Tsitsi Dangarembga
Tsitsi Dangarembga

*Jeff Koinange voice* What a day! What a series of master classes! What a panel! What a speech by the one and only TSISTI DANGAREMBGA! The Tsitsi of Nervous Conditions! The Tsitsi of Neria! Oh my! What a smokin’ day of Writivism Festival 2015! Someone call G4S!*ends voice narration*

Day one of the Writivism Festival has quickly flown by at our Kampala headquarters with the events in the Maisha Gardens and the Makerere University that this blogger attended.

The first part of the day was started with two master classes at the Maisha Gardens. While I am not sure about the history of the grounds and there is no Google where I am currently writing this, I suggest that this place was associated with Mira Nair the famous director of the movie Mississippi Masala (Denzel Washington baby!). She has been famously doing the Maisha Film Lab for those who want to be the next generation of film icons from the continent including the currently superphenom that is Lupita Nyong’o.

The first master class was conducted by Nyana Kakoma (So Many Stories) and James Murua (JamesMurua.com) who were giving tips on the way you can make your blog survive in the world we live today. It was, really it was, an engaging debate where the people who might have been interested in knowing more practical tips. Where they could, those running the session got the input of the participants and everyone left satisfied. (The person writing this blog was one of the folks conducting this master class, you can’t expect him to say it was completely poo would you?).

The next master class of the day was run by Carol Beyanga the managing editor of The Daily Monitor newspaper and hers was on editing. This blogger didn’t attend it as I was lined up waiting for a Rolex treat most of the time but I got some feedback from some of the people who joined me in the line after the session. At time I was probably on my third or four Rolex, a man’s gotta eat hey, and here was their verdict. They appreciated the session. The only flaw was that they thought that the session would be talking about editing your prose but this brilliant woman concentrated on telling the how to edit stories in journalism for newspapers. I might have missed their full feedback as while they spoke, I was busy stuffing myself with the Rolex.

So you don’t know the Rolex, pronounced Rorex, is? So it’s this snack that involves the following ingredients; an egg, a chapati and some veggies. So what they do is that they fry the egg with the veggies into some sort of Ugandan omelette. They then take this with the pre-cooked chapati and then roll it together and you have it to eat.

With my gut filled with Rolex, I was able to listen to the panel of Ikhide Ikheloa, Michela Wrong and Mukoma Wa Ngugi. The three of them were to do a panel on, How to transition from journalism to writing Non-fiction. The famous journalist on that panel was Michela who worked with Reuters before she wrote her three famous non-fiction books. Mukoma was an assistant editor for the famous Pambazuka magazine before writing his prose, poetry and non-fiction. Then there was Ikhide who is from the Internet. As in really.

So how do you think the panel run ran by Carol Beyanga who looked fabulous in black shoes that looked like they might be biting her feet, squeeze and shine style? It started initially on the whole transitioning from journalism to non-fiction and people tried but the panel turned steadily into the form of African literature. We discussed Taiye Selasie and her famous “there is no African literature” essay. We discussed on why we insist on the African literature from the 1950s when South African writers were writing books from the 1880s to the 1940s. We discussed about the need to stop about the labels and just do the work. We spoke about how the different genres of writing bleed into each other. We spoke about Facebook and Twitter and how they are spawning the new unadulterated opinions and how they cannot be ignored as we get into the new space in the literature world.

Then there was Tsitsi Dangarembga who was giving a keynote address about “Are women dominating African literature?” at the Makerere University later in the evening. This was an address which was introduced by Prof Sylvia Tamale and in conversation with Angelo Izama. The question was whether African literature was being dominated by women now. Tsitsi gave a measure lecture inferring from the past and the today. Her verdict? The women are kicking major literature butt in this day; my words of course. I don’t really see Tsitsi saying “kicking butt” willy nilly.

The day of women’s domination ended with Nana Darkoa telling us about her experience with managing the blog Adventures from the Bedrooms of African Women in conversation with Paula Akugizibwe a Kigali, Rwanda based scientist. I have to confess that I enjoyed this session immensely. Nana started this blog so that that African women’s bedrooms have a space and she and we have benefited from it. She is not an expert but someone curious about what happens behind closed door.

With this session ending, the day’s program ended and a couple of us ended up at the Sky Lounge where mojitos and club beers were drunk. A good day.

P.S. The Writivism Team needs to up their food and time game but apart from that this has been an amazing festival so far.