Thursday, June 23, 2016

BABISHAI PIONEERS POETRY ON THE MOUNTAIN

Poetry on The Mountain: On Mt. Rwenzori, there is healing


When the tour guide, Enock Owerangi, explains the different nature trails and the camps, it seems so effortless. He will tell you that you will reach the first camp, from where you will hold your poetry session. The truth is, Rwenzori is poetic enough and there’s no need to dramatise the experience. Starting at 1,400m high altitude, we begin this arduous expedition, full of curiosity, adrenaline and cameras.
We are beset with foliage reaching so high that the sky-line seems submerged. With 217 bird species in the Rwenzori region, there are so many choruses and this natural orchestra is one of the most striking sounds to behold. Only one of us Jackie Asiimwe, has reached the peak at Margherita, and Enock of course, who reaches Margherita at least six times a year. (Show-off, kekekeke). His uncle, Bagheni Zadekia, is also the first Mukonzo to reach the peak. Real family legacy right there.
Rwenzori, Africa’s largest block mountain and home to hundreds of animal and bird species, also has the transformative ability to make anyone gasp at the vastness of its awesomeness. There is a particular plant that is actually believed to eliminate labour pain. Every child-bearing woman deserves this. To be able to alleviate a pain more horrendous than suffocation, should be every woman’s right.
River Mobuku gushes below us, the purest water, clear and sparkling. In our lives too, the more transparent people are, the more clarity there is. There is room for everyone and no need to try and eat off someone else’s plate. Why fight for sloppy seconds when there is enough in the universe for all of us? The Mobuku’s untameable spirit, liberated and strong, makes me want to follow it to where it stops and build my home there. Being encircled by nature is a privilege in a world, besot by drudgery and destruction.
The three-horned chameleon, wide-eyed, elegant and endangered, is placed covertly on some tendrils, unrecognisable until the guide’s expert eyes, point it out. Its tail is coiled like a chocolate pinwheel but less tastier. None of us is able to ease the chameleon on our fingers as gently as Enock. For fear of killing the world’s only three-horned chameleon just out of sheer fright, we take our photos and move to the next place of admiration.
We’re getting more exhausted as we ascend more precipitous staircases, cross wobbly bridges and are told stories of undomesticated elephants. Maybe that’s what the gun, which one of our guides carries, is for. It’s not comforting that the path is too narrow to hide from an elephant. There are about five hours to Lake Mahoma, which is our agreed place for the poetry. Being the democrats that we are, we vote against this incredulous extra five hours and opt for the first base at Masiga. The humidity, the gruelling climbs and the perspiration are an excruciating combination. There are forty-five minutes to go. Now, forty-five minutes on Mt. Rwenzori, means that you will climb over several boulders, slip on the mud and trek through undergrowth that is thicker than the size of our cabinet.
While planning for Poetry On The Mountain, we romanticised about how we would have one spoken word after the other, while gazing at the snow-capped peak. This is what really happens. When you reach, you can barely stand and are so drained of energy that you wolf down every sugary biscuit in your sight, along with juice, fruit and almost, the inedible chameleons. The amount of calories burned is enviable for weight loss addicts but not the more adventurous poets.
Since we set out for poetry on the mountain, brushing off our crumbs, we begin to recite, perform and share stories of the Rwenzoris. In one captivating story, we hear that if a chameleon is killed by a human in the human’s younger days, if this person gives their unborn child a name of a chameleon, that child will be protected. Lukonzo is one of the most musical forms for spoken word. Let’s call it Lukoflow. The language is rhythmic and entertaining.
For our next trip, we’ll elect another gorgeous place in East Africa for a poetry excursion. Being surrounded by nature will teach us not to agitate destiny. This Rwenzori trip proves that once destiny has paved its successful course, destiny will always win.
At our Babishai 2016 Poetry Festival, which takes place from 24-26 August in Ntinda at Maria’s Place, opposite Victory City Church, we’ll be launching our next poetry trip for 2017. You’re welcome.

Monday, June 6, 2016

BABISHAI LAUNCHES BUSINESS PROGRAM FOR POETS & CREATIVES-4TH JUNE 2016

On 4th June, the team at the Babishai Niwe Poetry Foundation, launched a new business program for artists,mainly poets,. Over the years, reflecting on how challenging it has been for poet to professionalise, value their work, conduct market research and monetize their performances, it was time to overhaul mindsets and set new precedent.
Gyaviira Kyaka, photo by Dilman Dila





Gyavira Kyaka, our main speaker, has over fifteen years' experience in sales and marketing with Coca-Cola ad Hima Cement and currently works at Vivo Energy. He is also a John Maxwell leadership trainer.

On an unforgettable Saturday afternoon after Uganda Martyrs' Day, we sat at a round table discussion, over-looking the lush gardens of Mrs. Betty Mugoya in Mpererwe, the hard talks began. Do we, as poets, carry out intense market research, before we produce our work? Or do we produce the book and then hope that our creative promotion will make people buy? Marketing tells us whether or not we should even produce the book.

As people, we are the first brand and our packaging must match the product. Are the consumers of poetry today, the same as they were ten years ago? If they are different, we need to acknowledge that. Who is our target? Who are the biggest influencers?
Dorothy Kisarale, communications consultant, photo by Dilman Dila

As artists,we also need o reinvent ourselves to remain relevant , otherwise we will wake up dead. we really know our customer? What is their age?
Whats their income level? What is our unique value proposition? As poets, how do we create a sellable product?

The hosts of any event must introduce as properly, as honourable members of society.

Present at the meeting were Dorothy Kisarale, Communications consultant, Crystal Rutangye and editor and publisher, Dilman Dila a filmaker and author, Caesar Obong, a spoken word oet, Anna Nakitende, a banker, George Kiwanuka , a law student, Rosey Sembatya, an educator, Denis Lumbasi a journalist, Beverley Nambozo, a writer and leadership trainer and Gyaviira Kyaka, the main speaker. Bbashai will be holding such business talks regularly.



Thursday, June 2, 2016

Brian Banda, Zimbabwean Entrepreneur Ready for the #Babishai2016 Poetry Festival

Brian Banda is an entrepreneur and trainer based in Harare Zimbabwe. He is a guest at the #Babishai2016 Poetry Festival, 24-26 August in Kampala and passionate about artists making money from their work.

courtesy photo


1.      We look forward to hosting you at the #Babishai2016 Poetry Festival in August.  As an entrepreneur, what do your work towards daily?
I have a passion to see young people in the creative sector being able to employ their energies towards putting bread on the table. Most of Africa today is facing serious unemployment problems yet there is lots of talent laying around, so every day I thrive to assist creative people realize the business potential that lies within them.
2.      When you conduct trainings, what do you look forward to most in your participants?
Openness and huge willingness to learn and share. I appreciate very energetic participants who are more than motivated and active. Their energy and responsiveness keeps me going and assures me that my session is worth their time.
3.      What is challenging about entrepreneurship amongst artists?

The very fact that most artists do not know how much their art is worth, thus most of the time they are taken for granted and always settle for less. Its only until artists themselves place value on themselves and their work that the public will commit in spending on artistic products and services just like they do with any other profession.

4.      How can poets, writers and other artists begin to look at their work as a business?

By organizing themselves into strategic business units, documenting, quantifying and evaluating their  work every step of the way, from planning, brain-storming, rehearsals, production, performance or exhibition. Creatives  should create relationships with cooperates , their audiences and other stakeholders including governments. Also  they need to adopt new attitudes towards their work and set clear cut monetary and substantial goals.

5.      How do you feel about artists receiving sponsorship from donors, against funding their own events?
Artists can never survive in isolation, in most instances financial support is critical to any arts venture. However the problem comes when funders impose and influence artists sensibilities and ideology to an extent of stifling creativity. Artists should rather seek investment  into their work  instead of donations, this way, they retain autonomy and serve their true purpose and mandate to society.

6.      What do you expect at the #Babishai2016 Poetry Festival?
To network , share experiences, empower and motivate artists and most of all to learn a lot from the Ugandan experience
7.      If there was a specific diet recommended for poets, what would it be?

Kkkkkhahaaa …..anything marijuana and alcohol free kkkkk

8.      When you think of poetry from Uganda, what comes to mind?
An anthology by Beverley Nambozo and others entitled Boda Boda, I bumped into it last year in Kenya and fell in love.
9.      Any parting remarks?


Can’t wait  for my first visit to Uganda, may the good Lord be with you in all your preparations…Asante

Thank you Brian.

Friday, May 20, 2016

#BABISHAI2016 POETRY FESTIVAL EXHIBITOR'S FORM


Dear Exhibitor,


Do you have music, books, art and craft, jewellery, children’ s stories or any other family friendly product you would like to sell? Have you heard of Maria’s Place in Ntinda, the homeliest of Ntinda homes?






We invite you to market and sell your material during the #Babishai2016 Poetry Festival, from 24-26 August, 0900h to 1700h, in one of Kampala- Ntinda’s lushest gardens, at Maria’s Place. With guests from the academia, arts, corporate world, schools and all around the world, we are certain that your products will fall in the right hands.
Please provide  the following information:-
1.       The name of your organization


2.       Name the exhibitor(s) Maximum of 2.


3.       Name the products to be sold.

If they are books or CDs, kindly provide the titles, authors, producer of publisher, year of publications and email the cover pages to babishainiwe@babishainiwe.com



4.       Your contact information:-

Email address: 

 Tel no:             

5.       Each exhibitor will be provided with lunch and exhibition space. If you would like the Babishai sales team to sell your products, that is also acceptable.


6.       The exhibition fee for three days is 100,000/-. Kindly send payment via Airtel money on
+256 751 703226 or MTN mobile money on +256 782 764335 by 5th August 2016.
Early registration fee is 70,000/- and the deadline is June 30th 2016.

7.       For any inquiry, call George Kiwanuka on + 256 703 147862 or email babishainiwe@babishainiwe.com
     

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

MAGUNGA WANTS TO READ MORE UGANDAN BLOGGERS

Magunga Williams a blogger and creative writer from Kenya will attend the #Babishai2016 poetry festival in Kampala, from 24-26 August. He was nominated for the 2016 #BAKEAWARDS-Bloggers Association of Kenya Awards and runs a large online bookstore.




1.       The Magunga online bookstore is thriving and making a large difference regarding accessibility of literature, how did this idea emerge?
It is one of those things I have always wanted to know. It stemmed from a heartbreak I had when I was a kid when a neighbourhood library was shut down after its owner passed away. I cannot even remember his name. But I remember how much I loved going to that place. It was my refuge. When we were sent home due to unpaid school fees, my brother and I would visit that library. It had so many storybooks.

Time passed. That heartbreak healed, like very few heartbreaks usually do, but like many heartbreaks, it was not forgotten. Fast forward to 2014-15 and my partner and I are walking around Nairobi bookshops trying to get her poetry collection into bookstore unsuccessfully. Then I realized many self published authors, and many other authors had trouble distributing and marketing their books. I saw a vacuum and nature did the thing it does with vacuums. Now here I am, managing an online bookstore from the comfort of my house. One step at a time, because that is how I was taught to do things.

2.       How may we support this fabulous invention of yours?
How can you help? I throw that question back to you. You read books. You consume them with so much relish. Tell me what challenges you experience and then we can have a conversation about how you think we can solve them. I want to reach as many Africans as possible with this venture. Put a book in as many hands as possible.

3.       Which are the most popular books so far, from the Magunga online bookstore?
Oh! Elnathan John’s book, Born On A Tuesday, lasted all of two days and they were gone. Same with The Fishermen by Chigozie Obioma.
Then there is Den of Inequities  and Last Villains of Molo  by Kinyanjui Kombani.

Ooooh! Any book by Zukiswa Wanner rarely stays for long. See, Zukiswa and Kombani have learnt that books are products like any other; you have to market them aggressively, and that is working very well for them.

(Do not tell my competitors, hehehe).

4.       What kind of poetry do you like to read?
I like easy to read poetry. The kind that affects you without your mind being forced to understand whatever is going on. Think Warsan Shire, Amu Nnadi, Abigail Arunga, Sheila Okong’o and Eric Onyango Otieno.
Woi! This chap called Saddiq Dzukogi is phenomenal.
I still do not know what the difference between poetry and spoken word is. Because Peter Kagayi is amazing.

5.       Were you surprised by your invitation to the Babishai Poetry festival last year and why?
Yes. I was surprised. Because I do not consider myself anyone of note in these literary circles, much less in poetry circles. I am a pretender. I know as much as Jon Snow.

6.       What do you expect from the festival this year?
I expect more fun. Last year was so well organized and so informative. Guests were treated well, the classes were just as good as they can get. Beverley is an angel. I can say that given the success of last year’s festival, then I am hoping to see a bigger crowd.

7.       Where would you place Christian literature in this secular world?
Hehehehe. You know everything has its own space, yeah? People who like stories will enjoy it regardless of whether it is Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Legion Maria, Polo Piach  or Atheist. Remember that book, My Book of Bible Stories that we used to read as kids? Loved that book. Not because it was Christian, but because I was entertained by the stories. Left to Tell by Imaculee Ilibagiza is a sublime story about a woman finding God in the midst of the Rwandan genocide. But regardless of it’s religious inclinations, the story is well told. But of course there are material that I do not see people other than those of that faith buying. For instance, many people will not read The Hand of God simply because they have no interest in it.

Am I making sense?

8.       Congratulations on your 2016 #BAKEAWARDS nomination, who are some of your favourite Ugandan bloggers?
Peter Kagayi
Harriet Anena
Soooo Many Stories
But you have to agree with me that Ugandans have not really taken to blogging like we Kenyans have. Your internet keeps getting shut down every time the Leopard wakes up on the wrong side of the bed.

9.       What food in your opinion, is best for writers?
The edible kind

10.   Any parting remarks?

Be a good sport and buy books. Sharing is caring with other things, but not when it comes to books. So go to www.books.magunga.com and make an order now. Haven’t you been told that the best place to be is in between the pages of a good book?

Thursday, May 5, 2016

HARRIET ANENA, LIKE YOU'VE NEVER SEEN HER


Harriet Anena is the Online ContentProducer at the African Media Centre for Excellence and the author of A Nation In Labour, a poetry collection. She’s also a guest at the #Babshai2016 Poetry Festival from 24-26 August in Kampala.
On stage


Anena, your production, “I Bow for my Boobs,” was described as Political Erotica. Would you say this was an accurate description?
Yes. I deliberately framed the performance around political erotica. First, because my up-coming poetry collection is centered on political erotica. Secondly, politics and erotica are provocative topics on their own and even more provocative when merged; and considering Uganda is just walking off a hot political podium, I thought it relevant to focus the performance on the politics and erotica theme. 

when she's normal



What were some of the most surprising reactions to that performance?
I sort of expected most of the reactions to the performance – the shock, the awe and the pats on the back. After my first week of rehearsal, I was sure the person going on stage would not be Harriet Anena but someone new, someone has known before; someone no one suspects exists; except my director. The only reaction that surprised me was that people found the performance humorous. There was laughter throughout the performance and I could hear a laugh first and a sad sigh later as I performed the central poem of the day, I Bow for My Boobs’, in which I breakdown. 
Have people expressed incredulity at how there is an overt difference between your art and your demeanour?
Yes. A lot of people who have interacted with me know Anena is reserved; speaks only when she has to; shies away from crowds and is not the type who will be in your face. What they saw on stage was a different Anena. Some of the questions I got after the show was; ‘What did you drink before the performance?’ and ‘Was that really you on stage?”. It’s a pleasant reaction, which I still continue to receive, and I largely credit my director, Elizabeth Pamela Acaye, for it.  She literally dug me out of my cage, ensured I immersed myself in my poetry so I can lift them off the page to the stage. 

a star
What are some of your biggest fears as a poet?
My greatest fear has been whether I could ever perform my poems on stage and do it as well as I have done on paper. I think I’m on the way to overcoming that fear wholly, soon. Presently, the looming legal restrictions on how artists can express themselves, through the anti-pornography law, is what has been bothering my mind. I do hope we’ll find a way around it because as it stands, the law is ‘unimplementable’ and a mere diversion from more crucial things facing Uganda.
In an ideal world, how different would poets be than they are today?
In an ideal world, poets would live on poetry ALONE.
What are some of your expectations at the Babishai Poetry Festival?
I hope to see more Ugandans - young and old - converging to celebrate poetry and participate in the various activities and events at the festival.
When it comes to food, what in your opinion, should poets feed on?
Hahaha I love sweet bananas, Odii and sugarcane. Try it out.
Any parting remarks?
I am delighted and encouraged at the expanding spaces for poetic expressions, especially in Kampala today. I’m hoping the wave of poetry sweeps across the country and extends to upcountry areas. Poetry is all around us, we just need to be awaken to see it, feel it, live it. Together, we can make poetry a movement in Uganda and beyond.
Thank you!

The #Babishai2016 Poetry Festival runs from 24-26 August in Kampala. For details, visit www.babishainiwe.com or email, festival@babishainiwe.com

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

ROXANNA KAZIBWE, THE CHRISTIAN WHO'S UNAFRAID AND BABISHAI POETRY GUEST

Roxannna Aliba Kazibwe is a Christian, an author, published poet and entrepreneur. Each week, we interview our guests for the #Babishai2016 poetry festival scheduled for 24-26 August in Kampala.

Roxanna (Courtesy photo)


1.    Roxanna, your poetry collection, “My Love is not Afraid,” is a creative narrative of Agape love, filial love, eros and God’s abundant grace. Your inspirational blog reflects the same. How does this knowledge affect your daily work?
This growing understanding and experience of God’s love for mankind is the basis for all my work. It is the foundation and motivation for my writing. I aim at encouraging and empowering others because love is enabling and not crippling. I hope to reassure all who read and/or hear me in the love of God for us. I want to remove any notion in people’s minds that God is at war with us, angry with us or out to get us. God is for us, He is on our side. For all who believe in Him, He adopts as children and therefore as His heirs. I think being grounded in this identity is what can help a person to flourish and so it is my main focus.
2.    Do you have specific audiences you write for?
I have various forums on which I write and each targets a different audience.
On my blog at youarebeingloved.org I write for people who need encouragement and advice on knowing their purpose and fulfilling their potential.
On my author page I write for people who enjoy literature; I share short stories, poems and my writing processes.
Overall, I write for people who need a love, hope and faith boost J
3.    What are some of the criticisms you receive from your writing?
Some people comment that it sounds too good and is therefore idealistic: to be loved unconditionally by a perfect God.
I chose to be true to my message and not try to wrap it to fit another. It’s okay to cause a little discomfort J 

Roxanna's poetry collection,2015


Then there’s the “you are too young to be giving advice on this” line.
I came to terms with the fact that I don’t have to wait to be a certain age to share the things that I am learning. I hope by doing this other people even much younger than me will be spurred on to do the same.

I’ve also been told that my poems are easy to understand.
4.    What do you think is different from Christian writing and secular writing?
Everyone has their unique writing experience. Here’s mine:
I’ve always been a writer but I didn’t always have a relationship with Jesus.
Before, I used to write about my own experiences and/or thoughts/imaginations and so the piece could be dark or bright depending on my mood. Be informed that I had a bout of depression at some point so you can imagine what those pieces were like. All in all, I wrote for myself.
Now, I write the Truth. The Truth is consistent and is not dependent on my mood. I like to think of my hand being “the hand of a ready writer” passing on whatever it is that God wants me to share. Now, I write for Him for the sake of others.
I must admit that I get more joy from it because when someone reads your work they are not just understanding your words but they feel the feelings you felt as you wrote and so I’m able to pass on peace, comfort, hope, a good expectation, love, rejoicing through my writing.

Roxanna at Babishai Niwe World Poetry Day Celebrations in Kabale, 2015

5.    During the Easter Weekend, one of your plays, The Encounter was performed at Worship Harvest Church. Share what it was about.
“The Encounter” in a nutshell is about God’s power and love: God’s love for mankind and His power over sin, death and their proprietor the devil. It’s the Easter story where Jesus is portrayed as a devoted prince, Tsozo; the Church is portrayed as a helpless girl bound for death, Nissa; and the devil is portrayed by a pompous, deceitful leader, Sly.
I’m working on a print version of the play. It will be ready in July.
6.    You’re an entrepreneur. Tell us a bit about your businesses.
One of my businesses is Birella. A fresh fruit juice company that offers natural cocktail juice that is healthy and tasty. We deliver the juice on order at the customer’s convenient location. A customer can expect it to be ice cold and delivered on time. Our clients include event organisers (weddings, introductions, parties, concerts), offices, schools and homes.
Apart from my published or performed work, I compose customized poems for functions, organisations and personal use. On occasion I work as a ghostwriter.
I also do one on one reviewing and guidance for writers.

7.    What, in your opinion, is the best diet for poets?
Hahaha that will be a full plate of reading and goblet of writing.
Anyway, it is in the best interest of a poet to read/listen/watch other poets’ work. A poet could even zero down on some poets that write on a similar subject or have a similar style to theirs and he/she studies and learns from them. If the poet (that one is studying) is still alive, one can reach out to them and ask questions (thank God for Twitter) without being stalker-ish.
It is also key to write and write and write some more. This will help you write better and write faster. It will keep you in shape.
Don’t be a closet poet, share what you write with 1) other poets so that they can get some much needed, (especially) technical criticisms (2) readers of poetry so that you can get feedback e.g on how it made them feel, did they understand your message, did they enjoy your style, was it confusing etc.

8.    What do you expect at the #Babisha2016 Poetry Festival?
Oh! I really look forward to this three day buffet of interaction, learning, networking, being challenged, growing and fun with poets!
I expect a diverse delegation of talented, charged poets and an atmosphere of creativity, inspiration and an appreciation of art.
9.    Any parting remarks?
Thanks to Babishai Niwe for creating this platform. See you in August!

Thank you Roxanna

The #Babishai2016 Poetry Festival runs from 24-26 August in Kampala. For details, visit www.babishainiwe.com or email festival@babishainiwe.com