Tabula Rasa: Poetry Night

An evening of spoken word featuring poets from across the globe reimagining dominant narratives

April 27 @ 18:00 - 19:15 CET


In collaboration with Sawti
Featuring spoken word artists from around the world

“The only way to change the course of humanity is to challenge the input – to reimagine the way we think of knowledge with an altogether different, corrective story. A tabula rasa.”Minna Salami

Join us as we dare to reimagine dominant narratives with this special evening of spoken word in collaboration with Sawti, featuring live poetry from artists based around the world, including Ngollo Mlengeya, K. Eltinaé, Suhayl Omar and Manal Younus.

Watch the recording of the event below.


Sawti, derived from the Arabic and Kiswahili for ‘my voice’, intends to connect East African artists to their counterparts in the diaspora through conversation and collaboration. Its aim is to create and connect art that positions itself within the long-standing traditions of language and locale within East Africa and the diaspora. Focusing on Sudan and Tanzania in its first year, the project programmed a series of workshops across London, Khartoum, Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar. The works created by writers in workshops and visual artists digitally in the zine interrogate what it means to be East African locally whilst considering the multi-lingual heritage that remains evident within shifts across national and cultural borders. Sawti is founded and programmed by Sumia Jaama with a team of freelancers based in the UK and Tanzania.

Sumia Jaama is a Dutch-born Somali poet and producer. She is the winner of FourHubs’ 2018 Poetry Prize and founder of SAWTI. She is also a Barbican Young Poet Alumni and a member of Octavia, poetry collective for womxn of colour. She often writes about memory, movement and the constant process of leaving. Her work has most recently been published in Filigree: Contemporary Black British Poetry and has previously worked with: Royal Academy of Arts, Keats House Museum, Southbank Centre, Belfast Book festival, Roundhouse, Passa Porta, Bush Theatre, and Sauti za Busara festival.


Neema Komba is a poet and writer from Tanzania. She is the author of Mektildis Kapinga: a silent hero, and See Through the Complicated, a poetry collection. Her work entitled, “The Search for Magical Mbuji”, appeared in the creative non-fiction anthology, Safe House: Explorations in Creative Nonfiction. Her short stories have been featured in Payback and Other Stories: An anthology for African and African Diaspora Short Stories, Adda Stories and Index on censorship. Her other works have also appeared in This is Africa and Vijana FM. She is the 2014 winner of the Etisalat Prize for Literature in the Flash Fiction category. She co-founded La Poetista, a platform for poets and other performing artists to showcase their art and create a positive impact in the community through the arts. Through La Poetista, she coordinated the Woman Scream International Poetry and Arts Festival in Tanzania from 2013 to 2015, a movement to fight violence against women. She is also a steering committee member for the Ebrahim Hussein Poetry Prize and has served as a judge for Project Sawti Poetry Prize (Swahili) and Andika na Soma short story competition (Swahili). Currently, she is a doctoral student in Entrepreneurship at Hanken School of Economics.


Ngollo Mlengeya is a poet based in Dar es salaam, Tanzania. She is a holder of a Bachelor Degree in Business Administration from St. Augustine University of Tanzania and a mother of two boys. She started writing poetry as a way of expressing herself but it soon grew to be an exploration of human nature, identity and why we do what we do. She believes poetry can heal by the comfort of knowing you are not alone. Ngollo was exhibited at the Uliza wahenga dada! project exhibition (February, 2021), was the winner of SAWTI poetry prize 2019 (Kiswahili category) and she has performed at Poetry 255, Lyricist Lounge, The Annoying Artist and is a member of Waka poetry group in Dar es salaam.

K. Eltinaé is a Sudanese poet of Nubian descent, raised internationally as a third culture kid. His work has been translated into Arabic, Greek, Farsi, French and Spanish. His work has appeared in The Ordinary Chaos of Being Human: Many Muslim Worlds (Penguin), The African American Review, among others. He is the winner of The 2019 Beverly Prize for International Literature (Eyewear Publishing) and co-winner of the 2019 Dignity Not Detention Prize (Poetry International)

Suhayl Omar is a Kenyan based community organiser and researcher. His interests lie in theorising policing, surveillance, militarism and Muslim precarity in Africa and beyond.

Manal Younus is an Australian based storyteller from Eritrea who believes that language and stories are the very fabric of our existence. Using her writing and performance, Manal creates experiences that encourage audiences to join her in asking questions of themselves and the world around them. Following the Australian Poetry Slam National Finals in 2013, Manal has gone on to perform around the country and the world including at the Jaipur Literary Festival and Georgetown Literary festival. In 2015, she released her first book of poetry called ‘Reap’, touring nationally in Adelaide, Melbourne and Perth, with performances in Queensland and parts of New South Wales. Manal frequently collaborates with Act Now Theatre to write and produce educational theatre pieces for schools. This includes the award winning play, Responding to Racism, which has toured South Australia for 7 consecutive years and is set to tour across schools nationally in the coming year. More recently she wrote two monologues that featured in The Decameron 2.0, and is now working on her first feature length play incorporating spoken word, hip hop and physical theatre.


Please note that we're using Central European Time (CET) for all events during the festival. We recommend that you check the event times listed with your local time, to ensure you can join us at the right time.


We want to make events throughout the Rights Studio Festival available to as many people as possible. Therefore, many of our events – like this one – are free. We also offer a “Pay What You Can” option, so you can choose to give a little more, if that is within your means. Thank you.

Photo by: Nim BJ



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