. He has co-edited volumes of scholarly essays and contributed also to books and journals. In Canada, he has recently established PONAL for his affiliated Carleton University, intended as a major online audio-visual resource project archiving and presenting new writing from Africa to an international audience.
(Resident in Canada) – Born in 1963, Ede won the All-Africa Christopher Okigbo Prize for Literature in 1998 with his Collected Poems: A Writer’s Pains and Caribbean Blues. He is Editor of Sentinel Online Poetry magazine, and in the editorial team of the online PONAL African literature site established for Carleton University, Canada, where he is based. His work appears in many journals and anthologies of African poetry. Ede was also Second Prize Winner at the May Ayim Award: International Black German Literary Prize, 2004.
Remi Raji – Aderemi
Raji-Oyelade’s volumes of poetry include A Harvest of Laughters (1997), Webs of Remembrance (2001), Shuttlesongs America: A Poetic Guided Tour (2003) and Lovesongs for My Wasteland (2005). His works have been translated into French, German, Ukrainian, Swedish and Catalan. He is often travelling outside his home base of Nigeria as scholar and writer. Among the honours to his poetry is a 1997 association of Nigerian Authors Poetry Prize.
Republic of the Congo
Gerald Felix Tchicaya U Tam’si (Gerald Felix Tchicaya). Republic of Congo (1931-1988). U Tam’si was born in Mpili (Congo Brazzaville), but moved to France in 1946. He died in Oise, France in 1988. Like David Diop, U Tam’si’s poetry is colloquial and spoken. Though informal, his work is sophisticated, mocking, and rife with dark humor. He juxtaposes vivid historic images and symbolic, even surrealist, renderings of reality, producing a powerful commentary on not only African life, but the human condition. His forays into the meaning of “black-ness” contribute to Senghor’s “negritude” providing valuable insights into race and significance. A journalist, activist, and strong supporter of Lumumba, U Tam’si was a vital member of the Congolese independence movement. As such, his work reflects a harsh view of the world, but a reverence for new beginnings.
Alexis Kagame (May 15, 1912 – December 2, 1981) was a Rwandan philosopher, linguist, historian, poet and Catholic priest. His main contributions were in the field of “ethnophilosophy” (the study of indigenous philosophical systems). As a professor of theology, he carried out wide research into the oral history, traditions and literature of Rwanda, and wrote several books on the subject, both in French and Kinyarwanda. He also wrote his own Rwanda poetry, which was also published.
Sao Tome and Principe
Maria da Conceição de Deus Lima (Santana, December 8, 1961), also known as Conceição Lima, is a Santomean poet from the town of Santana in São Tomé, one of two islands in the small nation of São Tomé and Príncipe situated in the Gulf of Guinea, off the western coast of Africa. She studied journalism in Portugal and worked in radio, television and in the print press in her native country. In 1993, Conceição Lima founded the weekly independent publication O País Hoje (The Country Today) which she directed and wrote for during its circulation. She received a degree in Afro-Portuguese and Brazilian Studies from King’s College in London. Lima resides in London where she works as a journalist and producer for the BBC Portuguese Language Services.
Her poetry has been published in newspapers, magazines, and anthologies in several countries. O Útero da Casa was her first book of poetry and was published in 2004 in Lisbon by the Portuguese publishing house Caminho. Her second book (also poetry), A Dolorosa Raiz do Micondó, was released in 2006 by the same publisher. Lima is a postcolonial writer, one of the few poets who came of age after the independence of her country in 1975. She started writing poems as a teenager and, in 1979, at the age of nineteen, travelled to Angola where she participated in the Sixth Conference of Afro-Asian Writers. She recited some of her poems and was probably one of the youngest participants present. Conceição Lima considers this to be the first phase of her career as a poet. The second phase of her career started with the publication of her poems in newspapers, magazines and anthologies.
Leopold Sédar Senghor. Senegal (1906-2001). “I feel that if I had remained a teacher, my poetry would have been gratuitous and more impoverished, for what feeds it is the communal life, the life of my people. In my poetry I certainly express my personal life, but I express myself as a black man, an African.” (Senghor In Dixon 1991:xxxix). While Senghor is most well known as Senegal’s skilful president (1960-1981), he is also one of Africa’s most skilled and acclaimed poets. His brilliance was recognized early as he completed his Baccalaureate in 1927 and received a scholarship to go to France for further studies. Through his diverse publications, such as Shadow Songs (1945), Black Hosts (1946), Songs for Naett (1949), Nocturnes (1961), and Letters in the Season of Hivernage (1972), Senghor is most famous for his giving the term “negritude” wide application.
For Senghor, negritude is one’s identification of one’s “blackness” without reference to culture, language, or geography. In this way, “negritude” transcends the deep divisions within and between Arabs, Africans, and the African Diaspora by recognizing a common racial thread. Negritude is the emergence of a powerful black presence in the world. It has in many ways become the basis for Afrocentricity. Senghor’s body of work stretches broadly in form and content. Where his early work reflected the carefully chiselled words of a young craftsman, the text that comprise his Lost Poems reflects careful borrowings from Baudelaire and Langston Hughes. He experiments with breaking the mould of form and rhyme while inventing a playful new dance with the language. Senghor’s content varied widely from early years of African historical expression and rebellion to displays of sensuality, love, and, eventually, death.
Marlene Senaratne was awarded the poetry prize for her book entitled The Bridge (Pon). Marlene is the head of the English department at Anse Boileau Secondary School and writes poetry and short fiction. An experienced author of many years, she has also had many short stories published by women’s magazines in Sri Lanka.
Syl Cheney-Coker (born 1945) is a poet, novelist, and journalist from Freetown, Sierra Leone. Educated in the United States, he has a global sense of literary history, and has introduced styles and techniques from French and Latin American literatures to Sierra Leone. He has spent much of his life in exile from his native country, and has written extensively (in poetry, fiction, and nonfiction) about the condition of exile and the view of Africa from an African abroad. Cheney-Coker’s poetry is tinged with the anxiety of his perennially uncertain status, dealing both with exile and with the precariousness of living as an intellectual in Sierra Leone. At the same time, he is concerned always with how he will be read; his poems are radical and ardent, but also erudite and allusive, which can distract a reader from Cheney-Coker’s ideological project. He has been called one of the more western-influenced African poets.
William J. F. Syad. (1930- ). William Syad was born in French Somalia in 1930 and was educated in Saudi Arabia and at the University of Paris, Sorbonne. Syad’s has published four volumes of poetry, Khamsine (1959), Cantiques (1976), Harmoniques (1976) and Naufragés du destin (1978). This body of work reflects the unique character of Syad’s French Somali roots. It blends Syad’s devotion to Islam with his acceptance of Western influences into the Horn of Africa. Perhaps put best by Léopold Senghor (in Jahn, 1972), “His poems have the subtle perfume of the Song of Songs. And the tone of the poems of Tagore. They are natural flowers of a land of poetry, of a land of nard and incense: balmy orchids.”
Dennis Brutus, born in 1924, South African poet, teacher, and political activist, whose lyric poetry is structured around a finely wrought tension between the personal and the political. Sirens, Knuckles, Boots, Brutus’ first collection of poetry, was published the year he was imprisoned and established him as a gifted poet of tightly crafted political lyrics. While in prison he secretly wrote of his experiences in a series of poems to his wife, later published as Letters to Martha (1968). The poems offer powerful descriptions of appallingly brutal conditions and reflect a compassion that avoids any sense of self-pity.
Lebogang Mashile – A multi-skilled creative arts professional, Mashile is a celebrated spoken word poet in South Africa. A NOMA award winner, she has been an honoured guest at international literary meetings in various parts of the world. Her collection of poems, In a Ribbon of Rhythm, was published in 2005.
Al-ssadiq Al-raddi, born January 1969) is a Sudanese writer and poet who was born in Omdurman, Sudan. He has been publishing poetry since he was 15 when his poem The Wind was published in the literary journal Al-Shawa. Al-ssadiq was awarded the prize of Youth Poets in 1986 and in the same year he became a member of Sudanese Writers Union and worked as an editor in many Sudanese Newspapers, like Alhoria (freedom), Aladwaa, Al Ayam (The Days) and currently works in Al-sudani newspaper as head of cultural editor department. Al-ssadiq contributed by recited his poetry in Abu Dhabi International for Book Fair in April 2004.Al-ssadiq has poetry translated to English by The Centre of Poetry Translation CPT, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London and the translation had done by Sudanese poet Hafiz Kheir, poet Sarah Maguire and poet Mark Ford.
He recited his poetry in many British cities which organize by the CPT, also he contributed in many workshop for poetry translation in Britain. Also he contributed in the congress of translation from Arabic to English and from English to Arabic which held under auspices of The British Culture Council festival with the London International Book Fair 2006. In March 2006 he invited by Poetry Cafe in London to recite a poem. His anthologies include:
“Ghnna Aloazalla” The Singing of Solitude, poetry collection published in 1996, 2001 in Khartoum
“Mattahat Elsoltan” The Dilemma of The Sultan, poetry collection published also in 1996, 2001
Agassi Shaashatt Alasika, poetry collection. Published twice 2000, 2001.
Modison Salayedvwa Magagula (born 1958). He writes plays, poems and short-stories in SiSwati on themes including postcolonialism, sectarianism, juvenile delinquency, relationships and AIDS. In 2008, he received an award from the Swaziland National Council of Arts and Culture (SNCAC) for his work in the development of the arts in Swaziland.
Born in Morogoro (Tanzania), Ras Nas aka Nasibu Mwanukuzi, is a musician and poet from Tanzania who blends African music and reggae with a dash of poetry. Ras Nas’ latest album, Dar-es-Salaam, contains roots reggae, soukous and dub poetry. In 1982 Nasibu co-founded a powerful poetry and drama group “SAYARI” in Dar-es-salaam. The group combined African music, poetry, miming, dance and drama and toured extensively in Scandinavia.
Lenrie Leopold Wilfred Peters (September 1, 1932 – May 28, 2009) was a Gambian surgeon, novelist, and poet. His poetry anthologies include:
- 1964: Poems (Ibadan: Mbari Publications)
- 1967: Satellites (London: Heinemann)
- 1971: Katchikali (London: Heinemann)
- 1981: Selected Poetry (London: Heinemann)
Richard Dogbeh (born Gbèmagon Richard Dogbeh 1932 in what is now Togo). He also published essays, poems, and stories
Youssef Rzouga is a Tunisian poet, born on March 21, 1957 in Mahdia, Tunisia. He began writing in 1967. His first published text was “Something called need,” a short story in the magazine Radio et Télévision (1973). Poetic Works include:
- I’m distinguished from you by my grievances (1979)
- The program of the Rose (1985)
- The Astrolabe of Youssef the traveler (1986)
- The Wolf in the Word (1998)
- The Country Between the Hands (2001)
- Flowers of Dioxyde of History (2001)
- Emergency Case Declaration (2002)
- The Butterfly and the Dynamite (2004)
- Yogana (The Book of Poetic Yoga) (2004)
- Poetical Works (Volume I) (2003)
Okot p’Bitek (1931-1982), Ugandan poet, novelist, and social anthropologist, who dedicated his life to preserving his country’s traditional literature and culture. He wrote in both English and Acholi and is generally regarded as the finest East African poet of the 20th century.
John Eppel was born in Lydenburg, South Africa. He moved to Colleen Bawn, a small mining town in the south of Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), at the age of four where he got his education at Milton High School in Bulawayo and later, the University of Natal in South Africa. He married at the age of 34 and has three children. His ex-wife, Shari, is a poet and prominent human rights activist. Eppel teaches English at Christian Brothers College, Bulawayo. He has published over ten books, one of which has a French translation (The giraffe man). He won the Ingrid Jonker Prize for his first poetry book, “Spoils of War” and the MNet Prize in 1994 for his Novel, D G Berrys the Great North Road.
As I noted in the opening paragraph, the list of African Poets here are not exhaustive. You can always check more. Do not forget to share this post. See you around!.