Keith Vries (stage name: Keith Black), born in 1990, is a Namibian poet, writer and performer.
For the past decade, he has been performing poetry and has been involved in productions that seek to create awareness about and around the 1904–1908 Namibian Genocide. As a »genocide activist«, his work has appeared in performances and exhibitions in Namibia, Tanzania, Cameroon, Germany, the United States, the United Kingdom and South Africa.
Besides performance poetry, Keith’s work also focusses on »ritual« themed live (theater) performances paying homage to and seeking restitution for the victims of the 1904–1908 genocide and grassroot activism work in Namibia, which address the residual colonialism left as a result of the genocide.
He aims to create historically themed, accurate works of poetry, prose and performance that educate audiences while also allowing them to empathize with the victims of the genocide, using images, languages and contexts that are already widely understood and accepted. Through the use of comparative history, untold stories and the awakening of forgotten stories, he seeks to create work that is easily accessible to a broad audience.
With a background in journalism, activism, writing, editing and performance, Keith believes that mixing these diverse elements can result in a more creative, understandable and accessible way of educating the world about the tortured history of that time. His work aims to make the history more widely available in ways that can stir emotions in the audience members and listeners, making the content relatable and accessible while simultaneously maintaining the integrity of the topic and staying as historically accurate as possible.
Keith believes that poetry and performance are the perfect vehicles to speak about both past and future, as both Namibia and Germany grapple with the consequences of their shared history.