Xabiso Vili telling African stories through new media


South African-born creative, Xabiso Vili, is a poet, spoken word and new media artist, social activist, writer, author and producer. As a new media artist, Vili works with augmented and virtual reality. Vili is a widely recognised writer, performer and artist. His recent awards and honours of note include being the Tshwane 2015 Speaking Out Loud Champion, winning the 2019 Digital Lab Africa Web Award, being featured as a New Generations Poet at the 2022 Poetry Africa Festival, the 2022 World Slam Champion, and the 2022 Future Africa Grant Recipient awarded by Meta, as part of the Future Africa: Telling Stories, Building Worlds programme.  

The focus of the Future Africa: Telling Stories, Building Worlds programme is to own and shift African narratives and to tell gripping African stories modern and stories that are deeply absorbed. With Vili being one of the six creators, and then overall winner, of Africa’s Extended Reality Showcase, he created Black Boi meets Boogeyman in collaboration with The Brother Moves On, and produced by Kirstin Lee Grey. This is an interactive 360-degree visual album, where he uses the mediums of poetry and theatre. Black Boi meets Boogeyman is, “[a] speculative fiction piece where Black Boi, our protagonist, goes on a hero’s journey through a South Africa that needs reminding of its light to confront the Boogeyman. This 360-degree visual album hopes to become an access point in which artists and communities can imagine using XR artistically and intentionally for communal healing,” according to Iminza Keboge

The title, Black Boi meets Boogeyman, is alluring. A title like this immediately makes you curious as it tells you who is meeting who. Fans of Vili’s work will know that in 2017 he did his show, Black Boi Be, a play that highlights the beauties and horrors, the intricacies and the sensitivities of being black. Vili says that Black Boi be is “a combination of poems that come from personal stories.” In Black Boi meets Boogeyman, Vili investigates his own masculinity and he walks up to and analyses his own demons. 

This visual album serves as an offering for many black bois to heal. To find a broken community and to become whole. It was recently performed at the Free State Arts Festival in collaboration with the University of Johannesburg.

Xabiso Vili will be one of the artists in Worldplay sessions, at the Toyota US Woordfees on the 11th of October, if you want to catch him live in action. Wordplay sessions are described as a fun and crazy game show in which poets and musicians must team up and improvise in front of an audience. 

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