Monday, March 23, 2015


#babishainiwe experience in Kabale, #worldpoetryday
On Sunday 15th March,  Babishai Niwe Poetry Foundation team leader Beverley, together with Kidron and I made a trip to Kabale in preparation for the Language day event and World Poetry day celebrations that were to take place at the Kabale University on Monday 16th March.
It was my first ever trip to Kabale and boy was I psyched. I’d been told of its winding steep roads; its cold weather and the abundance of Irish potatoes. I was looking forward to having my own experience of these. Beverley had also told me of a similar University outreach that they had done in Kibaale at African Rural University and the delight of sharing poetry and language with young minds pulled at me.
I must say I was pleasantly surprised by the spirit of the students at the Kabale University. Our contact was the Dean of the Institute of Languages, Lillian Tindyebwa (a warm, humble lady with great talent who I discovered she is the author of Recipe for Disaster, a book I read as a child). Anyway Lillian introduced us to the students who were already waiting in the tents on the school ground. The students had a profound respect for one another, cheering each other on as they made presentations in different styles and languages; songs in Runyakitara, rapping in Swahili, spoken word in French, poems in English, recitals in Rukonjo and Rukiga. I was so impressed by their confidence in expressing themselves and the way diversity in language was embraced and even welcomed.
During our break away sessions, I had a group of 31 students and we kicked off our session with a get-to-know game called the Cold wind blows. This game involves opening up about yourself and finding others who are like you. There were some articulate, eager to speak individuals (one of the outspoken people in my group was also standing for guild president at the University) and some reserved people who needed cajoling to speak. After we had loosened up we shared about writing and where we get our inspiration. This was just before I asked them to break into groups, come up with a group name and in seven minutes compose a chant, poem or song from what they had observed/experienced that day.
After the performances, I ended our session with an exhortation to them to write and write some more as it is one of the best ways to influence the world and leave a legacy.
For me, it was all a breath of fresh air; the students’ confidence yet absence of airs, the people we met during our tour- Pam, a painter in her fifties who has life and laughter springing out of her she looks thirty, Eric, a rasta in his twenties who has the knowledge of a sixty year old professor and the kindness of one’s kinsman, Mama Francis the quiet lady with a small restaurant that offers a good service, Iga Zinunula, the entrepreneur/poet/farmer who is generous and wise. And lastly but definitely not least, the lake; Lake Bunyonyi, beautiful,calm, serene.
I look forward to more poetry initiatives with the BN Poetry Foundation and I’m extremely grateful for the opportunity.

Written by Roxanna Kazibwe.
Note: World Poetry Day is globally celebrated on 21st March every year and the BN Team will be organizing poetry excursions all over the continent, to celebrate World Poetry Day.

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