21-25 MARCH, 2019



Sarah Marione Ijangolet Akol is the Social Media Manager and Graphics Designer at Babishai Niwe Poetry Foundation.

Sarah is an artist and graphics designer based in Kampala, Uganda, proficient in traditional painting but choosing digital art as a medium of expression – including the design of wearable art in the form of t-shirts and other casual apparel.

Having developed and cultivated a passion for art from a young age, Sarah studied fine art in O and A level at Mt St Mary’s Namagunga and Gayaza High School respectively, and attained a Bachelor’s Degree of Industrial and Fine Art at Uganda Christian University, Mukono in 2017. In 2018, she decided to enrich herself with the skill of Illustration, an interest she developed from exposure to storybooks and comics. She hopes to use this skill to illustrate her own book of Ugandan folk tales.

Sarah is passionate about vector illustration and portraiture and is fascinated by Ugandan folklore and mythology, a lot of her work being an exploration of the rich world of Ugandan fantasy and mythos as passed down from generation to generation. She chooses not to be limited in her depiction of Ugandan deities and supernatural beings, allowing her imagination to stretch and mould their visages and appearances to accommodate how truly extraordinary the tales about them are. In doing so, hopes to conserve as many of these folk tales as possible.




Aujo (right)

Lillian Akampurira Aujo is a poet and fiction writer from Uganda. She has been shortlisted for The Brtittle Paper Anniversary Award 2018, and longlisted for a Nommo Award 2018. She is a 2017 fellow of the Ebedi Residency in Nigeria. She has presented poetry at the 2017 GIMAC meeting in Addis Ababa. She is the winner of the Jalada Prize for Literature 2015 and the BN Poetry Award 2009, making her the very first honorary winner. Her work has been published by the Caine Prize, Femrite, Babishai Niwe Poetry Award, Prairie Schooner,  The Revelator Magazine, Sooo Many Stories, Bahati Books, Jalada Africa, Transition,  Omenana, Enkare Review, Brittle Paper, and 20:35 Africa, An Anthology of Contemporary Poetry.

Her poetry has been translated to Malayam, and is set to be taught in the Philippines for a Contemporary African Poetry class. 

           She has been a mentor in the WritivismAt5 Online Mentoring program.       




Cindy was born in Århus into a Danish/American family. She has been writing her whole life. At the age of six she knew she wanted to be a writer. Each of her books is different because she works thematically and also aims to challenge herself to change the form in every new book. Her poems have a tendency to engage with the world – the diversity, vulnerability, atrocity and absurdity.

She is keen on collaborative writing and cross-over collaborations between writing and other art forms and has indulged in several of these kinds of projects, some are still work-in-progress and others have been completed. She enjoys travelling the world to go to writers’ residencies, conferences and poetry festivals giving talks or performing with her poetry.

She has a Mag Art degree in literature and creative writing and apart from being a writer, she is a translator, an editor and teaches creative writing and English. She has published eight collections of poetry and one novel. Her latest collection Dealbreaker explores the topics of insomnia and sleep.

Cindy has also been the main organizer of an international poetry festival in Odense, Denmark, ever  since 2007.







Simon Ortiz, (born May 27, 1941) is a Puebloan writer of the Acoma Pueblo tribe, and one of the key figures in the second wave of what has been called the Native American Renaissance. He is one of the most respected and widely read Native American poets. Ortiz’s commitment to preserving and expanding the literary and oral traditions of the Acoma accounts for many of the themes and techniques that compose his work. Ortiz identifies himself less as a “poet” than a “storyteller”. The composition of a traditional Pueblo storyteller includes not only oral narrative materials, which adapt easily to short story or essay forms, but also songs, chants, winter stories, sacred oral narratives associated with origin stories and their attendant ceremonies.

Ortiz is a recipient of the New Mexico Humanities Council Humanitarian Award, the National Endowment for the Arts Discovery Award, the Lila Wallace Reader’s Digest Writer’s Award, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, and was an Honored Poet recognized at the 1981 White House Salute to Poetry.

In 1981, From Sand Creek: Rising In This Heart Which Is Our America, received the Pushcart Prize in poetry.


Ortiz received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Returning the Gift Festival of Native Writers (the Wordcraft Circle of Native Writers and Storytellers) and the Native Writers’ Circle of the Americas (1993

His works:

  • My Father’s Song” (poem; 1976 in Going for the Rain)
  • A Good Journey(1977)
  • The People Shall Continue (Fifth world tales)(2018), book by Lee and Low Books
  • Howbah Indians: Stories(1978)
  • Fight Back: For the Sake of the People, For the Sake of the Land(1980)
  • From Sand Creek: Rising In This Heart Which Is Our America(1981)
  • Blue and Red(1982) Children’s Book
  • The Importance of Childhood(1982) Children’s Book
  • A Good Journey(1984)
  • Fightin’: New and Collected Stories(1984)
  • Earth Power Coming (1988)
  • Woven Stone(selected works) (1992)
  • After and Before the Lightning(1994)
  • Speaking for the Generations: Native Writers on Writing, editor (1998)
  • Men on the Moon: Collected Short Stories(1999)
  • Out There Somewhere(2002)
  • The Good Rainbow Road: Rawa Kashtyaa’tsi Hiyaani (A Native American Tale in Keres)(2004) Children’s Book
  • Ortiz, Simon J. “What We See: A Perspective on Chaco Canyon and Pueblo Ancestry,” Chaco Canyon: A Center and Its World. Museum of New Mexico Press, 1994. An essay.




Jami Proctor Xu  徐贞敏 is a bilingual poet, translator and mother. She writes in Chinese and English. She grew up in Tucson, Arizona, and currently splits her time between Northern California, Arizona and China. Her books include the Chinese poetry collections include Shimmers (2013) and Suddenly Starting to Dance (2016) and a chapbook of poems in English, Suddenly Starting to Dance (2014).


She translated a collection of Jidi Majia’s poems, Words From The Fire (2018) and a collection of Song Lin’s poems (forthcoming in 2019). Her pohemuems and translations frequently appear in anthologies and she has read at poetry festivals around the world. Since 2016, she has co-organised a annual international poetry and translation event at The Beijing Normal University International Writing Center. She is a writer-in-residence at Hemu, Shuangliu, China and a 2013 recipient of the Zhujiang Poetry Award.



Beverley Nambozo Nsengiyunva is a public speaker, an author, and award-winning poet.  She is also the founder of the Babishai Niwe Poetry Foundation, which conducts annual African poetry competitions and publishes African poetry. Beverley holds a Distinction in Creative Writing from Lancaster University, which she received in 2012.

She is the director of Rich Diction; a public speaking training for children, teenagers and adults. Beverley is a 2010 joint first runner-up of the annual international erbacce-press poetry prize.

In 2017, Beverley became the founding President of Bukoto Toastmasters Club; an international public speaking platform. She currently lives in Kampala with her husband and four children, loves to travel, swim and dance. Her desire is to travel to every country in the world before she turns 70.




George is a 22 year old Ugandan currently in my 4th year student at Makerere University doing a Bachelor’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering with a great passion for art and creativity. He likes photography but he bleeds poetry as therapy. George is also a professional chess player, training individuals to compete at National level.


He started engaging in poetry around mid-2016 when he joined a group of poets that were organizing a show to fundraise for the cancer patients called “Poetry for Cancer.


In 2018 George emerged third in the annual Babishai Poetry Competition.





Davina is, under and above any and every circumstance, a human being first and a human doing second. The daughter of a research midwife and an ophthalmologist, she’s a lifelong resident of Kampala.


She supposes she’s always written because she’s always read. Isn’t reading, after all, very much like writing?—aren’t both activities a kind of [re]creation? Her poetry and short stories are born out of daily observations of life. Her work has been published by the African Writers Trust, the Caine Prize, the Uganda Women Writers Association, the Babishai Niwe Poetry Foundation, and Lawino magazine. She was recently long-listed for the 2018 SSDA prize. 


She has received education in both the sciences (conservation biology) and the arts (education), which explains her resentment of the closely-patrolled divide between the arts and sciences.


She’s a wildlife enthusiast who also likes bicycles, board games, and the Investigation Discovery channel.




BABISHAI Poetry Meets Buganda Culture

The morning started off with a cloudy musk; easily mistaken for the start of a bad day but that did not stop the Babishai team. It was just another amazing step into the future of poetry with the event of the organisation’s first ever Luganda Poetry Workshop.


At the venue, 4reign Worship Auditorium, Equatorial Shopping Mall, the place was arranged, inviting for a potential poetry storm.


Clad in wide smiles and Buganda traditional attire, the gomesi (for women) and kanzu (for men), the Babishai team, led by its Founder Beverly Nambozo Nsengiyunva, was definitely dressed for the occasion. The entire team spared a moment for a short photo shoot, as they embraced this rarely stumbled upon Buganda look by Babishai Niwe. It was such a rebirth moment!

The Luganda Poetry Workshop kicked off right on cue 10am with introductions and welcoming remarks from one of Uganda’s finest Luganda poet performers, Nakisanze Segawa, but unlike any of the other past events, it was clear that the mode of communication was different, all messages and conversations were packaged in Luganda, the commonest local language in Uganda. Nakisanze introduced Babishai; highlighting that from inception in 2009, Babishai awarded Ugandan women poets through an annual competition, promoting and expanding platforms for publishing and performance. Nakisanze herself, was a Babishai poet awardee in 2010 and since then has published a novel, entitled, The Triangle, which is itself immersed in Ganda culture.


It was not so long before the main Luganda workshop facilitator, Lule  Ssebo Lule, took to the stage to speak about the origin of Poetry (ebitontome) in Buganda and how it has continued to manifest in all aspects of our lives, still buried deep in our roots.


Ssebo Lule described Poetry as a wonderful play of words or sentences with a special / hidden meaning and that has rhythm, lovely to the ear. He gave the examples of traditional sayings and proverbs, songs, clan anthems, lullabies and children play-songs. Even though not many people think of them as part of poetry, they are.


He mentioned that even Luganda poetry made use of similar techniques   (entunnunsi) like the repetition of certain words and sounds (okuwaawaanya”), similar end of word/sentence  patterns, freestyle (no clear pattern or a mix of styles), faibbles (enfumo) which is the use of animal characters and the use of dialogue.


Majority of poetry in the past was mainly created for the amusement of the royal family, as well as to preserve culture through constant re-education of the children, used to express the perspective of the Buganda culture on different aspects of life.


Some of this traditional poetry was actually used to hide and obscure messages like when grown-ups spoke amidst children but dint wish for them to understand and also in war times, for the same reason against enemies.


The workshop soon broke into poetry performances as both Naki and Lule Ssebo Lule featured several poems from their collections; demonstrating the different styles of wordplay that exist in the Buganda culture. Even some people who did not understand the local language Luganda, still enjoyed the songs, vivid demonstrations and transformation of the poems into life.


The poems’ themes ranged from simple conversations among peers to more controversial issues like the unexplained female deaths that plagued the nation a short while ago. The tables soon turned and it was the audience that was charged with creating short 5 – 10-verse poems in short 15-minute breaks and reciting them to demonstrate how just anyone can be a poet.


The Question and Answer session centred on the preparation of Luganda poetry and its techniques; furthermore were questions on controversial and culturally sensitive topics and how they should be approached.


Naki had performed some politically-sensitive poems that she had only engaged in once. That was due to the audience reception and post-performance comments. She however called upon poets to be brave and take risks because poetry is one of the avenues to address social-political matters.


Lue Ssebo Lule then stressed how just anyone could make a living through Luganda Poetry giving, while citing examples through making music, cultural or poetry audio books, Selling your own poetry & performances, Story writing, Radio &TV announcements, MC-ing at traditional events among many others.


Just before the end of the program Ssebo Lule took a moment to address the matter of poetic license (olukusa lw’omutontozi) which he said allows the poet to  achieve their poetic goal without necessarily observing full grammatical or poetic rules for example, link words in different verses or even by cutting the words shorter and using jargon.


The intentional imbalance of sentence / word length between verses, borrowing words from other languages; especially when there is no alternative / matching word and the intentional imbalance of stanza length can also be excused due to poetic license.


With the crowd all-smiles and lunchtime in our faces, it was time to close the workshop. There was a bookstall with a collection of Babishai created, compiled or affiliated poetry books were on sale ranging from a very pocket-friendly UGX 5,000 – 30,000/-


The Babishai Niwe bookstall consisted of a variety of books; Naki’s book, “The Triangle” (2016) and Ssebo Lule’s books “Ogenda Wa?” (2018) which in English translate respectively into “where are you going?” and “Ebimenke!” (2018), translated into, “the beasts / the monsters!” The other Babishai Poetry anthologies were, “A Thousand Voices Rising,” “When Children Dare to Dream: A Children’s Poetry and Short Story Anthology and “Boda Boda Anthem: A Kampala Poetry Anthology.”


The workshop signified a breaking of the glass ceiling: With the premise of poetry on oral tradition; and with the richness of performance in local languages, this Luganda workshop, was the first of many and would extend to various audiences, with poetry publications in the future.


Below is an account by Lule Ssebo Lule, of his experience in facilitating Babishai’s first ever Luganda poetry workshop.


Written in Luganda, with an English translation:

Okusookera ddala, njagala okwebaza mukyala Beverley Nambozo Nsengiyunva, olw’okumpa omukisa okugabana amagezi gange n’abantu abalala mu musomo gwa Babishai Niwe Foundation ogw’okuwandiika ebitontome mu lulimi Oluganda ogwaliwo nga 26/01/2019 ku 4Reign mu Kampala. Anti etasiima ebula agiwa. Newakubadde nze eyali omusomesa, nayiga ebintu ebiwerako okuva ku bayizi abaagwetabamu, n’abakozi ba Babishai bennyini. Kyali kisannyusa nnyo, era kizaamu ammaanyi okulaba nti ennimi ezaffe ennansi zitandise okulowoozebwako mu kawefube w’okutendeka abantu okuwandiika ebibakwatako n’ebitundu gye bava nga bayita mu bitontome. Neera, mwebale nnyo bannaffe aba Babishai. Anaaseera owuwe, nti leka ab’ebweru balye. Mwebale kujjukira nnimi zaffe eza wano.


Nga twetegekera omusomo ogwo, nze n’abakozi ba Babishai Niwe twatuula ne twogera, ne tuseka, ne tukkanya ku bintu eby’enjawulo. Omwo nafunamu emikwano emipya, n’okumanya endowooza z’abantu. Nzijjukira olunaku lwe twakubwa ebifaananyi (nze ne mukyala Nakisanze Ssegawa) n’okukwata akalango k’omusomo ku viidiyo. Enkuba yasiiba etonnya, naye tekyatulobera kumaliriza bulungi buli kimu. Wabula ndowooza ekyasinga okunyumira kyali mu musomo. Bannaffe abamu baali tebamanyi bulungi kuwandiika lulimi Luganda naye baafuba ne betaba mu mirimu gy’okuwandiika ebitontome gye nabawanga. Nze nga omusomesa, waliwo ebintu bye nayiga okuva mu kunoonyereza kwe nakola nga omusomo tegunnatuuka. Osanga saandibizudde singa teyali Babishai.

Ekirala ekyansanyusa ku musomo ogwo nti ab’amawulire okuva ku mikutu egy’enjawulo baatwegatako ne bakwata ebifaananyi byaffe n’amaloboozi ne bibuna ensi akawungeezi k’olunaku olwo lwennyini. Aba Star TV baabiraga ku mawulire gaabwe ag’essaawa essatu, n’aba Bukedde FM baabiteekako ku ssaawa zeezimu. Mba ndi ewaka mpumudde, nga mukwano gwange ampeereza bubaka ku ssimu nti andabye ku TV nga ntontoma. Eyandabisa mu kanzu! Ffe abasomesa (nze ne Nakisanze Ssegawa) n’abakozi ba Babishai twali tuteekedwa okwambala ekanzu oba gomesi. Nkugambye! Omukolo gwabulako bugombe na miwumbo gya mmere.

Mu musomo ogwo, tetwayogera ku kuwandiika bitontome kwokka. Abantu baatubuuza ebintu nga; engeri y’okutereka ebitontome mu bwongo, engeri y’okubifunamu ekigulira magala eddiba, engeri y’okutontoma, engeri y’okuteeka ebitontome mu mizannyo ku siteegi, n’ebirala. Nzikiriza nti abaagwetabamu baaganyulwa nnyo era bye baayigamu bajja kubikozesa okukyusa obulamu bwabwe n’obwabantu abalala nga bayita mu kuwandiika n’okutontoma. Mwebale kujja. Mwebale kwagala kuyiga.


I would love to send special thanks to Mrs. Beverley Nambozo Nsengiyunva for giving me a chance to share my knowledge at the Babishai Niwe Luganda Poetry Workshop that took place on 26/01/19 at 4Reign in Kampala. Although I was the facilitator of the workshop, I learned a great deal from the participants and the Babishai Niwe Foundation team. It was humbling and exciting to see indigenous languages being acknowledged as of tremendous value in the campaign to teach people how to improve their lives and societies through poetry writing and performance. Again, Babishai Niwe deserves the gratitude.

In preparation for the workshop, I met with the Babishai team and we brainstormed, laughed, and agreed on several issues. Through that experience, I gained new friends and learned about their different opinions on poetry writing and performance and the culture of the Baganda. I remember the day myself and Nakisanze Ssegawa were to have a photoshoot and record video adverts for the workshop. It had been raining since morning but the shoot was successful. My best moment was during the workshop itself. We had participants who couldn’t write correct Luganda but they took part in every writing exercise I gave. As the facilitator, I had to make research in preparation and I learned new concepts about Luganda poetry that I didn’t know before.

The other exciting memory of the workshop was when we were joined by journalists from different media houses who took audio and video footage. On the same day, the footage was broadcasted on Star TV and Bukedde FM at 9pm respectively. We, the facilitators and the Babishai team were elegantly dressed in kanzus and gomesis.

At the workshop, we didn’t talk about only Luganda poetry writing. The participants asked questions regarding poetry memorization, making money out of poetry, the right way to perform Luganda poetry, how to create stage plays out of poetry, and so on. I strongly believe that the skills the participants learned at the workshop shall help them improve their lives and those of the people around them. I thank everyone who helped make the workshop a success.

-Lule SseboLule

The Babishai Poetry Foundation shall celebrate their tenth anniversary from 21-25 March, in Kabale and Kampala.

Article Written by  Francis Mukisa.

First published on Sooo Many Stories.