The BN Poetry Award’s Esteemed MC, Sophia Aniku

A starless night, a breeze and a poetry home, brimming with minds agog with excitement. In August 2009, we launched the BN Poetry Award, at a lavish dinner in Kampala City. This award, an annual celebration of Ugandan women’s poetry, soared into the constellation, a new belief in poetry by Ugandan women. Like any event, Mcs, hosts and Chief guests, are often the cement of any occasion.

Sophia Aniku: (All photos by Buyondo)

Sophia Aniku with guests.

Cross section of guests from the arts, corporate and academic sector.

Sophia, a radio and television and radio personality who also manages a fashion house of Ankara and other well-sought after African clothing, was there to witness the first award-giving dinner of the BN poetry Award. She not only participated as a witness but she indulged us in her enviable gift of MC-ing. With Sophia, she emits charisma, confidence and elegance effortlessly. Always one to hold herself to high standards and employ admirable work ethics to her tasks, the BN Poetry Team, was highly blest to have her.

During a recent interview with her in celebration of ten years, Sophia reflected with alacrity and humor.


Interviewer:  Sophia, what stood out on that evening of August 2009, during the launch of the BN Poetry



Sophia:          For me, it felt like when you’re building a fire and you start with that first spark, and you    know that there will be additional wood. It was definitely something that would grow over time. It was our little secret. People’s minds and spirits were tuned to that moment. It was intimate, quiet and special. People took it all in.


Interviewer:      You have emceed at three of our BN Poetry award-giving dinners. For each of those times, what was a constant factor?


Sophia:                 The participants wanted to take ownership of it. They brought their families, interns fully participated and I do recall telling Stella Nyanzi to be quiet at one of those memorable evenings. There was such rich diverse members of the audiences, in age as well. The momentum kept building.

Dr. Stella Nyanzi at the 2009 BN Poetry Award.

Interviewer:      You’ve worked and lived around Africa, Is there any insight into the poetry scene?

Sophia:                 In Abuja, House 33, there is a space owned by a playwright and screen play writer of Blood Diamond. This house provided opportunity for artists to come and express their work. He encouraged hard-core exchanges with passionate artists. Those kind of people should work with Babishai across the continent.


Interviewer:      Whom do you think should read our children’s books?

Sophia:                 The children’s books are fabulous. Children need this very type of stimulation. The orgnic experience can be found in books.

Congratulations, Babishai. We are reaping the depth of the galaxy of poetry. We are our own sonnets. Babishai is the sonnet. The song to the word.




Thank you Sophia



Poetry in Uganda, shall set the tone for policy and growth for the next few decades. There is intractable evidence in every space of the great nation of Uganda, that the calamity that has befallen us; that the apathy that we are cornered into, SHALL be replaced by poetry. The Babishai Niwe Poetry Foundation team, that has been promoting Ugandan and African poetry for a decade; experienced yet another unforgettable moment of poetry.

Ugandan poets gathered at the Babishai 2019 Poetry festival evening at Femrite offices.

The strength of a poet lies not in the verses, but in the willpower to create and make change. When a poet rises to speak against all odds, about the weeping that never ends, from dark sunsets and bloodied rivers of political distress and gory childhoods, then change shall come.

The 2009, BN Poetry Award, Rt. Honourable Rebecca Kadaga as Chief guest.  Policy makers who will change through poetry.

Harriet Anena, winner of the 2018 Wole Soyinka Prize for Literature and author of poetry collection, ‘A Nation in Labour,’ is a gift to us all. With her indescribably gifted cast, Oyenbot and Amaru, the trio replaced all doubts about the harsh reality, when they delivered an outstanding, unforgettable and powerfully creative poetry and theatre performance in June. The performance, titled ‘Footprints of Memory,’ was one of the most crucial declarations through art. Taking the audience through semi-chronological episodes of our history and herstory, pointing at the places where our governance and our indifference have left children, mothers and unsuspecting men dead. The trio interpreted the National Anthem, through the eyes, ears and heart of a child, a lost one and one who is befuddled by it all. There was excellent musical accompaniment too, which magnified the glamour of the stage. With guest poets, Bint and Kagayi, the production, directed by the most talented Deborah Asiimwe, was one which truly deserves to be translated into a 100 languages and retold in 100 countries.

Courtesy photo

Audiences all over the world will understand the gravity of the subject, will be able to empathize and internalize. The production was a fundraiser for Harriet’s fees towards her Masters of Fine Art in creative Writing at Columbia University. The Babishai Poetry team, believes, without a doubt, that she will go, she will excel and she will be an icon of poetry from Uganda.

The Babishai poetry foundation team in Mbale, 2018