Photos taken by various participants.
The BN Poetry Foundation team, as part of its #2014outreach, visited African Rural University, women’s university in Kibaale-Kagadi, one of the educational hubs under Uganda Rural Development Transformation. The team included Mildred Kiconco Barya, published poet and author and doctorate fellow at The University of Denver, Rashidah Namulondo, coordinator at Art or Change and #BNPoetryAward2013 winner and Beverley Nambozo Nsengiyunva, poet, author and founder of the annual BN Poetry Award.
Received by Varerious Ndagije, the University Academic Registrar, the #BNPA2014outreachteam was privileged to be given a tour of the lush and spacious grounds. With acres of Robusta coffee, endless citrus groves, hundreds of pineapple plantations, countless jack-fruit trees, numerous fowls, cattle, grain-milling machines for both subsistence and commercial use, millet and all types of subsistence farming. Varerious acquainted the team with the practical advantages of owning agricultural tools as a way of applying them in lessons. Self-sustainability, a key factor at the university, emphasizes one year of internship and the practicum constitutes 40% of the degree course.
On 1st December, World Aids Day, the founder of ARU, Musheshe and university secretary, Jacqueline Akello, delivered a lecture on HIV and its origin in Uganda and the various facets it has taken. This took place just before the #BNPA2014outreachteam began their talk with how poetry and art can contribute to raising social awareness.
Some highlights included how poetry, originally an oral form in Uganda, was a hub of songs, proverbs and sayings, which held wisdom, historical and anthropological anecdotes and also provided entertainment. Unfortunately a lot of this beautiful history is diluted or lost because not enough effort was made to document in either written or audio-visual form. As a result, the team emphasized the role of written poetry, of reading widely and reading or performing their works to as many audiences as possible. A significant part of the outreach was when the students and faculty presented their own poetry and song in local languages, from Bridal and give-away songs to the more political and personal.
The team then donated a large supply of books to the library, ranging from personal and public health material, donation from Uganda Health Marketing Group (UHMG), copies of A Thousand Voices Rising, an African poetry anthology produced by BN Poetry Foundation, copies of Poetry Potion anthologies and a few copies of Diaries of a Dead African by Chuma Nwokolo. Despite the male-dominated faculty, the female students opened up during a personal life-skills session where they spoke candidly about their own goals, gender-activist role in the community and their individual artistic aspirations.
This trip was made possible through the generous financial donations of Palle Moeller Foundation and Success Spark Brand and book donations from Uganda Health Marketing Group, Poetry Potion and the BN Poetry Foundation.
Many thanks to Joy Bongyereire for the reconnection and conversations, too!