Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Babishai and Open Mic at Kampala International School Uganda Poetry Slam

When poetry escapes through the minds and hearts of children,  there is no doubt that the universe has made a great investment.

Early reading inspires creativity/photo from Kampala International School Uganda

 Babishai Poetry Foundation Director,  Beverley Nambozo Nsengiyunva and Open Mic Director Shiraz Murray witnessed a cocktail of indescribably brilliant poetry at the Kampala International School Uganda Poetry event held in early November.

Shiraz Murray

From Years 7 to 9,  the children captivated the wide-eyed audience for over two hours. Being part of a competition did not deter the pupils from adorning themselves in the most glorious poetry costumes possible.

Topics ranged from deep seated society issues like cruelty to animals,  racism and poverty.  With unexpected word twists,  creative imagery and unapologetic realities,  the children were courageous and explored those themes affecting them. This proved that U. S elections,  race relations and political attitudes affected them as much as everyone else.

It was difficult as the judges selected winners and no surprise that there were several ties. The Babishai Niwe Poetry Foundation,  through the children's literary program,  Babishai Poetricks,  identifies with school poetry programs like this to maximize a child's potential through exploration of poetic devices.

Students at 2016 Babishai festival

In 2017,  Babishai will conduct another primary school poetry competition after an extremely successful one this year. They will also continue with their creative literary outreaches in children. 

Wednesday, August 31, 2016



Orimoyole Moyosore

Isaac Tibasiima, judge

Ambassador Ngesu Chief Guest from the Kenya High Commission

Sanya Noel from Kenya,for his poem, What would we have called you had you lived, emerged joint winner with Orimoloye Moyosore from Nigeria for his poem Love is a Plot Device but your insecticide is not. In the middle of an evening filled with poetry,music, Babishai festivity and conversations from all over Africa, Ambassador Ngesu from the Kenyan High Commission in Kampala, announced the two winners. They  both win 700 USD, participation in the 6-month Babishai mentorshsip scheme and fully paid for attendance and selected festivals around Africa.
Here is Sanya’s winning poem.
What we would have called you if you had lived
The fat graduand. The laughing ugly girl.
But you would have laughed it off.
And your father wouldn’t have stormed into college,
with plain clothes policemen.
No arresting a teacher for having struck you.
No epileptic attacks, Maggie.
No collapsing at your own graduation
fourteen years later.
We watch you walk to be given the power to read.
You’re not a baby now, Maggie.
You’re not a fat spoilt baby at all.
You’re not ugly anymore, Maggie.
You don’t twist your mouth when you speak.
We’re not envious of your having gotten an epilepsy attack
just when the teacher was about to strike you, Maggie.
But no epilepsy protects us from the teacher’s cruelty.
No disease prevents us from going to school, unlike you.
Not even simple Malaria, Maggie.
And our fathers won’t come to school with policemen
because a teacher struck us.
But you’re dead now.
We buried you, Maggie.
And we never took it back;
the fat, the ugly, the twisted mouth.
We just wanted your epilepsy.
We just wanted a father
who would not beat us because teachers beat us, Maggie.
We just wanted a disease, a condition, the police, a mother, anything,
to protect us from the cruelty of the math teacher.
And you had them.
Won’t you just understand that, Maggie?
Sanya Noel
Duduile za Mabaso from South Africa, reading her poetry         and      Oswald Okaitei from Ghana, in performance
Here is Orimoyole’s winning poem,
Love is a Plot Device and your Insecticide is not
And when you design
The ultimate insecticide,
You’ll tell me about malaria,
And how I never have to worry
About artemether,
About lumefantrine,
Ever again.

And I’ll tell you about my lover,
How she runs her fingers
Through these bumps at night.
How she pretends these mosquito bites
Are nothing but bullet wounds.
How she asks with feigned concern,
Where did you get these?
How I wince as I say Kosovo-
We were outnumbered…

Orimoyole Moyosore   (Nigeria)
 Kakinda Maria Birungi frrom Uganda and Kyle Allan from South Africa, were the poets amongst the top five.
Agnes Kabaungi from Uganda ,performing.
Ngartia from Kenya, performing
The #Babishai2016 team thanks you and congratulates the winners.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016



The Toastmasters Challenge is an intellectual battle of words between Kampala Toastmasters and poets. Poets in Kampala have created a positive shift in the creative industry. Through their inventiveness, Kampala flourishes with rich verse. Kampala Toastmasters Club is part of an international organization that trains in public speaking and effective communication. They meet every last Tuesday and every second Friday of the month at Protea Hotel in Kampala.

Tom Jalio,astmasters challenge judge

Meet the contestants:-
Moderator: Phillip Matogo

1.       L-Ness  Lydia  (Kenya)
2.       Winnie Apio (Uganda)
3.       Fahima Kimbugwe  (Uganda)
4.       Mark Gordon Slam Poet (Uganda)
5.       Jordey Lonyo (Uganda)

Kampala Toastmasters
1.       Connie Nshemereirwe (Uganda)
2.       Abubakar Matanda (Uganda
3.       Davis Tashobya (Uganda)
4.       Stephano Kiyemba (Uganda)
5.       Paul Kavuma (Uganda)

Meet the Judges
Lekpele Nyamalon (Liberia)
Doreen Baingana (Uganda)
Tom Jalio (Kenya)

ROUND ONE is a knock-out round where two toastmasters and two poets will leave
Each of the ten contestants has between 3-5 minutes to present their speech or poem on any topic of their choice. Their presentations will be timed and any piece below 2 and a half minutes or above 5 and a half minutes, will be immediately disqualified.

There will be time cards.
Green time card will flag at 3 minutes
Yellow time card will flag at 4 minutes
Red time card will flag at 5 minutes

Judging Criteria:
        I.            Relevance of message
      II.            Eloquence and Enunciation
    III.            Creativity
    IV.            Connection with audience
      V.            The oomph factor/originality

ROUND TWO is also a knock-out round where two toastmasters and two poets will also leave
In round two, each of the 6 contestants has between 3-5 minutes to present their speech or poem on any topic of their choice. This time they are permitted to use a prop of their choice to enhance their presentation. Their presentations will be timed and any piece below 2 and a half minutes or above 5 and a half minutes, will be immediately disqualified.
There will be time cards.
Green time card will flag at 3 minutes
Yellow time card will flag at 4 minutes
Red time card will flag at 5 minutes
        I.            Relevance of message
      II.            Eloquence and Enunciation
    III.            Appropriate and creative usage of prop
    IV.            Connection with audience
      V.            The oomph factor/originality
In round three, each of the 2 final contestants has between 3-5 minutes to present their speech or poem on any topic selected by the audience. This time the two finalists will leave the area while the audience selects a topic. The finalists will then pick a random number in a hat to decide who goes first. Their presentations must be based on the given topic chosen by the audience and they will have minimal time to prepare. They will be timed and any piece below 2 and a half minutes or above 5 and a half minutes, will be immediately disqualified.

There will be time cards.
Green time card will flag at 3 minutes
Yellow time card will flag at 4 minutes
Red time card will flag at 5 minutes

The audience will then select the winner.

The winner will receive a card to the award-giving  dinner on Friday 26 August at Fang Fang Restaurant and a book of their choice.
Our festival programme is available on our website and we can be reached via email at

Wednesday, August 3, 2016


And here we are with the #Babishai2016 Poetry shortlist. The shimmering of verse upon verse and conversations with trusted unknowns; the readers. This shortlist is their gift, an addition to the journey of those who have graciously embellished life with their own creativity.
Congratulations to each one. We’ll be holding a discussion on the shortlist at Femrite offices in Kampala  on Monday 22nd August from 5:30 pm. Please join us. Last year, Harriet Anena and Prof Rem Raj lead the same fiery discussion.


The Babishai Niwe Poetry Foundation Team
Vision: A Society immersed in poetry

Email address:
Tel:                         +256 751 703226
Twitter:                @BNPoetryAward
The #Babishai2016 Poetry Festival runs from 24 to 26 August 2016  in Kampala Ntinda at Maria's Place opposite the Froebel stage, near Victory City Church.
Poetry Festival

Monday, July 25, 2016


Lillian Akampurira Aujo is a Ugandan writer and a member of Femrite. In 2009, she won the inaugural BN Award with the poem 'Soft Tonight'. In 2015, she won the inaugural Jalada Prize for Literature with her short story "Where pumpkin leaves dwell.” During the 
 During the #Babishai2016 Poetry Festival, she will Participate in a panel, "What are Ugandan women poets poeting about?"

Which one of your written poems do you constantly refer to and why?

1.      People ask me about ‘Soft tonight’, so I find that I keep referring to it a lot. 

 What is your relationship with poetry on the stage?
  Anyone who knows me will tell you that I am comfortable on the page, and really uneasy on stage. So my relationship with poetry on stage is pretty novice.  I might change that soon, because for long I have toyed with the idea of being a performance poet.

 At the #Babishai2016 poetry festival, you'll participate in a panel entitled, What are Ugandan poets 'poeting' about? so, what are Ugandan women 'poeting' about?

3.    Politics! And I am glad that people like Anena have found un ignorable ways of putting it in Ugandan’s faces; a title like ‘I bow for my boobs’ is really hard to ignore.

 How would you define a successful poetry festival?

4.    A successful poetry festival has to have a buzz. (Yeah to Babishai on that!). Good performers to draw a crowd. And by crowd I categorically exclude poets, and include the other public. Good organisation of events, so that there aren’t too many similar things going on at the same time; that way guests don’t feel like they’ll have to miss out on something to attend another event. Then it has to have attendance from the public; otherwise who is it for?

 How has academiia influenced poetry, in your opinion?

5.   Has it? In my opinion there’s no clear cut distinction between academia and poetry. Even poets who don’t have degrees in literature and English or MFAs tend to invariably teach themselves the rules of poetry. So the two ‘worlds’ tend to co-exist in poetry..

6.  Parting remarks? 
6.   Memes like ‘poetry is for the elite’ need to die like yesterday! All our local languages are rich in poetry, the hawker on the street peddling his wares does so poetically, the touts calling to passengers do so poetically. So we need to stop lambasting ‘poetry’ with ‘elite’.

  Thank you.

   The Babishai Festival programme is here.

Thursday, July 21, 2016


Dear Friends,

The #Babishai2016 Poetry Festival programme is here. Follow the link below.

#Babishai2016 Poetry Festival Programme

or  +256 751 703226 for any inquiry.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016


Davis Tashobya is  the immediate past President of  Kampala Toastmasters Club and a  public speaking trainer in Kampala. He will also be participating in the Toastmasters Challenge at the #Babishai2016 Poetry Festival on 25 August.

How long have you been a member of Kampala Toastmasters and what significant change has it made on your life?

I have been a Toastmaster since September 2010 when I moved to Nairobi.
When I moved back to Kampala permanently in 2014, together with a few other like-minded Toastmasters from clubs I knew in Kenya, we started Kampala Toastmasters.

Toastmasters  has taught me everything I know about communication and leadership and then some. I have been able to nurture and develop some very strong and meaningful networks and made lots of friends along the way.

When you think of Ugandan poetry,  what comes to mind?
Okot,P'Bitek. As a literature student, I drank from the fountain that is 'Songs of Lawino" It left an indelible mark on me and I must admit though I haven't been keen to read up more on the new stuff being churned out in Ugandan poetry, I enjoy poetry recitals and like the new crop of young poets like Jason Ntaro, Peter Kagayi, Aujo Lillian, to mention but a few.

The Babishai Poetry Festival is going to host the first Toastmasters challenge. A battle of words between poets and public speakers. As  a competitor,  how will you prepare for the challenge?

I will rehearse, rehearse and then rehearse. If I could, I would go on top of a mountain and prepare day and night while shouting into the wilderness because I know this won't be an easy challenge but I plan on giving those poets a run for their money.

 Do you feel that professionals in the work space need to interact more with poets?

Absolutely, if for nothing else at least some of the poet's creativity could rub off onto them. I think most professionals could benefit from a huge dose of creativity.

How important is an education that includes creative arts?

I think it is extremely vital. The study of  the creative arts inevitably gives birth to some of this world's most prized artefacts, books, paintings and even when applied in the sciences it can help put into perspective various phenomenon, 

Any parting remarks?
I think all poets should sign up to be Toastmasters. They fit the billing with astounding accuracy. 

 Thank you Davis.

The next Kampala Toastmasters Club meeting is on Tuesday 26 August at Protea Hotel from 6:00pm

Tuesday, July 19, 2016


Dr. Connie Nshemereirwe is a seasoned toastmaster, an educationist and scholar, challenging the status quo of the Ugandan education system. She will be participating in the Babishai Poetry festival Toastmasters challenge on 25 August at Maria's Place in Ntinda, in an intellectual battle of words.
Courtesy photo
How long have you been a member of Kampala Toastmasters and what significant change has it made on your life?
I have been a member of the Kampala Toastmasters Club since April 2015, and before that I was a member of the Twente Toastmasters In The Netherlands, which I joined in October 2012.
Toastmasters has made a great difference in my life. It has made me a much more confident speaker, more structured, and given me the tools to prepare for any public speaking engagement in a much more purposeful fashion.

  1. When you think of Ugandan poetry,  what comes to mind? 
You know, I don't know much about Ugandan Poetry! Someone recently reached a hand into my parents' bookshelf and produced a dusty book of poems written by Ugandans in the 1970s, and I hadn't known it was there until then (I'll provide a title when I remember). Beyond that, I can only think of the Babishai Poetry Foundation. A quick Google search also reminded me of Song of Lawino. And of late I have been exposed to some spoken word artists (who I think are fantastic!) But I don't really know much about poetry. Regrettably, I think.
The Babishai Poetry Festival is going to host the first Toastmasters challenge. A battle of words between poets and public speakers. As a competitor,  how will you prepare for the challenge? 
I will prepare as usual, only I will try to be even more creative than usual. I will use my body, my voice, my eyes, everything! I plan on speaking with more than just my words because I think those poets will be hard to beat! :-)
Do you feel that professionals in the work space need to interact more with poets? 
The little interaction that I have had with poets, especially the spoken word artists, and some of the poems I read in that dusty old book of poems, leads me to believe that we would all be better off with more poetry in our lives. Poetry helps one's brain and senses expand, poetry can carry some deep messages about society's evils but can also reveal the beauty in society. I really think that not being exposed to poetry is a big loss to anyone.
How important is an education that includes creative arts? 
I think it would be invaluable! Humans are such multifaceted beings, and education should seek to touch and polish each of those facets; further, I think we lose a lot of creative potential by not exposing all children to the creative arts, and that is a loss not only to them but to society
Any parting remarks? 
I'm really looking forward to the "word-off", if I'm honest! Somewhat apprehensive but up to the challenge! I think it s a great initiative,  good job! :-)

Thank you Connie
The Babishai Poetry Festival runs from 24-26 August at Maria's Place in Ntinda.
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Friday, July 15, 2016


THE #BABISHAI2016 LONGLIST is testimony to the variety, inventiveness and boldness of African poets. The wide range of themes and subject matter, the exploration to new heights and the intricate and intimate spaces between the verses is all the more reason to continue celebrating our poets and their works.
Poetry Logo
Below is a link to the #Babishai2016 longlist. We congratulate each and every poet that submitted their work in a very competitive award.

The winners will be announced during the #Babishai2016 Poetry Festival on Friday 26 August 2016.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016


Chibuhe-Light Obi is a Nigerian with two Haikus on the #Babishai2016 Babishai Haiku shortlist. He defines haiku as the freezing of moments, while at the same time defining himself as a failed painter and amateur photographer.

Courtesy photo provided by Chibuhe-Light Obi

How do you define Haiku?
I cannot define haiku successfully without thinking of photography -the freezing of moments, movements and time; without thinking of precision. Haiku for me is a gasp that comes well after I've seen a mind blowing sight. Say a hill draped in mist. Or a gecko circling a moth. Or an ixora waltzing away in the wind. Much more, how the soul reacts to these spiritual experiences. Haiku is how the mind absorbs the after taste of a sublime sight or situation. It is pause and ponder. It is yoga. Introspection. Meditation. Stand still and see. Folding silence into a song so small you could scrawl it on your palms and tuck it away in your pockets for future use. Haiku is the only way silence or a sigh could be written without ruffling or bruising it.

 What is the process of haiku writing like for you?
I am a failed painter and an amateur photographer. In between, I'm a carrier of a very porous imagination. Images stay in my mind, grow, change, metamorphose, until they threaten to spill over in some not/so/funny ways. So haiku is my own way of unwinding, of releasing these images. A means of securing space for them, giving them a chance to thrive. To be. To exist. Often times, my haiku come upon me suddenly, then I scrawl them on anything and forget or gather them up later. In editing, I pay intimate attention to depth, juxtaposition, sound or echo and how the images align with my soul. The last process, well, is shutting my eyes and rereading them over and over again. If I don't hear and see it -both equally- it ain't haiku yet.

Were you surprised at being shortlisted?
Actually, it still feels surreal. I just found Haiku less than six months ago, and some friends so far have told me that I don't know how to do it. This is the first competition I have entered by myself; other ones were done on my behalf. It's surprising, and that makes it electrifying.

Do you spend a lot of time reading Haikus, and from where?
Since February, which was when I discovered haiku, I try my best to visit a hiaku website at least every morning. I bookmark the websites and downloaded as much as I can. It has so far become a devotion. A way to wake, to unwind, to relax. My own zen. Places I go include: The Heron's nest. Haiku for People, Frog's Pond, Adjei Agyei-Baah's Facebook page. The internet is so free and borderless; break it if you can.

Which African Haiku writers do you know and admire?
God! This may be shameful. But it's only Adjei Agyei-Baah and I met him on The Heron's Nest. Nevertheless, Babishaiku has introduced me to Kwaku Feni Adow, Blessmond and Ayesha. Now, the horizon has expanded.

Have you heard of the mamba Journal, a publication of Haikus, produced by the African Haiku Network, co-founded by one of our judges, Adjei Agyei-Baah?

Yes. I heard of the mamba journal on Facebook, Adjei's wall to be precise. I even shared it in class with my students who before then did not know the word "Haiku", let alone reading one.

How do you feel we should promote African haikus?
The Babishaiku prize is a good way to begin. The African Haiku Network is another splendid way of promoting haiku in Africa. Poets too should explore this genre of poetry, share their works online, collect them into anthologies and make all the necessary noise.

 Any parting remarks?
Thank you Babishaiku for initiating this idea, for dragging me out of my cocoon. It is a juicy bait to lure poets in Africa towards the haiku art form. I am sure this will go a long way in pushing African Haiku to the fore. Hello to Kwaku, Blessmond and Ayesha. It's nice having you here.

Thank you Chibuihe.

The #Babishai2016 Poetry Festival runs from 24-26 August in Kampala at Maria's Place, opposite Froebel near Shell Petrol Station.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016


  Kwaku Feni Adow, from Ghana, has two Haikus in the 2016 Babishai Haiku shortlist. He spends lots of time writing Haikus and his knowledge of the craft is admirable.

Courtesy photo

How do you define Haiku?
Haiku is that poetry which seeks to evoke nature in three (not always) brief/succinct lines, painting a picture with words where the poet is bound by the spirit of the art to show not tell. The poet is not as much allowed to intrude with his emotion or opinion. The best haiku have depth, many meanings that can be read into it when images are well juxtaposed.

What is the process of haiku writing like for you?
Writing haiku for me starts with an inspiration, a little moment of insight in finding something new in the ordinary. This mostly comes about from observation, childhood memories and from reading haiku, albeit the inspiration is only the beginning point. After writing down the words that present themselves in the moment, I let the poem lie and come back to it later, this time weighing and assessing how each word employed helps make the haiku better.

 Were you surprised at being shortlisted?
I must say that I was surprised especially that two of my poems got shortlisted.

Do you spend a lot of time reading Haiku, and from where?
I do spend a lot of time reading haiku. Besides the pleasure in reading haiku, part of the process of writing or learning the art is reading lots of it. My sources are online journals dedicated to publishing top-notch haiku, few examples would be Cattails, Heron's Nest, Frogpond and Africa Haiku Network.

 Which African Haiku writers do you know and admire?
Thankfully, there are quite a number of African haiku poets I know. The likes of Celestine Nudanu and Barnabas Ìkéolúwa Adélékè. It'll almost seem like a sin to not mention Adjei Agyei-Baah who to me is a haiku genius not just in Africa but in the world, evidenced of course by his numerous awards and publications in reputable journals. Again I know and admire the work of his fellow from Nigeria Emmanuel Jessie Kalusian. These two have had influence on me as far as my haiku journey is concerned.

Have you heard of the Mamba Journal, a publication of Haikus,
produced by the African Haiku Network, co-founded by one of our judges, Adjei Agyei-Baah?

I have indeed heard of the Mamba and I am happy to have five haiku of mine published in its premier issue.

How do you feel we should promote African haiku?
I believe haiku can be promoted through contests like this. Also, I believe a constant hosting and/or promoting the efforts and work of groups like Africa Haiku Network and any other Haiku Society anywhere in Africa  on this platform can expose the art to the numerous visitors. 

Any parting remarks?
I would like to say thank you to Babishai Niwe Poetry Foundation for taking this step to have the very first haiku contest in Africa for African haiku poets. This is the support the art truly needs and we are all appreciative of that. To the  other shortlisted poets, congrats.
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Thank you Kwaku.

The #Babishai2016 Poetry festival runs from 24 -26 August in Kampala at Maria's Place in Ntinda.


Blessmond Alebna Ayinbire, from Ghana, was shortlisted for the Babishai Haiku 2016 prize. He is evocative and imaginative, giving hilarious and thought-provoking insights into his Haiku journey.
Courtesy photo

How do you define haiku?
I define haiku as a play verse form of poetry devoid of poetic steroids, which captures a clear picture of a memorable moment in nature.

                What is the writing process of a haiku like?  
Writing haiku is so thrilling that haiku has become my true love. It reveals to you, the world in a totally new and clearer picture as you drown into nature to capture it in words. Haiku is a cousin to photography. The subject strikes the writer, like it does the photographer. Then, you expose your writing pad or your brain and let your ink or feeling make a copy of the subject on it.

                    Were your surprised at being shortlisted?
[Smiles]  Yes I was surprised, although I was expecting it. One, because I sent three haiku and one had an obvious   spelling error. So I lost  hope. The second thing is, I have read a lot of Afriku (African haiku) and have seen the great talents African haijins have. So I didn't believe that my experimental results would stand those written by people who have mastered the aesthetics of the art.

              Have you read the Mamba Journal, a Haiku publication of the African Haiku Network?
Yes I have. Mr Adjei Agyei-Baah's Facebook page was where I first chanced on this treasure. Through Facebook, I found other sources like The Living Haiku Anthology, Haiku Society of America, Ghana Haiku Society, kukai (haiku contest)  results and the list goes on and on.

           Which African haiku writers do you admire?
It's crystal clear I admire the most astute African haiku writer, Adjei Agyei-Baah. I love his Saijiki (season words). Emmanuel Jessie Kalusian, Celestine Nudanu and Ali Znaidi are also my favourites.
               Parting remarks?
The Babishaiku award is a bold step in the direction of promoting African haiku. Contests bring out talents and beckons the eyes of the world towards them. Also, forming national and regional haiku societies will help nurse talents in the art. In this age of technology, African haiku would just be a click away from anyone in any corner of the planet, if we breath life into it. I also want to congratulate my co-shortlistees and wish us all the best of luck. Also, I want use this opportunity to applaud the Babishai team and all African haiku writers for how far they have brought the art.
Thank you Blessmond.

The #Babishai2016 Poetry festival runs from 24th to 26th August in Kampala at Maria's Place in Ntinda, near Victory City Church.