Friday, May 20, 2016


Dear Exhibitor,

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’s lushest gardens. With guests from the academia, arts, corporate world, schools and from all around the world, we are certain that your products will fall in the right hands.
Please provide in the following information:-

1.    The name of your organization

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

3.    Name of the products to be sold. If they are books or CDs, kindly provide the titles, authors, producer or publisher, year of publication (s) and email the cover pages to

4.    Your contact information:-

Email address: 

 Tel no:             

1.       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.

5.    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 August 5th , 2016.
Early registration fee is 70,000/- and the deadline is June 30th 2016.

6.    For any inquiry, call George Kiwanuka on + 256 703 147862 or email

The Babishai Poetry Festival Team

Tel:                         +256 751 703226
Twitter:                 @BNPoetryAward

The #Babishai2016 Poetry Festival runs from 24 to 26 August 2016 in Kampala.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016


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 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 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 or email,

Tuesday, April 26, 2016


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 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 or email

Monday, April 18, 2016


Babishai Poetricks is an adventure toolkit that encourages children to maximise their creative potential using poetry, creative illustrations, movement and sound and inter-personal communication.

Storytelling time

Every child has something to say

 This programme, under the Babishai Niwe Poetry Foundation, was launched on June 16th 2015, on The day of The African Child, to promote new spaces for children aged 4 to 12. Having visited and facilitated in many primary schools in Uganda, the Babishai Niwe Poetry Foundation noted a significant lack of African poetry for children. Babishai Poetriska is a toolkit divided into eleven adventures that emphasizes the use of the five human senses as a wholesome way of describing and articulating, builds on team-work and introspection to develop children individually and with others.
The busiest times are during the holidays. Over the Easter Weekend, Friday, Saturday and Monday, there were nine children who underwent the training. Ranging from 3 to 10, we articulated the five senses, compared colors to emotions, improvised with kites to determine the power of wind and had an impromptu spelling bee. This coupled with story-telling and composing their own poems, gave the children a real Babishai experience.

Daniella,one of the trainers
During the Babishai Poetry Festival which will take place from 24-2 August 2016, we will have an entire day for primary school children to perform in poetry and theater and hold a pan discussion, presenting their case for poetry.
We partner it hike-minded organizations like Malaika Educare, which is one of the largest mobile children’s libraries in Africa. With over on thousand children’s books for children in various towns, they ably deliver books to individual homes on a weekly basis.
This year on June 16th, The Day of The African Child, we will launch the Babishai Poetricks Leadership Academy for African Children Living in Africa. The main pillar of this academy is Creative Leadership Through Creative Readership. The target is African children from 4 to 12, living in Africa. We will be using the Babishai Poetricks toolkit, which is a proven workable creative method of nurturing the leaders that Uganda and Africa need.

Babishai Poericks time
The Babishai Niwe Poetry Foundation, founded by Beverley Nambozo Nsengiyunva, a writer editor, poet, long-distance swimmer, actress and leadership trainer, coordinates annual poetry competitions for Africans. This year, they introduced the Haiku competition, dubbed Babishaiku, they publish poetry by Africans, coordinate creative children’s programs, business programs, annual poetry festivals and poetry mentorship programs.


This year in June, Babishai is leading a team of creative explorers to the foothills of Mt. Rwenzori to hold a poetry session, launch a poetry collection and have a wide barbeque spread. Poetry on The Mountain is another annual event which Babishai will share with her audiences and friends.

The Babishai 2016 Festival runs from 24-26 August in Kampala. #Babishai2016
The Babishai 2017 Festival runs from 7-9 June in Kampala.  #Babishai2017

Tuesday, April 12, 2016


Paul Kisakye is an unapologetic Christian and author of recently published book, Prodigal Love: Embracing God’s Outrageous, Unconditional Love. He is consistent in his belief in God’s grace and power. 

Paul Kisakye (Courtesy photo)

Paul's book will be launched on 19th April at Papali on the Roof in Kampala-Bukoto. The entry fee of 30,000/- includes a copy of the book. Paul is also a guest at the #Babishai2016 poetry festival and will be part of a panel discussion on Christian writing and why he strongly believes that it’s not a hindrance to creativity.

1.       Paul, Congratulations on your recent book. Let’s start with Christian writing. You hold firm Christian beliefs. How flexible does that permit you to explore multiple themes in your writing and do you sometimes find yourself in positions of self-censorship?
I am a Christian, and I am a writer. I write for a living. I am a Christian writer in the same way a friend of mine is a Christian lawyer and another is a Christian surgeon. My beliefs influence my writing the same way my surgeon friend’s beliefs influence his work. About self-censorship, I rarely have to censor myself. I never have need to use profanity in my writing, and I know how to write a sexually explicit scene in a way that doesn’t make it feel dirty. I’ve written some stories that haven’t gone down well with some Christian friends of mine. But God liked them. And that’s what really matters.

2.       How would you feel towards a body of Christian writers supporting one another amidst the challenges in the literary fraternity?

That is long overdue. Most of us writers are semi-hermits. We forget that God created us to live in community. Community is important for our creativity. So I’d definitely join other Christian writers so we can support each other. As long as it’s safe and healthy.

3.       In three words, how would you describe your book?
Experience Unconditional Love.

prodigal Love: Embraing God's outrageous, unconditional love

4.       What are the most surprising responses you have received from this book, so far?

The pig! That pig on the cover has caused no small stir! I’ve enjoyed reading and listening to people speculate on why I chose to have a pig on the cover. Well, it’s mostly a picture of Jesus’ Parable of the Prodigal Son, which was the inspiration for the book. It also represents how most people think about their relationship with God. Most people feel like they are filthy pigs that God loves but can’t hug. A few people have said that the pig might keep away Muslim readers. But I’m not worried about that. I wrote this book for Christians. If only Christians learnt how much God loves them, this world would be a much better place.

5.       You sent a children’s poem for Babishai Poetricks last year. It’s going to be published in a poetry anthology which we’re producing. How often do you write poetry?

I mainly write prose. It comes naturally to me, whether I feel like writing or not. But for poetry, I have to be in a certain space. I haven’t yet figured out what kind of space that has to be. But the last time I wrote a poem was when someone died a few months ago.

6.       Which, in your opinion, is the best diet for poets?

Books. Lots of books. And a thesaurus and a rhyming dictionary (or Google). But for real food, anything that you fancy will do.

7.       What do you expect from the Babishai Poetry Festival?

I’m looking forward to having interesting, quirky conversations with the brilliant minds that this festival attracts.

8.       Any parting remarks?

Do you have a story burning to be told? Do you have a voice that must be heard? Then write. Because writing is no small calling. Otherwise, get back to your normal day job and save us the agony of watching our time being flushed down the toilet.

Thank you very much.
Babishai Festival will run from 24-26 August 2016 in Kampala.

Below are details of our two Babishai 2016 Poetry Competitions.

Saturday, April 9, 2016


Lantern Meet of Poets performed on Saturday 9th April, to what is arguably their best performance to-date. Poetry Will Warm Us, presented before the brimming audience at Uganda’s National Theatre, the show was spectacular, well coordinated and well thematised.

The writer with members of Lantern Meet of Poets

The writer with Sesanga Ernest

Carefully scripted poems by well-known poets like Surumani Manzi, Jason Ntaro, Guy Mambo, Elijag Wojji, Bagenda Remmy, Lillian Aujo, who won the 2009 BN Poetry Award and many others, were articulated with outstanding spoken word performances from an enthusiastic and talented cast. Poetry Will Warm Us was heart-warming and offered a reprieve from the familiar tones of anger, betrayal and mistrust towards political leadership and systems. The multi-facetedness of love has obviously not been exhausted.  Lantern Meet of Poets used three acts with various scenes where heterosexual couples vocalized their sexual lust in the most bizarre and wildly creative ways.

Cast on stage

With lines like, “Your silence is musical,” the production was a reminder that love has a million languages which  everyone can understand. The male characters, clad in black, used every overt gesture and description to flatter and pursue different ladies of their choice, the latter in white dresses and suits, each costume representing a single temperament, thought and feeling. Some men were fortunate enough to spend illicit time with the women but while the plot unfolded, their happiness was mostly short-lived, ending in a frustration that everyone in the audience knew only too well, with unrequited love. The background, set in a simple floral garden provided the simple setting for the theme. The tempo was earnest with incidences of dramatic duals for women, earnest desperation and neediness and plenty of humour. It was so frolicsome and yet believable, which only a performance with good direction can achieve. The entire cast moved as a single unit from one scene to the next, capitalizing on each strength. Surumani Manzi, one of Uganda’s most under-rated poets, burnished with several of his poems, carefully selected for the show, alongside his unforgettable performance. His use of the Shakespearean iambic pentameter style for one particular poem was impressive and while it’s encouraged to create one’s own style, one can appreciate that he is widely read.
The writer with Guy Mambo

The potency of the show was in the well-thematised structure, simple stage and costume, tightly woven stage direction and a time of 90 minutes, all of which were sufficient for the multiple ways to express passion, lust and unrequited love.

Lantern Meet of Poets is a brand. This show has the qualities to travel Africa. Audiences look forward to seeing them at the Babishai poetry Festival, from 24-26 August in Kampala, at the Storymoja Festival in Nairobi, at the Aké Festival in Nigeria and beyond. The show can be understood and enjoyed by all audiences and it would be Uganda’s privilege to experience Lantern Meet outside the National Theatre. With a young leadership whose faith in theatre and poetry is refreshing, it’s time for them to reach further.

The writer with one of the coordinators, Gloria Nanfuka
For details of the Babishai Poetry Festival and our two 2016 poetry competitions, visit us at or on twitter @BNPoetryAward.