Wednesday, October 17, 2012

WriTivism Short Realist Prose Competition 2013

WriTivism Short Realist Prose Competition 2013 by Center for African Cultural Excellence (CACE) on Tuesday, October 16, 2012 at 1:22am · The Center for African Cultural Excellence (CACE) in collaboration with the Association of Uganda Female Writers (FEMRITE), The Observer, Kushinda, Writing our World and individual partners invites entries from young people aged 15-25 years, resident in Uganda to the WriTivism competition. The competition welcomes short fiction that addresses contemporary issues in society around the themes of Diversity, Equality and Identity interpreted creatively and liberally. Guidelines for the competition · Stories should be 1000 to 1500 words long, unpublished elsewhere, sent strictly by email to as word attachments latest by midnight of 30th, November, 2012. · A long-list will be released on 31st of December, 2012, and a shortlist will be published on the 14th of January 2013 after which shortlisted writers shall attend a one-day writing workshop on the 19th of January, 2013. · Shortlisted stories shall be published in The Observer and in a Kushinda published anthology. · Shortlisted writers agree to participate in all WriTivism activities including entering their story to be voted by readers in the WriTivist of the Year Award contest. For more information and for feedback about the competition, contact us through our Facebook page or come to Plot 640, Nabulagala road in the Africa Youth Development Link building, or send us an email at or check our website at

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Susan Piwang shares her story at Storymoja Hay Fest in Nairobi

The Storymoja Hay festival, as I understood it, is a celebration of literary work in Africa. Storymoja collaborates with Hay Festival, a group that runs literary festivals worldwide. It is a chance to have new, young writers meet famous authors and learn more about writing; to discover the mystery of literature (which, if you are already an author, isn’t a mystery at all), and in general a great big jamboree that revolves around books. After attending it, you should walk away thinking, ‘ah, how proud I am to be literate!’ And I did.
Poetry Masterclass with Lemn Sissay I attended under the Beverley Nambozo Poetry Foundation. As winner of the fourth poetry contest I was awarded a full-expense paid trip to Nairobi to attend the festival. The most significant change I experienced is of course actually winning the prize. I have been used to getting compliments on my work which made me think that in the very least my writing was ‘okay’. But winning this competition was a leap away from the mediocre state of average. I had thought I’d have a chance at second, or third. First place was a daring dream that I honestly thought would remain a dream. Winning the prize was overwhelming; it was a blatant declaration; a foghorn blaring in my ears and shaking my settled brain: YOUR WORK IS NUMBER ONE MATERIAL! CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!! Don’t worry about any brain damage. If anything, my brain is working better than ever. I think it had been still for too long and was on the verge of stagnancy; I needed the shake up. Winning the prize opened the door to a hall of a million more doors, all holding many opportunities behind them. I have never attended anything like the Storymoja festival until now. I never even thought there could be those many people willing to do so much for the love of reading—in one country, I mean. It was a change to be a part of such a wonderful group and not to be looking on from the outside. To know that I wasn’t there because someone-or-other pulled some strings (not that I have ever gotten anywhere that way), but on my own merit, with my own work, because of my writing. My work is no longer the profound sentiments I scribble down in secret and recite to an audience of one—me. I was listened to, appreciated and congratulated. Yes, at eighteen, I made my mark.
Susan Piwang at the Poetry gala The whole experience was encouraging as well. Being in the middle of all those great literary minds was a motivation. The energy of the entire event commanded my slowing molecules into movement and I highly doubt they will ever stop again. I have become a literary perpetual motion machine! Need I say more? The Beverley Nambozo Poetry Award is a voice for the mute, a stage for the timid and a chance for those with none (I know that’s so cliché, but it’s still very true). I’m just glad it happened to exist at the same time I did and that I could be part of it.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Paula Biraaro's story at Storymoja Hay Fest 2012

13th to 16th September 2012 found me in the city of Nairobi attending the StoryMoja Hay Festival held in the fabulous setting of the National Museum. My participation in such a great event resulted from being a second winner of the Fourth Beverley Nambozo Poetry Award 2012 under the theme Music with my poem entitled ‘Nyamwezi’. I attended this event with Ms. Beverley Nambozo and Ms. Susan Piwang (winner of the award) and our trip was proudly sponsored by Stichting Doen. The journey to leading this festival is still kind of surreal to me. As I sat en route to Nairobi, I had series of flash backs. I remembered lying on my bed at 10 pm tapping my laptop keys as my mind juiced words that would eventually be the poem ‘Nyamwezi’. I remembered getting the invitation for the award dinner, hearing my name being announced as a second winner and my unexpected scream of joy that tore out of my mouth. I remembered thinking ‘How can this be? ‘Who am I to win this?’ and ‘Am I a really a poet?’ Such questions darted across my mind as I read my poem to the audience. Not only had my work been commended and recognized, I had won USD$300, five autographed books authored by great African women writers and the icing on the cake was a fully sponsored trip to attend the StoryMoja Festival in Nairobi! From arrival to departure, we hit the ground running for the StoryMoja team had organised an action packed crash course programme. At the festival launch at the Nairobi Museum courtyard I felt a little intimidated as I looked at these ‘strangers’ who seemed to know each other throwing hugs and kisses with shouts of laughter burst from their lips. Upon our introduction my perception slowly changed. These strangers later on became acquaintances, mentors and in some few cases friends. We were all warmly welcomed and Susan and I were congratulated upon our achievement. Sure, I was a novice in their world but I begun to see myself through their eyes, patting myself on my back and thinking ‘Paula, you can do greater things, this is only the beginning!’ I attended master classes under the tutelage of thought provoking award winning novelist Dinaw Mengestu. I got to appreciate the importance of careful scrutiny every sentence and message it conveys when writing a book/short story, communication with the audience, and how individuality and originality makes the difference.
Susan Piwang, Dinaw Mengestu and Paula Biraaro. Photo by BNN The effervescent Lemn Sissay took us through exciting poetry exercises that changed my outlook on power of words, expression and description. I got to rub shoulders and prod some brilliant minds of amazing, famous writers who were surprising humble and willing to share their experiences. Their words of advice centered towards following your dream, persistence, hard work and to keep writing! I was so blessed with their words of advice and encouragement which I treasure and heed to date. The true test in this whole experience was when I had to present my poem before an audience as a guest panelist at the poetry gala. This was a totally different league! Imagine sitting on the same panel with renowned poets, some internationally acclaimed, sharing your experience and presenting your poem. A concoction of feelings of excitement, fear, determination flooded my mind as I sought to achieve this feat. Thankfully, everything went smoothly, I didn’t choke and it was turning point on how I regarded my talent and I vowed to exploit it to its full potential. The last event climaxing the festival was the play written, directed and acted by the Sitawa Namwalie. It was enlightening to see her vivid poetry through performance which helped send her message home. I am grateful to BN Poetry for the horse kick to using my gift and I can proudly say that I am no longer a ‘closet poet’. Danke Schon to Stichting Doen for their financial support and I salute Beverley and Susan for being entertaining company! I had a blast! My prayer is for Uganda to plan and organize for such an event in Kampala. There is a saying that your life can change in a moment. Mine changed in those captivating three days. Thank you.