The hype towards the Writivism Festival 2015 happening in Kampala, Uganda has been intense with good reason. We love the idea of activism to get the writing gospel out there and this is one of the most innovative vehicles for African writers out there.
This blogger arrived early Tuesday morning after a bus journey from Nairobi which had some of the coolest folks you can find yourself with; the Kenyan delegation. After a hilarious pause at the border which happened when an officer decided that our two small boxes with books would be disruptive to the Uganda book market. This was extremely disturbing as if a few little boxes would disturb the whole book market in the Pearl of Africa then it can’t be a very serious business.
For those who are in Kampala, people are flying in from all points to join you. They will be eating your food, drinking your beer (and waragi), touring your sights, trying to get jiggy with your sons and daughters, and generally being writers having a blast. I suggest that you take advantage of their presence here, in a good way of course, by attending some of the events lined out for the few days from Wednesday to Sunday.
On Wednesday which is day one, there are several events happening. They kick off with an exhibition at the National Theatre as well as Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi touring the St Kizito SS, Bugolobi. If you want to see if the Commonwealth Short Story Prize and Kwani Manuscript Winner knows her way around a blackboard and chalk after her many years in fancy Manchester then you want to head out to St Kizito.
Maisha Gardens will be the home of the first master class of the festival with Nyana Kakoma the blogger behind So Many Stories one of our favourite literary blogs and Kenyan blogger James Murua presenting a class on how to build your blog. I am informed that the presentation will be really cool so try and make it if you are in the general area.
The other masterclass of the day will be on editing and that one will be conducted by Carol Beyanga from the same venue. For those who want to know how the basics besides, “I” before “e” except after “c” this is the master class for you. It promises to be intense as Beyanga is the managing editor of The Daily Monitor a job she only got at the age of 36 so you know she knows what she is talking about. This event will be happening at 2 pm at the same venue.
When 4 pm rolls around, anyone with their right mind won’t stupidly be sitting at the National Theatre bar drinking waragi gin and tonic water. The smart folks will be at the panel discussion at the Maisha Garden where they will listen to Ikhide Ikheloa, Michela Wrong, and Mukoma Wa Ngugi talking about how a journalist transitions to a non-fiction writer. Pa Ikhide is the gentleman who manages http://xokigbo.com/ one of the most formidable literary spaces run by an African. If you want long reads with serious critical thinking with a focus on the literary then he is your man. Michela Wrong is very popular in Kenya, Eritrea, and DR Congo as she wrote these wonderful non-fiction books that pissed off the leadership in those countries. In Kenya, her book It’s Our Turn To Eat was so popular that some not-so-smart loudmouths threatened her if she dared come on Kenyan soil. If you want to scare someone coming to Kenya don’t threaten them with death and destruction; threaten them with having to wade through a flooded Nairobi without galoshes aka gumboots. No one will want anyone of that.
Finally, Mukoma Wa Ngugi is a university professor, writer, and lover of African languages specifically Kiswahili. He loves it so much that he and a friend started a prize for those who write in it. With that panel, you need to be arrested if you are in Kampala and you dared miss it. Seriously what is wrong with you?
At 6 pm, there will be a keynote address given by Tsitsi Dangarembga called Are Women Dominating the African Literary Scene as the action moves to Makerere University. She will be introduced by Prof Sylvia Tamale and in conversation with Angelo Izama. If I have to tell you who Tsitsi Dangarembga is then I suggest that you leave this blog immediately and never come back. I’m not kidding. Two of her colleagues are from Makerere University.
In the evening at 8 pm also at the Makerere University, you get some really cool action as Nana Darkoa Sekyiamah and Paula Akugizibwe will be giving you a peak into the bedrooms of African women. Nana is one of the people behind the blog Adventures from the Bedrooms of African Women while Paula is with the Makerere University. Yes, ladies and gentlemen. It’s not just wearing mothers union and waiting for the husband late with weapons happening there. There is something more sinister happening; women with sexual feelings and stuff. You know you don’t want to miss this. I know I don’t.
After this intensive program there may be drinking. A lot of it.
So ladies and gentlemen, ssebos and nyabos let’s meet at the different venues tomorrow.
P.s. This blog has been written by the blogger as they sat at the Terrace 882 in Kampala as he drank a cold Bell lager (or four) and prepared himself mentally for the epic next few days. Thus there will be errors. As usual.