The Babishai Poetry Festival 2017 was hosted in Uganda from August 4-6, 2017.
There was a sea of activity in Uganda as the world of African poetry was focused on the East African country. They were there for the third edition of the Babishai Poetry Festival which was started in Kampala in 2015 as an addendum to the popular Babishai Niwe Poetry Award. That prize was founded in 2008 by Kampala resident and was aimed at shining a light on women’s poetry in that country. The prize succeeded so much that they opened it to all Africans when they discovered that there was dearth of opportunities for all African poets.
This year, the festival was hosted in several venues including in the town of Mabira 60 kilometres from the capital, as well as at the Maisha lab, and Femrite offices. The event kicked off with a Facebook live chat with Philippa Namutebi Kabali-Kagwa and fans got a chance to meet the poet behind the book Flame And Song. She shared some of her father Henry Barlow’s and her poetry while she shared the things that influenced her work. Check out the Facebook Live below.
This Facebook Live was followed to typical literary festival fare with panels, book launches, performances and workshops which were aimed at helping those wanted to learn the craft as well as a prize giving ceremony. The workshops were run by Oswald Okaitei, the 2016 Ghanaian spoken word artiste of the year, Mbizo Chirasha of Zimbabwe and leading Ugandan poet, performer and trainer Kagayi Peter who launched his collection in The Headline That Morning last year.
The books being launched included When Children Dare to Dream a children’s poetry and story anthology, compiled and edited by Kariuki wa Nyamu and Beverley Nambozo Nsengiyunva. Illustrations by John Gibu. That event was emceed by BN Poetry 2013 winner and Director of Sophia Muwanika Institute Rashida Namulondo and Babishai Poetry director Beverley Nambozo Nsengiyunva. Also launching wasn’t one book but a whole raft of books as the African Poetry Library was launched at the 32 Degrees East/Ugandan Art Trust in Kansanga.
The panel discussions included one at the Femrite offices, Kamwokya and there was a discussion of the Babishai 2017 shortlisted haikus, led by Isaac Tibasiima, literary critic and scholar from Makerere University.
Its poets so you know that there would be radical performances from adults as well as from children. One of these was hosted out of town Mabira while others were as well as at Uganda Museum, Maisha Garden, and at the Humura Resort Kitante. The last event was the closing ceremony evening on Sunday August 6. They were from diverse performers including the aforementioned Ghanaian poet Oswald Okaitei, Tontoma Poetry Jazz, Kitaka Alex, Rashida Namulondo, Wake the Poet, Agaba Ivan, Caesar Obong.
That last event included that announcement of the winner of this year’s Babishai’s Haiku Prize who is Kenyan Kariuki wa Nyamu.
Below are some sights from the festival courtesy of our friends at Babishai Niwe Foundation.