Celebrating women in the arts

Inspiring change through arts. As we commemorate the International Women’s day.

Monday March 10 2014

By Edgar R Batte

Inspiring change through arts. As we commemorate the International Women’s day, Edgar R Batte reflects on the role women have played in the arts, by telling the stories of some of the women who have made a name for themselves in the industry.

The is a Ugandan film maker and entertainment entrepreneur. Ndagire joined the film industry in 2006 and within a year, she had her first film out- Down This Road I Walk.

Prior to joining film, Ndagire dreamt of making great screen content and since she had studied drama at Makerere University, an education sojourn that shaped her already existing skills in film, her dream was easily turned into reality.

To her name are films she has written, acted in, produced or directed. These include: Down This Road I Walk (2007), Strength Of A stranger (2008), Hearts In Pieces (2009), Tendo Sisters, a television series of three seasons (2010), Where We Belong (2011), Dear Mum (2012), Anything But Love, a series (2013), Belated Trouble (2013), You Can’t Break My Will, a short film she is working on for NGO Raising Voices.
Ndagire’s films usually centre on family dramas and the basic message is about women emancipation and their rights.

This filmmaker’s journey has not been all smooth but importantly, she has used all the ups and downs to learn more in this field. “The challenges are many but I am a strong woman and a go-getter. That is what has kept me going. I believed that it was possible and indeed it has been possible.”
She is the director of Trendz Studios and recently began The Mariam Ndagire Film and Performing Arts Centre, where she offers skills to young filmmakers.

Her message this Women’s Day is for women and men to take responsibility for their lives and be true to their dreams by deciding what they want to be and working towards that.
“Happy Women’s Day,” she concludes.

Stella Atal is a professional artist and fashion designer. She says designing is a talent which she realised at a tender age when she started falling in love with cutting and stitching little dresses for herself and children in the neighbourhood.

“Fashion is a talent, but I am also passionate about it so I would always do it with or without money,” she says.
As an artist, she makes artwork that is wearable. Her work has a unique artistic touch that sets her apart from the rest. Atal equates her journey as a fashion designer and entrepreneur to climbing Mountain Kilimanjaro.
“I feel I am half way and still have more energy to get to the top soon. I have achieved a lot so far and with my new projects kicking off, I feel so proud of myself,” she explains.

She started the Atal Fashion Academy this year.
Her advice to women is that they should embrace the challenges of their careers but also respect their home responsibilities as mothers and wives.

To describe her work, you will need to appreciate that she represents quite a handful of artistic genres. Beverley Nambozo is an activist, poet and writer, but she is more known for her creative entrepreneurial work.
Nambozo does not remember when or where it all started. It should have been at home where her father and mother encouraged her to read at a very tender age. The teachers did the same at school and there, her desire began to develop. She thought she could grow into a performer.

Nambozo is that artist that believes in art for social change. She yearns for that art that transcends boundaries, shatters dogmas and releases readers from patriarchy.

In 2010, she emerged first runner-up in the annual International Erbacce Press Poetry Award, the same organisers also published her first poetry collection, Unjumping.

Her work covers various subjects. “I also write about the many expeditions of eroticism, which have hardly been explored between married couples either because they did not get sufficient marriage counselling before wedding or because they have been raised to believe that sex is dirty, which unfortunately infringes on its full gratification in marriages,” she says. She adds: “Currently, I am working on my collection of poetry entitled Sebo Gwe Wange, which explores the destructive elements in fanaticism on many vulnerable believers who have been led to share their resources and their hearts with an uncaring system,” the artist discloses.
To fellow women her message is of encouragement.

“Let your voice be heard. Allow yourself to scream if you must with your mouth open, not shut.”

She is a short story writer and in her works, she says she is not out to carry specific messages.

“I see myself exploring issues that interest people. I have explored girlhood, womanhood and the transition of girls into women, and the untold stories of our everyday life,” Baingana explains about her work.
Her book, Tropical Fish, won her the 2006 Commonwealth Writers Prize as the ‘Best First Book’. While at University, she was an active member of the Uganda Women Writers Association (Femrite) where she horned her skills as a professional writer.

“I have just received a scholarship to write a book. I am now focusing on writing that book. Otherwise, I have been publishing short-stories online since Tropical Fish came out,” Baingana explains.

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