Saturday, August 10, 2019

The BN Poetry Award’s Esteemed MC, Sophia Aniku



 A starless night, a breeze and a poetry home, brimming with minds agog with excitement. In August 2009, we launched the BN Poetry Award, founded by Beverley Nambozo Nsengiyunva, at a lavish dinner in Kampala City. This award, an annual celebration of Ugandan women’s poetry, soared into the constellation, a new belief in poetry by Ugandan women. Like any event, Mcs, hosts and Chief guests, are often the cement of any occasion.


Sophia Aniku. (Photos courtesy of Buyondo)






Sophia, a radio and television and radio personality who also manages a fashion house of Ankara and other well-sought after African clothing, was there to witness the first award-giving dinner of the BN poetry Award. She not only participated as a witness but she indulged us in her enviable gift of MC-ing. With Sophia, she emits charisma, confidence and elegance effortlessly. Always one to hold herself to high standards and employ admirable work ethics to her tasks, the BN Poetry Team, was highly blest to have her.
During a recent interview with her in celebration of ten years, Sophia reflected with alacrity and humor.


Interviewer:  Sophia, what stood out on that evening of August 2009, during the launch of the BN Poetry  
                         Award?                                      
          
Sophia:          For me, it felt like when you’re building a fire and you start with that first spark, and you    know that there will be additional wood. It was definitely something that would grow over time. It was our little secret. People’s minds and spirits were tuned to that moment. It was intimate, quiet and special. People took it all in.

Interviewer:      You have emceed at three of our BN Poetry award-giving dinners. For each of those times, what was a constant factor?

Sophia:                 The participants wanted to take ownership of it. They brought their families, interns fully participated and I do recall telling Stella Nyanzi to be quiet at one of those memorable evenings. There was such rich diverse members of the audiences, in age as well. The momentum kept building.


Dr. Stella Nyanzi at the 2009 BN Poetry Award dinner.



Guests across the arts, academic and corporate sector.


Interviewer:      You’ve worked and lived around Africa, Is there any insight into the poetry scene?
Sophia:                 In Abuja, House 33, there is a space owned by a playwright and screen play writer of Blood Diamond. This house provided opportunity for artists to come and express their work. He encouraged hard-core exchanges with passionate artists. Those kind of people should work with Babishai across the continent.

Interviewer:      Whom do you think should read our children’s books?
Sophia:                 The children’s books are fabulous. Children need this very type of stimulation. The orgnic experience can be found in books.
Congratulations, Babishai. We are reaping the depth of the galaxy of poetry. We are our own sonnets. Babishai is the sonnet. The song to the word.


Above is the Babishai team, speaking to hundreds of students at Kabale University, in Matrch, 2019.


Thank you Sophia


Thursday, August 8, 2019

YO WASTE APP!, , POETRY AND ELECTRIC CARS AT SCIENCE STORIES AFRICA

It drives me to indescribably awesome heights, when I'm invited to speak, perform poetry, and train. When firebrand and mastermind behind Science Stories Africa, Patricia Nanteza, extended a request for me to train some of Uganda's most ingenious scientists on how to creatively share their discoveries to the world, I accepted the invitation in a heartbeat.


This photo captures me embracing the moment as I was engulfed in science.
Courtesy photo: Science Stories Africa

At the start of a much-needed two-month holiday, in June 2019, I plunged into the training. Science Stories Africa is a platform intended to create connections between leading Ugandan scientists and their discoveries, to the rest of the world. The intention is to make science more palatable, relatable and creative. My job was to articulate that and train the scientists into managing their discoveries, difficult laboratory terms and impossible to believe experiments, into stories, so that entire audiences could hear and learn from them.


Allan Muhumuza, Engineer at Kiira Motors EV. Photo Courtesy of Science Stories Africa

In 2008, Vehicle Design Summit (VDS) Teams from 35 Pre-eminent Research Universities built a 5 seater Plug in Hybrid Electric Vehicle, The Vision 200 Led by Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). 
Makerere University, the only African team, developed the Power Train and in-Vehicle Communication Network for the Vision 200. The electric car made by the Makerere University Vehicle Design Project, was finished and was taken for its first test-drive on Tuesday 1st November 2011. The test-drive was successful and attracted a lot of local and international attention. Allan Muhumuza, who was amongst the senior team members of the project, a passionate and inspired new father, used his daughter, Atara, as an inspiration to model green cars that are environmentally friendly and offer more socially compatable options for other commuters and pedestrians.
 Let's embrace ourselves, too, for the first electric powered environment friendly public bus. We can't wait!


With Dr. Priver Namanya Bwesigye, Photo courtesy of Science Stories Africa.

Priver genetically engineered entirely new plants, from a process known as cell suspension. Targeting a specific type of matooke highland breed, Priver, in four arduous years, challenged by walking away from the project, depression and fatigue, soldiered through with fortitude. Being able to re-generate plants from cells empowered Namanya and other scientists to try to enhance the plants’ defence mechanism through genetic engineering. This came at a crucial time when the particular matooke breed had begun significantly reducing in quantity. Now, it's possible to reproduce this breed, through genetic engineering.


Martin Tumusiime,  of Yo-Waste App! 


Yo-Waste, is a mobile app that explores ways of reducing the heaps of garbage in your community, Their mission is simple:
 To create sustainable and waste free communities. We do all this through developing innovative technology solutions that allow people to recycle more and haulers to divert more collected trash to recycling industries. As a young entrepreneur with knowledge of advanced technology Martin set to work with a group of youthful smarts and developed this timely, convenient and resourceful application.
Above is the entire group of five laudable Ugandan scientists, at the launch of Science Stories Africa in June 2019.

Prof. Wilberforce Tushemereirwe, Director of The National Agricultural Research Organisation (NARO), as a child, experienced the morbid reality of attending burials of other children. As an adult, his observation led him to realize that the large deficiency of Vitamin A in foods, could possibly be a leading factor of those early deaths. 
 Using Genetically Modified processes, he , with other scientists, have increased Vitamin A content in matooke. He stands by the word that the foods are safe for consumption.

Engineer Alphonse Candia, another formidable scientist, on growing up in Arua, where smoked fish was a delicacy, realised that with tragic deaths from liver cancer, there could be a link to the local ways fish was smoked. Through the invention of a smoking kiln, a prototype that was tested and found to be effective in preserving fish without the dark-smoke, Engineer Candia is heralded for his magnanimous work in science and in improving livelihoods.



Above are the mesmerized crowd, filling the National Theatre auditorium, listening to the heartfelt, endearing and empowering stories of the five scientists.

Photos are from Science Stories Africa.

For me, being part of the enchanting thread where dreams and nightmares turned into possibilities, to hear firsthand how lives are actually changed, thanks to scientists who sharpened their grit to make a difference. It's nothing short of wow!

By Beverley Nambozo Nsengiyunva

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Thursday, January 17, 2019

SARAH IJANGOLET AKOL: BABISHAI'S NEW SOCIAL MEDIA MANAGER

Sarah Marione Ijangolet Akol is an artist and graphic designer based in Kampala, Uganda, proficient in traditional painting but choosing digital art as a medium of expression – including the design of wearable art in the form of t-shirts and other casual apparel. 


Having developed and cultivated a passion for art from a young age, Sarah studied fine art in O and A level at Mt St Mary’s Namagunga and Gayaza High School respectively, and attained a Bachelor’s Degree of Industrial and Fine Art at Uganda Christian University, Mukono in 2017. In 2018, she decided to enrich herself with the skill of Illustration, an interest she developed from exposure to storybooks and comics. She hopes to use this skill to illustrate her own book of Ugandan folk tales.

Sarah is passionate about vector illustration and portraiture and is fascinated by Ugandan folklore and mythology, a lot of her work being an exploration of the rich world of Ugandan fantasy and mythos as passed down from generation to generation. She chooses not to be limited in her depiction of Ugandan deities and supernatural beings, allowing her imagination to stretch and mould their visages and appearances to accommodate how truly extraordinary the tales about them are. In doing so, hopes to conserve as many of these folk tales as possible.