Monday, February 23, 2015



Were you there for the Babishai Niwe Poetry Day Time Series? Well, on 13th February, Valentine’s eve, if we may add, #Loveromancen’ebigendeerakomuKampala happened. Love, Romance and the things that follow in Kampala. The first poetry reading event of its kind, held from 10:30am and 12:30pm at 32° East | Ugandan Arts Trust.
25 of us settled down to a good session on poetry, based on exactly that, Love doveyness of romance in Kampala. It was difficult to know how the session would run. There were copies of poetry books on sale, A Nation in Labour and A Thousand Voices Rising, delicious chocolate and vanilla Wordy Cakes, roses to pick from and a sweet-smelling aroma of love. Paul Kisakye, owner of Wordy Cakes, rendered us helpless with his poem, Missing You,
Missing You
missing you
like a terminal disease
that one endures
but can't get used to

 first published here:
Roshan Karmali, moderator and host of Poetry in session revealed her forthcoming collection, one we’re all looking forward to, a collection which unfolds in two parts, Angels and Demons. Rosh poetically submitted  us into another spiritual experience. For her, the entire reading was such a refreshing experience that she felt she was with long-lost friends at a brunch. How’s that for poetry.
Farida Bagallaliwo read one of Derek Walcott’s famous love poems. Her own interpretation, well portrayed through the melody in the recital brought us into an even deeper surrounding of #loveromancen’bigenderako. As an activist, Farida was particularly pleased that the event began and ended on time, as advertised.
The reading, supported by Poetry in Session, Femrite and 32° East | Ugandan Arts Trust was warming up at this point and there were still quite a number of poets to go. Joel Nevender, blogger and poet, read a parody, of 1 Corinthians 13, the love chapter in the Holy Bible. His rendition was entitled, 1 Valentine’s 13. This also highlights unrealistic views of love and romance on Valentine’s. This changed the narrative with symbols of the absurdities of Kampala City, most of which we laud, amongst them, the recent sex-tape scandals. His two other poems were, The Ones that Don’t get caught and Daisy. The Ones That Don't Get Caught talks about the hypocrisy of society as regards sexual immorality.
Daisy talks about a dream girl that will always be a dream, never a reality.

Caesar Obong, a poet from Northern Uganda, led the readers into a mystical and narrative view of lust and erotica, including the landscapes of love and society amongst various social groups. Roxanna Aliba, a love poet, read from her forthcoming collection which will be released mid this year. Hers is one we should definitely aspire towards.
Half-way the reading we held a mini-launch of Harriet Anena’s A Nation of Labour, a selection of poetry about the irrationality of governance in Kampala, as well as unimaginable pictures of sex at an entirely new scale. Her concise messages remain imprinted and it was a pleasure to have her. Harriet’s book inspired another member to write her own collection. Her poems, Hemline cop, V-Day and We are on heat. Hemline cop is an excellent version of the hypocrisy of the state of governance in Uganda. Further, in Anena’s words:
“The event was a great start in the right poetic direction and I look forward to seeing similar events organized for not just Valentine’s Day but other key days on the Calendar.”
Christine Ssempebwa is a poet whose truths and convictions lie in the verse. Quite new to the poetry scene, she proved herself wrong by calling herself a non-poet. The rhythm and message were everything poetic.
Edith Nakku, a writer and member of the weekly readers-writers club, said of the event said she enjoyed the event and this is what she said,
“I was able to meet people of like and different mind and be inspired by their words, to hear truth spoken in new beautiful ways. Amazing. The time of the meeting was great. No hurry, no hassle.”
Roshan Karmali said,
“It was an insight into loving and living in Kampala from the sex tape to the heartbreak and everything inbetween and a reflection of Love from multiple angles.”
What is love and romance without music? Bosco, a regular at Poetry in session, got out his guitar and sang an all time favourite, How does it feel to be the one that I love? It’s a soft and deep masterpiece, whose lyrics tug at a listener’s heart-strings.
Susanne Aniku, jazz musician and singer brought down the house with two songs. One was written by famous composer George Gershwin in the late 1920s, entitled The Man I Love. It is about a woman longing and dreaming about the man she loves. The second, Susanne’s own song, called Thank you, is a song of gratitude to someone that rescued her when she was down. Both songs will appear in her forthcoming jazz album. Her own poem, Your eyes also reflects her own ability to be soul deep and unapologetically in touch with her emotions.
Heritage Ddamba, a spoken word performer, emotionally took us on a roller-coaster of  a love target in a man’s life. Beverley Nambozo, BN Poetry Foundation founder,  ended the day with her poem, Dear Doctor. A poem about the unsafe spaces of love in Pentecostal churches, of a strong Christian woman, affected by HIV by her god-fearing husband, and having to show gratitude for all he’s done for her.
Many thanks to Moses Serugo for Youtube videos, Dilman Dila for photographs, Fred Batale for the organization, Lamaro Jennifer for the administrative work and to the many that came. And for the twenty or so who thought it was a night-time event, we’ll see what we can do about that next time. Babishai Niwe Poetry Foundation is committed to more poetry and more of you.
Below are a few videos from the event, done by Moses Serugo and in case you missed it, Dr. Okaka Dokotum highlighted Ugandan women in the arts, raising the writing flag high.  

Note: BN Poetry Award submissions last year reached 1,500. If you want to participate, submit your poem. Follow the guidelines on our website

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