Thursday, June 25, 2015



Wednesday 26th August:
9:00am  -11:00am              Visiting vulnerable groups of writers-/MASTER-CLASS at The Uganda Museum
3:00pm   -5:00pm               Master-class/book-signing at The Uganda Museum
8:00pm                                Poetry-in-session/book-signing-Dancing Cup Bugolobi

Thursday 27th August:
9:00am -11:00am             #Visiting vulnerable writer groups
3:00pm -5:00pm                Master-class at The Uganda Museum
7:00pm                               Launch of Kampala Poetry Anthology & discussions by Jalada Africa

Friday 28th August:
9:00am  -10:30am             #Babishai Poetricks  trainings/ Poetricks adult challenge at The Uganda Museum
11:00pam -12:30pm               Launching poetry on the mountain at The Uganda Museum
6:00pm                                Grand award-giving ceremony, performances at The Uganda Museum

Tuesday, June 16, 2015



Today, we are thrilled to officially launch #babishaipoetricks, the children’s adventure toolkit. Babishai Poetricks is the largest program under the Kampala based Babishai Niwe Poetry Foundation. The Foundation runs the annual BN Poetry Award and publishes poetry.
Babishai Poetricks is a toolkit captured in eleven adventures, each of which increases a child’s ability to reach the highest creative and literary potential. By using very interactive exercises, a child engages in creative listening, speaking, describing and introspection. Each exercise enables a child to freely analyse their environments and relate them to their personalities, thus bringing a deeper understanding of themselves. Once they do this, their abilities to use poetry and prose to illustrate and observe are highly sharpened. Every child should experience Babishai Poetricks.

Currently, we are conducting Training of Trainers in Uganda and trainings within schools. These are charged at a reasonable fee, given the life-changing exercises. We will also train in Kenya, Cameroon, Nigeria and South Africa for the first three years. The Babishai Poetricks toolkit, produced by Beverley Nambozo Nsengiyunva, Ugandan writer, poet and Founder of the Babishai Niwe Poetricks Foundation is a program that is timeless, memorable and is the essential means for children to grow from where they are to where they can be.

Big Bear Kindergarten children sharing their #babishaipoetricks experience

Teacher Joyce, who underwent a Training of Trainers says,
 “This is so important because it helps teachers to learn various adaptations to use in classroom exercises. It is so much broader than what our teacher-centered system provides. It’s a true experience.”
Teachers, Parents and schools are particularly going to benefit from this model as they witness their children growing into articulate and confident wordsmiths, poets, speakers and individuals. Many thanks to Ayodele Olofintuade, a writer from Nigeria and Paul Kisakye, a writer from Uganda, for contributing their invaluable poetry to this toolkit. Many Thanks to Gilgal Media Arts for publishing and to the schools that have already embraced it.

The full story is here,
For more information, contact

Beverley Nambozo Nsengiyunva
Head Trainer and Director Babishai Niwe Poetry Foundation
Tel: +256 751 703226

Thursday, June 11, 2015

#babishaipoetricks Training of Trainers at Big Bear Kindergarten, Kampala

On 9th June, the first Training of Trainers of the #babishaipoetricks children’s adventure toolkit took place. Our hosts, Big Bear Kindergarten in Kampala, were absolutely thrilled at the opportunity. There were four trainees namely Teacher Joyce the proprietor, Teacher Rinju the Director, Teacher Nakiganda the Headmistress and Teacher Diana a teacher. The objectives of the training were to share skills from the toolkit on how to guide children into understanding and appreciating #babishaipoetricks. The Babishai Poetricks toolkit is an experience for children aged 4 to 11 years. In it are eleven adventures which aim to instill life-skills, sharpen observation skills, creatively engage a child to interact, listen, speak from the heart, use images to relate and become introspective. The training covered three of the eleven adventures.

In the first adventure, the trainees drew pictures of their faces, allowing others to describe what they saw. Through this, we are able to see ourselves in other people’s eyes and also analyse how we see ourselves. Children will most likely laugh at the funny shaped noses and mouths but the trainers should use that for children to appreciate their own looks. By doing that, the creative space opens up for them, along with their confidence. The pictures turned out hilarious but on a deeper level, reflected a lot about the personalities that day.

Next, we matched moods to colours. Interestingly, while black was considered sorrowful, it was also considered adventurous. You see, in this toolkit there is no wrong answer. Instead, children are encouraged to articulate, analyse and reflect. An adventure may either take 1 hour or 1 week, depending on the group dynamics. That is what #babishaioetricks is about. It’s an experience.
When it came to tackling the five senses, we had to end there because our 2 hours were up. There are many uses of the mouth and nose that many people are unaware of. It was a true life-changing training.

Teacher Rinju, Director of Big Bear Kindergarten:
“This training of training was extremely helpful, practical, very interactive and enables children to really think.”

Teacher Joyce, Proprietor of Big Bear Kindergarten:
“This is so important because it helps teachers to learn various adaptations to use in their classroom exercises. It is so much broader than what our teacher-centered system provides. It’s a true experience.
These are the first certified Babishai Poetricks trainers. We look forward to training more trainers.
Training of Trainers are currently taking place in Uganda, after which we will branch to Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda and South Africa. In order to train from this toolkit, you must be certified. The Trainer fee is 50 USD per individual and takes from 2 to 3 hours. There are packages for schools as well. Join us and become certified.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Babishai Poetricks-Grand launch on June 16th

Babishai Poetricks is a poetry adventure toolkit for children, youth, adults and just about everyone.

It is a project that invites readers into a maze of stimulating, electrifying and fresh literary games and ideas. We’re officially launching it on June 16th, The Day of The African Child. Invite us for the Training of Trainers. Become a certified trainer. Let your children have a #babishaipoetricks experience.

Caption of a drawing by a 5 year old.

At GreenHill Academy

At Gayaza High School

Through it, we peek into our own lives, understand our various likes and dislikes, question different preferences of time, place and action and identify who we are in this vast world. You don’t have to be a poet to enjoy this; you just have to be available. The toolkit is better managed if an older facilitator takes the participants through it. We also offer trainings for trainers, like teachers in schools or we may conduct the trainings for the children. Get a feel of it before you teach. Laugh, participate and have fun.

By taking note of why we react to certain situations, we are able to better understand what it means to be alive today and how we are affect the person next to us. In this adventure toolkit, we are able to pick out the common sounds and images around us and ask what they mean and those that are not so common. It is packed with physical activity like tasting sweet and sour foods, just so that you can tell us what those tastes remind you of. We will look at many different colours and describe the mood that these colours put us in.
This poetry adventure toolkit was realized after touring many schools and realizing that there is a to huge need and want for poetry for children, written by poets they recognize and find relatable but also a simple guide for children to approach poetry with heady excitement and not fear.

“I hated poetry because of my teacher at school!”

“Poetry is so difficult. All those sonnets and iambic pentameters are impossible!”

How many times have we expressed this or heard our friends saying this?

While poetry may not always be easy to construct and not everyone is meant to be a poet, it still remains a very important tool for literary enrichment, improving your vocabulary and creativity. Reading poetry, learning new ways to articulate and finding your own personal space is what this toolkit is about.

You don’t have to be a poet to enjoy this; you just have to be available.

Contact for more details.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

These poets mean business: From us to you

Be Prepared To Be Misunderstood! Poets See The World Through The Lens Of Perception And Expression. Poetry Is Your Personal Journey Through Life. Find Your Voice And Rejoice.
Ife Piankhi, The Poet who Sings

Write a poem a day, or even just a line or a stanza. It makes writing poetry get easier and better with every new line. Write about what you feel, see, hear or imagine. Forget the poem you read for a minute and create your own words, your own world ~ and you'll achieve an originality that'll surprise you.
Harriet  Anena, author of A Nation in Labour

 Read widely around your art. Then write with out internal criticism. Then be open to feedback from writers of merit. 
Nick Makoha, Winner of 2015 Brunel University African Poetry Prize

A poem is a musical form - it's meant to move the air as well as sit on a page. Poems are not just about self-expression - your feelings have to become feelings for your readers for them to care.
Graham Mort, Center of Transcultural Writing, Lancaster

First, write, write and write some more. Then be a cruel editor: the scissors are as important as the pen, but you have to have something to cut first. When you're not writing or editing, read. Read what others have done, read eclectically. And don't forget to have a life! Live it to the full! You only get one! Don't waste it!

Reuben Woolley, Author and Creator of I am Not a Silent Poet

Treat all words with suspicion, use as few of them as you can. For those few, test them hard so they yield essence only. Else, write for beauty's sake.
Richard Ali, author of City of Memories, BN Poetry Board member

I write/read best/more when all of my senses are triggered and i am able to see, hear, smell, feel, touch beautiful things all at the same time...:-)

Sahro Ahmed Koshin, Founder Puntland Women Writers Association

 'Read what kind of books you want to write. Read, read, read. You can't know what's working and what's not except from intensive reading.'
Okwudili Nebeolisa, Poet

Give yourself a formal challenge when writing - organising lines, stanzas and overall poetic forms can help to keep your work tight and powerful,
Graham Mort, Center of Transcultural Writing, Lancaster

If a poem decides to dance, dance with it. If a poem decides to fly, then grab your wings, baby. When you’re done, re-write the poem beginning with the most exhilarating moments to the least and then chop out all the forgettable ones.
Beverley Nambozo Nsengiyunva, Writer

Poems work because of what is implied as well as what is directly said - give your poems depth and silence. Beware of explaining things in a poem - your reader is intelligent and aware so don't lead them by the hand.
Graham Mort, Center of Transcultural Writing, Lancaster

The process of creating could be painful sometimes. You have to write, erase sometimes, re-write, wait, erase everything, start again, and other times, leave. It's important to understand the place your words come from, to have an inner voice of reason and direction, to have connection with the place inside you that feels even the smallest emotion, so as to write boldly and naturally. You have to be yourself to write anything believable.
Eric Otieno Onyango, Kenyan Poet and Mara Mentor

Never rush your writing; if you do, you’ll struggle to make sense of it half the time, and your readers, whom you’ve been hoping would find delight in your creation, will certainly be denied that very delight. A poem doesn’t have to feel, or sound, complete once you’ve written it down or tuned it a bit a few times. A poem at first glance, I think, just wants to be left alone for a while. Don’t fret, but only give it some space and distance just long enough for it to simmer down and take a shape you never knew could be worth your while. –
Uchechukwu Peter Umezurike, poet, short story writer and children’s novelist

Extraordinary poets dare to express what is perceived as inexpressible; they walk into the unknown and bring out words that seem ordinary yet unearthly to the world. Oh! Poets should always take their poems to the barber shop for a nice haircut.
Saddiq Dzukogi, Poet

To say so much in statements so short To sound so subtle in sentiments so strong To strike such rhythm in stanzas so lyrical To summon such imagery in scenarios so vivid Is to string words together into what they call poetry.
 Tom Jalio, BNPA 2014 winner (@tjalio)

"As the saying goes- "Habit trumps desire". If you are a writer, you have to be writing. Write everyday. Set targets and meet them. Keep reading, keep learning, keep growing. 
Do not try to be a person you are not. Great writing is genuine and true. Remember to have the time of your life while at it :-) "

Roxanna Aliba Kazibwe, author of  My Love is Not Afraid

A poem is equal to the speed of light and love. And so a poet should live with the speed of light and love. Put simply, as is lovemaking so is poetry. Feel everything within and outside the margins of your blue-paper-bed and your heart. Poetry is a gift just as the heart is; hence, poets give their hearts to other hearts. This is what lovemaking is, as I see and feel it.
David Ishaya Osu

Figurative language can be much more rewarding than straightforward description - metaphors and other allusive forms of language can create delight and deep engagement. Always be careful how you sign off at the end of a poem - don't tag on the 'message' of your poem - let the reader work it out.
Graham Mort, Center of Transcultural Writing, Lancaster

Read, read, and read, I can't emphasize that enough: there's no such thing as enough reading for a writer. It's the only way you will broaden your knowledge, imagination, creativity, and it goes a long way in helping you find your voice as a poet. 2. Write about small things, big things, important things, seemingly unimportant things, write about anything, in a fresh way, a way you would want a poem you were reading to sound. 3. Edit, rewrite, edit, rewrite; sometimes it's good, sometimes it's bad. Sometimes it's easy, sometimes it's hard. Just keep at it.
Lillian Aujo, BN Poetry winner, 2009, Jalada winner, 2015

Never forget the reader and try to put yourself in their position. Writing is re-writing - a poem should go through many drafts to reach final form. Read your poems aloud to test their rhythms, language and form. A poem on the page is a visual object and should appeal to a reader through its shape and form. Every word in a poem should earn its keep. Take risks - write the poem you didn't know you could write instead of the one you did. Read poetry - as much as possible from every era.
Graham Mort, Center of Transcultural Writing, Lancaster

Monday, April 27, 2015


Writers at the #writingforliberty Conference, 17 to 18 April 2015, Lancaster University (courtesy photos0

Veronique Tadjo, left. (courtesy photo)

BN Poetry Foundation board member, Graham Mort, shares the birth of the Transcultural Writing center at Lancaster University. It’s still a work in progress and so much can be celebrated from it. Lots of works around the world, schemes that promoted great writers from various regions of Africa, programmes for writers in other parts of the world and publications dated almost two decades ago are all products of the center.
During the two day Writing for Liberty Conference, keynote speaker VĂ©ronique Tadjo said that while freedom of expression is ideal and essential, we cannot forget that we still live in a world and our words have effect. Freedom too, changes over time and with different cultures. The more she spoke, the more she unearthed layers of complexities in freedom and democracies across the world. Citizens in certain countries, unlike others, fear for their lives during election period. Freedom, therefore, can never be one set concept.

The Writing for Liberty Conference was a synergy of so many authors, academics, opinions, researched truths, a melting pot of international and creative ideas. There were many highlights and a few of which I attended include Roger Bromley’s Body, Language, Resistance: the Unfinished Song of Bobby Sands. The writings of Irish political prisoner, Bobby Sands, as a physical act of freedom, as a deeper more emotional act and the other prisoners who participated in all forms of protests, finding ways of communicating on toilet paper and the more important impact of these struggles.
Not Stones But Birds: Translating Resistance and Reading Solidarity in the Contemporary Palestinian Poetry Anthology. This paper by Anna Ball identified how literature formed an important part of the Palestinian struggle but more so, how the poetic voice represented voices and ideals beyond Palestine. The anthology of poetry, edited by Henry Bell and Sarah Irving is translated into four languages namely English, Scots, Gaelic and Shetlandic. The conference ended with a performance from this ambitious work of art and recordings from the translations, affirming how music and rhythm are essential to poetry and raising interesting questions on translations.

Meg Vandermerwe highlighted the always important topic of writing for the other in her paper, The Ethics of Imagining the Other in Contemporary South African Writing. It’s contentious to imagine who has the right to write for the other. Her discussion brought up questions of authenticities and ownership of stories, subtleties of superiorities as authors super impose themselves over the other and so on.

It was daunting for me to speak on A Thousand Voices Rising, Anthology of Contemporary African Poetry, a BN poetry publication but very settling to Africas, its borders, safe spaces for expressions within Africa’s many countries and share about poetry’s power.
The Writing for Liberty conference was the start of many discussions, providing platforms for discourse in this ever-changing world and recognizing that liberty, freedom and authorities are changing landscapes.

Written by Beverley Nambozo Nsengiyunva.

Beverley Nambozo Nsengiyunva is a Ugandan poet, certified leadership trainer and founder and director of the Babishai Niwe (BN) Poetry Foundation for African poets. She is also the founder and director of the Babishai Niwe Leadership Academy for Women and Girls in Africa. She was Uganda’s 2014 BBC Commonwealth Games Poet for the poem, Lake Nalubaale. In 2013, she was long-listed for the Short Story Day Africa prize and shortlisted for the Poetry Foundation Ghana prize. In 2010, she was first runner-up in the international erbacce-press poetry competition and her poetry chapbook collection, Unjumping, was published by erbacce-press in the same year. In 2012, she received a Distinction in Masters in Creative Writing from Lancaster University. Her works have appeared in Wasafiri, Drumvoices Revue, Kwani? Postcolonial journal, Lawino Magazine, Short Story Day Africa, New Black Magazine and many others and translated into many languages.
She currently lives in Kampala with her husband and children and is working on her first novel, Elgona.

Monday, March 23, 2015


#babishainiwe experience in Kabale, #worldpoetryday
On Sunday 15th March,  Babishai Niwe Poetry Foundation team leader Beverley, together with Kidron and I made a trip to Kabale in preparation for the Language day event and World Poetry day celebrations that were to take place at the Kabale University on Monday 16th March.
It was my first ever trip to Kabale and boy was I psyched. I’d been told of its winding steep roads; its cold weather and the abundance of Irish potatoes. I was looking forward to having my own experience of these. Beverley had also told me of a similar University outreach that they had done in Kibaale at African Rural University and the delight of sharing poetry and language with young minds pulled at me.
I must say I was pleasantly surprised by the spirit of the students at the Kabale University. Our contact was the Dean of the Institute of Languages, Lillian Tindyebwa (a warm, humble lady with great talent who I discovered she is the author of Recipe for Disaster, a book I read as a child). Anyway Lillian introduced us to the students who were already waiting in the tents on the school ground. The students had a profound respect for one another, cheering each other on as they made presentations in different styles and languages; songs in Runyakitara, rapping in Swahili, spoken word in French, poems in English, recitals in Rukonjo and Rukiga. I was so impressed by their confidence in expressing themselves and the way diversity in language was embraced and even welcomed.
During our break away sessions, I had a group of 31 students and we kicked off our session with a get-to-know game called the Cold wind blows. This game involves opening up about yourself and finding others who are like you. There were some articulate, eager to speak individuals (one of the outspoken people in my group was also standing for guild president at the University) and some reserved people who needed cajoling to speak. After we had loosened up we shared about writing and where we get our inspiration. This was just before I asked them to break into groups, come up with a group name and in seven minutes compose a chant, poem or song from what they had observed/experienced that day.
After the performances, I ended our session with an exhortation to them to write and write some more as it is one of the best ways to influence the world and leave a legacy.
For me, it was all a breath of fresh air; the students’ confidence yet absence of airs, the people we met during our tour- Pam, a painter in her fifties who has life and laughter springing out of her she looks thirty, Eric, a rasta in his twenties who has the knowledge of a sixty year old professor and the kindness of one’s kinsman, Mama Francis the quiet lady with a small restaurant that offers a good service, Iga Zinunula, the entrepreneur/poet/farmer who is generous and wise. And lastly but definitely not least, the lake; Lake Bunyonyi, beautiful,calm, serene.
I look forward to more poetry initiatives with the BN Poetry Foundation and I’m extremely grateful for the opportunity.

Written by Roxanna Kazibwe.
Note: World Poetry Day is globally celebrated on 21st March every year and the BN Team will be organizing poetry excursions all over the continent, to celebrate World Poetry Day.