MLK Slam Contest: U.S. Mission Cotonou Promotes English Learning through Poetry 

On April 6, 2022, U.S. Deputy Chief of Mission Karen Gustafson de Andrade, presented prizes to the five winners of the 6th Annual Martin Luther King Jr’s (MLK) English poetry competition at U.S. Embassy Cotonou.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, Public Diplomacy held the Slam Contest online. The purpose of this contest is to encourage students to speak English and to support young Beninese seeking to advance human right issues by drawing on Dr. Martin Luther King Junior’s vision. This year, contestants had to develop their message around King’s quotes that go as follows: “You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.” 

Benin is a French-speaking country where learning English can be a challenge for young undergraduates who want to study in U.S. universities. This is why the MLK Slam Competition aims to provide students with an opportunity to learn, practice, and master English in order to improve their prospects of acceptance into U.S. higher education institutions. During the award ceremony, DCM Karen Gustafson de Andrade commended the recipients on their English proficiency.  She highlighted King’s impact as a civil rights’ activist and pioneer using poetry in addressing global concerns of injustice. 

Over 600 young people participated in the MLK Slam competition since the first edition took place in 2017. 


Links to videos by contest winners:  

  1. Best Female Overall: Gloria Adjaho
  2. Best Male Overall: Tolok Hossou
  3. Best English Diction: Estelle Vianou
  4. Most Creative English: Apollinaire Sonon
  5. Audience Choice: Yemissi Marie Esther Zoclanclounon