Friday, November 29, 2013


The Judges: Joanne Arnott, Kgafela oa Magogodi and Richard Ali BN POETRY AWARD 2014

THE WINNER WILL RECEIVE 1,000 US DOLLARS Submissions to be received from January 6th to May 5th 2014 midday, East African Time. Guidelines for submissions:

• It is open to ALL African poets who will not have published a full-length collection of poetry by May 2014

• Submissions should be original, in English and not more than 40 lines. Times New Roman or Arial, single-spaced and size 12. Local languages are accepted only if English translations are sent alongside them

• Send a maximum of three poems and a minimum of one poem to as a word attachment. DO NOT include your name or contact details on the poem itself

• The subject line should read, “BNPA 2014”

• Include your name, email address, country or birth and country of permanent residence, telephone number and the titles of your poems in the body of the email

• The submissions will be accepted from January 6th to May 5th 2014

• More details on the face book page, Babishai Niwe Poetry Foundation, on the blog and website

The judges Kgafela oa Magogodi: South African poet, director and musician. He is currently completing a co-writing project for a musical stage play, The Book Of REBELATIONS . Published books include Thy Condom Come (2000) and Outspoken (2004).

Joanne Arnott: Award-winning Canadian poet and writer. Her first book of poetry, Wiles of Girlhood (1991) won the League of Canadian Poets’ Gerald Lampert Award for best first book of poetry (1992). Her newest publication of poetry is, A Night for the Lady (Ronsdale, fall 2013)

Richard Ali: Author of City of Memories, Chief Operations Officer of Parrésia Publishers Ltd and Publicity Secretary [North] of Association of Nigerian Authors. Richard is also Editor-in-Chief of the Sentinel Nigeria Magazine and was a runner-up at the 2008 John la Rose Short Story Competition.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

A Face Like Mine, second place BN Poetry Award 2013

A face like mine

I lie in a hospital bed No name to my face Abandoned babe, Small and skinny, Disease infested Death knocking- You stop Stare Move on. But I doubt you’ll forget a face like mine.

I sit at a busy street; Six year old beggar, Runny nose, Lice infested, Swollen belly, Hunger biting- You stare Walk by. But I doubt you’ll forget a face like mine.

I stand at the roadside; Twelve years I’ll make tonight, Too small my clothes, Skinny body, freezing cold Eyes popping n all, Scared of the male prowlers You walk by- Pity and jeer. But I doubt you’ll forget a face like mine.

I squat in a seemingly abandoned toilet; Eighteen years last week, Metallic hunger down myself, Little foetus bleeding out- You see me, Call the police, Not the doctors! Gang up Beat me. But I doubt you’ll forget a face like mine.

I sit outside my slum; Twenty four years old last month, A limp in my walk, Broken bones n scars, Our kids’ hiding- He’s back home, Their father! You whisper, Point fingers But I doubt you’ll forget a face like mine.

I am running away now; Thirty two years old two months ago My children with me Nowhere to go But am leaving The streets my friend… You despise me, Family wrecker, But I am leaving- And I doubt you’ll ever forget a face like mine.

I am lying on my death bed; Forty five years of age last November, My face too old for my age My body too frail to fathom My grandchildren- The few that approach me They love me! It’s all that matters. I am dying content I made peace with my God And now- you may forget a face like mine.

Pamela Orogot This poem emerged second in the 5th BN Poetry Award

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Fragrance, poem by Regina Asinde, second place, BN Poetry Award 2010


It’s the fragrance, mother; the intoxicating crispy fragrance of colored newly mint coinage. Sometimes the shimmering glitter of gold or silver. It matters not mother what figures are imprinted on, just the fragrance!

The fragrance that drives me to plunder my core, to pillage my country to nothing, squandering it to desolation.

The fragrance that possesses me to bare my nakedness to them, to vend my soul’s worth, to trade my country’s worth!

The fragrance that devours me and sparks hunger pangs, coercing me to crave and covet theirs staining my hands with blood !

It’s the fragrance mother; the musky musty odor of old and used notes, sometimes the dull hue of coinage that quenches my thirst and ardor!

It matters not mother what figures are imprinted on Just the fragrance mother! Just the fragrance.

Regina Asinde This poem emerged second in the 2010 BN Poetry Award

Friday, November 8, 2013

Ouidah by Peter Akinlabi

Ouidah by Peter Akinlabi (p>I have come here face first, and furtive as air. I have come in a seeker’s mask, a poet-paleontologist, searching for text in the signs that must lift the veil off a Dahomeyan darkness, or translate shards of a mucky modernity into a reflexive function

I go by Ouando, treading through a government of sand insistent on adopting the shape of my stealth. I assemble memory in the heathen signifiers of her defunct name – a civilization now remembered only in its dismembered parts

The levees cling to their memory of feet; I, the ideation of the trudging – my lexicony, seeded in the interruption of unrevealing base of shapes, can only re-imagine such conditions of movement in ethereal mnemonics

But there will be time enough for us to dialogue on things like that - the loosening weights of dissolution, or the grafting of verisimilitudes- when we stand by the arch-of-no-return, each facing memory in opposite dimensions…

Now I listen to the red-stained sounds of Alounloun, and watch the boy sitting in the sand, back towards the Port, as if forgetting the seasons of the sea. His grief obscured by the night, dilating only in the sibilant consonants of the sea wind

The sea itself rumbles on in a tricky dialect, like the statues of Kpasse, reciting only self-absorbing character of loss. I pray to learn my Vodun vowels before the dark returns, or before the wind blows the mask in half mast, in memory of Black Bart…

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Soft Tonight, first ever BNPA winning poem


I feel so... ... soft... tonight...

I feel like... ...butter... under the sun...

...on hot stone... spreading out... melting...

...flowing... a yellow rivulet... sliding down that slab...

...towards you...

I hope you catch every t...r...i...c...k...l...e...of love I hope you catch every d.......r......o......p......of me when I d...r...i...p...intoyourpalms

'cause I feel so... ...soft... tonight

By Lillian Akampurira Aujo This poem was the winning poem of the first ever Beverley Nambozo Poetry Award in 2009, the first poetry award of its kind for Ugandan women. Lillian Aujo won a cash prize of 250 USD. This award was proudly sponsored by Uganda Women Writers’ Association (FEMRITE), WordAlive Publishers, Uganda Clays Limited and Uganda Health Marketing Group (UHMG).

Friday, November 1, 2013

Kelly Taremwa's emotional writing Journey at Storymoja Hay Festival 2013

We departed on Wednesday the 18th of September, a relatively warm evening, at around 7pm. Through the slight jam of Kampala roads, to the thicket in Mabira forest we rode. By around 11pm, I still recall, because I had to inform my loved one in Dar es salaam, when I was crossing to Kenya; we got to Busia. At 10 am, we had our first class and after refreshing up and settling in the hotel. We were ready with our pens and papers to attend the first class. The first class I attended was by Kwame Dawes. a gentleman who later on became my friend and a fan of my ever flowing jokes. I must admit it was a humbling session, and the main thing I learnt was we should always know as poets that whatever we write, someone else may have written something similar which indeed makes sense. He gave us various websites and links that host poetry competitions and indeed I will contact him.

There was also a session by Dr. Neal who was talking mainly about poetry and his life, and I must admit it was a deep session. Dr Neal is a black American poet who was always discriminated against because of the color of his skin. He gave me new tips about poetry and I actually found out that I have the same syndrome as him and many other writers. The syndrome of writing at weird hours and in weird places. It was a humbling lesson. I was glad I was there. After that, we had a session by Zukiswa Wanner which was hilarious. She is a South African writer who is currently living in Kenya. Zuki (as she is fondly called) is one of the craziest funniest speakers we had for the sessions. She took us through an exercise of narrating how we want to die. Bizarre and creepy, right? Yeah, but we talked about death. Funny. That ended the day and we went to rest. There was a function later that day but I personally never attended it. I was still tired and the biting cold of Nairobi was getting the better of my bone marrow.

Friday. On Friday, the second day, we woke up to the usual Nairobi coldness and rushed to the museum. The master class by Richard Crompton commenced at 10 am. We were only eight people in the class and all I can say is the class was deep. We analyzed his “friends” story that he had earlier sent us. And also talked about the essay that he had told us to write. It was surely hilarious to know that the first words of a story, the way the words are written can either make a reader captivated or not. After that, there was a session of Short story writing which was sponsored by the Commonwealth Foundation and being the short story writer that I am, I chose that. I found Dilman dila and Alexander Ikwah already at it, and I got all the information I needed from them about how to write my short story. There was also creative writing by Biko Zulu, a Kenyan blogger. I enjoyed the session which was very involving and I met a good writer and blogger who has engaged me ever since I left Kenya. The Biko Zulu blog is the best blog I have read from so far. He is a good story teller. You can almost converse with him all year if you read his blog. He talks about his life with ease and a lot of humor. Later that day, there was a get together at Muthoni’s house. It was a good feeling mixing with poets from all over the world. Once again, the coldness of Nairobi got the better of me, and I was coiled up, warming my bones on the fire all night. I envied the logs that were burning in front of me. At that time I would gladly switch places with them.

Saturday. On the third day, I woke up feeling great. I think it was because later in the day I had a poetry session in which I was reading the poem that led me to even be in that festival that I had never dreamt of attending. So after preparing, taking a sumptuous breakfast. I was in the festival and the first session was by 3 poets. One was a South African old poet Mongane Wally Serote. He was a gentleman that had been in the apartheid struggle. His home is in a town called Alexandria and he wrote a poem about it which he read to us. He read more poems and told us stories of the apartheid revolution. If I wasn’t in a public place, I admit I would have cried. Warsan Shire, a Somali Kenyan who lives in the UK also read her poetry and answered questions and told us her life story. She is a deep woman and her poetry is inspiring. I enjoyed every bit of it. The third poet was Dr. Neal and he talked more about his life and poetry more. Later that day, we had a session with Teju Cole and discussed his book it was a fulfilling session too and very well attended. He was asked about his life and journey in writing. Teju is a Nigerian writer who lives in New York. After that, I attended koroga by Micheal osando. It was a good session too that teaches how to mix poetry and pictures. I learnt a lot of information that I will use for my blog. Ealier that day, we heard that robbers had attacked a mall in Kenya. However we went ahead with the session where we were presenters. East African poets were battling West African poets and we did our best. I read my winning poem, INNOVATION and another poem caledl, HOW MUCH IS TOO MUCH. . Kwame Dawes, Nii Parkes and Fatou Were from West Africa all challenged me, Pamela Orogot, Rashida Namulondo and Clifton Gachagua. It was a good session and we had fun and questions were too many. Even as we read our poetry we knew something was wrong. One of the West African poets we had Kofi Anwoor hadn’t made it for the session. It turned out what we had thought was a robbery was instead a terrorist attack and he had been with his son in the mall that was attacked. He was killed in the mall, but the son survived. We learnt of his death the following day, a Sunday.

After our session, the festival had to close and all Sunday we were in hotel, trying to communicate to friends and family that we were okay. On Monday morning we left Nairobi for Kampala and reached late in the night. All in all, I learnt a lot about poetry and writing. I learnt a lot that I never would have learnt had I not gone to the festival. I will keep going there, not only to learn more but to remember and celebrate the death of our departed brother Kofi Awoonor.

Pamela Orogot sweetens the mood with her Storymoja experience, The Sex Tent and more

The Storymoja Hay Festival that took place in Nairobi between the 19th and 24th of September is a series of events that I look at with nostalgia, sorrow and determination all at once. The loss of one of the poets invited to this event made the end of the festival sad but gave purpose to me to be the best i can be and to contribute to the African literacy and make a difference. The Shida Tent In this tent is where I first met Kwame Dawes, an excellent tutor and Ghanaian poet. Who embarked on teaching us the art and craft of writing and publishing works. He extended brochures on publishing and in this way gave me the hope in writing and the ego to know I cannot be limited in my writing.

Discovery Hall Is where I first met Dr Neal Hall, a brilliant poet and Doctor. From him I learnt the critical elements of a poem and to know my fuel, listen to my inner voice and discover my inspiration. Richard Crompton, I also met in this hall. He enlightened me about the world of short stories that made me realise that they are more than just story books. The words count, the different types of short stories and parts that exist to make a good short story.

The Kanga tent I discovered koroga as an inspiration to do poetry. Imagery becoming a poem, situations, experiences and art forms. A true discovery of the life of poetry as a living tree. The sex tent No words can explain this discovery at a literacy festival.
Madame /Aunt Dora taught me and helped me realise more than any book would have taught me about myself , gender and sexuality. But I made an oath... What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas!
Ms. Muthoni's fab dinner That was a true experience held in a beautiful home. The writing guru's, the free speech and interractions made for a beautiful social network, opportunities and gave me a new setting for a poem.

FORD HALL The East engages West session was a true eye opener on the different poetry forms from Africa and the cultural biases that we include or carry with us as we do our poetry. The loss of Kofi Awoonor one of the panelists, however, was a great disadvantage to this contribution and left a vacuum that was very noticeable. Mvuli suites A lovely suite that was, actually I must say it was a vacation of its own thanks to The BN Poetry Award who enabled the other winners and I to make it to the SMH Festivals.

Rashida Namulondo, winner of 2013 BNPA shares her Storymoja story

Rashida Namulondo receiving her winning prize, BNPA 2013. Photo by Buyondo. >p>Rashida reflects on Storymoja Hay Festival 2013 Earlier this year my poem TIME was announced winner of 2013 BN Poetry award, this came along with a cash prize of $500,autographed books from four authors and a trip to Story Moja Hay festival. My experience at story Moja was ecstatic.

We set off on the 18th September so we could be in time for the festival on the 19th which was to run up to 22nd September. Having signed up for the master classes, 10.00am found me seated in a session about Publishing by Kwame Dawes a renowned poet. In this session we discussed various options for a writer who wants their work published, options like journals, publishing houses, prizes and many more. Kwame’s resonating words: ‘writing is a craft, you have to keep building your craft, learn and learn all options you have the more you know the more you can easily create and improvise’ he related this to a jazz a player to be able to improvise he must have learnt a variety of cords.

The second session of my day was by Dr.Neal Hall a surgeon and writer of an award winning book Nigger For Life. In his session Dr.Neal Hall talked about voices of a poem. He emphasized that the most important voice is our inner voice, it’s what inspires us to write and we should practice to listen to what our inner voice says to us and write down and build on it.

Dr.Neal Hall’s session included readings from all the attendants of their own work, it was fun and encouraged all the writers to find their voices above anything else. ‘Your inner voice is the greatest inspiration’ he said.

My third session found me laughing my head off about how to write Non-fiction humor by Zukiswa Wanner the writer of a hilarious book the Madams she empasized to be able to write humorous facts you have to be aware of what’s around you, pay attention to everything around you and you will be able to pick small facts that can make a situation hilarious but more than ever you have to draw the line know what to say and what not to say.

That night all the writers met at a kanga party, where we all interacted, shared experiences. I had interesting conversations with some of the writers about their work like Teju Cole (Open City), Dilman Dila (a commonwealth writer) and many more. Day two found me in The short story session by Richard Crompton journalist and author of ‘The Honey Guide. He elaborated on types of a short story, structure of a short story emphasizing that the language of a short story should be economically, pertinent, concise and appropriate. A short story is an allegory for a long story he concluded by saying ‘if you are to continue writing, read read and read.

My second session of the day found me laughing my heart out as Atinuke the inspiring story teller, read from her children book No.1 Car Spotter, a hilarious book that illustrates a life of a young village boy. Good for young readers and inspiring to young writers as it tackles your sense of creativity. My next stop was in the Creative writing session by Jackson Biko a lifestyle writer and editor at Gecko publishing. He emphasized to write differently and creatively,’ learn to put faces to situations. ’the rule of creative writing is to break the rule’ he said smilingly. His session was eye opening and educative in how to write about frequent situations differently.

Koroga by Michael Onsando, an interesting workshop where we got to put words to pictures. It was amazing at how different pieces with different dimensions emerged from the interpretation of the same picture by the poets, the session showed how stories can be created by stirring together different disciplines.

Warsan Shire, Dr.Neal Hall, Mongane Wally Serote in Voicing The Unspoken. The writers each read from their books, Warsan’s work from her book ‘teaching my mother to give birth’ was about experiences of growing up from another country and the nostalgia of home, Wally shared his experience of activism in the apartheid regime and what motivated him to write he shared pieces from(Yakhal’Inkomo) that talked about reconciliation, ‘when we talk about reconciliation we look at black and white, but we black people haven’t come to terms with the wounds in our past, our societies are broken because we haven’t recovered from the injustices done to us. We have to reconcile with ourselves within communities, tribes and our past to achieve true peace’ this phrase decoded in my own understanding did make me think about our future and our past.

Dr.Neal Hall read from his book (Nigga for Life) his readings illustrated the continued struggle of black Americans not to be judged by race not to be marginalized because of their color. He made two statements that remain strung on my mind. ‘it’s not in the calling us Niggers that we should fight against but in the treating us as niggers” ‘don’t be afraid of being angry, hang on, on your pain and fear, don’t be afraid but let it inspire you positively. This session moderated by Njeri Wangari (mines and minefields) was very interactive covering topics like exploitation, reconciliation, exile and freedom.

The play I knew a man called Livingstone is a hilarious story about David Livingstone from the perspective of his African friends by Mara Menzies. I later on proceeded to a discussion by Ng’endo Mukii and Tazim Elkington on Ng’endo’s film shadism that talks about discrimination arising from our convoluted ideas around beauty and skin colour. Later that day it was my turn to hold a session, the poetry session East engages West hosted by Beverley Nambozo consisted of poets from the east, Rashida Namulondo, Pamela Orogot, Kelly Taremwa (three finalists in the BN Poetry 2013 award) and Clifton Gachagua from the west Africa we had Nii Parkes, Kwame Dawes and Fatou Were each poet read three pieces and answered questions from the audience, it was an interesting session that brought forward questions of music and its relevance in poetry.

However one of the poets from the west who was to be in the session with us, the renowned poet Kofi Awoonor was not available as he was a victim of the Westgate terrorism attack that happened that evening which brought an abrupt end to the festival. Prof. Awoonor was later pronounced dead, may HIS soul rest in peace. We returned home with the promise to return the next year.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

2014 Commonwealth Short story competition

This year Commonwealth Writers turns its focus solely on the Commonwealth Short Story Prize as a unique award. The short story provides an accessible format as well as enabling writers to enter from countries where there is little or no publishing industry and to submit stories that have been translated into English. As a result it has become the main focus for Commonwealth Writers, a cultural initiative of the Commonwealth Foundation. 'It would be wonderful to see submissions from bold stylists and stories that experiment with the form as well as more traditional approaches to the short story,' said Ellah Allfrey, who is chairing the 2014 Commonwealth Short Story Prize. 'This prize celebrates the power of the short story to spin a tale that concentrates experience and character in such specificity that the local is transformed to significance far beyond its borders,' said Allfrey, who is Deputy Chair of the Council of the Caine Prize, previously Deputy Editor of Granta and a senior editor at Random House. 'This is the magic of good writing, and this is what I hope we will find,' she added. 'Writers from across the Commonwealth will be encouraged to send us stories that bring us news of wherever they are, in the wide variety of voices and accents that make up the English language'. Regional winners of the Commonwealth Short Story Prize will receive £2,500 and the overall winner receives £5,000. Translators of winning stories will receive additional prize money. 'We’re proud to have such an accomplished team of judges and excited to be putting more resources into this year’s Short Story Prize,' said Lucy Hannah, Programme Manager at the Commonwealth Foundation. Commonwealth Writers continues its partnership with Granta Magazine, providng winners with an opportunity to have their story published online, while for the first time, selected writers will be offered a chance to work with the London-based literary and media agency Blake Friedmann. The judges are pictured left to right: Ellah Allfrey, Doreen Baingana, Michelle de Kretser, Marlon James, Courttia Newland and Jeet Thayil, reflecting the Commonwealth regions of Africa, Asia, Canada and Europe, the Caribbean and the Pacific. The 2014 Short Story Prize opens for entry on 1 October 2013 and closes on 30 November 2013. Entry is via the online application form at - See more at:

Monday, October 14, 2013

BN Poetry Award poetry recitals

Announcement of winner at 2013 BN Poetry award.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Where were you when Rehema Nanfuka and Slim Emcee were performing?

Kgafela oa Magogoi, Ermildo Panzo, Carolin (UGCS Director, Roshan Karmali. Photo from GZK-UGCS page. After being a part of a fabulous poetic panel with Warsan Shire, Dr. Neal Hall, Wally Serote and then Prof. Kwame Dawes, Nii Parkes, Fatou Were and Clifton Gachagua, I did not think that Uganda had anything to teach me. I had already crafted my official email to the spoken word performers to let them know beyond any reasonable doubt that Ugandan spoken word performers are above all, weak, unable to learn and just wasting time. And then I attended the African Spoken Poetry Competition where I was a judge with the charming Pamela Acaye and difficult to miss Peter Kagayi. I listened to them talk and swallowed all my pre-judgements. A line-up with Mark Gordon the indomitable, Winnie Apio the unforgettable, Rehema Nanfuka the lady who lives in a home called poetry and Slim Emcee. When I heard Slim, it was like I was seeing him for the first time. I listened, felt, triumphed and mourned as they performed their lines. Oftentimes I forgot I was a judge and just wanted to dream away with the poets’ words. The power of the performances on 24th September at the German Cultural Center was astounding beyond any performance I have seen in Uganda. It is incredibly difficult to combine poetry with spoken word. Rehema Nanfuka and Slim Emcee, first and second winners overall, outshone and demystified all theories. Their word power bore the strength of a mighty army of images. Have you ever been tugged into the jaws of a cake shop? You don’t want to go in because of all those calories and yet its sweetness is so compelling that you have no other choice. These poets can sit comfortably at the table of other greats because they are part of Uganda’s greats. I’ve said it. May they never falter or doubt their poetry abilities. May there be more opportunities for poets of the written word, poets of the stage and spoken word performers to sit together at the same table of poetic joy and just eat and dance together. Maritza, the third overall, was stunning. Her ending of the second poem almost made me fall off my seat. The way she held that imaginary gun and fired at us-that’s real poetry right there. The Goethe-Zentrum Kampala, the winner from Angola, Ermildo Panzo, and the patron of the Spoken Word project, Kgafela oa Magogodi from South Africa, you are all incredible. Thanks to Poetry in session for em-ceeing and planning and making poetry real once again. Natasha Emily, Rashida Namulondo, Shan Walugembe, Black Poet and Tina p’Achan-you are unforgettable. Continue blazing that trail. What can I add? Write these poems down. Can you imagine if Prof. Awoonor never wrote down his poetry? Or Okot p’ Bitek? We would have missed out on a lot. Write your poems down, so that the world may know of your power. BNN

BNPA will return to Storymoja in 2014

These photos are from Storymoja facebook page. BNPA will return to the Storymoja Hay Festival in 2014. This year’s Storymoja event was planned for poets to experience what is close to literary heaven, with carefully selected poets like Prof. Kofi Awoonor, Nii Parkes. Prof. Kwame Dawes, Fatou Were, Clifton Gachagua, Warsan Shire, Dr. Neal Hall, Sitawa Namwalie, Wangane Wally Serote and Michael Onsando. From the moment Warsan read from her collection, teaching my mother how to give birth and shared how words enable her to understand her own home and identity and Wally Serote on how poetry was all he had while in solitary confinement during the Apartheid regime, we knew there was a lot to learn. Prof. Awoonor’s death in the hands of such brutality on 21st September 2013 is a reminder of how fragile our lives are and how we should seize moments that come our way with liberty, strength, joy and peacefulness. The BN Poetry Foundation will continue working with Storymoja. In 2014, when the poetry award will include all poets from the continent and the winner will be announced at the festival in Nairobi. We will continue with literature’s celebration, poetry’s manifestation and honour the lives of those who paved the way like Prof. Awoonor, Okot p’ Bitek and many others. We stand with those giving in Kenya and the entire world. Every day, people are killed and we feel helpless. There is strength in comfort and joy in knowing that there are others standing with us. May we always have literature as our comfort and the words of poetry to help us make meaning of those times. Always, BNN.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Storymoja hay festival, 21st September and heart to hearts

Warsan Shire and Beverley Nambozo at the Storymoja Hay Festival, Nairobi. Photo by Juliet Maruru. I have cried so hard because of the situation at Westgate Mall in Nairobi where many people were held hostage, others killed and scores injured in a grim, horrendous terrorist attack. It’s not because I was at the mall at the time. I was at the the Storymoja Hay Festival just minutes away. I have cried for the children shown on the media, being carried away to safety, mothers covering their children and the entire scene of horror, uncertainty and blood. I have cried because I realize that some of the sentiments from people in my past filled with, wish we could grow old together and love you always fizzled in the face of today. In Nairobi. They either conveniently forgot I existed or something else was trending, like a video of a celebrity’s post pregnancy body. Despite this, the festival was a raving success especially at a personal level because I met Kwame Dawes. What a profound poet. A genius. A man. I met Warsan Shire. Glorious. Gifted. Dr. Neal Hall. Strong. Convicted. Teju Cole. Enigmatic. I was able to reach my own depths and rip out the enemies of success, or at least discover where they lay. Lot of the sessions amongst poems carried sentiments on healing and forgiveness and how poetry plays a role in dealing with trauma. It resonates heavily after the terrorist attack. In no uncertain terms, 21 September 2013 will be embedded as a horrific reminder of this seige and at the same time, when I laid off the clutter in my life of excess people, pretenders, no-gooders. I’m done. I will return to the Storymoja Hay Festival next year most definitely. I pray now that those injured are healed and that the comfort that only come from a spiritual source connects with those grieving over the loss of loved one. May this uncertainty become clearer to all of us and may Nairobi, the entire Kenya and East Africa, never have to be a part of this again.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

BNPA Fundraising campaign for Storymoja Hay Festival and Poetry Anthology

Mulimutya, BNPA is fundraising for Storymoja Hay Festival, Nairobi-19th to 22nd September and for the production of the poetry anthology, A Thousand Voices Rising. We kindly ask for your financial support. If you can send 10,000/- via mobile money to 0782 764335 or send through Western Union or directly to the account, which we can provide, much gratitude. Storymoja accommodation is 640 US Dollars Transport costs are 300 US Dollars Poetry Anthology design and lay out-500 US Dollars Printing costs 2,000 US Dollars. Thanks again.

Friday, September 6, 2013


This anthology is a collection of personal journeys of Transculture, freeing our literary minds from critical attitudes. It is a summation of many conversations, lots of reading, sharing of dreams and taking risks so that this product would come to be. It is a product of BN Poetry Foundation work. The compilation and editing was done by Beverley Nambozo Nsengiyunva. In 2009, I began an annual poetry award for Ugandan women because I felt sincerely that poetry would change the political, economic and social system in Uganda and corruption would recede with each new verse from well-meaning poets. While there has been significant positive change and growth over the past five years from the award, the system remains the same. We can still however, through poetry, free ourselves from the rigor of this very system. I still believe in art for social change but more profoundly, I believe that poetry ultimately frees individuals. Poetry is borderless, colourless and timeless. It speaks every language and understands every joy and predicament. It is fine literary art. While I do believe in the advantages of discipline and structure from academia, family and tradition, I firmly believe that within that, we can still be free. Members of the writers here were part of the Crossing Borders writing and Radiophonics mentorship programmes which ran from 2001 to 2010. The mentors from Lancaster University used creative virtual discourse to engage the writers. There are poems here from novices, winners of the Caine Prize, Sillerman Book Prize the BN Poetry Award and those shortlisted for Poetry Foundation Ghana prize, the African Poetry Book Fund prize, Short Story Day Africa, those published and unpublished, poems about heartbreak, genocide, love, leadership, inspiration, next door neighbours, money, faith, landscape, personal journeys, family, children and education. There are poems from spoken word poets and from timid poets those who speak English as a second language and have translated their poetry from Luganda, French, Acoli, Runyakitara. Poems from Algeria, Caribbean, The Democratic Republic of Congo Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Zimbabwe and poets based in Norway, The U.K and The U.S. That is the essence of this anthology. It is about new life and old life, about every day, the past, the future and the unknown. We have decided to include African Poetry in the title because of many reasons, one of which can be summarized from Tendai Huchu’s essay, The Problem of The African Reader, published in Afro Futures magazine in 2012. He said that while African writers argue that Western writers do not suffer the same limiting label, a large fundamental cause is because African writers can barely exist without the larger Western audience and until more readers emerge from our continent, this problem will remain. I did not help the poets in this anthology to write but merely guided a few in the process and I know that with extensive reading, their literary desires will be met. As Professor Rainer Rilke said in Letters to a Young Poet, “There is only one thing you should do. Go into yourself. Find out the reason that commands you to write; see whether it has spread its roots into the very depths of your heart; confess to yourself whether you would have to die if you were forbidden to write. This most of all: ask yourself in the most silent hour of your night: must I write? Dig into yourself for a deep answer. And if this answer rings out in assent, if you meet this solemn question with a strong, simple "I must", then build your life in accordance with this necessity; your whole life, even into its humblest and most indifferent hour, must become a sign and witness to this impulse. Then come close to Nature. Then, as if no one had ever tried before, try to say what you see and feel and love and lose.” Beverley Nambozo Nsengiyunva Founder of the annual BN Poetry Award that coordinates annual poetry competitions for Africans. BN stands for Babishai Niwe, formerly, Beverley Nambozo.

Friday, August 9, 2013


This information, apart from the Mulekwa quote, is from On writers and Writing, 1998 Desk Diary, by Helen Sheehy and Leslie Stainton. In Finnegan’s wake, he replaced the days of the week with “moanday,” tearsday, wailsday, thumpsday, frightday, shatterday. He estimated he spent 20,000 hours writing Ulysses. He advised a writer friend not to plan ahead. Jules Verne: He wrote a lot but never sold until he was involved in Nadar’s project to build a huge balloon and travel across Europe. The balloon was successfully launched but the flight failed which resulted in a depression and his first novel. This book became a bestseller. In writing his 90 novels, Verne followed Dumas’ advice. He wrote everyday from 6:00 until noon. After lunch, he rested, then walked his dog. Charles Mulekwa (Ugandan playwright). (This quote I not from the Writer’s Diary). Inspiration is a very mean thing. If it comes by and you play hard to get, it vanishes. Peter Mark Roget 1779-1869 The word thesaurus in Greek means treasury. “A misapplied or misapprehended term is sufficient to give rise to fierce and interminable disputes.” Jane Bowles Described as a writer’s writer’s writer. “When I was little, I had to imagine that there was some limit to physical pain in order to enjoy the day.” A nurse dropped her when she was a baby; later she broke her leg failing from a horse, and then she developed tuberculosis of the knee, which left her with a limp. She married Paul Bowles and at one time they lived with a cat, duck, parrot, kitten, armadillo. Fanny Trollope, 1779-1863 She wrote her first book, The Domestic Manners of the American which became a bestseller, to save her husband, herself and their 6 children from financial ruin. She began work punctually at four each morning and completed her quota of words before her family rose for the day. Her dedication was such that between 1834 and 1836, when she lost her husband and 2 children to illness, she wrote 3 books…She reaped for bread, and reaped that honour. Mary Webb: 1881-1927 She was 20 years old when Graves’ disease struck her, rendering her an invalid unable to eat, drink, or sit without help. As a child, she had learned from her father to pay attention to its minute parts: bees, flower buds, clover, the effect of wind on a field of grass. Marguerite Duras: 1914-1996 “When the past is recaptured by the imagination, breath is put back into life.” At the height of her career, she produced books at the rate of nearly one per year. She spent her last years in an unorthodox relationship with a young homosexual man.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Beverley Nambozo Nsengiyunva, Harriet Anena and Susan Piwang shortlisted for the Poetry Foundation Ghana 2013 prize

Ghana Poetry Prize is a major new poetry prize of Gh cedis 2000 (approximately $1000) targeted at the celebration and promotion of poetry worldwide. The prize is sponsored by Poetry Foundation Ghana. Susan Piwang won the 2012 BN Poetry Award which I (Beverley Nambozo Nsengiyunva) coordinate. Harriet Anena works for the Monitor Publications. More information from the Poetry Foundation Ghana website is below. The winner will be announced at an event hosted by the Department of Modern Languages and English (Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology) and Poetry Foundation Ghana. The venue and date for the event will be communicated later. The Ghana Poetry prize in its first year was opened to the world but in the subsequent years it will be opened to only Ghanaians. An important part of our project is to give voice to fresh, new, unpublished poetry. The Longlist Anthology shall be made available in print during the event at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology and the date will be communicated later. The Shortlist Below is a list of the poems selected for the 2013 Ghana Poetry Prize Shortlist. We appreciate the many that supported our poetry project by contributing in our very first year. The many admirable and beautiful entries made the final selection difficult but it was ultimately done. Woman Ezeiyoke Peter Nonso The Leashed Goat Bleats Daniel Kojo Appiah Gratitude To Papa Elizabeth Akrofi The Pretty Beads of Suma-Glory Crystal Tettey I Baptise You with My Child’s Blood Beverley Nambozo Nsengiyunva My President Mikail Oluwadare Bashir Passages on Kakum Canopy Walkway, Ghana (To Alba K Sumprim) Uzor Maxim Uzoatu Dylan was right Rehan Pochkhanawala OUR GOD, OUR DEVIL Delasi Livingston Senya We Arise Harriet Anena Grandmothers Kofi A. Amoako Man Bailer Wisdom Hanson A Day’s Work Omonegho Imoagene Negro Hate Samuel Osei Mensah Junior Losers And Abusers Kwaku Krobea Asante Resigned to Fate Susan Piwang I Do Not Have A Wife Tony Adebamiji The Picture on The Wall Sarah Nyarko Again Here? Philip A. Alawonde Beautiful Africa William Kumi Du Bois

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Birthday Wishes Riding Upon The Waves, poem by BNN

Birthday Wishes Riding Upon the Waves I want my birthday wish to open up the graves of my dreams To make my Daddy come back and for crocodiles To have the jaws of a thousand grains of corn, So that our fear is devoured by perception. I want the skin of the serpent to change into a mirror. I want us to look at our reflection in that mirror and See that we were the predators all along. And watch as the serpent sheds off its skin. I want my birthday wish to ride upon the waves of my life To be my surfboard; so I can play with my troubles And then burst them like bubbles. I want my birthday wish to make you come to me So that we can be Free to make love on a bed of our dirty thoughts And our repentant hearts Because life has taught us that there is nothing As incoherent as desire And nothing as liberating as you and me. If my birthday wish could cure me of cancer If chemotherapy could be a party of afros and models If consultation fees went into consultation If marrying me was your highest manifestation Then my birthday wish would ride upon the waves of my life. © Bev Nambozo Nsengiyunva, July 2013


I send you greetings from Rt. Honourable Rebecca Kadaga, the Speaker of Parliament and Patron of the BN Poetry Foundation. It is a privilege to be part of Uganda’s literary heartbeat, to feel the pulse of words and creativity through projects such as this. Literature is one of the most vital tools for any country to survive. Through various historical stages, our country has been immersed in joy and pain. Literature, especially poetry, is able to define those moments in way that no other art can. The efforts of the annual BN Poetry award, which is now in its fifth year, will not go unnoticed. The steadiness and determination of its founder, Beverley Nambozo Nsengiyunva, are immeasurable. I congratulate her and the entire team for joining hands to create a platform to promote poetry. When I heard that in 2014, the award will extend to the entire continent, I was impressed by the growth and vision of the project. On behalf of The Speaker, I continue to encourage Beverley and each of you here to keep on working towards realizing your dreams. A dream is the seed for success. Hard work and faith are the ingredients for continuity, growth and life beyond our wildest dreams. Every artist and promoter of the arts who are here today should never give up no matter how hard the struggle. This BN Poetry Award is a testimony to the fact that anything is possible. I congratulate all the poets that have participated in the award since 2009, especially the winners. I believe that each poet is a winner but sometimes there is only space for one in that seat. It is a joy to stand amongst creative talent today and I hope that I get opportunity to share more of the success of literary growth in this country. There are many poets and literary groups that have shaped and continue to shape the arts in Uganda. Amongst them are Okot p Bitek, Professor Timothy Wangusa, Justice James Ogoola, Uganda Women Writers’ Association, The Lantern Meet of Poets, Poetry in Session, to mention just a few. There is a lot of power in your pens and in your head. We should unleash it to the world so that we can live in a better place. Change history through your dreams. Make a difference through your words. Tomorrow, renowned Kenyan author Ngugi wa Thiong’o will be holding a lecture at Makerere University at 2pm. I hope that you will also be a part of this because when we listen to elders in the trade, we learn wisdom which we can use and pass on. This year I also understand that they are also going to produce an anthology of poetry with all the winning poems and also other poets of the continent. Once again, I congratulate Beverley Nambozo and her organizing committee. I congratulate the winners and wish them all the best as the award reaches the entire continent of Africa in 2014. Thank you and God bless you Honourable Flavia Kabahenda MP Kyegegwa


Congratulations Beverly. The Femrite family is very proud of you and wish you the very best as you go continental. With best regards, Hilda Hullo BN, thanks for initiating the award and for all the effort you put in to make it happen. I personally have a natural passion for literature and such awards like yours provide a great platform for me to develop my work. I was not an A level literature student because I did sciences. However in my O level i did Literature for 2 years knowing I would not have another opportunity to study the subject. I hope to continually get my writing better through learning and actual writing. Blessed week! Julia K Thank you very much! It was a wonderful evening. Congratulations on the achievements. And thanks for talking about Jali sustainable. Happiness, peace, good health, and love be with you you always. Patience. Dear Beverley, It was inspiring and great having an evening out at the BN Poetry Award! Great: people, music, poetry, food, drinks and you looked great in the african outfit. I congratulate you and indeed BN for a successful event. To the Winner ma congrats. I was touched and happy to have my daughter there-Molly Nalunga as one among the 25 that received certificated. Molly she is a performer with House Of Talent. Thanks for the invite and many thanks for the NUVO festival mention! Bev, It was a wonderful event. You keep the literature light shining brightly in Uganda. And look gorgeous doing it! D Baingana hi Bev, thanks for the wonderful award usual, you did not disappoint... the the guest of honor, the guests, the reception, everything was perfect. I have just viewed the three winning poems and noticed that time is timeless and it set me wondering for the nth time, how do people manage to create like that? Oketta You are welcome Beverly. It was quite an event filled with humour great poetry and great people. Keep it up and may you soar on the continental level. Ivan Mulumba Hi Bev....first a congrats for the immense success of BN, more so on going word:::: You inspire!!! Ivan Okuda

Saturday, June 29, 2013




TIME In the corridor of time I peeped through the keyhole of 2099. The television said the nuclear war might be tomorrow The radio said, The globe has warmed up And the North Pole has melted away The phone said to the man with it, Evacuate! The government experiment was a disaster and The virus is on the loose. I saw people being chased and about to be caught up by time Voices out in the window screaming Let’s escape to AFRICA Maybe it was left untouched. So I peeped through the door of 2015 I saw black women importing Western ideas I saw their children throw away their customs Old men dying without writing down their history I saw black women go to school to learn to be white I looked around to see if anyone was against it but none So I peeped through a door with no label Must have been timeless time Its people respecting each other’s culture They didn’t cut the forest They didn’t pollute the air They worked together Nature was pleased with them I wanted to open and run in but it was locked. So I opened back to 2013 And sat down Thinking how I can save the world So I told the world in a poem Hoping they would listen. Namulondo Rashida is the overall winner of the BN Poetry Award for 2013. This poem, Time was enchanting, gripping, refreshing and musical. The theme for the 2013 award was Innovation. Rashida wins a fully sponsored trip to the Storymoja Hay Festival in Nairobi alongside cash prize of 500 US Dollars. She also wins autographed copies of poetry, autographed copies of Diaries of a Dead African, by Chuma Nwokolo, Jr. ,Songs of paradise by Justice James Ogoola and autographed copies of Tropical Fish by Doreen Baingana., RA

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Letter of Rejection, poem by Tom Jalio, published in A Thousand Voices Rising

Letter of Rejection

Dear Juliet,

There’s this rumour doing the rounds:
That I’m in love with you
I’d like to put an end to it
By proving it’s not true.

I never really stare at you
I just ignore the people around you
I never really think of you
I just imagine having a girlfriend like you
I never really flirt with you
I just tell you what other boys keep to themselves
And I never really ask you out
I just find you beside me when I go to dreamland…


There’s this rumour doing the rounds:
That I’m in love with you
It sounds funny, but
I’m starting to think it’s true.


If I loved you
Would you love me back?
If yes, then I love you
If no, then I don’t.

Yours truly,

Tom Jalio

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Check out

This has been taking my time this week, check it out,

Tuesday, May 21, 2013


FEMRITE in partnership with Karavan – Sweden is calling for submissions for the 5th Residency for African Women Writers. The residency program will last be held from 18th - 30th November 2013. The main aim of the residency is to give women space to concentrate on their writing. The 2-week residency will give selected writers the opportunity to reflect on their writing, connect with one another, read each others’ manuscripts and give feedback, interact with established writers and build literary bridges across cultures of the continent. The residency is also aimed at strengthening collaboration among women writers’ initiatives in Africa. How to Apply? 1) Send part of a novel / short Story collection as a word document (40 pages, typed in Times New Roman, font 12, 1.5 spacing). 2) Send one complete short story (Minimum 3000 words) for the 5th Regional Residency publication. 3) A brief bio (not more than 10 lines) 4) Deadline for submissions is 30th May 2013. Who is Eligible? All African women writers above 18 years of age, and living on the continent. Successful applicants will be notified by 30th July 2013. The residency package will include; * A return air ticket for those residing outside Uganda. * Accommodation for the period of the residency. * Meals during the residency period. No application fee is required. For inquiries and submissions, please send emails to:

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Virtual Poetry Seminars, Summer Edition, May to July 2013

The University of Iowa's International Writing Program has two poetry online sessions running for seven weeks. The first course i for strong and emerging poets while the Advanced class is for published poets. This is great, it's free and all you have to do is submit a resume, statement of purpose abd writing sample of 5 poems. Send these to It is about opening doors to invisible people. Deadline to submit is 8 May and it is definitely worth it. According to the website at, there will be open discussions with the classics, the old and more modern and contemporary poets. International applicants are encouraged. you just need a reliable internet connection and headset. For the Masterclass, there will be radical ways of revising poems, don't we all need this? The course instructor is Micah Bateman who is a graduate of the Iowa Writers' program and Nick Twemlow is the instructor for the Master class. enjoy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Betty Kituyi, 3rd winner of BN Poetry Award 2012, in an interview.

Betty Kituyi was 3rd in the 2012 BN Poetry Award. BN stands for Babishai Niwe and formerly , was Beverley Nambozo Poetry Award, now in its fifth year. What is your academic and occupational background? (What you do for living). To many of my writing friends I am seen as a writer who marries science and art. I have a strong science background with an MSC in Chemistry and I am now a national coordinator of Café Scientifique – Uganda. The project targets young people in secondary schools and gives them an opportunity to meet science experts informally at the school to explore interesting and new ideas on science and technology. Before this project, I have taught science subjects at secondary school and university levels. I continuously make a double flow between science and art and my work experience runs from science research, education, public engagement, creative writing, poetry, editorial practices and publishing. When have you been writing poetry and how many poems have you written? My writing journey began as early as 8 years of age when I started writing in my school notebooks about the lessons I was learning about events around me and how I felt about them. My uncle, Malomo, kept a small hard cover red notebook in which he wrote about his brother’s family (our family). In this book, there were records of child births, famine and harvest and other things I do not remember now. This little book became a treasure to our family when we would gather around a paraffin lamp on many nights to read its contents. The book inspired me to keep a record of things. When I grew older and I leafed through the scribbling in my notebooks, I realised that they were poems. But I began seriously writing poetry in 2001 – 2003 when I became a student on the Crossing Borders program by the British Council. This was an extensive online writing program that involved Ugandan writers on a cultural exchange with established writers from the United Kingdom. I developed 60 poems from this scheme but I have written over 100 poems. What other poetry award have you won? Or how else has any of your poems been publicly recognised or used? In 2002 my poems Third World Champion and In Touch were winning daily poems on the BBC Network Africa poetry competition aired on the morning radio broadcast. In 2010 my poem, A place, was published in The Butterfly Dance by Femrite Publications Ltd. In 2009 my poem, Hibiscus, was published in The Painting Voices poetry anthology by Femrite Publications Ltd. I have recited my poetry at different writing forums including the recently held LittWorld 2012 International conference. What draws you to poetry? Is there any a special feature or aspects of poetry that makes you drawn to it? Poetry works for me because I am always attracted to what lines the surface of things. When I look at a burning candle, I am attracted to its dancing flame and its enduring burning wick. It stirs images in my life and where I am standing at that point - whether my candle will keep burning despite the stormy currents surrounding it. The candle therefore carries a strong spiritual symbol for me and it is only poetry that can embody its short lived story for me and that works. What is the story behind your poem FALLING? What lines or a stanza of the poem has a strong bearing on your personal life? Here is Falling: Falling The rain is gently clapping at the rocks outside my kitchen. Its music waters my desert. A new song forms, the sound of raindrops washing my face. The rain is steadily taking me home by twilight. I am learning from the weeping clouds that falling isn’t dying. I wrote this poem when I was down with Migraine and in a lot of pain. The rain just kept pouring steadily and gently the whole of this day and it was perfect weather for my condition. As I stood at my kitchen sink to watch it, I found I liked the way it fell – gently - and how it was received by the rocks. There was music in all that and I liked it. It healed me. Then I heard a knock on the door and Moses my fiancé stood tall before me – the rain had steadily brought him home – I cried. But it is the last stanza that surprised me - ‘I am learning from the weeping clouds that falling isn’t dying’. Those words just came to me after so much editing of the poem and they resonated with me and stood strong and powerful in meaning. Later at the Beverly Nambozo 2012 Awarding ceremony, everybody was talking about Bududa and the rain and the mudslides. Then it occurred to me that my poem was prophetic – as I stood up to give my speech as a third winner, I told the audience that I came from Bududa and they were so surprised. But I also told them, ‘the rain fell in my village and my people died yet my poem said that falling isn’t dying’. At that moment I began to believe that the poem had a personal message for me and my people – ‘May be there was a meaning to this death in my village, may be dying is not the end.’ I told the teary audience. Follow this story here: What made you submit the poem for the competition? Did you entertain any inhibitions as you submitted your work? I looked at the prizes and they were good. The theme was music and my poem had music in it even though it wasn’t obvious. I had done my homework to put every word and every line in its place. So I knew that my poem stood a chance to win. I did not entertain any inhibition whatsoever. Just like a mother lets her child to face the world one day, the moment had come for me to send my poem out there to speak for its self. I had no control over how it would be charged but I had given it a chance to be – a poem - and that worked. What has the success of this poem, FALLING, done to your literary outlook (or attitude to writing)? I have learnt to pay attention to the small moments that happen in my life – my poem which began at the kitchen sink has travelled vast distances across the world and is being read by students and people from all walks of life. This has humbled me and uplifted me at the same time to write and share my work the more. What kinds of writing do you do beside poetry? Any example of writing in any genre? I have written journalistic pieces that have been published. I do thematic writing and currently I am writing around Christian themes: March 2010 How Boys and Girls Think Differently, an article published by the ObserverNewspaper: HYPERLINK "" 2010 My Basuben, a short story on Female Genital Mutulation was published in the Beyond the Dance anthology in by Femrite (Uganda Women Writers Association) Publications Ltd. What motivated you into writing and what factors are propelling this motivation for keeping on writing. I have a thirst for stories – I am always reading books. There was a year when I looked at the volumes of books I had read and decided that I needed to start writing my own books. From that point on, I still read but I also write. Being a member of Femrite (Uganda Women’s Research Association) and Faith Writers Association has helped me to meet other writers who continue to encourage and inspire me to write more. Being part of 2012 LittWorld made it clear for me to write my faith story for Uganda and the world. What challenges do you face in your personal writing life? It is not always easy having to switch from the experimental world of science to the feeling world of poetry and storytelling. The two worlds are completely different. The discipline to sit down and complete a writing project is a challenge for me. As a mother and a wife, how does family life affect, enhance, or diminish your writing? My stories are many times intertwined with my family life – yesterday my eight year old son told me a story about a pencil thief and pencil collector in his class. His description of these two kids were so vivid, I came back to them many times later in the day. I know that this story will find its way in Memoirs of A Son – a book I am writing on my young son’s view of the world. My family life enhances my writing to spring from the heart. What is your role on the Uganda Faith Writers Association and what personal vision do you have for what the Association can become? I am one of the two founder members of the association. Currently I coordinate the association activities. My personal Vision is to see Faith Writers become a home of Christian Writing and Publishing in the Country, where writers’ talent is nurtured and harnessed into concrete books that will tell the Ugandan Christian Faith story to the world and for future generations.

Sunday, April 21, 2013


The 5th and final BN Poetry Award for Uganda. Theme: Innovation Deadline for submission extended to June 1 , 2013 As we celebrate the 5th and final BN Poetry Award for Uganda, the theme of Innovation is most suitable because 2013 is about originality, modernization, freshness and in 2014, we’re taking the award to an international level. Guidelines for the award: • The theme is Innovation and you may submit a total of three poems under this theme • The award is open to Ugandan women above 18 years and who are residents of Uganda • The poems must be sent as word attachments in Times New Roman Size 12, single-spaced • Submit poems by email to or post to P O Box 34942 Kampala, Uganda • For more details, follow the facebook page, Babishai Niwe Poetry Foundation or blog: or website: • DEADLINE EXTENDED. Submission will be accepted up to June 1 2013 at Midday, East African Standard Time. PRIZES: • The first 3 winners will attend a fully sponsored trip to the Storymoja Hay Festival in Nairobi alongside cash prizes of 500 US Dollars, 300 US Dollars and 200 US Dollars respectively. • The first 3 will also win autographed copies of poetry, autographed copies of Diaries of a Dead African, by Chuma Nwokolo, Jr. and autographed copies of Tropical Fish by Doreen Baingana

Monday, April 15, 2013


Babishai Niwe, meaning Creating with you, is the name replacing Beverley Nambozo Poetry Foundation. The Babishai Niwe (BN) Poetry Foundation is a newer more collaborative provision for poetry and the creative arts. The name also creates a more suitable space when the Babishai Niwe (BN) Poetry award goes regional in 2014. The team will collaborate with literary partners in Africa and the diaspora to:- • Hold annual regional poetry awards for both men and women • Create a publishing component through partnership with indigenous and international houses in order to contribute towards fulfilling the publishing need in the region • Conduct regular trainings in creative literary arts • Publish an anthology of poetry from poets of Africa in 2013 and distribute widely • Coordinate regular poetry camps • Other activities with individuals and organizations that promote literary arts We extend our appreciation to partners and individuals that have been great support. We appreciate the poets that have been participating in the annual BN Poetry Award. We thank the judges over the years namely; Iga Zinunula, a poet and entrepreneur, Apuuli Mugasa who is the head of The Literature Association of Uganda and author of Pulse of the Pearl and Mildred Kiconco Barya, author of widely acclaimed poetry collections Men love Chocolates but they don’t say and Give me room to Move my Feet. Our financial partners over the years; Uganda Clays Limited, Wordalive Publishers, Stichting Doen, Prince Claus Fund, Bayimba Cultural Foundation and Uganda Health Marketing Group and those that contribute regularly via mobile money. The media including UBC, The New Vision, The Monitor Newspaper, The Weekly Observer, Record T.V and mad and crazy blogspot and various sites like Writers Afrika, Proggie UG and others. The guest artists at the different award ceremonies; Ife Piankhi, Acaye Pamela, Susanne Aniku, Pretty Poet, Nakisanze Segawa, Prophet, Colleens Barasa, Rachel Kunihira, Susan Kerunen and MCs Sophia Aniku and Lucy Chihandae. We thank the financial and legal consultants who keep the BN Poetry Foundation in check, Gilgal Family Network that maintains the website,, the people who like and support the facebook poetry page, at Beverley Nambozo Poetry Foundation, changing to Babishai Niwe Poetry Foundation, those who follow the blog at We also thank the growing family of writers across the globe. Thank you. P.S. The theme for this year’s poetry award is Innovation, meaning creation, freshness and poems can be sent to Details can be found at Beverley Nambozo (Founder and Director) cc. Rt. Honourable Rebecca Kadaga (Patron)

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Congratulations Clifton Gachagua!

The winner of the Sillerman First Book Prize for African Poets for 2013 is Clifton Gachagua for his manuscript Madman at Kilifi. Below is a photo off the internet. He will receive a USD $1,000 prize and publication by the University of Nebraska Press and Amalion Press in Senegal. “I was driven mostly by what was for me a quest for a fresh language—something that seemed to come out of the energy of language spoken and owned, and then transformed into a poetic force that seemed sometimes out of control, but only in the way that honest passions can seem out of control,” says APBF Series Editor Kwame Dawes. “There is cleverness aplenty here and much that is provocative and troubling. Indeed, I think it is daring, careless and at times tender and vulnerable. But above all, there is a distinctive voice here. This is a strange trait to find, but when it emerges it is striking for its originality. I believe this is an original voice. This manuscript achieves what is necessary in African poetry: it feels as African as Africanness can be, and wholly contemporary and in our moment.” Clifton lives in Nairobi, where he was born and raised. His poetry has appeared in Kwani? 06 and Saraba. He has recently finished work on a novel. Clifton is also a scriptwriter and filmmaker, currently developing a French-Nigerian feature-length film. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in biomedical science. He has spent a considerable time of his life on East African highways, travelling from lake to coast and back, in search of both love and Jeffery Eugenides’s Obscure Object.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Submit and Win copies of Uganda's award-winning Tropical Fish, by Doreen Baingaga

The 5th and final BN Poetry Award for Uganda. Next year, the award goes regional. Theme: Innovation As we celebrate the 5th and final BN Poetry Award for Uganda, the theme of Innovation. Innovation can mean advancement, newness, modernity, creativity and so on. Guidelines for the award: • The theme is Innovation and you may submit a total of three poems under this theme • The award is open to Ugandan women above 18 years and who are residents of Uganda • The poems must be in English, previously unpublished and sent as word attachments in Times New Roman Size 12, single-spaced • Original past first winners are not eligible to participate. • Submit poems by email to or post to p o Box 34942 Kampala, Uganda • For more details, follow the facebook page, Beverley Nambozo Poetry Foundation or blog: or website: • Submissions will be accepted from 7 January 2013 to 5 May 2013 Prizes: • In September 2013, the winners will attend a fully sponsored trip to the Storymoja Hay Festival in Nairobi alongside cash prizes of 500 US Dollars, 300 US Dollars and 200 US Dollars respectively to use at the festival. • The first three will win autographed copies of poetry. The first three winners will also be awarded autographed copies of Diaries of a Dead African, by Chuma Nwokolo, Jr. • Three autographed copies of Tropical Fish, by award-winning author, Doreen Baingana

Monday, March 25, 2013


Poetry Foundation Ghana has announced its inaugural (2013) GHANA POETRY PRIZE with $1,000 winning prize at stake. This is built on the hugely successful 2012 Online Competition which was done under the name Ghana Poetry Awards. According to organisers, the aim of this prize is to support younger emerging poets. The Prize is sponsored by Poetry Foundation Ghana and with the hope of increasing the prize when they have enough funds from other sources. "People with interest in poetry are invited to help in this direction and we will be grateful for your sponsorship." This contest is open to anyone, anywhere in the world. Interested persons are to to submit a maximum of two poems which must not be more than 30 lines long. Plus, it is free to enter. All submissions should be made to with the subject 'Poetry Prize'. The deadline is June 30, 2013. Shortlisted poems would be announCed in July, while the winner will be made known by September. Viasat1NewsOnline

Friday, March 15, 2013

Too Much sweetness at AWT International Writers’ Conference.

The first story that was told at the Writers’ Conference, which none of us will ever forget did not come from Prof. Jack Mapanje, or Nii Parkes, but from two prostitutes. A Norwegian man died after a night with two prostitutes. Upon their arrest, the prostitutes said that the man must have died from too much sweetness. From 7 to 9 March 2013, African Writers’ Trust organized an international writers’ conference in Entebbe. The Director, Goretti Kyomuhendo, resident in the UK, created this space for us to talk, write, learn and create. It was unforgettable. The dominant theme at the conference was Afropolitanism and the question of continental identity with the mobility of Africans all over the world. There have been large exoduses from decades and decades ago for reasons ranging from seeking alternative education and economic opportunities, tourism, escaping political strife and so on. And then there were questions about returning to the continent and if it really did feel like home. In his keynote address, Prof. Mapanje, renowned Malawian poet did not have a solid answer as to whether returning to Malawi after two decades in the UK, really felt like home. The conference had several writers from the diaspora whose names were followed by Accra/UK, DRC/Norway, DRC/Netherlands and Uganda/UK. This is the real situation of many who have lived and continue to live across two continents and for many reasons, unable to identify one single country as their home. It is an indisputable reality and one that I learned from after hearing their stories of challenges of living as a writer in the West. Contrary to the justification many of us try to give ourselves when we are not writing or pushing our creativity beyond its limits, we who live here want to believe that ‘they’ in the West, have it easier because they live next door to publishers, dine with literary agents and have coffee with prize givers. Hardly. They too have 24 hours in the day with which to work and create, have children to look after and bills to pay. Did I mention that the weather most times in unfavourable and can be compared to Margherita peak on Mt. Rwenzori. And nothing brought made this clearer than the readings from Kwani? 07, which Doreen Baingana and Kalundi Serumaga opened up to us. Billy Kahora, managing Editor of Kwani? led a very reflective session and explained the motivation for the theme for the latest edition of the East Africa literary journal, Kwani?, which was Africans in the diaspora Doreen’s was a true account of being mistreated at the immigration department before entering the United States. The confrontation by the officials because of the choice she made not to apply for US citizenship and instead return to Uganda, resonates the binary standards of immigration policies. The disparity between the West and the beautiful and complex continent of Africa is further examined in an article by Alphonse Muambi, Congolese journalist currently residing in The Netherlands. The articles entitled, African elections, a naïve European ideal? indicates that the European desire for democracy on the continent is detrimental to the well-being of African populations. There was a lot of discourse as well about how we can collaborate as writers to use available digital tools to widen our audiences and opportunities for publishing and listening to Chikoti’s views on this and his Malawi experience as well as Rais Boneza from Norway/DRC, Dwalu, a children’s author from Liberia and even the Ugandan writers like Beatrice Lamwaka, Hellen Nyana, Harriet Anena, Baingana and Twongyeirwe. It is safe to say that we must tap into the prospects from the internet and keep on writing. The conference was followed by many other events in Kampala, one of which was an African Writers’ evening organized by Nii Parkes, which he runs in England on a quarterly basis. And true to the celebration of Women’s Day, Beatrice Lamwaka read from two different anthologies and bravely bore the Q and A from the audience. Rais entertained us with an oral form of poetry in singing verse and Nii, true to his amazing self, ended on a high with the West African mosquito, detailing the issues of youths in America who live and think like gangsters but are no match for the perils of malaria. Goretti Kyomuhendo is farsighted. The session with employees from Barclays Bank and Stichting Doen, the sponsors of the event, discussing possible collaboration with the literary arts is testimony to this. She embraces challenge with a dignified fierceness and I am so grateful. I am honoured to have met astounding writers from Uganda, the entire continent and the diaspora, from whom I picked incredible wealth for my own writing. Asanteni! By Beverley Nambozo Nsengiyunva

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Article from Proggie UG-on BNN as author of the month

Any aspiring authors who missed the conversations with the author of the month Beverley Nambozo at Femrite are sorely at a loss. Her pedigree needs no recounting and to say that her advice is priceless would be an understatement. We have come to expect every event to start late and so we, at least I, never bother to set off on time. To my pleasure and disappointment this one started on time. People were already seated and Beverley was going on with the conversations. As a first time visitor I was surprised to see more than one man in the intimate gathering. When I hear Femrite, I immediately think women. It was a pleasure to find that the female author cuts across genders. It was aptly titled ‘conversations’ because that is what it was. Certainly some of the people present knew each other well, but even us first time members settled in very easily. Beverley shared and the audience asked questions here and there. Here are a few tips from Beverley for those seeking to follow in her footsteps but sadly missed talking to her. She stressed the need for research and more research. If you are writing a story about Owino market, go downtown and ‘breathe the life’. However she followed this up by saying respect to the characters and their story should always be upheld. In response to a question about if writers can be taught, the lady who asked the question mentioned that when asked the same, Chinua Achebe said that it really comes from the gut, Beverly said that ‘teaching’ might be replaced by the word ‘nurture’.’You should indeed nurture your craft’, she said. She confirmed what I have always believed by saying that writing is hard work and that you need to put in the work. You should find a space to nurture your craft. For her it was her Masters’ in Fine Art but it can be a writer’s club or through peer review. She shared the ups and downs the Beverley Nambozo poetry award has led her on. In its fifth year, it is the only one of its kind in the country. Although there were times she wanted to just give it up, she is proud of the results. Her formula? Determination and a good team. There are other spices that go into the end work but from what I surmised, these were prerequisite. The award is growing to cover East Africa and include men as well. As is the norm at this event, I was informed, the author of the month reads to the group. Beverly recited a few of her poems my favourite being ‘Kampala’, a one stanza piece that proves that truth can really be said in very few words. On encouraging writers in Uganda; Beverly believes the University(s) should build more programs that support writing and that writers should be paid-on that I agree. Her books are on sale for 10,000shs at Femrite, the National theatre or in her handbag, her words. The Beverley Nambozo poetry foundation is accepting entries for this year’s award. The deadline is 5th May. SUBMIT YOUR POEMS TO THE 5TH AND FINAL BN POETRY AWARD FOR UGANDA Theme: Innovation Guidelines for the award: • The theme is Innovation and you may submit a total of three poems under this theme • The award is open to Ugandan women above 18 years and who are residents of Uganda • The poems must be original, written in English and sent as word attachments in Times New Roman Size 12, single-spaced • Previous first winners are not allowed to participate • Submit poems by email to or post to P O Box 34942 Kampala, Uganda • DO NOT add your contact details to the poem, only the title of the poem. Instead, include your name, poems’ titles, email address and phone number in the body of the email • For more details, follow the facebook page, Beverley Nambozo Poetry Foundation or blog: or • Submissions will be accepted from 7 January 2013 to 5 May 2013 Prizes: • Fully sponsored trip to the Storymoja Hay Festival in Nairobi alongside cash prizes of 500 US Dollars, 300 US Dollars and 200 US Dollars respectively to use at the festival • Autographed copies of poetry• Autographed copies of Diaries of a Dead African, by Chuma Nwokolo, Jr.