Taking literature back home

Saturday February 15 2014

Ms Christine Ssemwogerere (R) who represented

Ms Christine Ssemwogerere (R) who represented KCCA Executive Director Jenipher Musisi is joined by Mr Charles Batambuze (2nd R) and Ms Hilda Twongyeirwe (3rd R) to flag off the Caravan writers on Friday at the Femrite offices in Kamwokya. PHOTO BY MICHAELKAKUMIRIZI 

By DENNIS D. MUHUMUZA

“Taking writers back to their communities” as the literary journey is dubbed, will see 10 of the country’s best writers tour the country for 11 days, engaging in literary activities. Some of these activities will include public readings in schools and universities, poetry recitals and performances, community discussions, visiting public libraries and writers’ groups, and crown it with an event back in Kampala with a public reading at the Uganda Museum on February 17.

These writers will travel from Kampala to Wakiso, Luwero, Gulu, Oyam, Lira, Ngora, Kapchorwa, Mbale and Jinja where they are sure to relive several memories as they share their stories and interact with their communities.

“The aim of the Caravan is to create a shared space for conversation between writers and their communities,” says Femrite coordinator Hilda Twongyeirwe.
She is validated by Glaydah Namukasa who, when she gets to her home area in Wakiso, will not only talk about how her writing is connected to the community but hopes to get “known in my community as a writer, and inspire students in the school I went to that they too can make it.”

Julius Ocwinyo, who will be the headliner in Lango where he is born, says there is more to gain for the literary industry when its writers get to meet the wanainchi, some of whom have heard about these writers but are clueless about the relevance of what they write:

Purpose of the tour
“It’s all about establishing that link with writers and the community. We are saying, ‘Look this is the relevance of what we do as writers; we draw inspiration from here, and by giving out books we are growing their literacy and raising awareness.”
It will also be a time to show the communities that these writers have never lost touch with what culturally distinguishes them. For example, Nakisanze Segawa will perform a Luganda poem, Zibogola (a poem about the African drum and how it communicates) at her former school, Mwerere Secondary School in Luwero. It will be her way of telling her audience that you can earn a living through writing and performing traditionally-inspired poetry.

Other benefits
Beyond talking about her writing, Beatrice Lamwaka will give out books to students of Sacred Heart Secondary School and Gulu High School near her rural home as a way of celebrating Ugandan writers and motivating them to dream more.
Funded by Prince Claus Fund for Culture and Development, and in partnership with Kampala Capital City Authority, the project is hoped to raise awareness about Ugandan literature and deepen its reception by the communities.

“It is hoped that at the end of the Caravan, the writers will be inspired to write short stories or poems, which will be translated in their local languages,” says Twongyeirwe. “These will be published by Femrite in a multi-lingual anthology that will be distributed back to the communities that will be visited.”

The writers
Prof Timothy Wangusa. Poet and novelist
Beatrice Lamwaka. 2011 Caine Prize finalist
Julius Ocwinyo. Author: Fate of the Banished.
Glaydah Namukasa. Femrite Chairperson
Austin Bukenya. Critic, dramatist
Laury Ocen. Author: Alien Woman.
Peter Kagayi. Literature teacher/poet
Nakisanze Segawa. Poet
Simon Peter Ongodi.Multi-lingual writer
Betty Kitiyu. Poet.

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