Saturday, August 22, 2020


 Beverley Nambozo Nsengiyunva, ran a creative writing and storytelling workshop, hosted by The US Embassy in Kampala, Amongst the insightful advice, Beverley mentioned how important it is to start with why, knowing the overall purpose for your writing, the essence of credible characters, and a story so powerful that even the creator wishes to dive into the book, and live side by side the complex characters lives.

Below is a link to the entire recording.


 Poetry is an unparalleled form of communication.

 You may say, ‘It’s a nice day today.’ Or you may say,

‘Today, the sky smiled at me, and my heart escaped into the sun’s warm embrace.’

Both sentences describe the day; but the second is more memorable.


I’ve always been fascinated by the musicality of words. Music in itself, is my happy place. I listen to rap, love songs from the eighties and gospel music, while I’m in the bathroom. And I often follow leading poets and speakers on YouTube. I’m restless, when it comes to immersing myself in poetry. I take risks when it comes to speaking and creating. From working on radio, where I felt at home, from 6:00am to 10:00am every weekday, I woke up Kampala City.

 The term, ‘Morning Person,’ suited me, and I have since then relished waking up from 3am to 5am, starting the day with verve and prayer. There are countless reasons I could complain; aren’t there always. Truthfully though, the lockdown has placed my mind into a space where I am only able to receive abundance. Starting with videos posted on my growing YouTube channel (35 subscribers, as of 15 August 2020), then growing clientele for my public speaking training sessions, and above all, a heightened sense of purpose. By purpose, I don’t mean that short-lived superficial fuzzy feeling when you’re walking in a daze. I mean the grounded and consistent meaningful purpose, which despite what life may throw, I keep going. I could never have learned this on my own. Gratitude goes to individual advisors; those living across the ocean, and those nearby. There are a handful, but the calls, messages, and emails, are a constant motivation and blessing.


I pray too; not as often as I used to, because I want to do more receiving of the things I’ve been praying for, over the decades. I do pray, though and read the bible, at least three times a week. Listening to audio-visual sermons are important, too.

The lockdown has been my ultimate happy place, over the past few months. Saying that with the knowledge of the devastation it has caused businesses, I’d be frugal not to share how I’ve been blessed. I don’t mean the kind of blessing that undermines others’ challenges, or undermines others’ struggles and honest hard work. I mean the blessing that keeps on appearing, as a reminder that God is actually in my life.

It’s been a life of hills and valleys, the past 44 years; but during the lockdown, I had to kick the consistent roller-coaster of highs and endless lows, in the groin. I had had enough. Just as one challenge was closed, another fifteen would reappear, and some so subtle, like a dormant volcano, erupting in the most unusual of places, disrupting my short-lived bliss.

 I’ve been blessed towards a sharp sense of realization. I had been missing it all along. There have been warning signs blaring red; for so long, but can’t be ignored.

 Amongst them are:-

I need to follow my gut; always. This could be the prompting of the Holy Spirit, God’s leading, but ALWAYS. Whenever I haven’t, it’s been disastrous.

God, first thing when I wake up; no matter the deadlines.

Small things like someone arriving late for a meeting continuously; I should never ever work with them, since they have no respect for time, or work ethic.

 If someone constantly talks about themselves and never acknowledges my own story, or voice, that is a clear sign that they have no interest in me.

If someone shares my ideas on social media; with no explanation from where it originated, it reflects a level of narcissism and lack of originality that should be avoided like a plague.

If someone keeps complaining about others; both online and offline, then they’ll complain, whine and gossip about me too.

 If someone uses friendship or sisterhood, to get out of payment for my professional services, then that sisterhood may as well turn into nothinghood.

If someone uses Christianity to perpetuate misogyny and sexual abuse, then I need to flee, and warn all the people within a 1,000 mile radius.

Don’t chase people. Don’t put them on a pedestal Challenge them. If you place someone on a pedestal and show them you’re in constant awe, they will hardly respect you and only see you as a fan.

 These are just a few.


Being in lockdown has given me significant time to reflect, and introspection is something I never shy from. I have diaries full of my thoughts and lessons learned, in quiet moments.


The spread in The Full Monitor, Saturday 15 August 2020, is part of the story, and part of the promise from God. He and I spent copious amounts of time talking, or maybe I did more of the talking. He knows I need this, and more. I know it’s time for change. I’m enjoying the process.


Thursday, August 20, 2020


 Beverley Nambozo Nsengiyunva, Director of the Babishai Niwe Poetry Foundation, will be delivering a creative writing and storytelling webinar, for young writers.

Monday, August 3, 2020




First, really excited about making it to the long-list. I’m an award-winning author, poet, playwright, culture exponent and governance consultant. I’ve got two books to my name – a collection of poems titled Parliament of Owls published by Native Intelligence under the Contact Zone Series with Goethe Institut (2016), and the 2017 Burt Award winning novella “A Boy Named Koko” published by Longhorn Publishers (2017).


I write for fun, for money, but I also write to cause fury and make us angry with ourselves and the world around us, so that we can change it. Writing is my form of advocacy. I tend to see myself as a gadfly that goads the steed of society out of slumber (to quote Socrates). I think that’s what every artist should consider themselves to be, or should at least strive to become.


Why were you inclined to submit for the #Babishai2020 haiku award?


I love haikus – the form, the invisible force that lingers on despite the brevity of haikus. It’s a way of saying poetry can be short and sweet without necessarily being caged in rhyme.


What was your process in writing this particular haiku below?

ringed with its papers
and tracked like jailbird on bail
the immigrant lands...

I don’t really think about this poetry like that; but I can say my process was chaos, anarchy, mental stampede, ideas colliding, moments of silence, questioning, doubts, literary pangs of pain, and the birth of a 5-7-5 haiku; all in under 3 minutes. I remember writing the third line first and the poem fell in place, in reverse. The poem was triggered by the arrival of a migratory Osprey bird in Kenya that flew over 6,000 kilometers from Finland. The interesting thing is that it had a reference ring on its leg; and it got me thinking about the fate of migratory birds, and that of immigrants, what freedom to them looks beyond the borders that chain them, and the illusion of freedom. The bird died a few days later.


In your opinion, what is the future of African haiku?


Well, hard to tell but it definitely looks promising; poetry in general is increasingly becoming more appreciated in Africa and the world. For a long time, poetry has been confined to the lowest rung of the literary ladder. It’s changing – shrubs are becoming trees, and trees – a forest; and haikus are somewhere in this fecund literary forest.


How are we able to share about this haiku experience, with Kenya, and the world?


The BN experience? It’s been great. Well, I’ve never been long-listed for writing a three line 17 syllable poem; if it happens – like in this case, it means there is some truth that won’t go away, that makes a reader question or wonder. Besides that, being long listed alongside other poets means there is something that is both common to us and to the literary community. I cherish this experience because you hardly come by it; I mean poetry awards in this part of the world are few, not to mention poetry awards for haikus.




Sunday, August 2, 2020


I am Andrew Herbert Omuna, a teacher by profession. My passion about arts has been evolving with changing times or state of mind at the time. I love film, writing, art and travelling. One of my poems; Ode to the yellow party, was published in the Best New African Poets 2016 anthology. I write most of the time when I feel there is some idea that sparks my desire to put something down on paper. And although these don’t come that often, when one comes, even the other ideas that have been kept in the back do come up during this creative moment. I also write as a way of speaking my mind on paper, given that most of the time is spent on observing what is around me. These moments help me create some path for hopefully publishing a collection one day.

My inclination to submit to the #Babishai2020 haiku award wasn’t abrupt. I had one time applied with a full poem, although it didn’t make it anywhere that time. When this opportunity availed itself again, I thought it better to try out with the haiku. I had never written any haiku before, but with the basics of a 5-7-5 format, I decided to take on the challenge. And because I first saw the call for submission on the night of 31st Dec 2019 – 1st Jan 2020, I knew I had to try something new and make this a year for writing more often, and if possible, compete.

After seeing the call for submission for the haiku, it was then about doing some research into what made a piece be called a haiku. Although there are regular and irregular forms of haikus, I stuck to the regular form of 5-7-5. On the days I saw the call (night of New Year 2019-2020) and when I wrote the haikus (night of 1st March 2020), it was about what I loved most and what I was going through at the moment. I was doing the night shift on those days and yet I also loved my sleep. This was the first haiku I actually wrote that night. It had to be something about sleep and the many pieces of advice I had heard about too much sleep. With the idea sorted, the rest was about making choice of words fit within the 5-7-5 format.

the morning rain falls

endlessly hugging thy sleep

frozen ideas die

by Andrew Omuna

The African haiku, as is with many other forms and genres of writing, might get swallowed up by the generalization of academic theories often formed for other kinds of “reading.” If the future for the African haiku is to blossom, I would like to see content revolving around our community. Relatability is very important. Although the origin might not be African, the uniqueness of our experiences, adaptability to the form, having more calls for haikus, could help create a role within the vast free form of poetry generally known by the greater African population.

I would think of creating an awareness drive with other poets, performers and writers, to challenge themselves by creating haikus as part of their works. Since majority of creative writers are more familiar with free verse poetry, getting into this space will create an extra experience of brief poetic forms. Publication of these haikus, whether in paper print or online would help push this experience to a global milestone. Lastly, since the haikus are brief, the chances of them accompanying other forms of media is great. Art pieces, outdoor displays, creative art classes can all lend a hand in pushing this experience to more people in Uganda and around the world.


Saturday, August 1, 2020



I am a medical doctor, a husband and a father amongst other things. I write long-form and short-form poems (haiku) and some of my haiku can be found in journals such as on Frogpond, Chrysanthemum, The Mamba, Creatrix, Acorn, and Haiku Presence. Also, I was shortlisted for this award in 2017 Haiku Awards and have some works in Africa Meets Vienna Afriku Anthologies. I nurture a dream to prescribe my poems as pills and this influences my writing. Beyond this influence, I write mainly because writing is a gateway to all the identities I have become. I am a man and in addition to how I have described myself earlier, I am a Muslim, an African, and many other subtle identities that must find balance within the package I consider as myself. As you can perceive, I am trying to simplify myself, thus it can be said that I am a complex man who writes to simplify himself.

Why were you inclined to submit for the #Babishai2020 haiku award?

I was inclined to submit for this award because I was certain that it would be competitive. For the past few years, Babishai has been a platform that has greatly contributed to showcasing the talents of African poets, especially in the Haiku genre and I am proud to be associated with this progress.

What was your process in writing this particular haiku below?

bitter kola
grandpa breaks into
a new tale

As simple as this haiku looks, it packs a punch. I started writing it in my mind, drawing from the sights of what I see the African society becoming. The elders in African culture are considered wise men and the tales they tell are known to guide/admonish the youngsters about the moral codes as well as the needs of the African society. The process of writing this haiku evolved just as the reality of the evolving cultures around me. So, what came to me first was a common retort I use when I am slightly surprised and unprepared for something and I simply utter; snap. Next, I asked myself what snaps? The first picture that came to my head was the error message you get when you can’t access a webpage. I played around this idea and this launched my mind to search for deeper meanings from exploring my thoughts and my experience and I think I came up with my first draft when I had a cough/cold and recalled how orogbo (bitter-kola) was considered a good remedy for it and how it snaps into two when you break it. This moment was the key element in writing this haiku as it juxtaposed all my memories/experience relating to the key elements of the haiku, so I took out my phone and typed my thoughts in the Notes app.

Once the draft was written, I revisited it every night; I do this usually with all the other poems in my notes app and review and amend them accordingly. Once I made a mental note that the poem has reached the state of perfection of what I needed it to express, about metamorphosis, I just knew I would be submitting the poem for the Babishaiku Haiku awards. I finished writing the poem perhaps six months before the call for submission for the Babashaiku awards. To describe the process in one word, I would say it was empirical.


In your opinion, what is the future of African haiku?

Permit me to unsheathe a philosophical response to this question;

When is a door not a door?

The answer to this riddle and the riddle itself is how I see the future of African Haiku. While some may consider growth as linear, I tend to see it as cyclical. What is clear is that what many perceive to be walls or barriers to their growth are actually doors. Once an African poet realizes this, the door is no longer a door and the influx of talents into what is behind the door (the future) is an exciting adventure that promises if not guarantees excellence. In other words, the future of African Haiku depends on those who realize the potential use of Haiku, the brevity it offers, the emotion it packs and moment in time it captures as a form of portal into a multiverse that documents and celebrates the African tradition and its people in a form that is elegant and reminiscent of the hopes of our forefathers.

  How are we able to share about this haiku experience, with Nigeria, and the world?  

The easiest way to share this experience is to gift it. The foundation has done well by positioning itself as a platform that identifies talents and sharing this haiku experience can be done through haiku workshops and also by supporting/creating journals where Nigerians and the world at large can explore this unique art. There still a long way to go but it is very exciting and creating a viable network of artisans and administrators for this purpose will surely reap immense benefits. We need to design and enrich a museum where these works can be appreciated.


Friday, July 31, 2020



I’m Akello Charlotte. A student at Makerere University, a Ugandan writer and poet. I first got ‘serious’ with writing poetry while at Nabisunsa girls and since then I’ve never looked back. Otherwise, I’ve been a writer since childhood.

I write to take the weight off my chest, to me, writing is like breathing exercises. It takes writing to calm me when I’m in distress. Above all, writing comes to me so naturally that I feel clogged when I don’t write for a few weeks. I also think poetry is beautiful.

I submitted for the Babishai haiku award 2017 and I was shortlisted so I gained some following. Many friends asked me to help them with the ‘trick’ of the haiku. I taught so many people the basics of haiku in the process. I didn’t want to submit this year since most of my students were interested, but most of them encouraged me to. I chose my best from the haikus I’d written, hoping that this time, maybe I will win.

What was your process in writing this particular haiku below?

delicate mounds
parting soil in the night
to die out soon

One thing I didn’t want to do was to be inclined to the rules of the haiku(5/7/5 syllable count). I wanted to be free and free I was. I drew my inspiration from mushrooms, I love mushrooms but they come overnight and wither the next day.

In your opinion, what is the future of African haiku?
There’s so much poetry in Africa as a whole. The late buses, the bleating animals, the shameless acts of corruption, the trees that look like humans in the night. The haiku in particular, a special poem, is allover. I believe we can use the haiku to capture images that cameras can’t. However, many young poets think the haiku is too complex and believe they can’t write it but what I’ve learnt during haiku lessons I teach, once one masters the haiku, it’s very easy.

How are we able to share about this haiku experience, with Uganda,
and the world?
I think we just need to write more, and promote the haiku more, like this kind of competition is a good start. If someone sees a haiku, they will be inclined to see more haikus in places they go.

Many Thanks.