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Dr. Connie Nshemereirwe is a seasoned toastmaster, an educationist and scholar, challenging the status quo of the Ugandan education system. She will be participating in the Babishai 2016 Poetry festival Toastmasters challenge on 25 August at Maria’s Place in Ntinda, in an intellectual battle of words.


How long have you been a member of Kampala Toastmasters and what significant change has it made on your life?

I have been a member of the Kampala Toastmasters Club since April 2015, and before that I was a member of the Twente Toastmasters In The Netherlands, which I joined in October 2012.

Toastmasters has made a great difference in my life. It has made me a much more confident speaker, more structured, and given me the tools to prepare for any public speaking engagement in a much more purposeful fashion.

When you think of Ugandan poetry,  what comes to mind? 

You know, I don’t know much about Ugandan Poetry! Someone recently reached a hand into my parents’ bookshelf and produced a dusty book of poems written by Ugandans in the 1970s, and I hadn’t known it was there until then (I’ll provide a title when I remember). Beyond that, I can only think of the Babishai Poetry Foundation. A quick Google search also reminded me of Song of Lawino. And of late I have been exposed to some spoken word artists (who I think are fantastic!) But I don’t really know much about poetry. Regrettably, I think.

The Babishai Poetry Festival is going to host the first Toastmasters challenge. A battle of words between poets and public speakers. As a competitor,  how will you prepare for the challenge? 

I will prepare as usual, only I will try to be even more creative than usual, using my  body, my voice, my eyes, everything! I plan on speaking with more than just my words because I think those poets will be hard to beat! 🙂

Do you feel that professionals in the work space need to interact more with poets? 

The little interaction that I have had with poets, especially the spoken word artists, and some of the poems I read in that dusty old book of poems, leads me to believe that we would all be better off with more poetry in our lives. Poetry helps one’s brain and senses expand, poetry can carry some deep messages about society’s evils but can also reveal the beauty in society. I really think that not being exposed to poetry is a big loss to anyone.

How important is an education that includes creative arts? 

I think it would be invaluable! Humans are such multifaceted beings, and education should seek to touch and polish each of those facets; further, I think we lose a lot of creative potential by not exposing all children to the creative arts, and that is a loss not only to them but to society

Any parting remarks? 

I’m really looking forward to the “word-off”, if I’m honest! Somewhat apprehensive but up to the challenge! I think it s a great initiative,  good job! 🙂


Thank you Connie

The Babishai Poetry Festival runs from 24-26 August at Maria’s Place in Ntinda.

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#Babishai2016 Poetry Festival 24-26 August 2016 at Maria’s Place in Ntinda

The #Babishai2016 Poetry Festival, 24 to 26 August 2016 at Maria’s Place in Ntinda, opposite Froebel stage, near Victory City Church

The Babishai 2016 Poetry Festival is scheduled to take place from 24 to 26 August  at Maria’s Place in Ntinda, opposite Froebel stage, near Victory City Church. The main theme of the festival is Abundance: Poetry From Contemporary Africa. There are six sub-themes mainly:-

  1. Does poetry from Africa need a definition and how does that impact its production?
  2. The extension of poetry and the sustainability of relationships with artists and the corporate world
  3. If poetry exists everywhere, why do so many people say that they don’t understand it?
  4. When and how does a poem become a poem?
  5. The co-existence of political and personal freedom and bondage
  6. Teaching poetry to children and the question of age-appropriate poetry and its accessibility

The festival will begin at 9:00am daily and end at 5:00pm.

Entry fee is 5,000/- daily for adults and free for children.