Mukoma Wa Ngugi

Mukoma Wa Ngugi gives his keynote

Sunday was the final day of the Writivism Festival 2015. The day when we would be knowing the winner of this year’s Short Story Prize winner. Before that huge announcement, there were several activities at the National Theatre in Kampala, Uganda.

The keynote address in the late afternoon would be given by Mukoma Wa Ngugi and it would be What is the future for Writing in African Languages? It was introduced by Daniel Ronald Ruhweza with Mukoma in conversation with Bernard Tabaire. Mukoma has a history with languages; one of the members of his family decided that they will be writing in only one African language with a small audience. On his own part he is the driving force, with a friend, behind the Mabati Cornell Prize for Swahili a prize for those who write in the most popular language in East Africa.
His address explored the whole discussion about how we all seem to have decided that African literature started with Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart in 1958. Our South African relatives were already writing in Xhosa (I’m laughing at my fellow Kenyans saying “Kosa” here) and being translated in the early 1900s. They include AC Jordan who wrote Ingqumbo Yezinyanya (The Wrath of the Ancestors) in 1940. He was also honest enough to state that he wouldn’t insist that Africans write in African languages as he himself didn’t.

Talking about African there was an interesting presentation called Ubuntu Conversations featuring Prof Babuuzibwa Luutu Mukasa, the Vice Chancellor of Marcus Garvey Pan Afrikan University. This university is where Afrikan indigenous knowledge is studied, packaged in a non-Western wholesome way including in Afrikan languages. Prof Mukasa is also a clan leader and elder in Buganda. He spoke to those who attended how Afrikology has become an important epistemological revolution.

The master classes of the day were Short Fiction facilitated by Ukamaka Olisakwe and Literary Criticism facilitated by Aaron Bady.

This day also had readings galore; it was literary festival after all au sio? Some of them included one of the current Writivism Anthology that featured the reading talents of Dayo Ntwari, Pemi Aguda, Adeola Opeyemi, Jane Kalu and Moses Kilolo. Also doing a reading from Nervous Conditions were Tsitsi Dangarembga and Karen Mukwasi.

The panels included How does African Erotica and Romance look like? – featuring Stella Nyanzi, Zukiswa Wanner and Moses Kilolo. It was facilitated by Nana Darkoa Sekyiamaha. The biggest draw on the day was obviously Stella Nyanzi who is not only a university professor but the Cabu Gah of writing about relationships on her Facebook.

The evening ended with the big announcement of the winner of the Writivism Short Story Prize 2015 with song, poetry, speeches and more.