The Jalada Mobile Festival has been visiting cities around East Africa bringing its unique view of the African literary scene on its festival bus. RICHARD ALI who is travelling with the caravan gives us his view from Kampala, Uganda.
The Jalada Mobile Festival (hashtag #JaladaFestival) is now in Kampala with the festival bus arriving at the Ugandan capital early Saturday morning on March 11.
Jalada’s first engagement was the Literary Masterclass which saw eager Ugandan writers and would-be writers interact with an expert in literature, Margaret Nanfuka Mbalule, a lecturer at Makerere University. The masterclass was in three sessions of about an hour long, with Ms. Mbalule engaging the audience on the basics of creative writing, the importance of perspective as well as translation and semantics. Classwork was given and work-shopped. The masterclass concluded at about 1 pm.
The evening session was organised with the Uganda Women Writer’s Association also known as FEMRITE. The topic of the panel discussion was “Dispelling the Language of Silence (Un-silencing)”. It was chaired by FEMRITE’s Hilda Twongyeirwe and had four panellists. Dominica Dipio is an English literature professor at Makerere with research interests cutting across folklore and film. She is also a sister belonging to the Missionary Congregation of Mary Mother of Christ. Charles Batambuze is Executive Secretary of the National Book Trust of Uganda while Peace Twino Kyamureku is a gender and human rights expert. The fourth panellist, Barbara Oketta, is a novelist, translator and freelance editor. Hilda gave an introduction, speaking about women’s voices and the tenor of proverbs and the similar social constructs that seek to control women’s voices. “If silence is a woman’s best garment,” she asked, at what point do we get bold and challenge this silence, and say enough is enough? A wide ranging discussion followed with various perspectives on gender and femininity and patriarchy, whether and how if necessary men should be factored into gender agitation or not, and more. The floor was then opened to questions from the engaged audience including poet Harriet Anena.
The event was well attended by Ugandans of all ages and ideological backgrounds. It closed with a vote of thanks by Wanjeri Gakuru of Jalada and poetry performances mostly in Luganda and other native Ugandan languages.