Unpacking ‘Colour me Melanin’ with Slam poet Belita Andre
7 Jun 2019 ARTS & CULTURE
By Zuko Komisa
Belita Andre is a young poet who often hosts her own shows. She shared some of her poetry on the Poetry Corner on Karibu with Mike Siluma. Based in Johannesburg, Belita Andre is passionate about the continent and its rich cultural diversity.
She’s afropolitan through and through, who was born in the North West and grew up in Johannesburg. Her mother is from Mozambique and her father is Nigerian. She attributes her love for poetry to the vast amount of books she read when she was younger and that she wanted to create the same magic she felt as a child.
Colour Me Melanin
Brlita Andre currently has a book titled ‘Colour Me Melanin’, a colouring book with 27 illustrations of a standard woman from various chosen tribe across Africa. She explains the thoughts behind this work: “In the book, you see a woman in every tribe accompanied by a praise poem, a synopsis of her journey, habits and traditions.”
Listen to the full interview here:
Photo by: @xquizifed
The book, she says, is aimed at everyone, offering them a little burst of information that would lead them to learn more about the various cultures and traditions. Included on “Coloue Me Melanin” are Masia from Kenya, the Nguni, Swati, Borana and many more. This project has been a team effort with researchers, illustrators, and poets.
A poem that seeks to encourage humanity to have tools to be independent in the choices we make. She looks at the intricate complexity of relationship in the modern day and opens it with a line that says “Our carpet is stitched together by the neighbour’s tongue”where she feels the people’s existence or what we call drama is always about people being involved in other people’s business.
She believes as a female poet she represents people generally before the existence of all these add-ons affiliated with identity. “I have always written about things that matter to me, things that I see, which I feel really matter in the arts. That is where I think your power comes from. Most of the time people can tell if you are speaking about something you know nothing about.”