George The Poet has said he is happy he was able to inspire people with his dramatic proposal before Christmas.
The spoken word artist, whose real name is George Mpanga, popped the question to his girlfriend Sandra Diana Makumbi, who is also head of operations at his company, in December.
The 30-year-old surprised her with what she thought was a photoshoot featuring lanterns, white balloons and both their initials lit up in lights, until he got down on one knee.
Mpanga told the PA news agency: “That engagement was a while in the works. When I was putting it together I was only focusing on my partner Sandra. I was only focusing on her reaction. And releasing it publicly was really an afterthought. But to see the joy it has brought people, yeah man, that makes it 10 times better.
“I had really underestimated how much people needed it. People made me see that it is important to share love publicly and really inspire people. People were really inspired by our love, which is crazy. I didn’t think that that was a thing.
“For now we are coming to terms with the reality of trying to plan a wedding in a pandemic.”
Mpanga has been vocal on topical issues including free school meals but said he had no plans to go into politics.
He said: “Being on this side of the debate, it allows us to have a civil conversation. The minute you step into the public space it is a bit harder…”
He added: “I have the space in my career to make my point. But I fear that stepping outside of this space would force me to maybe restrict my message a little. And I don’t want to do that.”
Mpanga features among the poets, authors and artists who have created a series of Short Moving Stories (SMS) – short, text-length messages of positivity.
The project, commissioned on behalf of Nokia phones, also features the work of James McInerney, whose Poetry Project has been putting positive messages on the London Underground for three years, and Indian author Ruskin Bond.
Speaking about his commission, which addresses the value of community, he said: “Some of these poems were knocking around in my mind for a while or adapted from things I said in the past. But lockdown breathed new relevance into them.
“I always say lockdown made me focus on the little things and try to appreciate and find excitement in the day-to-day stuff that we might otherwise take for granted.
“These poems, stuff like talking about checking on people. There is a line where I say, ‘I feel you over long distances / I learn so much from our differences’.
“That is exactly how I feel about my family but it probably would have taken a lockdown for me to articulate that in the way I did for this poem.”
You can find the Short Moving Stories project here.