Ama Asante Diaka, better known as POETRA ASANTEWAA, is no stranger to Ghana’s spoken word circles. The raw truth in her words easily catapulted her to prominence. The former networks system administrator is also a writer, creative director and fashion designer who’s start in spoken word took off in 2010 at the bi-monthly poetry performance sessions of EHALAKASA. She credits Mutombo da Poet for her induction into spoken word as she used to only communicate her works through social media.
Poetra admits it took a lot of hard work and determination to remember lines and deliver solid performances but she learned from other artists in the process. Her decision to do poetry comes from a belief that everyone has certain strengths and weaknesses. She identifies the need to be versatile as an artist and strongly believes that infusing other art forms within poetry will help carve out an unusually appealing brand.
Poetra doesn’t confine herself to a box. “I am a writer,” she states simply. “Writing forms my basis. That’s how it began.” Poetra’s lyrical words also acts as commentary on the things that alarm her from South Africa’s xenophobia to Ghana’s erratic power supply, discrimination against women and children, and unsafe sanitation practices in the country.
On spoken word, Poetra had this to say:
Spoken word comes under poetry which is the oak tree with stanzas or lines acting as the branches. Spoken word is the animated aspect of poetry, making poems come alive. As the name denotes, spoken word is spoken out loud and acted out.
Collaborating with fellow poet, 100%, whom she recently faced off with at the EHALAKASA poetry slam, Poetra will thrill ears with Unspoken Truth at this year’s festival. Poetra’s work points out issues and current events that are easily swept under the rug, partly addressed or not acknowledged at all. As Poetra details, “performance is a political act because poets have a responsibility to exercise their creative capacity, articulating the concerns and grievances affecting everyday people.”
For Poetra, this year’s festival theme of African Electronics is a kind of Juju, a spiritual power grid that can be tapped into to achieve one’s goals. Juju as power takes many forms depending on the angle that is viewed.
You can catch Poetra Asantewaa at the CHALE WOTE Street Art Festival at 5pm on Saturday (22/8) at Brazil House and 5pm on Sunday (23/8) at Oblatsoobi Market (opposite James Town Post Office).
Story by Kevin K. Sape