Adjei Agyei-Baah is the co-founder of the African Haiku Network, editor of Mamba Journal on Haikus, judge of the #Babishai2016 Babishaiku Competition and guest at the #Babishai2016

Adjei Pic 2
Babishai is so pleased that you took up the position as judge for our inaugural Haiku competition, or Babishaiku. As the co-founder of the Africa Haiku Network, which you co-founded with Emmanuel Jessie Kalusian, you hold strong values connecting Haiku to African language. Share a few please.

Yes, Africa can ‘nativise’, and even translate and write haiku in our widely spoken indigenous languages like Swahili/ Kiswahili etc… in order to become part of our literature thought at schools and colleges. But I think connecting haiku to only our language would display a limited role and benefit and would be appropriate if extended to embrace our culture and values in its entirety. In fact, I still see haiku among the less explored arts that Africa can take advantage of in telling her story. Its brevity and power of delight can easily cause people to stop and read,especially in this technological age where people have limited time,to read lengthy texts and images generated by the various applications and social media platforms. In such situation, haiku then becomes a teaser or bait to entice people to pause and read for a moment.

     Surely, haiku can be used to record our daily observations and happenings in our environment. For instance the haiku below captures the pitiful sight of the deplorable state most Africa’s railway networks, which presently have their tracks going rusty, compared to the advanced Germany’s Sky and Japan’s Bullet Trains, which travel at lightning speed:

         end of road—/railway truck runs/ into earth

        And by this simple haiku, awareness can be created for people in authority to give such as   state the needed attention or becomes a call toinvestors to come downto salvage the    situation:


Similarlya haiku can be used to tell Africa’shistory to the generation yet to come, be it good or bad. In the haiku below, I share a rich historical experience with readers on my visit to the Cape Coast Castle in Ghana (formerly called the Gold Coast), where the colonial masters left forts and castles as colonial monuments after the collapse of slave trade that have become haunting structures of terror showcasing to some of the atrocities committed against the black race.


On top of these castles, remain their planted cannons, mockingly acting as sign-posts, pointing the direction were they came in and the route where they exited:


castle cannons― /pointing where/ their owners gone by


Indeed, haiku as art has so many benefits to Africa but would prefer to speak extensively about it some other time to come.


The Mamba Journal is Africa’s first single Haiku publication. How have audiences responded to it so far?


Response have been so far great, in fact we received congratulatory messages from almost all international haiku journal editors/ founders like Shamrock, Heron’s Nest, Cat tails, Paper Wasp, Modern Haiku etc. and other haiku societies and lovers around the world. In fact, they were happy for our feat, in finding Africa a spot on the world haiku map. But from Africa have been few messages since the haiku art is not much known and even seasoned poets and academic institution have not been practicing it. Prof. Wole Soyinka was happy about our historic breakthrough and sent us his first haiku which we hope to publish in our 2nd edition, if he grants us permission.

Do you write Haiku in any other language apart from English?

Yes, I have often translated my haiku into my mother tongue, Twi, the widest spoken language in Ghana. Fortunately for me, some of my haiku(s) have also been translated into Japanese, Romania, Russia, French and German. But I have the intention of translating my upcoming collection “Afriku” into Swahili and other international languages such as French, Spanish and Chinese for these countries to also experience and appreciate our unique seasons and settings outside their own.

Ghana is heavily invested in the arts. Which arts and culture events do you always attend while there, and why?

I am devotee of poetry and spoken word, for I see these two art as channels to create social awareness, as a means of talking about the corruption and bribery in high places, the church taking advantage of poor, the commoner overburdened with taxes and also as a mean of providing entertainment to ward off our daily stress.


How important is it, in your opinion, to conduct poetry competitions for Africans living in   Africa?


It is a smart way of telling the African story by Africans themselves to their unborn generations, rather than leaving it in the hands of foreigners who may record it with ugliness. It’s like making an effort to define oneself before someone else does it for him.


      You have been a judge before for a Haiku competition. Describe that experience.
Nope, this is my first time, but would say as a co-editor and aficionado of haiku, I have regularly been mentoring and editing chunk haiku everyday. The difficult part has always been sending a “rejection” mail to a submitter, it has always been quite hard. You have go about it in a “fine” way so as not extinguish the feeble fire of first-timers. Most at times too, there are friends, who want to take advantage of their friendship with you, to force you to accept “anything” they pen as haiku for publication. And here is where I stand my grounds, since a good editor need to be a bit ruthless, so as to separate the chaffs from the grain.

Do you use Haiku to woo women?

Eish… I wish I could but not in its wrong sense but would rather want to entice them with it. In fact when it comes to haiku in Africa, its rather unfortunate that only few women are doing it.On the international scene, I can only point two heads, Celestine Nudanu (from Ghana) and Nshai Waluzimba (from Zambia) who are devotees and have received commendation for some of their haiku pieces.

What diet is best for poets, in your opinion?

Hmmm, this is quite a tough one. Honestly I am stuck here. But I will recommend any food that ward-off stress and make them stay up refreshed at night and write their heart out.


At the Babishai Poetry Festival this year, what three things do you expect?

I expect to meet new young African poets, not the same old faces we already know. A little freshness, will surely spice up the show. I hope to see a lot of books, more especially anthologies to get know of what is happening in the world of poetry in other Africa countries, most especially from East Africa. I think my people back home will be delighted to know about it and will as well love to witness some performances which I will personally love to perform one or two poems from my upcoming collection “Embers of Fireflies”.

Any parting remarks?

Thanks for this opportunity to share my thoughts with the world, in my quest to promote Africa to find her rightful place of the World haiku map.



Thank you
The #Babishai2016 poetry festival runs from 24-26 August in Kampala. Contact us at



Babishai Poetricks is a poetry adventure toolkit for children, a memorable and adventurous way for children to discover their creative potential, mainly through poetry, poetic devices and spoken word. It’s the largest program under the Babishai Niwe Poetry Foundation, which runs the annual poetry award for Africans and also publishes poetry.


Babishai Poetricks training in Kampala-December 2015


A society of children and youth using poetry and spoken word to articulate, communicate and create.


To increase the reading and creating of poetry amongst children and youth in Africa


To promote creative writing, speaking, listening and reading
To increase the reading and creating of poetry
To encourage artistic and creative and stimulating verbal and non-verbal interaction amongst children and youth
To motivate children to appreciate and respect others and their differences through deeper analysis of poetry and spoken word


Several years ago, after the first BN Poetry Award, the school tours began. Visiting schools in Uganda like GreenHill Academy, Kitante Hill, Gayaza High School, Rainbow International School, Kabojja International School, Mengo Senior Secondary School, Kampala International School Uganda, the experiences, however varied, taught valuable lessons about children and poetry. Babishai Poetricks is a summation of all this.


The Babishai Poetricks toolkit

This is a collection of exercises developed over many visits to schools. The exercises are creative ways of developing a child’s maximum creative potential. Through the various adventures, a child is able to

Observe and describe
Tell a story
Compose a poem through using a new image
Articulate their individual desires
Affirm themselves and others
Work in a team

There are three ways the Babishai Poetricks trainings are run:-

We conduct Trainer of Trainers for teachers, children’s facilitators, parents and interested individuals. This trainings build the capacity of the trainer, enabling them to use this toolkit and train children. Only certified trainers will be permitted to train under the toolkit and must always present their certificate. Their names will also appear on our website and database for verification.

For schools that have vast numbers we offer the trainings ourselves. We offer trainings for the 11 adventures. It is not an exercise where marks are given but rather a set of creative life-skills whose experiences are shared and analysed to build the child as an individual. Its aim is for a creative literary experience.

There are holiday programs for interested parents who desire their children to be part of the Babishai Poetricks experience. Each child will then join the Babishai Poetricks Family and their names will appear on our database. With permission, on our website as well.

Afterwards, we hold a mini graduation where the children challenge the adults or teachers

One-year goal:

To share the Babishai Poetricks experience in 10 primary schools in Uganda, 10 secondary schools, 10 universities and 10 community spaces (Targeted areas are Kampala, Kabale, Wakiso and Kasese)
To build a database and website specifically for Babishai Poetricks training information, testimonials, images and future plans
To train 20 trainers in Uganda
To form a fully fledged staff
To acquire office space
To produce a fully fledged toolkit
To produce a children’s poetry section in mainstream media
To produce a children’s and youth’s poetry publication of avant-garde, fresh voices, voices that challenge the status quo

Five year goal:

To Train at least 50 trainers each in Kenya, Cameroon, Nigeria and South Africa
To build the Babishai Poetricks Family of children in the above-mentioned countries and reach approximately 500 children per country.


Teacher Rinju, Director of Big Bear Kindergarten:
“This training of training was extremely helpful, practical, very interactive and enables children to really think.”

Teacher Joyce, Proprietor of Big Bear Kindergarten:
“This is so important because it helps teachers to learn various adaptations to use in their classroom exercises. It is so much broader than what our teacher-centered system provides. It’s a true experience.

Douglas: Former student of Kitante Hill
I’m a poet and this has given me a lot of encouragement. Thanks for visiting our school. Now I know that I can continue with my dream.

Victoria Kisarale, Gayaza High School:
This program offers many opportunities for our girls and we’re very excited about it.

Mbabazi Mpuga: GEMS Cambridge International School
Thanks very much. Our children’s minds have been broadened and we enjoy poetry in the fuller and deeper sense! We had an activity where we put an image on the board and the kids used their imagination to write poetry the result was WOW!!!

I look forward to hearing from you

Beverley Nambozo Nsengiyunva
Director BN Poetry Foundation
Tel: +256 751 703226


The Launch of Babishai Poetricks, 16th June 2015


On 16 June, The Day of The African Child, we launched #babishaipoetricks, the children’s poetry adventure toolkit. Babishai Poetricks is the largest program under the Kampala based Babishai Niwe Poetry Foundation. The Foundation runs the annual BN Poetry Award and publishes poetry.

poetricks family

Big Bear Kindergarten Kampala, June 16th 2015-The Day of The African Child

Babishai Poetricks is a toolkit captured in eleven adventures, each of which increases a child’s ability to reach the highest creative and literary potential. By using very interactive exercises, a child engages in creative listening, speaking, describing and introspection. Each exercise enables a child to freely analyse their environments and relate them to their personalities, thus bringing a deeper understanding of themselves. Once they do this, their abilities to use poetry and prose to illustrate and observe are highly sharpened.

Currently, we are conducting Training of Trainers in Uganda and trainings within schools. These are charged at a reasonable fee, given the life-changing exercises. We will also train in Kenya, Cameroon, Nigeria and South Africa for the first three years. The Babishai Poetricks toolkit, produced by Beverley Nambozo Nsengiyunva, Ugandan writer, poet and Founder of the Babishai Niwe Poetricks Foundation is a program that is timeless, memorable and is the essential means for children to grow from where they are to where they can be.

poetricks family

Launching at Big Bear Kindergarten, Ntinda

Teacher Joyce, who underwent a Training of Trainers says,

“This is so important because it helps teachers to learn various adaptations to use in classroom exercises. It is so much broader than what our teacher-centered system provides. It’s a true experience.”

Teachers, Parents and schools are particularly going to benefit from this model as they witness their children growing into articulate and confident wordsmiths, poets, speakers and individuals. Many thanks to Ayodele Olofintuade, a writer from Nigeria and Paul Kisakye, a writer from Uganda, for contributing their invaluable poetry to this toolkit.

Pictures from first Poetricks in Kampala, 2015.


Beverley Nambozo Nsengiyunva
Head Trainer and Director Babishai Niwe Poetry Foundation
Tel: +256 751 703226