Sunday, January 31, 2016




Below are the Competition Rules: Submit in only one category, 1.2.3. or 4.

1. Compose a tweet based on a response to a poet who emerged second in a major poetry       competition

2. Compose a tweet based on a response to a poet whose poem you did not accept in your major poetry magazine

3   Compose a tweet in response to emerging second in a major poetry magazine.

4.  Compose a tweet in response to your poem not being accepted by a major poetry magazine.

5.  The competition runs from 1st February to 4 March 2016.

6.  Send the tweets to @BNPoetryAward and @Storyzetu with the hashtag, #BabishaiSZ
7.  The winner of each category will be announced on 10th March 2016, after which the public will vote the eventual winner. The public voting will open after midnight on 9th March 2016.

8.  The winner will be announced on Friday March 19th 2016 by Storyzetu, in celebration of World Poetry Day.

9.  The winners for each category will be voted on by the public until a winner is announced.

10. The judges are the fabulous team @Storyzetu and the public.

11. The winner will win free travel, accommodation and all meals covered during the #Babishai2016 Poetry Festival in Kampala, from 24-26 August. All participants  
    must be residing in Nairobi during the period of the festival and eligible to travel to Uganda from 24-26 August 2016

 For more details, email or call +256 751 703226.

#Babishai2016 Poetry Festival Guest-L-Ness The Lioness

Every week, we’ll be interviewing our #Babishai2016 Poetry Festival guests. This week, it’s L-Ness from Kenya. Her session is for children. Babishai Poetricks is in for  a treat. L-NESS alias Lioness is a Poet, a Femcee, a Hip Hop Cultural Specialist, and one of the top lyricist and performance femcees of Hip Hop in the region. 
L-Ness, courtesy photo

Her first album is titled SIMANGWE 2011 and the theme is ‘’Don’t Stop the Music’. One of the songs in this album is being used by Music Copyright Society of Kenya as their campaign theme song against piracy and artist exploitation.

1.      Explain if you are you the poet you wanted to be 5 years ago.
In actual fact, I am growing to be more than the poet I wanted to be five years ago. I started as a rapper and transformed into a Mc/Femcee. I have been blessed and privileged to share the same stage with international poets from all over the world in events like the Poesiefestival 2015 and the Spoken Worlds 2014 concert, both in Berlin. I didn’t even know I was a poet. Other poets and institutions involved in the Poetry and Spoken Word arena like Kwani and Storymoja in Nairobi, Kenya and Literaturewerkstatt in Berlin, Germany, identified me as a poet. They read my translated poems/rap verses and saw my live stage performances and creative writing workshops and considered it poetry. Due to the direction I choose my poetry to take, I am able to tackle selective topics that open discussions which generally people are hesitant to talk about like politics, religion and worship jealousy (Terrorism), social issues, cultural issues, woman power and leadership in Africa.
2.      Poetry is subjective and yet all talent needs to be nurtured. How has this fact influenced your work?
The subjective nature of poetry has influenced different ways of performing, recording, publishing and distributing my works. Some suggest that language and logic are predominantly functions of the left side of the brain, while music/sound is processed in the right side of the brain which deals largely with feeling and emotions. I combine my poetry with musical accompaniment, in addition to the fluctuating tones that I incorporate in my performance poetry, in order to evoke spontaneous reactions from the listeners.
The subjective nature of poetry has also influenced the content of my works, since I aspire to inspire and empower through my poetry thus nurturing young minds. Positive content from any art form contains messages that must protect the listener’s eyes and ears, in order to protect their emotions, thus protecting their hearts and minds. Poetry has the power to mould minds by sharing views on lifestyles and moralities, either godly or ungodly. You find that most African poetry is about our good values, rich history, our struggle and our grappling with the question of how to get to where we ought to be as a continent globally. This is simultaneous with conserving and preserving the positive aspects of our culture and heritage.

Courtesy photo

3.      Tell us a bit how Rapercussions began and how it’s grown?
RAP + PERCUSSIONS is the definition. It is the ancient essence of our communication. It combines conscious poetry and rap alongside live traditional African percussion instruments like Obokano, Marimba, Shakers, Nyatiti, Orutu, Kayamba, Nzumali and reed flute.
The concert was launched at the Goethe Institute Auditorium in Nairobi, Kenya, on the 12th of June 2015, and the coverage was featured in the African Journal Documentaries.
The educative element of Rappercussion then featured at the Storymoja Festivals on the 16th to the 20th of September 2015, and it was at the Nairobi Arboretum in Kenya.
The concert has grown into a monthly event at the Tree House in Nairobi, Kenya. It involves more poets and Mcs like Mwafreeka and Monaja. The accompanists and participating team are currently developing a center where people can come and learn how to make and play these traditional instruments.

It has also grown beyond the borders of its origin, to the level of being featured at the Babishai Poetry  Festival 2016, which will be at the Kampala Museum, in Kampala, Uganda. This is where there will be simple explanations about the different functions of these traditional instruments, in the past and at the present, with enlightenment on which community each instrument emanates from.

4.      Your session at the Babishai Poetry Festival is entitled, Roots and Rhymes. Who is the target and what can they expect?
The children are the target, which means that the content is suitable for all age groups who desire to earn back the pride of our culture and heritage. 

They should expect to:-
a.      Learn performance techniques with active participation from their side.
b.      Connect traditional ways of storytelling with current methods of creative writing and performing poetry.
c.       Learn about our traditional instruments, their origins, materials used to make them, functions and roles.
5.      Why was it important for you to accept our invitation?
I respect every chance I get to exchange and share cultural values and heritages which empower others while at the same time being a growth and learning experience for me.
As an African woman, whose content is about Africa, I feel it is a great privilege to be able to visit other parts of this continent in order to broaden the content of my poetry through the different contexts where I get to visit.

6.      What are the two main subjects you find yourself constantly writing about?
a.      Women empowerment because it is through Woman that society gets empowered, everyone in society is related to her as she is somebody’s daughter, someone’s sister, somebody’s mother, someone’s aunt, somebody’s sister-in-law, someone’s grand-mother, another person’s first cousin or distant cousin. All those connected to her therefore, need to be empowered. So Woman empowerment boils up to Family empowerment and hence total Society empowerment.  Society is made up of families and that is what make our continent.
b.      Socio-Political Issues because leadership affects how we develop or under-develop as Africans. We are very hard and smart working citizenry but are being dragged behind by social vices like corruption, income inequalities, tribalism and nepotism. These are leadership related issues.

7.      How do you feel towards art for social change?
Art for social change must be greatly advocated for because:
a.      It is the job of the writer to observe and put out, as a wake-up call to what is going on.
b.      Poetry gives people true solutions.
c.       We can incorporate our own empowerment in poetry instead of depending on foreign aid.
d.      Social progress is attributed to freedom and empowerment of the woman, and social decadence is directly associated with a decrease and lack of that freedom, yet, women are naturally talented and gifted in the arts.
e.      Society suffers from dilemma of equality, the dilemma of difference and the dilemma of identity. Poetry and other arts create adversity in the middle of diversity.
f.        There is over-emphasis on African problems, thus poetry and the arts builds confidence and showcases raw talent and original ideas, as positive aspects of the African society.

8.      We look forward to hosting you. Any concluding remarks?
Your invitation is deeply appreciated and I look forward to the Babishai Poetry Festivals, where we get to network with other poets from the globe. Thank you very much for this priviledge.

We’re grateful to Praxis Magazine online for supporting the #Babishai2016 Poetry Festival. For more details, email or call +256 751 703226.

Saturday, January 23, 2016


#Babishai2016 Poetry Festival guest-NGATIA BRYAN. Ngatia Bryan is a performance artist, poet, writer and filmmaker based in Nairobi, Kenya. His performances blend storytelling with poetry in a very unique manner. He goes by the moniker “Ngartia” while performing. This, he insists, contrives the art that lives within him. The Babishai Niwe Poetry Foundation is honoured to partner with Praxis Magazine to interview our #Babishai2016 guests on a weekly basis.
Ngati Bryan-courtesy photo

1.      Explain if you are you the poet you wanted to be 5 years ago.

 Am I the poet I wanted to be five years ago? No. And that is a good thing. Five years ago, I had no clue what kind of poet I wanted to be, I was reading a lot and writing a lot, but I had just gotten introduced to performance and it was changing the way I perceived self expression. There are things that the me from days past thought I'd have done by now, like publish, that I haven’t accomplished yet. There are things I'm doing now that that guy couldn't even imagine. Like writing material for over an hour long performance and following it through.

2.      Poetry is subjective and yet all talent needs to be nurtured. How has this fact influenced your work?

I think subjectivity is the poetry's strongest pillar actually; the fact that personal feelings and views are so intrinsic to the art. If we were all only aspired to objectivity, then our work would sound like reports and investigative journalism. 

My writing is for me, primarily. I need my biases, loves and distaste to hold a position of influence so I can keep myself rooted. I write to see myself, understand how I relate with the universe, how I think, make another baby step at this endless journey of self discovery. It is being subjective that puts the human touch in art. Else, it wouldn't touch people so. And would it really matter then?

Realizing the essence of writing for myself lead to me producing work I am more in touch with. I don’t want to look back ten years from now and wonder how the heck I managed to be so pretentious.

3.      Tell us a bit about Storyzetu and what your greatest desire for it is? is a blog dedicated to providing a free and uncensored platform for young, emerging and established African voices in art. We put up fiction, poetry, creative non-fiction and op-eds almost on a daily basis. We are also quite active on facebook, twitter, instagram and will be launching our YouTube channel soon. Recently, we joined the vibrant performance space that is Nairobi with concept events geared towards encouraging experimentation and pushing boundaries.

It is run by a team of four. Hellen Masido, Tonny Muchui, Mutwiri Njagi and I. We initially meant it to be a place for us to collaboratively push our writing, but we soon realized the potential it held and followed that instead.

Our desire is to host writing that sparks changes and influences progressive discussions in Africa. We hope to help in the continuous challenging of established retrogressive systems of thought and in the process; help young writers and performing artists develop their voices.

4.      Storyzetu will be conducting a three-day spoken word workshop during the #Babishai2016 Poetry Festival. Tell us a bit about that.

In collaboration with Babishai-Niwe, we reached out to a number of Kenyan spoken word artists who have been instrumental in shaping the Kenyan Performance Poetry scene and they have agreed to attend the festival. The idea is for the workshop to be more of a thought exchange with our counterparts from around Africa who will be present during the festival.

American Spoken Word is big online. We all draw inspiration or are influenced by it, whether directly or unconsciously. Some of the questions we hope to explore are: How do we make our scene as big? How do we get our voices heard? How authentic is our work? What have we learnt so far? How do use that to map out our future? How do we improve our performance and writing skills?

What we are hoping, is to take the chats that artists have while walking home from gigs and throw them around for discussion, re-examine them and face what we fear most in them.

5.      Why was it important for you to accept our invitation?

Other than the thought of Ugandan food? I attended the Kampala International Theatre Festival late last year and was enthralled by the piece of Uganda’s art scene that I was privileged to experience.

That aside, I watched the festival unravel online last year and was quite excited by what was happening. Having read A Thousand Rising Voices and Boda Boda Anthem, the opportunity to work alongside those who have made that possible was quite thrilling. I also can’t wait to interact with artists from other countries… And of course Beverly can be quite convincing. Not that I needed much of it…

6.      What are the two main subjects you find yourself constantly writing about?
Social issues and human relationships.

7.      How do you feel towards art for social change?
Change in inescapable; we are in constant evolution. Art has the responsibility to be the crest of that wave – to lead the park into the next level of thought and perception – right there next to science and philosophy.

Artists need to be progressive thinkers; we have the ability to touch the depths that other disciplines may not reach. We are with the people, therefore should speak to the people and for the people. Fight for them and talk to them at the same time.

Art cannot run from addressing social change, and I am glad it cannot.

8.      We look forward to hosting you. Any concluding remarks?

Does plantain have to be in season? If yes, will it be in season in August? Because the last time I was in Kampala, I couldn’t have enough of that.

Babishai Poetry Festival
Tel:  +256 751 703226
Twitter: @BNPoetryAward

Monday, January 18, 2016


Babishai Poetricks Creative Children’s Christmas party
The Babishai  Poetricks team held their first children’s Christmas party under the theme of Children, 
Creativity and African Christmas. Held on 18th December 2015 in Mpererwe, the residence of Mrs. Betty Mugoya, a horticulturalist, about ten children gathered for five hours of poetry and party.

Babishai Poetricks, December 2015

Babishai Poetricks, December 2015


Poem by Exriela

Ezriela reciting

Zion Agasaro

Daniella and Agasaro, Poetricks party-December 2015

The three Poetricks facilitators, Daniellorah, Robert Ssempande and Beverley Nambozo Nsengiyunva started with Babishai Poetricks, doing rhyming schemes, matching colours to moods, word play, poetry and sound and anecdotes.
After that, the event stretched to animal imitations, chain stories, opening crackers and making very long paper chains of about 25 yards. It was delightful to see the children expand their imaginations. They joined in pairs and raced around the garden as part of a rhyming scheme game, made silly faces to bring out confidence and character and much more. We ended by sharing African based Christmas poems and holding a large special children’s barbeque. Our next party will be held as an Easter creative for children on March 19th 2016.

Babishai Poetricks holiday session.
During the first week of the Kampala children’s Christmas holiday December 2015, Robert Ssempande and Beverley Nambozo Nsengiyunva spent three days engaging children in Babishai Poetricks. With six children in total, they began by outling their faces, including features like hair, earrings, teeth and so on. From each picture, the children commented on their friend’s photos, talking about the mood depicted, friendliness,  uniqueness of facial features, thus appreciating one another’s differences.
Favourite animal

Next, was matching colours to moods which interestingly brought varied and unexpected responses, proving once again the under-estimated intelligence of children and their power of observation. Using the five senses of sight, hearing, feeling, smelling and tasting, the children navigated poetic devices and eventually composed poems about their favourite animals, which they themselves named and created stories from. 

Time for Poetry and Party
Time for crackers, Babishai Poetricks
Our next creative children's Christmas party will take place just before Easter on March 19th from
11:00am to 4:00pm. The fee per child is 75,000/- For details, contact +256 751 703226

Photos above by Zahara Abdul and Emmanuel Nsengiyunva

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Interview Servio Gbdamosi, #Babishai2016 Poetry Festival Guest

Interview Questions for Servio Gbadamosi, #Babishai2016 Poetry Festival Guest

1.      Servio, thanks for agreeing to this. You have initiated important literary spaces for Nigerian writers and young writers on the continent like WriteHouse Collective and Sankofa Initiative, offering publishing opportunities, alongside the monthly Artmosphere, that hosts writers. What are some of the major changes your spaces have created?

Courtesy Photo

Notably the discovery of new talents.It is encouraging to see what league of brilliance and significance such spaces could inspire. We are facilitating knowledge exchange, mentorship, networking and development between established writers, artists and emerging cultural practitioners. We are leading the revival of a vibrant reading culture and the promotion of creative expressions in literature and the arts amongst Nigeria’s teeming youth.

And we are not doing these all by ourselves. There are well-meaning individuals and organisations who believe in and continue to support our work. There are also countless individuals and organisations besides ours involved in a plethora of activities promoting literature, arts and culture round the country. But regardless of all we have collectively achieved, there is still so much more to do. I’m saying there is so much rut to clear, so much to be cultivated, watered and harvested. The key is carving a portion of this seemingly impossible rock for ourselves as individuals and organisations and staying true to it in the face of challenges, opposition, abundance or lack.
I have a personal conviction that I’m called to help raise a generation of writers and cultural practitioners who would lead the rebirth and positively impact the future and development of our land. That is my motivation. It is much more than a labour of love, or a love of labour. I’m out on a journey. Now, there are those who build with us and there are those who strive to tear us down. But these are obstacles we’ll face and surmount time and again.

2.      In November 2015, your poetry collection, A Tributary in Servitude, won the Association of Nigerian Author’s Prize for Poetry. Has there been any shift in your attitude towards poetry since you won?
No, not at all. I consider it a great honour for my book to have been deemed worthy of the prize. It is an encouragement for me to further commit to my art. But I’m interested in human stories, in human suffering, in the good and evil we are capable of, in time, in the beauty and ugliness our world provides and how literature and arts sits at the intersection interrogating… and I intend to continue exploring these as I’m inspired and led.

3.      The main theme of the #Babishai2016 Poetry Festival is Abundance: Poetry from Contemporary Africa, how does that speak to you?
Truly, there is an abundance of poetry on the continent and there will continue to be in decades to come. But how much of these is good quality poetry? In fact, what is good quality poetry? Are we not confusing quantity with quality? Are we focusing on and emphasising what poetry was and has been at the expense of what it can be? What are the contemporary trends in poetry across the world and how do these impact our writing? How does our own writing impact the world? There are hundreds and thousands of poets writing today but how many of us will be here or remembered in decades to come? How many have and will be forced to abandon writing and the pursuit of mastery in the quest for survival?

I look forward to interesting conversations on these and many more at the #Babishai2016 Poetry Festival. We need to continue building formidable platforms, institutions and networks that will ensure poetry, literature and arts in general thrives in our clime. And we must start by improving the quality and dignity of human life.

4.      When you think of poetry in Uganda, what images come to your mind?
While I must admit that there’s been a gap in my reading of poetry from Uganda, I’m particularly fond of the works of Okotp’Bitek and Taban Lo Liyong. Some friends introduced me to Nick Makoha’s poetry in 2015 and I’m loving it.

5.      During the #Babishai2016 Poetry Festival, we will hold a children’s poetry session under the sub-theme of Children’s poetry and its accessibility. How important do you think it is for African children to have poetry created for them?
I think it is essential that reading and writing is introduced to children early. There is a saying amongst the Yorubas that roughly translates “a tradition or religion not taught to the youths will gradually vanish”. So you see, the earlier we begin, the better and in both formal and informal learning settings. It will open up their minds, give them a richer understanding of the world and how it works and help them discover their place in it. But, it is not merely enough to have poetry created for them. We also have to be supportive in creating an environment conducive for them to create their own poetry, their own stories and share same with the world. That way, the question of accessibility will be more than answered.

6.      Any parting words? What diet would you recommend for poets?
Be omnivorous. Read any and every thing so long you are convinced it’s good for you. Life is a journey and so is poetry. We have to keep on learning and unlearning as we go along. Patience and tenacity are virtues I hold dear. Sometimes we will win, sometimes we will learn. But the fear of failure should never deter us from daring to live and pen our conviction.

Servio Gbadamosi is a seasoned Culture and Development practitioner based in Ibadan, Nigeria. Through the Sankofa Initiative for Culture and Development, he works with emerging writers, artists and culture practitioners across the country providing multiple development and promotional platforms. In April, 2012, he cofounded, WriteHouse Collective, a fast-growing independent publishing and book distribution firm that houses some of the finest writers emerging in Nigeria today.

For festival details, contact the following:-
Tel:      +256 751 703226
Twitter: @BNPoetryAward

Monday, January 4, 2016



Dear Friends,

We are relishing thoughts of 2016 as we thank you for being great partners and friends this year. The Babishai Niwe Poetry Foundation team is indebted to you for your unyielding support, humour and leadership.
Our Babishai Poetry Festival takes place next year from 24 to 26 August 2016 in Kampala at The Uganda Museum. The theme is Abundance: Poetry from Contemporary Africa.  -themes include, but are not limited to:-

        i.            Does poetry from Africa need a definition and how does that impact its production?
      ii.            The extension of poetry and the sustainability of relationships with artists and the corporate world
    iii.            If poetry exists everywhere, why do so many people say that they don’t understand it?
    iv.            When and how does a poem become a poem?
      v.            The co-existence of political and personal freedom and bondage
    vi.            Teaching poetry to children and the question of age-appropriate poetry and its accessibility

If you are interested in participating in the festival, kindly email, from January 4th 2016.

We will also, together with literary partners, celebrate the golden anniversary of Song of Lawino’s first publication in Luo and English. A few schools and guest writers and poets from across Africa, The U.S and Europe have already confirmed attendance at the festival. From January, we will unveil them.
We will also launch our new website and in June, hold the first ever in Uganda, Poetry On The Mountain, scheduled for June and alongside this will be a launch of a poetry collection. Mount Rwenzori’s first ever poetry collection launch.
The 2014 and 2015 Babishai Poetry award long-listed poets will also be published in an anthology during the #Babishai2016 Poetry festival.
We wish you a magnificent year ahead and sincerely look forward to bumping our poetry minds together.

May favour and goodness be yours!

From Us.

Kindly note that our new official address is