Poets for Avoidable Deaths

The Custodians of African Literature (COAL) in partnership with the Avoidable Deaths Network is implementing a one-month awareness and advocacy campaign “Poets for Avoidable Deaths” that leverages the potency of spoken word poetry to elevate the voices of youths on issues relating to disaster-prone regions of the developing world. With a focus on the SDGs, especially SDG 1. End poverty in all its forms everywhere, SDG 11.  Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable and SDG 13. Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts. 

The Goal of this campaign is “To promote awareness and action around avoiding disaster deaths, commemorating the International Awareness Day for Avoidable Deaths (IAD4AD).”

The campaign addresses the imperative need for increased disaster risk reduction awareness and governance interventions in lower-income countries who shoulder high mortality from extreme weather, climate and seismic hazards. By empowering young poets in Africa, to take charge of their voice and agency, the campaign will spotlight the unconscionable realities around avoidable disaster deaths. 

Poets for Avoidable Deaths engages some of Jos and Zambia’s finest poets Lardo, Younglan, Envoi Vates, and Vanessa. By empowering young poets in Africa, to take charge of their voice and agency, the campaign will spotlight the unconscionable realities around avoidable disaster deaths caused by drowning, maternal mortality, snake bite and silicosis.

Meet the Poets

LARDO holds a degree in History and International Studies and currently serves as a Product Designer at FoodCourt, Lagos, while also fulfilling the role of Youth Advisor to the European Union in Nigeria. In 2021, she released her debut album THE AZURE ALBUM, exploring themes of life, family, grief, and love. Recognized for her impactful work, she was honored as one of the top 100 change makers in Plateau State in 2022.

Her artistic prowess extends beyond her professional endeavours. She has garnered acclaim in the Nigerian poetry scene, winning numerous slam competitions, including the Jos Poetry Slam 2018, Abuja Literary Festival 2019, and Fist of Words 2022. Her performances have captivated audiences nationwide, with appearances at prominent events such as the Lagos International Poetry Festival and at the commissioning of new roads in Kaduna by the former President Muhammadu Buhari in 2022.

Grounded in her personal ethos, LARDO advocates for continuous growth and mindfulness. She believes in embracing lifelong learning, challenging oneself, and seeking new experiences to foster personal and professional development. Additionally, she prioritizes mindfulness, emphasizing the importance of living in the present moment rather than dwelling on the past or fretting about the future.

Younglan Talyoung is a multi-award-winning performance/spoken word artist, veterinary medical student, community developer and social advocate who loves cats, butterflies, spiders, ladybirds and flowers but is scared of enclosed spaces. He hails from Tudun Wada, Jos.

He has performed for and at the Lagos International Poetry Festival, Abuja Literary and Arts Festival, Benue Book and Arts Festival, Jos Book and Arts Festival, HIASFEST Minna, Search For Common Ground Nigeria and Heinrich Boll Stiftung. His poems have appeared in or are forthcoming in Kalahari Review, Bada Murya Fellowship Anthology, Okada Books, EB Arts Organization, Plateau State Tourism Magazine, The Borderline Magazine, Nanty Greens and elsewhere.

As an artist with an unwavering passion for social change, Younglan seeks to challenge perspectives, spark dialogue and ignite action and social awareness through his poems, urging readers and listeners to confront and work towards positive change.Younglan Talyoung volunteers at the Tudun Wada Community Library and is a Bada Murya Fellow with the McArthur Foundation. He lives in Jos with his two cats; Raven and Ragnar

Vanessa Chisakula is a multifaceted artist, an accomplished speaker, and a dedicated creative activist who harnesses the power of art as a compelling medium for advocacy. She perceives creativity as the pivotal thread that intricately weaves together the realms of art and social justice. Her written works resonate with a dual purpose: to mend societal wounds and to courageously articulate truths that challenge the status quo.She is the 2023 Africa’s podcasts and voice (Rising talent in the poetry category) Award recipient and has been featured on various platforms, including the Guardian, BBC Focus on Africa, Afro women poetry. The CSW66 and the UN High-Level Global
Conference, the Southern Human Rights Defenders Summit, the International Fundraisers Congress (IFC), the Africa Health Agenda International Conference (AHAIC) and the WHO-Afros 75th Anniversary Commemoration and the conference on public health in Africa (CPHIA).She’s a Milead fellow, Civicus youth action team member, a youth leader for nutrition under the civil society network/scaling up nutrition and co-founder of Word Smash Poetry, a movement promoting youth in governance through art. Her celebration of Africa is in her 2020 poetry chapbook ‘Africana’ she has further been published in the women scream anthology 20’, on PePeta Africa’s “our voices’ digital booklet and she is writer and performer of the multi-award-winning poem ‘Her Place’, which advocates for women’s rights.

Mandellah Josiah, also known as Envoi Vates, is a Nigerian poet, raconteur, voice-over artist, and creative director. He hails from Plateau State and is a self-learner with a deep-rooted interest in literacy. He also promotes creative and alternative learning methods.

In addition to his work in literacy, Mandellah is committed to child development, coaching students in creative writing, critical thinking, and debate. His interest in boy-child mentorship and mental health awareness is another area where he actively contributes.

Mandellah’s poetry, known for its calm, narrative flair, has seen him win the Jos Poetry Slams twice and earn runner-up positions in other contests like the Abuja Literary Society Slam and the Port Harcourt Literary Society. His work explores a variety of themes, such as family, romance, coming-of-age experiences, mental health, and justice.

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