Only a month after my trip to the Internet Governance Forum in Geneva, I traveled to Uganda for the 7th Regional African Female Writers Residency hosted by Femrite Uganda Women Writers, Karavan (a Swedish Anthropology) and sponsored by the Swedish Institute.
The 10 day workshop was held in Kampala city and offered 11 female novelists from across Africa an opportunity to think about their stories and write. I was one of the eleven, the youngest participant at 23 years old and indeed, the only participant originally from Southern Africa.
It was even more amazing to be mentored on my fantasy novel by the kind award-winning Zambian literati Ellen Banda Aaku. We also had great reviewing sessions with Karavan representatives Birgitta Wallin, Kerstin Norborg and Erik Falk. And our lovely host from Femrite Hilda Twongyeirwe ushered the whole team together.
The best teachers were fellow female writers who continue to overcome a world of adversity from personal lives to the environment and yet persevere and write. These women do not give chance to obstacles and deserve the world. Dr. Mercy Ntangaare hosted us at our house. My only regret was not visiting Makerere University where she lectures.
My favourite part of the residency was the school outreaches, where we went out to encourage girls to write. I learned a lot from the humility of Ugandan award winning writer Glaydah Namkasa who was part of the team encouraging girls to write and chase their literary dreams at Gayaza Girls Secondary School and Excel Millenium High School.
I received love letters from Uganda. The Excel Millenmium students wrote me before leaving. All beautiful notes... Bless them.
There were also moments of self reflection during the residency.
Uganda is a world away in performance art, honed together at Ndere Art center.
And the true adventure was with great feminist poet Arinda Daphine when we ziplined across Mabhira forest. And drove through a plantation in the rain.
And what better way to end the female writers residency than by sharing poetry, tales and folk music at a candle-lit dinner under the full moon, seconds to midnight. FEMRITE FOREVER.