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.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


With each other; spirit body soul
All left behind, our hearts at rest
let’s hand in hand take a dusk stroll
through the scented mystical forest.
Let the breeze blow against our faces
watching beautiful butterflies flutter by
as we, gracefully move
along the ageless footpath

Stop. for a while let’s be silent…

so our spirits may speak
to each other till they are one.
Guide me to you, your inner self
as I, wholly unfold bare myself.
Some speak of whirlwinds, earthquakes
others desire erupting volcanoes
but let ours be a cool calm river.

May we be cascading waters that wind
smoothly in sync with contiguous nature
with strongest of bonds and same mind
enjoying each point of the adventure
taking the bends when we can
flowing downstream,
picking up momentum
as we draw nigh to the cliff.

May we plunge as a waterfall
down that ancient rock
into blissful oblivion imbibing
the bubble moment midair.
Only to fall down below
to resume our smooth flow

May our heartbeat be the percussion
in the celebration that’s this fusion,
may it play a steady tempo
to our soulful music legato
yet let the energy build into a crescendo
only to quieten back down into a…
       sweet soft symphony

May ours be a river
Music played Legato.

© Joseph Berunga

Friday, August 19, 2011

The readers writers club

Every Monday as the day gets a little less daylight and weary drivers rush by to get home, a determined group of artists pops in through the maroon gates. Their mood is upbeat because for them their day is just about to begin. They will always find time to gather up in a close brethren-like but totally cool circle, literally. There is everybody in this midst, from the school teacher, to the journalist, to the psychologist and the actor. Many come because they are passionate about reading and writing.
The goal of the readers/writers club is to be a writer’s peer review forum and the converging point for beginning, shy and definitely established writers. The club has been holding sessions every Monday at 5:30pm for over 5 years at the FEMRITE offices. Writers submit their work so that it is critiqued by fellow writers and readers.
There’s no room for ‘dis-literaturerisation’ at this place. If you say you can write, then those who read will approve. But not before telling you exactly what they think of your writing style. That is how club embraces and tries to better Ugandan writers. We try to keep things interesting by having our own writing competitions.
We’ve gone through it all, from badly written work to a downturn in numbers and a resurgence. But club has stayed true to being committed to creative writing. It even managed to survive the global economic downturn! 

The readers/writers club has hosted big names from Prof. Taban to Prof. Austin Bukenya to graduate students from Europe wanting our good opinion about writers and writing in Uganda. We tell them we are all struggling to get published. Ah the life of a Ugandan writer…
We have reviewed every literary material from half done novels, to hilarious stories and lamentable poetry. If you can write we can give you an opinion on how bad or good you are.
But we try to take things a little more slowly because we know there is always that lighthearted moment of well earned evening tea to wrap up a short but meaningful day.

To find out more about joining the readers/writers club and FEMRITE log on to or send an e-mail to
Some club members at the Monday meeting

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Ugandan Literature to be given space on Uganda’s literature Curriculum

Finally, the National Curriculum Development Centre (NCDC) has declared that it will start a section of Ugandan Literature for the O’ and A’level syllabus. “Uganda has followed the colonial system of education since its inception,” Ms Angella Kyagaba, the Head of Literature and English Language at NCDC, stated. This was at a literature seminar that was organized by Uganda Women Writers Association and the Uganda Publishers Association (UPA) at the Uganda Museum on 6th July 2011 during the FEMRITE Week of Literary Activities.

The seminar was a follow up on many activities in which Ugandan Writers and publishers have continued to lobby the Ministry of Education and Sports and the National Curriculum Development Centre, to include more Ugandan literature on the school syllabus.

At the seminar, writers complained that the concerned institutions have continued to neglect Ugandan literature. They argued that Uganda’s literary heritage will not develop if policy makers continue to promote other literatures at the expense of home grown literature. When Ms Kyagaba said that Shakespeare will continue to dominate the syllabus because he is the King of drama, participants asked her to instead think of grooming the King of Ugandan drama. It is very important that Ugandan literature is given space in school which where it can be read and debated.

Up till 2006, there were only 4 Ugandan authors on syllabus. Okot Pbitek (Song of Lawino), John Ruganda (The Floods and The Burdens), Timothy Wangusa (Upon this Mountain), and Arthur Gakwandi (Kosiya Kifefe). It is worth noting that since then, more Ugandan books have been included on the syllabus. However, the structure of the syllabus is in such a way that these books are lumped with books from the rest of Africa and the rest of the world. A teacher therefore chooses what text to teach. In most cases, they choose the books that they are familiar with, those that they studied while at school. The students too prefer the familiar books such as Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte, Lord of the Flies by William Golding, Merchant of Venice by Shakespeare, Darkness at Noon by Arthur Koestler, Animal Farm by George Orwell, and many others. Sadly Ugandan books remain unfamiliar.

By no means, however, do the advocates for Ugandan literature agitate for the removal of these great books. No. Instead, they are asking for deliberate inclusion of Ugandan books. Books such as For the Fairest by Ulysses Chuka, Cassandra by Violet Barungi, Echoes of her Voice by Rosemary Kyarimpa, Secrets No More by Goretti Kyomuhendo and others are unfamiliar in the Ugandan classroom. Beatrice Lamwaka, the Caine Prize Finalist 2011, when asked what her perception was of the texts she studied while in school, stated that she thought that all writers were white and dead. She was surprised when she met Ben Okri, bubbling with life. It is important for Ugandan children to know that writing is not a preserve of a select group but a venture that Ugandans too have indulged in.

The reason Ugandan publishers and writers jubilated when Ms. Kyagaba, on behalf of the NCDC agreed to their request of establishing a section of Ugandan literature was because once that is established, the competition will be between Ugandan books alone. The section will have only Ugandan authored books. This is a break through for the publishers and writers. Ms Kyagaba added that as NCDC, they will also ensure that the selection of set books for this section is gender balanced.

source: WORDRITE e-journal issues 6 (c) FEMRITE Publications

Monday, August 15, 2011

Creative Writing Workshops

British Council Uganda in partnership with Uganda Women Writers Association (FEMRITE) is organising creative arts workshops that will run from 15 - 17 September at the Ugandan Museum.

These workshops will be facilitated by Judith Adong, Beatrice Lamwaka and Angela Emurwon and Beverley Nambozo who have all recently won accolades for their work.

The purpose of the workshop is to assist upcoming writers develop effective writing skills. Furthermore, this is also an opportunity to review, evaluate, and improve material that you have produced.

The genres that will be the focus of these workshops include: Playwriting, short stories, screen writing and poetry

Who can apply?
 Upcoming writers, playwrights, poets with no prior experience
Anyone above 18

What’s in it for you?
A place at facilitated workshops where you will work with subject experts
 The opportunity to share your work with peers
 Interaction with a UK VIP who will make a brief stop to interact with participants

What do you have to do?  (See guidelines for the different genres below)
Short stories – 12 places available
Submit short stories of about 2,000 words; double-spaced.
Up to three short stories will be accepted

Plays – 8 places available

Submit a one page synopsis of a play

Poems – 10 places available

Submit  three poems

What next?
  • Submit your work with an accompanying statement of interest and benefit to you (no more than 200 words) as follows:
Short stories
Plays / film scripts -
 Poetry –
  • The mentors will select and announce the final winners by 07 September 2011
  • Should you be selected, you will need to be available to attend the workshops from 15 -17 September 2011

FEMRITE anthology takes on problems of youth

Posted By In2EastAfrica On August 14, 2011 (7:03 pm) In Culture

Never Too Late, a book by FEMRITE — a group of Ugandan women writers — is an anthology featuring stories of daily youth struggles and experiences. The stories, all set in Uganda, offer insights into the emotional confusion and social challenges facing the youth and that often remain unknown to adults.
The anthology was born out of a desire by FEMRITE to generate literature for positive change aimed at addressing social issues facing not just the youth but society at large.
Although the stories and characters are all fictional, the stories give real-life experiences from around the world as seen from the themes.

The book tackles the themes of sex and sexuality, courage and ambition, love and betrayal, religion, teenage pregnancy, homosexuality, HIV/Aids, incest, drug abuse, parental care or lack of it.
In all the stories, the young people tell their stories in the first person, which helps to bring out their emotions very well. Each story tells of a different experience and challenge. The stories go further and offer solutions through peer suggestions.

For most of the stories, the adults appear to be the cause of the problems or fail to understand their children, who are desperate for their guidance. This is a reality of everyday life.
The story The Greatest Uganda Novel explores the themes of courage and ambitions that young people ought to emulate. Although the story has a low point when the narrator’s brother dies, the narrator nevertheless weathers the loss and is determined to be a writer someday no matter how long it takes her. And she has her peers to thank who never stop encouraging her.
However, some stories pose tougher questions even when the writers attempt to provide solutions.
Three stories tackle the theme of HIV/Aids and raise serious issues since the epidemic does not seem to be abating. The issue of children born and growing up with HIV for instance, cannot be easily resolved even by adults.
The story Hope Each Day by Brenda Lubwama may temporarily give hope to people living with HIV, but the issues are complicated.
Globally, there is a generation of children growing up with HIV. How can society then deal with the problem to avoid further infection of HIV-free children as the young ones become sexually active?
Hope Each Day is a story about Sheba, once a “good” girl who belonged to the Christian Union at her school, but suddenly chooses to join a “bad” group, and acquired a boyfriend. The boyfriend, Jake, is living with HIV; in their first sexual encounter he does not use protection and infects Sheba, who only learns of his status and hers during an HIV and pregnancy test in school.

Bad company
The author writes: “Sheba had taken his money and eluded him several times. He was sure that the song was going to change the tune and she would pay in full measure. As the girls enjoyed the dance, Jake secretly unrolled the paper that he had secretly kept in a small pocket at the back of his khaki trousers. His friends had told him that would do the trick… within a short time, she was drunk and out of control. Jake summoned his friends who supported her and they were out of the dance hall.”
Serina by Rose Rwakasisi is another HIV-themed tale of a young girl called Serina who is also an orphan. She faces discrimination from her paternal aunt on suspicion that she could be HIV-positive because her parents died of the disease.

Her aunt, however, does not take her for testing. Against all odds, she finds help through an outsider who assists her to get tested for HIV to verify her status. She turns out negative. Ironically, her aunt later tests HIV-positive.
This story provides pertinent lessons on HIV. That first, we should have the courage to test to know our status so that we can live positively, and second, to stop discrimination against HIV-positive persons because we could get infected and would like to be treated fairly ourselves.
However, some stories appeared to be negative. For example, Hanging Out at Dazzles by Constance Obonyo, seems to encourage young people to live a careless carefree life of partying and clubbing and expect no consequences.
The story also appears to downplay parental power over children, and implies that young people can and should have their way.

Generally, Never Too Late is a must read for all age groups as it raises questions and most times provides answers that require collective action.

By HALIMA ABDALLAH, The East African

Article taken from In2EastAfrica - All East African news, Headlines, Business, Tourism, Sports, Life, Entertainment and more -
URL to article:

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Call for Submissions for the 3rd FEMRITE Regional Women Writers’ Residence November 2011

FEMRITE - Uganda Women Writers Association will hold her 3rd Regional Women Writers Residence in November 2011. This is an exciting writing programme that brings together upcoming African women writers. The main objectives of the residence are:
  • To give African women conducive space and time to write
  • 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 that the writers:
  • Will have improved at least one of their manuscripts
  • Will have enriched each other’s manuscripts through discussion
  • Will have submitted their improved short story for the residence anthology
How to apply for the 3rd Regional Residence      
Interested women are required to submit;
  • Part of a Novel / Short Story collection in WORD Document (30 pages, typed in Times New Roman, font 12, 1.5 spacing).
  • A short story for publication in the Residence Anthology (if it is an already published story, the author must seek permissions for reproduction).
This call is open to African women living on the continent. Writers already attached to writers associations in their countries will be given first priority.
Deadline for submissions is 20th August 2011
Please Note:
  1. All applicants will receive notification by email once their manuscripts are received.
  2. The Residence targets 15 writers
  3. The Residence will last two weeks in November 2011
  4. Successful applicants will be given details of dates, travel, and accommodation by 30th August 2011.
FEMRITE wishes you all best towards widening women’s writing space on the African continent.
Please send your submissions by email to and copy to

FEMRITE is very grateful to the following for their support towards the success of the last two regional residences.
Funding partners:
  • The Commonwealth Foundation
  • Africalia
  • The Swedish Institute
  • The Caravan Journal
  • Dr Helen Moffet (South Africa)
  • Erik Falk (Sweden)
  • Kerstin Norborg (Sweden)
  • Birgitta Wallin (Sweden)
  • Dr Patrick Mangeni (Uganda)
  • Prof Arthur Gakwandi (Uganda)
Participants for the 1st Residence:
Betty Mukashema (Rwanda), Kingwa Kamencu (Kenya), Yaba Baedo (Ghana), Colleen Higgs (South Africa), Yemodish Bekele (Ethiopia), Olivia Jembere (Zimbabwe), and Lillian Tindyebwa, Sophie Alal, Philomena Rwabukuku, Margaret Ntakalimaze, Winnie Munyarugerero (Uganda).

Participants for the 2nd Residence:
Elieshi Lema (Tanzania), Mamle Kabu (Ghana), Mary Sililo (Zambia), Ketinah Muringaniza (Zimbabwe), Wame Molefhe (Botswana), and Beatrice Lamwaka, Lillian Tindyebwa, Constance Obonyo, Linda Lillian and Elizabeth Namakula (Uganda).

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

BN Poetry Award marks 3rd anniversary

The third edition of the Beverley Nambozo Poetry Award was held on Friday 1st July 2011 and naturally poetry was on show and the event’s activities did not disappoint.

This years’ winner was Sanyu Kisaka, a student who has recently completed her secondary school education. Second place was taken by Rachel Kunihira and the third winner was Flavia Kabuye who is also a member of FEMRITE and recently had her first maiden story published in an anthology; Never too Late. The theme this time round was hope and according to the judges each of the three winning poems had spunk, style and a fresh version of the theme.

Beverley Nambozo (R) with the guest of honour Hon. Joyce Mpanga (L)

The guest of honour Hon. Joyce Mpanga was thoroughly impressed by the award’s founder; Beverley Nambozo and how much energy she had put into making the event successful.
This year also saw the number of submissions double and included entrants from outside Uganda.
some of the attendees enjoy a poetry perfomance

The ceremony also included performances from last year’s winner, Sophie Alal and the 2011 Caine Prize Nominee, Beatrice Lamwaka who read an excerpt from her short listed story ‘Butterfly Dreams’. Also performing was Susan Kerunen, doing Okot p’Bitek’s ‘song of lawino’.
Beverly Nambozo (L) with the winner Sanyu Kisaka (R)

Beatrice Lamwaka - 2011 Caine Prize Nominee

Many writers can only dream of basking in glory for the continents top literary prize; the Caine Prize. This year Uganda was proud to have one of her writers, Beatrice Lamwaka, on the shortlist. She is the 3rd Ugandan to be shortlisted for the prize. Over 130 stories from 17 African countries were submitted but only 5 made the cut.

Her short story ‘Butterfly Dreams’ from the anthology ‘Butterfly Dreams and other short stories from Uganda’ was published by Critical, Cultural and Communications Press, Nottingham (UK), 2010.
Butterfly Dreams is about a family that has been waiting for 5 years for their daughter Lamunu to return home after being kidnapped by the LRA rebels. Her family buried her spirit when word went out that she would not be returning home. But Lamunu is returned home though traumatised, changed but still determined to follow her dreams.

What does this mean for Beatrice? Getting shortlisted for the Caine Prize has given her confidence to declare that she is a writer by profession.
For now she wants to focus on her manuscript for a first novel. Writing short stories has helped her grow as a writer but now she is ready for even bigger things.
Beatrice has published a number of short stories and poems in different FEMRITE anthologies including ‘The Hair Cut’ her latest story in the new FEMRITE anthology ‘Never too Late’.

Beatrice Lamwaka in the FEMRITE resource center

A teacher by profession, she never really practiced teaching but instead opted to focus on her writing and doing research work. This is the second time that Beatrice has been shortlisted for a writing award. The first was for the PEN/Studzinski Literary Award for her story ‘The star in my Camp’.

According to her getting on the Caine Prize shortlist is as good as it gets because of the exposure given to African writers. Agents and publishers pick interest in your writing work.

Lamwaka is the Treasurer of Uganda Women Writers’ Association and a freelance writer with The Daily Monitor, ugpulse and the Global Press Institute. She is currently pursuing an MA in Human Rights at Makerere University where she also graduated with a BA in English Language and Literature.

Shortlisted along with Beatrice were: NoViolet Bulawayo (Zimbabwe), Tim Keegan (South Africa),  Lauri Kubuitsile (Botswana), David Medalie (South Africa).
The Caine Prize, now in its 12th year is widely regarded as Africa’s leading literary award with a cash prize of 10,000 ritish pounds. It is awarded to a short story by an African writer published in English  whether in Africa or elsewhere.

The prize was first awarded in 2000 and the winner was announced at the Zimbabwe book fair. This years’ winner was Zimbabwe’s NoViolet Bulawayo, for her story ‘Hitting Budapest’.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Bookish Sort Explorer (Book Addict)

For my reader confessions, I have an incurable obsession with books that furnish my room as well as my entire life. I read everything; huge volumes, daily news, manuals, posters, paintings, medical prescriptions and packages of confectionary.

Whenever I am reading, I don’t get hungry. When I hear a call, I get angry and I don’t pick because I prefer not to respond. I don’t like to stir once I have opened a page. I also find it easier to bury my insomnia and sometimes stress in heaps of ink and paper or word processor. I like reading because then I can easily swim through oceans of knowing towards the shores of reality that seem less to be real with my usual (idealist mind in instances when I am not reading). And in no minute I can make it to all continents and understand their oceanic boundaries.

I sometimes feel terribly sorry for the fact that I owe a lot to writers but I devotedly omit that fact, because they write for themselves and their loyal readers; besides they are cunning enough to take all my love and my penny too! I digest most of the writings from love. The textures, colors and smell of books old or new have become familiar to me as my own perfume nearly to the air I breathe. 

The book is the sole specimen I have ever tried to resemble millions of beliefs and disagreements that may tend to overpower my consciousness and above all creating in me an instinct to generously correct the opinions of other minds wholeheartedly by liking them first and leave their facts intact. I find it liberating to take a daily word sacrament and being a literary glutton as well as an honest (ADHD) word worm a little too much is better for my hours. Books are my life. How else could I be?

(c) Atutambira Allen

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Secrets about Lamwaka of the Caine Prize

L-A-M-W-A-K-A 2011 CAINE!!!!!!!!
She comes from Alokolum in Gulu and studied at Kangole Girls’ Primary School in Karamoja where she fled with her bitutwa (Bitutwa are plaits that look like black maggots) flying in the wind, as a result of the unrest in Gulu. Labeaty, is what her close friends call her. Her first email address was
Do you remember when we first got email addresses which had years tagged to them? If you got your email address in 2012 then you were Labeaty was one of those people.

At FEMRITE, which she joined in 1999, while still an undergraduate at Makerere University, scrimmaging for literary abundance which was in plenty while Goretti still its Coordinator then, would dole out.

So anyway, Labeaty is one of those phlegmatics who does not really prescribe to the template of phlegs and she really likes eating bananas and taking tea with entangawizi. Why am I talking about Beatrice? She was shortlisted for the Caine Prize, she is my dear friend and I am the only interviewer so far who knew that she studied from Kangole Girls, which by the way is on the internet, mbu they used to wear cute short blue sleeveless dresses for uniform.
Labeaty says that you pick the uniform from the school and leave them there. (Giggle giggle). So, she has been shortlisted for the 2011 Caine Prize for African Writing for her short story, Butterfly Dreams which was published in 2010 in the anthology entitled Butterfly Dreams and other stories by CCC press in the UK.

We are certain the prize will come to East Africa again, because others on the short list are from SADC. Raise your glasses as we toast, raise your bananas as we boast, Beatrice Lamwaka.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

I was born on a mountainside

I was born on a mountainside
Where the setting sun hurls its final radiance
And grass glows in golden fire
The valley dark, long been gloomed in shade.

I was born on a mountainside.
The day’s very first rays of sunrise
Steal severely through a crevice in my wall.
Slim shimmery spears, they pierce into my eyes!

I was born on a mountainside.
At dawn I in the valley behold
A solid mass of white morning mist
Like cotton strewn all over, covering end to end
Which soon boils slowly like a magic broth
In curly wisps dispersing into the air
Till all is clear and the sky is bright
And the great sun smiles, its laughter to our world

(c) Hillary Kuteisa