The Aga Khan High School, Kampala organises first-ever virtual Poetry Café competition
From 23-24 July, the Aga Khan High School, Kampala hosted its annual Poetry Café competition through a virtual platform for the first time, in which more than 40 students from around Uganda performed their own original spoken word poetry for a chance to win a trophy and a monetary prize.
With more than 200 people in attendance and student participants from 12 schools, the Aga Khan High School, Kampala organised this virtual event to break the routine of online classes and give students an opportunity to enjoy poetry whilst learning from its diverse subject matters. The Poetry Café competition is just one of the ways the Aga Khan High School, Kampala is trying to shift traditionally in-person extracurricular activities to online events in order to keep them alive during these unprecedented times.
“When we missed out on last year's competition due to the COVID-19 lockdown, we were upset since spoken word poetry is heavily celebrated in our school and everyone is always looking forward to this event,” said Gilbert Atukunda, a teacher of English Language and Literature and Head of Languages Department at the Aga Khan High School, Kampala and the chief organiser of the event. “When 2021 presented the same constraint, we decided to have a virtual competition. It was fulfilling to see students passionately reciting their poems behind their cameras in their homes. This is only the beginning; we are looking forward to hosting other departmental events if the lockdown continues.”
The competition consisted of three categories – Junior, Intermediate and Senior – with students ranging from ages 12-19 years old. Each poetry piece had its own unique subject matter and was passionately presented by the students, who were all judged by professional spoken word poetry artists Murray Shiraz Batanda and Devis Nsubuga, along with the winner of the 2019 Teen Poetry Slam Uganda, Angel Kabera. The winner of the Poetry Café competition received a trophy and cash prize of 300,000 UGX, with the first runner up awarded a trophy and cash prize of 200,000 UGX and the second runner up with a trophy and cash prize of 100,000 UGX. In addition, students selected as part of the top 10 competitors received gifts for their performances.
“This competition has been an amazing display of word craftsmanship and word staging,” Devis Nsubuga said. “Students from different parts of the country and different schools came together virtually to bring comfort, hope and love.”
After evaluating the students’ performances, the judges selected Obbo Rhesa Pearl from Gayaza High School as the winner of the event. Lukwanzi Kauthar Ndagano from GreenHill Academy came in as the first runner up and Ingabire Anne Abigail from Aga Khan High School, Kampala as the second runner up. Feeling elated, Rhesa said she enjoyed participating in the virtual competition with other talented students.“There were so many talented people in this competition, but at the end of the day you just have to do the best that you can do,” Rhesa said. “Performing online was also a bit scary and challenging but everything worked out and the event was well organised and it was a wonderful experience.”
This year’s Poetry Café would not have been possible without the generosity of its sponsors. Sharz Borderless Consult donated the monetary prizes, City Tyres supplied the trophies, Pastries for you provided donut packages to the top 10 winners, and Qeuvre gave make-up gift bags to the top three poets.
“Poetry Café 2021 has been one of the best experiences during this lockdown,” said Grace Tumwebaze, a teacher at the Aga Khan High School, Kampala and one of the event organisers . “Being the first ever online edition of this competition, I was worried at first. But knowing the kind of students we have who are passionate about spoken word poetry, I became positive. I can’t wait for other poetry events in the future.”
Photos (top to bottom) :
- Winner of the Poetry Café competition, Obbo Rhesa Pearl from Gayaza High School.
- Lukwanzi Kauthar Ndagano from GreenHill Academy came in as the first runner up in the Poetry Café competition.
- Ingabire Anne Abigail from Aga Khan High School, Kampala came in as the second runner up for the Poetry Café competition.