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February 2, 2024


February 2, 2024

In celebration of Black History Month and to mark 30 years of South African democracy and U.S.-South Africa democratic partnership, the Embassy of the United States in South Africa announces the launch of a poetry and creative expression video competition entitled:


WHAT: South African youth ages 18-28 are invited to submit one spoken word poetry video clip of no more than two minutes, sharing the young poet’s perspective on what the promise of democracy means to South African youth today and into the next 30 years.

The top 18 nationwide winners (2 from each province) will be invited to participate in a 3-day spoken word poetry workshop with accomplished American slam poet Alysia Harris in mid-March 2024, culminating with a final performance of their pieces, in collaboration with the American performer.  From among the 18 finalists, the U.S. Embassy will award three top prizes at the conclusion of the final performance

HOW: Create a link to your video via a private YouTube or other shareable video channel and submit the link to your video in an email to pretoriaculturalsection@state.gov by 11:59 p.m. Pretoria time on Feb. 25, 2024 in order to be considered (see full instructions below). The 18 finalists will be notified via e-mail or phone, and also announced publicly at the live Poetry Slam on South African Human Rights Day March 20, 2024.  Submissions must be in English, and English will be required to participate in the upcoming workshop.

Contest participants must provide the following information in their email when they submit their videos:

    • Full name
    • Date of birth/age
    • School (if enrolled)
    • Telephone #
    • Email address
    • Title of the original video
    • Applicant’s social media handles (if applicable)
    • Applicant’s contact information
    • Link to your video on YouTube or other shareable video platform

The competition is for South African youth residing in South Africa.

A jury composed of South African writers and poets, including alumni of our prestigious International Writers Program, and U.S. diplomats will select the top 18 videos to determine who will be invited to the March workshop in Pretoria with American poet Alysia Harris.  Videos will be judged on effectiveness in communicating the importance and unique takes on the topic, as well as what the author stands for.

Alysia Harris was featured on the HBO documentary: Brave New Voices where she wowed audiences with her piece “That Girl”.  She is the winner of the 2014 and 2015 Stephen Dunn Poetry Prizes, Pushcart Nominee, and her poetry has appeared in Best American Poets, Indiana Review, The Offing, Callaloo, Solstice Literary Magazine, Squaw Valley Review, Letters Journal, and Vinyl Magazine among others. Her first chapbook “How Much We Must Have Looked Like Stars to Stars” won the 2015 New Women’s Voices Chapbook Contest. Alysia was also a founding member of the internationally known performance poetry collective, The Strivers Row, and has garnered over 5 million views on YouTube.

REMINDER: Contestants are reminded that by participating in the contest and uploading content to YouTube or other platform, they are bound by the platform’s Terms of Service and any agreements contained therein.  Once a video is uploaded to the chosen platform, it is considered a final submission and may not be modified or replaced.  Individual contestants may submit only one video.

PRIZES: From among the 18 finalists, the U.S. Embassy will award three top prizes at the conclusion of the final performance including a MacBook for first place.  Winners of the 2nd and 3rd places will be awarded an iPad and an­­­­­ iPad Mini, respectively.  Winning videos will be featured on the U.S. Embassy social media accounts, and media coverage of the event and performers may be incorporated into the workshop program.  All finalists will receive certificates from the U.S. Embassy in recognition of their efforts.

Full Contest Rules and Details

I. Contest Theme:
“NEXT GENERATION DEMOCRACY” – In honor of Black History Month 2024 and 30 years of democracy in South Africa

II. How to Enter:
Produce an original video of your own spoken word poetry no longer than two minutes in length that reflects the theme of the contest, “NEXT GENERATION DEMOCRACY” — what does the promise of democracy mean to South African youth? Each contestant is allowed to submit only one video entry. Videos need to be the original work of the contestants, and to be filmed in South Africa. This contest is open to South African youth ages 18-28 residing in South Africa. Once a video is submitted, it is considered a final submission and may not be modified, edited or replaced. Participation in this contest is automatically deemed as acceptance of these official contest rules. The video submission must be an original video produced by the submitter.

III. Video Submission:
Video links to pieces uploaded on YouTube or other shareable platform, with the corresponding passwords to view them (if protected) must be sent to pretoriaculturalsection@state.gov on or before 11:59 p.m. on February 25, 2024. Entry email should include: Title of the original video, the submitter’s full name, date of birth/age, contact information (telephone number, email address), social media handles, and the link to your video.

IV. Content Requirements
Entries cannot:

• be sexually explicit or suggestive, or derogatory of any ethnic, racial, gender, religious, or other group;
• Suggest support for or promote a political party or candidate;
• communicate demeaning messages or images;
• promote alcohol, illegal drugs, tobacco, firearms/weapons (or the use of any of the foregoing), any activities that may appear unsafe or dangerous;
• contain prominent copyrighted materials owned by others (including photographs, television, movies or other media);
• promote the violation of any law; and

V. Eligibility:
1. Contestants must be South Africans aged 18-28 living in South Africa.
2. The contest commences on February 1, 2024, and closes at 23:59 on February 25, 2024. The person submitting the video will be considered the contestant and will be the only person eligible to compete for the prize.
3. Family members of U.S. Embassy employees are not eligible to participate in this competition.

VI. Selection of Winners/Judging Criteria:
All videos will be screened by a panel of American diplomats and others affiliated with the U.S. Embassy, Pretoria, as well as local writers and poets and alumni of U.S. government exchange programs.

The criteria for judging in order of importance are (each category scored on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being the top score):

1) Effectiveness in raising awareness about the value and importance of democracy among youth;
2) Originality/creativity;
3) Delivery of the poetry.

VII. Terms & Rights:
By entering you represent and warrant and agree that:

You have produced and submitted the entry. You have received permission from any person(s) depicted in the video and that all elements of your entry submitted by you are original with you and are not copied from any other work.

All submissions must be from individuals ages 18-28. If any minor is pictured in the video, the applicant must have authorization from that minor’s parent or legal guardian to submit the video product.
By submitting your entry, you agree that the U.S. Embassy, Pretoria has no obligation to post or publish your entry, that all such postings or publication, if any, will be in the U.S. Embassy, Pretoria’s sole discretion.

You retain ownership of the entry you submit, however by submitting an entry, each entrant understands and grants to the U.S. Embassy, Pretoria permission for his/her entry to be posted on the Embassy’s online platforms (e.g. Facebook, Instagram, etc.), and web pages in perpetuity throughout the world for viewing by visitors to the websites. The U.S. Embassy, Pretoria is not responsible for any unauthorized third-party use of any entry.

The U.S. Embassy, Pretoria reserves the right to request proof of the use of any copyrighted materials from any entrant at any time.

The U.S. Embassy, Pretoria reserves the right to disqualify any entry for any reason, in its sole and absolute discretion. The U.S. Embassy, Pretoria is under no obligation to disclose why an entry has been disqualified other than the entry was ineligible under these official rules. Furthermore, the U.S. Embassy, Pretoria reserves the right to not award any prize if, in its sole and absolute discretion, it does not receive a sufficient number of eligible and qualified entries in the entry period.