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Uganda: 7th Regional African Female Writers Residency

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.

Karavan. Femrite. Swedish Institute
2018 African Female Writers Residency, Kampala Uganda.

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.

Women writers Africa
7th Regional African Female Writers team in Kampala, Uganda. February 2018.

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.

Glaydah Namkasa. Hadassah Louis
Glaydah Namkasa, Award winning African writer and I at renowned Gayaza Girls school in Kampala.

Uganda Women Writers activity
Brilliant girls at Gayaza Girls Secondary School, during a writing exercise where I tasked them to write from the perspective of a curtain. Very interesting and smart reading followed.

The student of Excel Millenium were so inspiring because they overcome so many challenges to get an education - especially a high rate of drop out from females due to discouraging circumstances even with opportunities of funding.

Full of life and the best students a teacher could ask for - Excel Millemium High School students and I.

I received love letters from Uganda. The Excel Millenmium students wrote me before leaving. All beautiful notes... Bless them.

I was there to motivate them to write from an Authors perspective and I graduated as their teacher. They deserve the best.

I know Angella will make a great journalist. Parents have to encourage their children and not block dreams. She didn't tell me this in person and I only read it after I had left the school.

There were also moments of self reflection during the residency. 

Uganda is a world away in performance art, honed together at Ndere Art center. 

Ndere Art Center, Kampala, Uganda.

Front row seats for everyone to watch amazing dances in the open arena.

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. 

Plantations where Mabira forest is supposed to be. A beauty but a forest is always better.

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

candlelight in glass
Photo credit: Hadassah Louis

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