Wednesday, July 26, 2017


Osemwengie Zion (Courtesy photo)

Having stopped writing haiku for some time, the competition came as a path leading one home and I couldn't help but follow. When I wrote my first haiku, I had a deep connection with it but gradually, the love started to wear out till we became silent lovers on separate shores bearing broken memories of the sweet past.
So when submissions were called for, I hurried to write mine not mainly for the contest but as a way of an errant coming back. A lover returning home after all is spent.

The first haiku I wrote was in 2014 for a contest organised on Facebook to promote haiku. When I read about it, I rushed to learn a few things about the style. It was not just a style but a world of its own. It was beauty locked in a small room. However, after that time, I wrote quite a number of them until the love wore out.

Haiku is melting a century into the body of a decade. It is telling so many in very few. The task before the poet is a very taxing one and anyone who can write such poems is a miracle.
The shortlist is indeed magic and the writers are a miracle. The poems are beautiful.

 What motivation do poets need, to keep writing, in this ridiculously competitive world that vies for their attention?
Writing in times like this is difficult but not impossible. Writing should not be seen as a substitute for anything but as a soul without which one can not live. To keep writing, place value on it and see it as breath. Motivation comes from within and the value we place on things determines how we see them.

First, I'm glad it isn't food as the meat of a man may be another's poison.
But, if it were, it would have been Éwa Ágoyin, a special kind of beans.
Only those who suffer amnesia would forget the taste in a hurry.

We at Babishai, congratulate him again. The winners will  be announced at the #Babishai2017 Poetry Festival dinner on Sunday 6 August at Humura Resort, Kitante Close. Cards are on sale at 40,000/- Call +256 703147862. The full festival programme is here.
The full winning haikus are here:

Tuesday, July 25, 2017


Introducing Charlotte Akello.

Charlotte Akello from Uganda, was shortlisted for the Babishai 2017 haiku prize. She is proud of that Ugandans have represented well this year and if her haiku submission was a food, it would be cooked pilau, she says.
What drew you to enter for the competition?
I love writing haikus so when I heard about this competition, I decided to submit.

  Do you have a particular story with haikus?
I love nature and I love poetry. It's only natural that I fall in love with haikus. I usually take pictures and transform them to haikus. I started writing haikus last year and there's nothing more relieving. I can still capture memories with haikus even when I don't have a camera.

        What do you feel towards the shortlist in general?
It's great. I love the depth in the little poems. Too much is said in a few syllables. I also love the fact that Uganda is well represented unlike last year. This shows that Ugandan poets are getting on board.

   What motivation do poets need, to keep writing, in this ridiculously competitive world that vies for their attention?
Poets need to be patient and aim to become better each day. Some poets tend to give up after a year or 2 yet writing in general needs a lot of patience.

 If your 2017 submission was food, what would it be?
Pilau. It is eaten on festivals but everyone has his or her definition of a perfectly cooked pilau.
Here below is Charlotte's haiku.

A slice of the moon
swimming in the calm night pond--
another festival

Charlotte Akello is proud that Ugandans are representing well this year. We at Babishai, congratulate her again. The winners will  be announced at the #Babishai2017 Poetry Festival dinner on Sunday 6 August at Humura Resort, Kitante Close. Cards are on sale at 40,000/- Call +256 703147862.

The full festival programme is here.

The full winning haikus are here:

Monday, July 24, 2017


    Fred Kweku Forson from Ghana, was shortlisted for the 2017 Babishai Haiku contest, inspired by one of last year;s winners, Kwaku Feni Adow, also from Ghana.

Fred Kweku Forson (Courtesy  photo)

          What drew you to enter for the competition?
I knew nothing about haiku as a type of poetry until one day on Facebook I read that a Ghanaian, Kwaku Feni Adow had won a haiku contest. I became curious and began to search for the meaning of haiku and all that it entails. After reading a little about it online and a lot more of the haiku others have written especially from the Mamba, I knew I could also be a haiku poet.

The opportunity then presented itself when I read on Facebook of a call to submission of haiku to the 2017 edition of the Babishai Niwe Poetry Foundation haiku contest. I didn’t waste time but began to pen some images/scenes and sounds down. I then submitted the first three haiku I ever tried my hands on and, hooray, it’s been shortlisted.

         Do you have a particular personal story with haikus?
I’ve been writing poems especially rhymes at my leisure times and whenever I wrote one, I would ask my younger brother to proofread for me. I really do worry him with that. He thinks I’m very good at the poems I write but frustrated since I’m not gaining anything from it. He feels I’m wasting that talent. Because of this, he would sometimes refuse to proofread my poems.

When I wrote the shortlisted haiku, I read it to him and asked him whether he finds any sense in it but he asked me to leave him alone and that he has better things to think about. I didn’t tell him I was submitting it for a contest though. So when he read of my haiku having been shortlisted in a contest, he came back from work that evening and reminded me of how he paid no attention to me when I asked him to ponder on the shortlisted haiku for me. We all laughed over it because he was so excited for my haiku having been shortlisted.

 What do you feel towards the shortlist in general?
After going through the shortlist, I was wowed by the exhibition of great African talents in haiku. It feels so intriguing to read such images and sounds briefly penned down by fellow Africans who respectively see and hear far beyond those images and sounds.

   What motivation do poets need to keep writing, in this ridiculously competitive world that vies for their attention?
I believe the greatest motivation of every poet is from within himself, the moment you begin to see and feel something within you, and you just can’t help it but to artistically express it in writing.

But one big external motivation of every poet, I believe, is knowing that his poems have a wider audience across the world and people actually find inspiration in his poems. Therefore, poets and their poems must be given the necessary exposure through competitions and features in journals like what Babishai Niwe Poetry Foundation and the Africa Haiku Network have respectively started doing, etc.

         If your 2017 submission was food, what would it be?
“Apapransa” is a Ghanaian delicacy prepared with corn flour, and that is what my 2017 submission would have been. “Apapransa” is best enjoyed when it is made to be pregnant with chops of salted fish and any other fish deemed necessary and garnished with palm oil. The delicacy is not too appetizing or attractive at the mere sight of it but, the moment you begin to take bites of it and you gently continue to masticate it, you will definitely end up grabbing the chops of fish hidden in it. This immediately gives you a different and even more delicious taste.  

When you first read my 2017 haiku submission at a glance, you may just be tempted to think of it as a mere construction of words in a sentence. Much meaning may not be seen it. But if you take your time and carefully read through it, you will end up getting the deeper messages and lessons embedded in it. Then, you will appreciate my haiku the more.

Let my haiku speak to your mind, soul, spirit and your life! 

Fred Kweku Forson Ghana, is a foridable talent. We at Babishai, congratulate him again. The winners will  be announced at the #Babishai2017 Poetry Festival dinner on Sunday 6 August at Humura Resort, Kitante Close. Cards are on sale at 40,000/- Call +256 703147862  The full festival programme is here.

The full winning haikus are here:
Follow us on Twittter @BNPoetryAward

Wednesday, July 19, 2017


19 JULY 2017

The three esteemed Babishai 2017 Haiku judges, Adjei Agyei-Baah, co-founder of the Africa Haiku Network, Mercy Ituri, a landscape designer and award-winning haikuist from Kenya and Emmanuel Kalusian, editor of the Mamba Journal, had an uphill task of selecting the shortlist of the 2017 Babishai Haiku prize.

This upheaval task, with over twice the number of submissions as last year, was an evident reward, with a significant increase in the interest of the African haiku.
The shortlist is filled with unwavering talent, intricate African imagery and recognizable brilliance. Congratulations to all those on the shortlist, who come from various parts of Sub-Saharan Africa. Below, in no particular order, are the shortlisted:-

1. Charlotte Akello from Uganda
2. Usman Karofi from Nigeria
3. Kariuki wa Nyamu from Kenya
4. Anthony Itopa Obaro from Nigeria
5. Ahmad Holderness from Nigeria
6. Fred Kweku Forson from Ghana
7. Acen Miriam Carolyne from Uganda
8. Kwao Jonathan Tetteh from Ghana
9. Nnedi Ezenwa Ohaeto from Nigeria
10. Alawonde Theophilus Femi from Nigeria
11. Justice Joseph Prah from Ghana
12. Osemwengie Zion from Nigeria
13.  Kuadegbeku Pamela from Ghana
14. Abubasam Fahad Mutumba from Uganda
15. Akor Emmanuel Oche from Nigeria
16. Dan’bala Umar from Ghana
17. Obaji-Nwali Shegun from Nigeria

You may read the full winning haikus from here
The winners will be announced on Sunday 6 August at the Babishai 2017 poetry festival dinner. Three winners will receive cash prizes, will be published in the Mamba journal and participate in selected literary festivals around the continent.

Festival programme is here:-

The Babishai Niwe Poetry Foundation Organising Committee
Tel: +256 703147862
Twitter: @BNPoetryAward


The Babishai 2017 Poetry Festival runs from 4 - 6 August.



Below are the Babishai Haiku 2017 shortlisted pieces. Congratulations to all those on the shortlist.

drone season
from the harmattan mango
a fly calls flies

Justice Joseph Prah

at dawn
the sky denies a lonely moon
a place to plant a foot

Osemwengie Zion

moon circle
palms into palms
an armless child breaks the ring

Kuadegbeku Pamela

market square--
the town crier's voice
summons a crowd

Akor  Emmanuel Oche

A slice of the moon
swimming in the calm night pond--
another festival

Charlotte Akello

unseen broom sweeping

Anthony Itopa Obaro

Ugandan road...
a shrivelled leaf flies in
a cloud of dust

Abubasam Fahad Mutumba

waterfalls from rooftops
pouring into buckets


abandoned mirror-
the crow finds company
with its own image

Fred Kweku Forson

migratory birds
black news fly
out of Zululand

Ahmad Holderness

the drunken cockroach
reels around the verandah-
rooster chuckles

Acen Miriam Carolyne

under the bright moon,
fairy tales bring chill bumps
around log-fires

Kwao Jonathan Tetteh

crickets' chirps
break the quiet of night:
an old man deserts his armchair

Nnedi Ezenwa Ohaeto

harmattan mango
the first ripening
in the midday sun

Justice Joseph Prah

gaunt vultures nipped
a zonked drunkard 

Obaji Nwali Shegun

savannah hunt...
vultures rush to the kill
before me

Alawonde Theophilus Femi

in different fonts
an old school wall exhibits 
aliases of past students. 

Dan’bala Umar

the modulated chirping 
of hidden crickets

Akor Emmanuel  Oche

July rain. . .
my child traces her name 
on the car’s windscreen

Usman Karofi

last night’s rain
in the morning mud 
fresh toad prints

Kariuki wa Nyamu

an owl hoots
we rush to papa's bed
too late

Alawonde Theophilus Femi

The award ceremony takes place on Sunday 6 August in Kampala at Humira Resort. Cards are on sale.

Monday, July 17, 2017


                                                            THE BABISHAI 2017 POETRY FESTIVAL PROGRAMME
Monday 31 July 2017  
5:30pm to 7:30pm
Femrite offices, Kamwokya
Discussion of the Babishai 2017 shortlisted haikus, led by Isaac Tibasiima, literary critic and scholar from Makerere University.
Open entry

Wednesday 2 August 2017
8:00pm – 8:45pm Uganda Time
Facebook live chat with Phillipa Namutebi Kabali-Kagwa
From her face book page.

Friday 4 August 2017
Departure from 7:30am in Kampala for Najjembe Eastern Uganda
Trek across Mabira, lunch, poetry performances.
Fee: Two Hundred Thousand Shillings (200,000/-)
Payabale by Monday 31 July to George Kiwanuka on +256 703147862

Saturday 5 August 2017
10:00am to 11:00am
Re-Launch of the African Poetry Library
32 Degrees East/Ugandan Art Trust in Kansanga, opposite Bank of Baroda

Saturday 5 August 11:30am to 1:30pm
Poetry seminar for youth from 19-29 years,  by Mbizo Chirasha of Zimbabwe
Free entry
Register for workshops by sending 100 word bio and photo to
Participants will be certified.

Saturday 5 August 2:00pm to 6:00pm
Poetry performance by leading Ghanaian poet from Ghana, Oswald Okaitei
Maisha Garden in Buziga. He will be joined by Rap Poet, Kitaka Alex, Caesar Obong and Wake the Poet.
Entry fee: 20,000/-


Sunday 6 August 2017  11:00am to 3:00pm
Launch of children’s poetry anthology
Children’s performances
Babishai champions
Uganda Museum Main Hall
Free entry

Sunday 6 August 11:30am to 1:30pm
Poetry seminar for adults from 30 years and above
Uganda Museum
Entry fee: 5,000/-
Register for workshops by sending 100 word bio and photo to
Participants will be certified.

Sunday 6 August 2:00pm to 4:00pm
Workshop by Kagayi Peter, leading poet, performer and trainer from Uganda
Uganda Museum
Register for workshops by sending 100 word bio and photo to
Participants will be certified.

Sunday 6 August 6:00pm to 9:00pm
Babishai 2017 poetry festival sumptuous meal with sumptuous poetry
Humura Resort Kitante Close
Dinner cards at 40,000/-
Call George Kiwanuka on +256 703142867 for your card.

Sunday, July 16, 2017


Haven't you desired to recapture the wonder of Eden?
Have you ever looked above 74,000 hectares of green perfection?

We all need time away from the insanity of our daily work lives, to free ourselves by replenishing our spirits with nature.

Mabira Forest is all that. Home to Uganda's largest forest, Mabira is an experience for the curious, adventurous and unafraid. On Friday 4 August, The Babishai Poetry Festival team launches their third festival with a trek across Mabira Forest.Poetry and nature are the perfect remedy after a long week at work. We will explore new terrains, roots and trees of thousands of years in age, be part of a chorus of birds that will not be found anywhere else and relive perfection.

The team will depart at 7:30am on Friday 4 August for Najjembe, Mabira. During the journey, we will begin shooting a documentary. There are those arriving from Eastern Uganda and Nairobi, whose arrangements will be detailed to them. Email babishainiwe@babishainiwe for specific information.

On arrival, an expert tour guide will meet us, take us on this dauntless trek, where we will stop for poetry breaks and refreshments. The documentary will continue.

After the trip, there will be a large buffet spread, during which the poetry performances will begin.

We will return to Kampala not later than 6:00pm.

We all need this!
The minimal investment is Two Hundred Thousand (200,000/-), payable by Monday 31 July 2017 to George Kiwanuka.
Call him on +256 703 147862.

Poetry@Mabira is your chance to explore, become enraptured and empower yourself again.

The Babishai Poetry Festival covers three days from 4-6 August.
Follow us on Twitter @BNPoetryAward