South African Xabiso Vili crowned World Poetry Slam Champion.

Last night, Poet Xabiso Vili, the winner of the Poetry Africa Slam Competition (2021), represented South Africa in the final of the World Slam Poetry Competition in Brussels, competing against slam poets from 40 nations across the globe. After leaving a great impression on the international jury with his poem “Forget How To Die”, Xabiso Vili was declared the 2022 World Slam Poetry Competition Champion.


In his winning speech, Xabiso pointed out that the award was not only his, but belonged to all the slammers in the tournament that grew enormously during the time spent together.


Xabiso Vili is a multi-award-winning performer, writer, new media artist, producer and social activist. He strongly believes that art offers humanity a path toward integration, joy and healing. He works towards creating alternative spaces for art to be shared innovatively. Xabiso is researching and creating a methodology for how writing can be used as a tool for therapy. He is a champion of multiple slams, has been published in various anthologies and has performed on four continents. He has worked with abandoned spaces and converted them into art hubs.

Xabiso has released an album, a one-man show, and a poetry collection and he co-authored a YA novella. He created an AR poetry-audio-visual project, exhibited in Paris in June 2021, along with a projection mapping installation.

His win comes shortly after Xabiso Vili was announced as the New Generations Featured Poet at the 26th Poetry Africa Festival presented by the Centre for Creative Arts at the University of KwaZulu-Natal from 6 to 16 October. Vili will perform as part of the festival in Johannesburg, Durban and online.


“At the Centre for Creative Arts at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, we are incredibly proud of Xabiso’s achievement. He positions South African Slam Poets and the Poetry Africa Festival at the forefront on the global stages. Xabiso represents a generation of young South African Slam Poets who actively use their voices to advocate for a more just social order. We are also proud of the advocacy work done by Poetry Africa curator Siphindile Hlongwa, to position the Poetry Africa festival on the global stage,” says the director of the Centre for Creative Arts, Ismail Mahomed.


As part of Poetry Africa, the Slam Jam competition this year will select the Slam Poet that will represent South Africa in the World Championships taking place in Brazil in 2023. The Semi-finals will take place as part of the regional forum in the ‘Our Future: Africa-Europe Dialogues’ series, hosted by the French Institute of South Africa (IFAS) on Thursday, 7 October at 7 pm at the University of Johannesburg, Kingsway Campus. To attend this year’s Slam Jam semi-final, you can register for free:


Poets performing in the semi-finals are Lethu Nkwanyana, Jonathan Lefenya, Kwanele Nyembe, Khayalethu Mguzulo, Chiara Coelho, Afrika Dlamini, Patience Labane, Tshegotatjo Makhafola, Olive Olusegun and Rudairo Mudarikwa. Five poets will attend the finals at Howard College Theatre at the University of KwaZulu-Natal on 15 October. Tickets will be available on Webtickets.


The first inclusive World Poetry Slam Championship took place in Brussels from the 27th to the 29th of September 2022. Apart from the championship itself, during these days, the organisers offer a satellite program of diverse activities, collaborating with Brussels-based artists and organisations, to make this an unforgettable experience for all. The championship in 2023 will take place in Brazil, and the Centre for Creative Arts will host the championship in 2026.

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