Friday, February 3, 2012

Author of the Month January 2012 - Dr. Patrick Mangeni

Dr. Patrick Mangeni is the Head of Department of Performing Arts and Film, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, Makerere University. He holds a PhD in Applied Theatre from Griffith University in Australia. As a poet, dramatist and writer, he draws inspiration from the position he finds himself and others in daily life by making sense of it all and trying to find balance in life especially narratives from his family. For him it is a sort of coming to terms with life.

Dr. Patrick Mangeni (2nd from left)

Call for Submissions

Call for Submissions for the 4th FEMRITE Regional Women Writers’ Residence November 2012

Uganda Women Writers Association (FEMRITE) calls for submissions for her 4th Regional Women Writers Residence to be held in November 2012. This is an inspiring initiative that brings together upcoming African women writers. The main objectives of the residency are:
  • To bring established writers to mentor upcoming African women writers
  • To give upcoming Ugandan women writers the opportunity to interact with women writers from the continent
  • To give African women writers conducive space and time pursue their writing projects
  • To create opportunities for inter-cultural discourse among women writers
  • To strengthen collaboration among women writers’ initiatives in Africa
  • To generate short stories for publication in an anthology

 At the end of the residence, we expect the writers to have:
  • had mentoring sessions with an established writer
  • improved at least one of their writing projects
  • enriched each other’s manuscripts through discussion
  • submitted their improved short story for the residency anthology

 How to apply      
Interested women are required to submit;

  • Part of a novel / short Story collection in WORD document (40 pages, typed in Times New Roman, font 12, 1.5 spacing).
  • A short story for publication in the residency anthology
  • A brief bio (not more than 10 lines)

 This call is open to African women living on the continent. Writers already attached to writers groups in their countries are encouraged to apply.

Deadline for submissions is 30th April 2012

Please Note:
  1. All applicants will receive notification by email once their manuscripts are received.
  2. The Residency targets 15 writers
  3. The Residency will last two weeks in November 2012
  4. Successful applicants will be notified by 30th August 2012.
  5. Successful published applicants will be kindly requested to donate copies of their works to the FEMRITE Resource Centre
  6. Applicants should not have published more than one book.
  7. FEMRITE will solicit support to meet costs of travel, accommodation, & meals.

 For inquiries and submissions, please email

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

An evening tea date with Glaydah Namukasa

Glaydah Namukasa started writing in secondary school when she was introduced to literature as a school subject but she kept all her writing to herself. Only later did she open up and let other people start to read her work. She is proud that a friend finally dragged her to FEMRITE because she was a little scared of being unaccomplished among established writers. She credits the readers writers club hard hitting critique while making great use of the self help books in the FEMRITE resource centre.

Glaydah Namukasa

Friday, November 18, 2011

Book Review: World of Our Own and other stories

World of Our Own and other stories is a short story collection born out of the 2nd FEMRITE residency for African women writers that was held in January 2011 in Jinja, Uganda. The residency is open to all African women writers. Participants were from Ghana, South Africa, Nigeria, Tanzania, Kenya, Zambia, and of course Uganda. The 2nd FEMRITE residency was supported by Commonwealth Foundation and Swedish Institute and two of the facilitators were from Sweden.

One might argue that the diverse backgrounds of the writers are responsible for the uniqueness of each story. True as that may be, the different spice in each story is also attributed to the well honed craft displayed by most of the writers. Albeit being universal, the themes explored therein have been written about before, so kudos to the writers for putting fresh embellishments on them to sustain the readers’ interest.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

3rd FEMRITE residency kicks off

Sunday 13th November 2011 marked the start of the 3rd FEMRITE Residency for African Women Writers. This year 15 women writers from 11 countries are represented; South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Kenya, Ghana, Nigeria, Cameroon, Tunisia and Uganda.

Participants at the 3rd FEMRITE residency at one of the sessions
The residency aims to encourage intercultural discourse among African women writers, to inspire African women to write together, to give women space and time to write and to strengthen regional co-operation. 

The residency is facilitated by award winning writers Doreen Baingana and Ellen Banda-Aaku who is also writer-in-residence for African Writers Trust.

The residency is set to close on 25th November 2011 but will be crowned off with a book launch for the latest FEMRITE anthology 'World of Our Own and other stories' which is a result of writings from the 2nd FEMRITE residency.
Participants from the 3rd residency will also read a sample of their writing at the evening of the launch.

Book cover of 'World of Our Own'
The 3rd FEMRITE residency is supported by STICHTING DOEN, Art Moves Africa and Danish Embassy Kampala.

Monday, October 3, 2011

19th Book Week Festival

Updates on support to 19th Book Week Festival
Hivos the Dutch organization for development has extended a grant of US$ 10,000 to NABOTU through the East African Book Development Association (EABDA). The grant is to support various children’s activities during the 19th National Book Week Festival due 10-15thOctober 2011 being organized under the theme, “Books bridge gaps.”
Children International Uganda has thrown its weight behind the City Children’s Reading Tent by providing a grant of 6 million UGX. Children International Uganda is a nonprofit humanitarian organization dedicated to bettering the lives of impoverished children, their families and communities. CI Uganda has greatly assisted several schools across Uganda to access learning materials through their book donation program.
The Authors Forum an inspirational event organized by World of Inspiration, every first Wednesday of the month, 5-8pm at National Theater. The Authors Forum has offered promotional opportunities for the book week on its partner radio and TV stations.
National Book Forum to focus on declining reading standards
Declining standards of literacy in primary schools will be the focus of discussion at this year’s National Book Forum. A public debate will be held on the theme, “Is the decline in literacy a gross failure by Ministry of Education and Sports to support reading?’’ The Ministry of Education and Sports has been invited to present their side of the story. Members of civil society organizations are set to take on the Ministry raising important issues that require government action to change the trend.
The failure by the Government of Uganda to procure readers for schools has been one of the underlying causes of poor reading standards in schools. It has also had dire consequences on the book industry. Several bookshops upcountry have run out of business. Publishing companies on the other hand have expressed frustration with the non-procurement of readers for the last four years. They are still holding hundreds of titles of readers in their warehouses and yet some of them took out loans to print and ship the books.
There is an ensuing debate with some pundits in the book industry claiming the non-procurement of readers by government is a self inflicted wound. A source within the Uganda Booksellers Association has told this bulletin that overzealous publishers were responsible for dismantling the effective DIMP (Decentralised Instruction Materials Procurement) program under which government was procuring readers. The source noted that although DIMP was scrapped, government continues to remit funds to schools a percentage of which was used to buy readers.
The agitation by publishers to scrap DIMP was because of non-payment and in some cases delayed payments by booksellers who in turn blamed government for delayed releases to districts.
Information on Public Debate call Robert 0701669021
Literary Expedition Goes North
Gulu in northern Uganda was home to the legendary poet Okot p’Bitek who penned Song of Lawino and Song of Ocol. The two works catapulted Uganda into the international literary lime light yet to be surpassed by contemporary Ugandan writings. The era of great literary writings unfortunately faded following the dictatorship of President Idi Amin which earned Uganda the unenviable description of a literary desert.
During the 19th National Book Week Festival, the National Library of Uganda in a bid to rediscover the roots of great literary writings is taking the Literary Expedition to Gulu. Publishers, Authors and interested persons can get more information from Stella 0772443281
Writers to take to the Podium
Writers have the podium as their page. They speak straight to hundreds, thousands and millions of souls from this podium. This book week, FEMRITE- the Women Writers Association is performing the miracle of merging the podium to the stage, and filling Garden City roof top with hundreds of literary experts, lovers of writing and young people keen for words.
Have you been to the podium before to speak about your writing? You are welcome to do so. Write to
Innovations in Publishing
NABOTU and the University of Cape Town recently signed an agreement to undertake a case study on the feasibility of establishing a free to publish web platform for CC licensed materials across East Africa. The case study is part of the Open Africa Innovation Research (Open AIR) on Intellectual Property’s Role in Open Development. IDRC and GIZ have invested more than 20 million South African Rand in the Pan-African Open AIR project.
Professor Robert Ikoja-Odongo the current Principal of the College of Computing and Information Science, Makerere University will be the lead researcher on the Ugandan case study. You can get more information from

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The African Writers' Conference: African countries could borrow a leaf from Ethiopia

When I received the invitation to attend the African Writers Conference in April this year, I was excited. I had not heard of any African Writers Conference since the renowned Makerere University Literature Conference at which Uganda was referred to as a literary desert. The conference organized in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of Ethiopia Writers Association, run from 2nd to 4th May 2011 under the Theme; From the independence of the continent to the liberation of the mind: The unfinished journey. The main venue was Akaki Campus, Adis Ababa.

When we stepped off the plane in Addis Ababa, there was a small drizzle and the air was freezing. For a moment, I worried because cold weather was not what I had prepared for. Frantically, Walabyeki Magoba and I looked around for someone holding a placard with our names, but there was none. A driver that had come to collect someone must have noticed our anxiety because he immediately offered to help. He made a phone-call to Sefanit, one of the conference organizers whose number I fortunately had. She gave us instructions to wait where we were.
Sefanit (middle) and Fanaye (right) at the Hotel. Sefanit was one of the key persons on the organising committee.
In four or five minutes, two gentlemen appeared and they took us to the VIP’s Lounge where we found a few other writers from the continent. There, we were met by the Executive Board of the Ethiopia Writers Association and other dignitaries from the Ministry of Internal Affairs. From that time on, we had VIP treatment, sometimes escorted by a VIP motorcade. A welcome dinner was organised at state house in honour of the African Writers. 

H.E the President of the Federal Republic of Ethiopia, Girma Wolde-Giorgis, also one of the Founding Members of The Ethiopia Writers Association was very hospitable and he had a lengthy chat with Prof Atukwei Okai, the Secretary General of the Pan African Writers Association (PAWA). We did not meet H.E. Ato. Meles Zenawi, the Prime Minister but we were meant to understand that he too was very supportive of the conference. The state of Ethiopia gave substantial financial and moral support towards the conference. 

I strongly felt that the Uganda government and other African countries could learn a lesson or two from Ethiopia. For instance, Ugandan writers have excelled in many ways winning regional and international writing awards but no official from the relevant ministries has said anything to encourage the writers and inspire other aspiring writers. Ethiopia is aware that writers are a very important factor with regard to promoting the social, moral and political fibre of any nation.

The central aim of the conference was to instigate African writers to bring forth ideas and experiences that may contribute original ideas to facilitate the growth and development of the African continent. The organisers wanted to provoke the indomitable African sprit through discussion of African literature, African languages, and African politics, culture and philosophy, as the main sub themes covered by the presentations. 

Relaxation time with Banchi (right) at Akaki Campus

The period of stay for the writers in Ethiopia was in two engagements; the conference and a National tour of Ethiopia’s most beautiful cultural sites. During the conference, over 40 papers were presented in seminars and plenary sessions. Sometimes there would be full house listeners of Ethiopia’s academia and the ordinary people during the presentation. My presentation was titled: The Dependent Literary Culture Vis-à-vis a struggle for the Liberation of the African continent: A case of selected areas. After my presentation, Prof Eke from USA, but of Nigerian descent, commented that Africans should not be burdened with expectations of writing to preserve memory and culture but they should just write those stories that make sense to them. This was in response to one of my suggestions that African writers should make an effort where possible to integrate their cultural values in their creative works in order to preserve the African cultural memory. 

At the end of my session, I took the opportunity to distribute copies of FEMRITE’s publication; Beyond the Dance, with a hope of making a contribution to the fight against Female Genital Mutilation which is very prevalent in Ethiopia.

In addition to the main presentations, there were other discussions organised in universities between students and writers. One such discussion centred on the theme; Pan African Solutions to Africa’s Problems. You bet none of the speakers gave a concrete suggestion. The discussion eventually turned to causes and effects of war and a call to African writers to make a deliberate effort to construct narratives that promote peace and harmony instead of narratives that might promote divisionism and hostility. It would have been a depressing discussion if it had not been proceeded by a visit to Emperor Haile Selassie’s magnificent palace that stands way ahead of its time.

The Emperor's bed has remained cozy several years after he left it.