Port Elizabeth artist Lelethu ‘Poeticsoul’ off to perform in Sweden


Port Elizabeth artist, Lelethu ‘Poeticsoul’ Mahambehlala is jetting off to Sweden on Wednesday to perform at the 2016 Kulturkalast/Culture festival. The event takes place in Gotherburg where it started on Tuesday and is expected to end on Sunday.

Lelethu, who started career whilst performing in the Bay’s underground art scene, has become a recognisable brand with the Eastern Cape as one of the few poets, who have shared stages with the likes of Lebo Mashile, Mac Manaka and Sibongile Khumalo among other South African creative industry greats.

“I know people get excited when one mention names like Lebo Mashile but for me the most memorable performances were when I performed with local artists and school kids that had something to say that is not validated by a brand name,” said Lelethu in an interview with RNews.

She said her career really blossomed when she joined The Swallows Foundation SA - an Arts and Culture Development Agency that focuses on developing talent in local artists around the Eastern Cape. She was eventually elected as the Chairperson of its board in November 2015.

The Swallows Foundation SA also hosts an exchange programme that seeks to build relationships between local and international artists, which is part of the reason why Lelethu is visiting Sweden.

At the Kulturkalast/Culture festival, she will team up with East London-based artist, Asanda ‘Msaki’ Lusaseni, who is also a member of The Swallows Foundation SA.

“It’s my first time performing abroad and it’s a bit of an exciting challenge. I’ll stepping out of my comfort zone; I’ll be going to a place where no one knows my name and try to build a reputation for myself there,” said an ecstatic Lelethu.

“When you are always performing in one place, people will get used in your work - you’ll end up feeling at ease. Now, I’ll be performing for different people - hopefully, I’ll go there as nobody and come back as somebody.”

Besides her work as a performing artist, Lelethu is also a rising businesswoman and a community developer. In conjunction with the NMMU’s Language department, she has been offering performance poetry training to local high school learners focusing on the development of the isiXhosa language. 

Image: Courtesy of National Arts Festival