This songbird from Arua will make your heart skip a beat. Her music is electric. Meet Amaru an amazing Ugandan singer. She has been living in New York City where she studied Acting at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts and has been pursuing a Bachelor of Sciences in Dramatic Arts, Film and Television at St. John’s University in Queens, New York
Who is Amaru
I would safely sum Amaru up as a Passionate, African, Singer, Songwriter, Actress, Filmmaker, Dreamer, and Lover who desires to leave everything she ever encounters better than she found it! She desires to spread Love everywhere she goes.
When did you start singing?
I was born into a very musical family and had multiple opportunities to sing- right from Children’s fellowships hosted at our family house and children’s conferences that my dad played music at. Both my parents sang to me as a child and my father played almost every instrument I could think of, so naturally he encouraged me to sing. In fact, for a while I travelled with my dad and sang in his band on multiple ministry trips in schools, conferences and churches. Music became a part of my life so early and I recall always loving to sing.
Your first song ‘Stay’, you sounded like you were singing from your personal experience. What inspired you to write it?
The story behind Stay is actually a special one because I never intended for it to be my debut single when I wrote it. I initially wrote and recorded it as a personal message, much like someone would write a letter to another, but when it was finished, based on feedback I was getting, I realized that I was finally ready to start sharing my music. Around that time, I’d recently started writing songs again and wasn’t yet sure if it was time to start sharing, but Stay opened that door.
Let’s talk about your unique type of music. What do you call your style?
My sound is very eclectic and doesn’t fit perfectly into any music genres so I call my style of music “Soul-Truth.” This is really to remind myself of the sound I would like to maintain- I want to stay truthful and soulful as I keep writing and singing. As far as traditional genres go however, my sound tends to fall into the Acoustic-Soul world,or Pop-Soul like one of my friends likes to call it; and as I keep writing, I keep creating new fusions especially with the more recent music I’ve been working on, so as we go along, the labels might evolve. It looks like you spend a lot of time writing your music. What message do you think our music conveys?
My music tends to reflect my feelings about different experiences, and my philosophies on life. For the most part, I write a lot of love-related songs because I draw a lot of inspiration from the quest for, and the experience of love. Currently, my music shares pieces of my journey and the lessons I’m learning along the way. Hopefully my audience can share my experiences and even learn from my mistakes. Ultimately, I desire that music carries messages of hope and love to all the people who encounter it. I really hope I can change the world with my music.
How long does it take you to write a hit song?
It really varies. I’m realizing that I work well with deadlines as far as song-writing is concerned, but when left to an organic process, the length of time it takes me to write a song depends on how inspired I feel when working on the song. When really inspired, I can finish a song even in a couple of hours, however some songs take weeks, months and a few have even taken years. I tend to write songs based on the way I am feeling, so when the feeling abounds, inspiration flows and writing is really easy. Also, having access to a musical instrument speeds up the process for me, and I reckon if I had the luxury of jamming with a band more often, I might write even more songs a lot quicker.
Home or US, where is your biggest fan base?
That’s a really tough one to answer since I haven’t been wholly pursuing a career in music in either location. I’ve mostly been doing music part-time in both countries and kind of focusing mainly on finishing my studies. That said, it seems pretty evenly spread to me. However, I desire to build a bigger following in Uganda and Africa considering that it is the audience I care most about and also because I would like to settle in Africa.
Looking back from where you started and where you are now, are you there yet?
I definitely am beyond where I ever dreamed I would be, but as I reach my dreams, I develop much higher ambitions. God has been so faithful as to exceed my expectations and grant me dreams beyond my imaginations, so now I just keep dreaming bigger. So, looking at the dreams I currently have, I have barely scratched the surface of where I want to be. And that is really exciting!
When you are playing your guitar, it looks like you have an attachment to it. What is music to you?
Music is my best friend- we’ve been together for as long as I can remember. And because of the musical history I share with my family, the guitar for me, is so much more than a musical instrument. Multiple members of my family have played the guitar over the years, and so its come to serve in my life as a reminder of my heritage. The guitar for me is a symbol of love and family, and a reminder to live a life of worship. So when I hold my guitar, in many ways it feels like I am carrying my family with me. And that is probably why I seem to have a strong attachment to guitar in my music.
You have been silent for over five months now. What can your lovers be expecting any time soon?
I decided to prioritize my education especially since I was so close to completing my studies, so I’ve been focusing more on school the past couple of months so I can return home. It’s been really important to me that I finish school since I recognize the value of higher education. There’s a misconception that musicians can just drop-out of school, and I strongly disagree with that. I think completing one’s education really enhances what one has to offer, regardless of the field, an especially within the Arts. That said, because music is a huge part of my life, inevitably I’ve been writing music on the side as well as singing with the Hillsong Church Choir in New York. Now that I have finished with school, I am really excited to share with all of you all the music I’ve been working on behind the scenes. I think it’s been nice to have a break to grow and nurture my sound even more. Also I’ve had a chance to do some soul-searching and reconnecting with values that I will need for where I am going. So hold on tight and look forward to some new music real soon!
Who is that one person who has been at the forefront of your success as a musician?
Because I’ve had a lot of support, from my family, friends and my Music Management, this is a really tough one to answer.. I’d really like to point them all out because they have been key to my success, but since you need me to pick one person, I’ll have to take a moment to honor my brother. He has listened to literally every single song that I’ve written and he is one person I can absolutely count on for honest criticism. Because we are the same age, and have shared pretty much the same history, I can count on him to understand me best. I send him everything I write before I forward it to anyone else and I usually trust his opinion since he understands my style and knows me better than most people. Also because he has supported me right from the start, I can count on his opinion and completely trust his intentions towards me.
What has been your best moment so far as a songbird?
My best moment was probably the first time I heard my debut single “Stay” play on radio in Uganda for the very first time. I remember waking up early that morning to hear the breakfast show hosts at Magic 100 debut my song and say really lovely things about it. It felt like a dream! I stood in my parent’s bedroom and listened in such a blissful trance, much like a child taking in their very first ice-cream experience. It was truly magical and I’ll cherish that moment forever.
Any worst moments?
There are no specific moments that I can point to as my worst in my career journey so far, but I can definitely think of some moments when I have doubted my dreams and questioned what I have to offer as a musician. And those have been my lowest moments. Music is such a big part of my life that for me to question whether or not I should be doing it takes a huge toll on me. Thankfully connecting deeper with God has given me a new found confidence and sense of purpose in my gifts.
Which famous musician(s) do you admire? And why?
There are so many great musicians that I admire for various reasons but I’ll highlight two for now: I have a lot of admiration for the Hillsong United and Third Day. This is for many reasons including how hard and skillfully they work to create cutting edge and beautiful music; as well as how powerful their music is. I think there’s nothing more amazing than worship music that ushers people into encountering the presence of a Supernatural God. I am fascinated by music that stirs the presence of Holy Spirit and literally frees people from bondages and gives them encounter with a Sovereign and Supernatural God. Listening to both their music has been changing my life and I am finding such freedom and fulfillment in praising and worshipping a Being that actually deserves it. I’ve had the privilege of experiencing God’s presence and finding real peace and strength through rough seasons while listening to some of their songs, and I think there’s nothing greater than creating music that is so much bigger than just feel-good music: music that can actually bring hope to people. I desire to do that too- to alter lives for the better! Another thing about both bands is in spite of the awards they hold, the genuineness and humility of their members is incredible. I’ve had the honor of meeting both band leaders and can testify that there’s probably no better illustration of true great people, than such influential and gifted yet extremely down-to-earth, love-filled and servant-hearted musicians who strive to walk their talk.
How do you balance music with other obligations like family, friends and fans?
Because my music is very precious to me, I tend to want to put everything else second to it, so this has been a struggle for me to find a balance. However, over this past season of my life I’ve been finding a new balance. I think what’s been helping me is realizing what my greatest treasures are, and becoming more aware of the immeasurable value of family and friends. Realistically speaking, fans come and go, and the pain of losing them might be great, but my family and friends have been there from the start and I can’t imagine surviving the grief of losing them for something so temporary, so I realize that I need to put them first. We all come out of a family of some kind, and in spite of our family’s imperfections, there is tremendous value on family. Without my family, I wouldn’t exist to even have this career to begin with so it rages against wisdom to think that I should pick my career over them. Thankfully I don’t have to choose, since my family actually supports my career ambitions and in any case only guides me in ways they believe will advance my career. That said, someone once said to me that if anyone was playing my music it was because they are my friend, so I honestly look at my fans as an extension of my family and friends so it all works out in the end. However if the opportunity ever does present itself, I would like to be able to choose to honor my family and friends over anything else.
What challenges do you face as a musician based in New York?
The major challenges for me have been being a full-time student with no income, and being so far away from Uganda since my main desire has been to build a music career based in my home country. Other than that, the city has been incredible- There’s just SO much to learn and draw inspiration from that I am really grateful for the opportunity I’ve had.
Where do you see yourself and your beautiful music five years from now?
Well that is quite a sight to behold! Five years from now, God-willing, I see myself dominating the African music and film industry, whilst mentoring Africa and what I believe will be the world’s next big musicians. I really believe that African music is not just the future, but is actually NOW, and we need to put our best foot forward and get in position to run the game. So in five years, I would like to be a stabilized household name working with peer and newer acts not only to alter the image of Africa to the world as well as fellow Africans, but also to bring positive change to our planet.
Ugandan music has always been criticized for not making it to the international scene for lack of creativity. What do you think is the cause of this?
I’ve been trying to figure this out for some time now, especially because I’m on the scene now too. (I think its easy to criticize something from a distance but once you step into it, you’re able to take ownership of flaws and understand them better.) One thing that I’m becoming more aware of is that our greatest weakness mainly lies in our songwriting. We have outstanding instrumentalist and vocalists but for the most part, we seem to fail when it comes to competitive song-writing. Perhaps this can be blamed on how we tend to recycle the same sounds over and over again. It seems that when we hear something that works, we often almost simply “copy and paste” those ideas without making any major creative changes to melodies and structure. So that breeds the lack of originality that we often get criticised for. There seem to be fewer cases of originality in our sound and that’s where I think we really fail. Being aware of this, I’m trying to be conscious of this as I work, and I see many other musicians breaking this mold by boldly stepping out with different sounds and I really like that. We have grown SO much as an industry and I am very grateful for those who have gone before me and raised the standards as well as paved the way for the Ugandan Music Industry to aspire to even greater heights.
Your hairstyle, it is rather remarkable. Any particular connection to it?
Thank you! My hairstyle is a means of my creative expression and serves as a reminder to me, to live boldly and not to be afraid to be different or stand out. I first had the idea to have multi-colored braids over 7 years ago and when I first did it then, a lot of people thought it was a terrible idea but then ended up liking it. Turns out it worked and I liked it too, so I started wearing my hair like that. I took a break from it when I moved to New York and was afraid to stand out, but a two years ago, I realized that I needed to gain my confidence again so I brought the colors back. Now I get a lot of positive feedback and find that my hairstyle inspires others to be bold and embrace their creativity and uniqueness.
What advice could you give to a girl who wants to be a musician like you?
I would say that you need to trust what God has put inside of you.Find security in Him and know that you have something unique and precious to offer. If He has given you a gift for making music, you need to embrace that and be confident in it. Don’t doubt what you have to offer, and don’t hide your light because you’re meant to shine it: Let your light shine bright so you can lead others to freedom! I also deeply desire, especially for female musicians, that we will rise up to defy the seeming norm that female musicians have to sell sex appeal in order to be successful in the music industry! So take care not to objectify yourself as you sell your music. I desire to show other aspiring female musicians that they can honor their bodies and still excel in the industry, but I’d like to invite other female musicians to join me in this. So I guess what I really want to say to any girl that wants to be like me is, set standards for yourself and have non-negotiable in your career. Remember that where there is a will there is a way so you don’t have to conform to the standards if they are lower than what you set for yourself. Realize that as musicians, we have a lot of power to influence our cultures so let’s seek to influence it for the better. Also, make sure you have a great support system and keep your fuel tank full to sustain the fire in you! No man is an island, so surround yourself with dream-builders so you won’t back down even when the storms come. And please steward your gifts well, nurture your talents: practice, seek to learn more, watch and listen to those who have gone before you so you can accomplish even greater things. DON’T SEEK TO BE LIKE ME, SEEK TO BE BETTER THAN ME!!! The stars are only the beginning. Listen to God and let Him direct you. There’s no better person to seek guidance on how to use a product to its fullest potential than its manufacturer, so have God guide you and direct your path as you pursue your dreams if you want to soar. Follow His lead, and believe me, your mind will be blown!! He really is amazing, and the people He will bring your way will be more amazing than any contacts you could ever have gathered on your own. Work hard and smart; but stay humble, love and serve! Remember, there’s an indescribable peace that comes from knowing that God has got you, which drives away any sense of insecurity and jealousy. In knowing Him, you’ll realise that there’s room for all and you’ll actually desire the best for others and be freed to root for other. And that will give you such immeasurable joy in your journey to the successful career you desire. I realize that’s a long essay haha but I really wanna share with you all the things I wish I was aware of sooner. I love you and wish you the best!!
Is there anything you want to share with our readers? Any last words?
Yes. THANK YOU!! Thank you sincerely for all your support and for following my music and career so far. It’s really just the beginning so for those who are encountering me for the first time, I look forward to having you join me on this journey. I strongly believe that great things lie ahead and we each have A LOT to offer our planet, so please connect with your purpose and let’s SHINE our light to the ends of the earth and leave this world a better place than we found it. Keep loving and dreaming and lets never stop serving one another! And lastly, I’d like to leave you with a quote that inspires me: “To be the best in the world is competition, to be the best for the world is loving.” I hope we choose LOVE! Oceans of Love to all, Amaru
Meet DJ Rachael East Africa’s first female DJ
Dj Rachael is a trail blazer in her field, she is the first East African female Dj, who started out at a tender age and grew into one of the best DJs on the African continent; also a Rapper, Producer & business guru, she runs an Audio Production Studio “Scraych Rekordz” and a Mobile Events Company called “Raybon”. Her big heart, charm, dedication has seen her sail through the Dj’ying profession for close to 20 yrs.
Right now she is into music production more than ever because she thinks it’s becoming a basic in the life of a Dj. “It’s what makes superstar Djs. I’m glad I was welcomed into the Santuri family which has taught me a lot more than I knew before. ” she says
How did you start?
It was just a fun thing as a kid picking up a Mic and doing some covers as an MC and Rapper in the early days but then I joined Dj-ing out of curiosity because the Djs where I Mced picked interest in me gave me the necessary basics to head start DJing. This profession picked me up and we’ve been cuddling ever since. It is something you just stay in love with. I didn’t go to any school for Djing, I picked up all that I learned from the Djs I started out with at Club Pulsations and then made it an issue to be better than them. I used to tease them about me having a crazier crowd than they did after I became good at it.
Are you genre sensitive? Which is it and why?
I do not center on a particular genre because my clients are much diversified. In the beginning I loved hip-hop and gangsta music. Now I love more Dance, EDM, Afro house, deep house, Alternative, Rock and Hip hop still. It goes with the territory and to me these genres move floors, though it helps that it’s my kind of music.
What is the Dj-ying landscape like for a woman in Uganda?
I softened the landscape and landing for female Djs in Uganda and East Africa. But then again I didn’t have as much a hard time as I expected though they treated me like an amateur rider. It was topsy-turvy at times where some people would cover me with blankets, others with helmets and yet others with spiky eyes! I guess it still is like that in some parts of the country though it’s no big deal in Kampala.
Any occupational hazards?
Djs especially female ones get short changed by some employers, others get rough experiences through coarse sexual advances from male employers. Its rough terrain if you don’t own a car and have to move in the late hours of the night with your equipment; you could get into all sorts of danger like robberies or worse.
Were you supported by family (parents) when you started?
Actually I didn’t tell anybody I was going out to DJ. My mum heard about it, was probably flabbergasted and one time she surprised me with a cameo at the Club. I almost broke the record I was playing. She made a lot of fuss to the owners of the club because I was so young. They later resolved it, she got herself some drinks and later even danced while I played. You should have seen the grin on my face!
Do they support you now?
Now everybody loves Dj Rachael, okay not everybody. Most of my family does. Though my mum didn’t live on to see me become the Dj that I am today because she passed on in 1999 barely a few years after I begun. Bless her soul. Then there is an uncle who still insists I should have pursued my pilot project because that’s what I wanted to be as a child! A PILOT! I was actually good at math and sciences.
How long do you plan to Dj?
I told my family I would go on till I’m 75yrs old and they laughed. But it is very possible in this industry. There was an old lady Dj in the USA who was 94 years old and another from Poland who is 77yrs. I’m still a baby!
What are the future prospects for Ugandan women on the world market like?
I think the market is very broad-based right now and the future looks pretty good though the competition will get even tighter out there in the world. There’s so much high tech going on and if you don’t follow you can get left behind in a flash, so you need to be very tech savvy. Old school works pretty fine but if you want to be a household name you got to keep up and get on top, literally. And yes a solo concert has been on my mind like forever now and I know its getting pretty close. Since I’m making 20yrs in the business I think there is my catch. The fans should watch this space and wish me luck on this huge milestone coming up.
Do you think a solo concert would work for you?
I think it would work out very well and people will realize a DJ is big business these days. The Dj industry has grown in leaps and bounds and Djs can now hold huge concerts all on their own.
Are Djs appreciated in Uganda? Why?
The appreciation is only visible in a few sectors, from a few employers. The fans are really all the way behind Djs because they see what they offer. Some employers or event organisers don’t give the Djs enough appreciation. They see what you do and reap the benefits from your talent but they don’t show it in the way they pay. Some Djs themselves don’t rate themselves highly and thus they create a devaluation of DJS.
What are your thoughts at the realization that Djs can headline at festivals now?
It is way overdue. It makes me feel real proud and ecstatic to see this new development and especially seeing that some international superstar DJS are making more money than musicians. Who ever saw that coming?! I Hope it also starts happening in Africa.
Would you help someone (a girl) start Dj-ing? Word of advice to interested girls.
Yes of course, I would love to help girls get into Djing. BUT words of caution: It’s not a matter of looking pretty you got to work hard to perfect your art. AND be who you want to be don’t follow what others are doing, identify with your inner self.
How much do you earn?
I can not put a real figure to the earnings though I can say it’s worth it if you are dedicated to what you do and if you get the right gigs. At the same time in Uganda you need a supplementary salary or business because of some reasons mentioned above.
Where have you played?
Club Silk for 7yrs or more. Club Pulsations, Club Rogue, Club Volts, Steak Out, Sombreros(part time), Cayenne, Big Mikes, OS Club, Florida 2000(guest Nairobi), Stone Club (Mwanza), Via Via (Arusha), Happy People (Kigali), Heineken Capital Fm Parties, Bambucha Launch party, Irish Ball, Italian Day, USA Independence Day ball, Mama Akina Wa Africa Festival, Bayimba Festivals, Sondeka Festivals, Club Silk Street Jams, Wayne Wonder & Demarco concert and so many more corporate and private events and parties.
I was the only Dj chosen by BBC in East Africa to pick the best nightclubs in Africa 2015. I won the Alliance Francaise World Music Day Dj Battle in 2013. We are going to change the face of East African music with the Santuri Safari programming and remixing. It’s going to be a tsunami. Catch me at the Sondeka Festival September 10th 2015 and Bayimba Festival September 18th.
You can follow Dj Racheal on Twitter @DjRachael256, Instagram LilSniper04, Facebook Dj Rachael, Soundcloud DJRachael4Raynsom
From Blogging to empowering girls, this Ugandan woman is changing her world
When she is not blogging, her mind is preoccupied with creating community transformation, enabling girls to understand menstrual hygiene and being able to offer people other options of life other than the exam passing skills imparted by schools is what she is doing in Ruhanga, South Western Uganda. Her Name is Ida Horner Bayiga.
This is Uganda caught up with Ida, to share with us her passions, dreams and what she is doing to make her world a better place.
How did you start all this?
It’s that sort of realization that you can do something, I felt that I could reach out to those that were less fortunate, so I started by exporting handcrafts and textiles made by women and all was going well until the recession hit.
A friend of mine, Ann McCarthy on knowing what I was doing invited me to have a look at something she had started in Ruhanga, so I came back to see her project, she was out of her depth, I mean it’s a remote village, no water, no medical center, no school, no means of money generation and whatnot. So, I setup a charity Let Them Help Themselves out of poverty (LTHT) and over the years, we have accomplished a lot. Now we have a school for 500 pupils, running water etc and right now, we are focusing on skills development like tailoring skills, computing, menstrual hygiene and one of the reasons I am here this time is to review this project, where do we go from here, did it actually help, is there any one particular activity that they really really want us to develop further and to see what works and what doesn’t.
So, what is Let Them Help Themselves really about?
Our core value is community regeneration, so we speak to the community to try and understand what there issues are, to try and understand why those issues have not been addressed, whose role it is to address them and where the blockages are and those are the things that prevent people from becoming economically active because, if a woman is spending most of her time of the day collecting water and making sure that that water is safe, she doesn’t have time to go and earn an income.
If a young girl is spending a week or so without going to school because of lack of menstrual hygiene, it impacts her negatively, so we try and have such conversations with the communities so we can forge a way to try and help.
We see our role as people who want to remove blockages at prevent them from becoming economically active, we also look at transformation using the skills development initiative where if a young girl learns a skill, it becomes handy even if she dropouts at age 15 or 16, wherever they land, they can easily find employment or create a job for themselves because people have to have options.
What else are you involved in?
We are also involved in Humanitarian causes/emergencies, here in Uganda we were involved in the Bududa Landslides and also in some slum project in Kireka where were helping women refugees at a quary to sell their handcrafts. Also during the Ebola Outbreak In Sierra Leone, the Sierra Leone diaspora came to us and we helped to provide people food in the treatment centres as their families neglected them because they were suffering from Ebola.
How do the people of Ruhanga take it in, that an outsider, a stranger is trying to help them?
It’s not easy, and it hasn’t been easy since 2008. It’s about negotiating and building relationships because we are all about transformation and giving communities other options, so having those conversations and knowing the power structures in the community, has been a bonus for us, It has helped us help them. it’s actually a privilege that they allow us to help them, but if you come with an “I know best” point of view or from an imperialistic stance, then forget it. The people of Ruhanga have learnt to accept us in and we respect that.
LTHT is mainly based in Ruhanga but, do you have any plans of widening/spreading this campaign to other places?
It’s possible, I mean, Yes we can do it but honestly, it all comes down to finance, if you dont have the funds to travel around, to pay your employees, you can dream and dream and nothing happens. And also we don’t get any funding from the UK government or the Ugandan government so we rely on individual donations, that’s how we have and are still doing it But also there is still a lot of work to do in Ruhanga, were trying to build a model and a blue print that someone can look at and take away and also replicate because it’s basically developed organically. So for now, widening and spreading is just in the pipe line.
What is ethnic supplies?
Ethnic supplies is about helping people who make handcrafts and textiles to access the market in Europe, before the recession, it was turning a small profit but after the recession it isn’t easy anymore, people priotise where and on what they are spending their money on.
How does ethnic supplies work, I mean If I wanted in, how would I go about it?
The basic principle is that we don’t work with any one group that we haven’t met, so part of my role is to travel and meet these groups and the idea behind that is to check out their employment practices in every sense of the word. So for you/your group to join, we have to have met the group and have established that you have transparent and fair employment practices.
Looks like you have been beaten to the better part of fairness, what are those things that you look at to measure or ascertain good/acceptable employment practices?
I have a very high sense of ‘fairness’, I hate seeing someone being unfair to someone else, be it a person or a brand, I don’t like people being undercut and cheated & people not getting their wage because let’s face it, most people don’t know their rights and employers use that to terminate their contracts unjustly and to manipulate them so, unethical employment practices are exactly what I am against.
What are some of those things that have enabled you to get where you are?
Social capital! Social capital allows you to get a long way which gives you privilege, the social capital has helped me to get on and my ability to help other communities isn’t because I am rich but because I have a lot of social capital. Social capital is important in all terms and ways.
As curator of Africa On The Blog, what exactly do you do?
That’s nearly a full time job in itself, I source contributors to the platform, chasing them for their articles, promoting the website, making sure that the contributors are looked after, I have to ensure that the quality of work is good and to bring new people on board.
Tell, us more about Africa On The Blog?
Africa On The Blog was started 5 years ago, It was an idea that I had and other people in the diaspora wanted. I actually thought it would only engage the women in the diaspora to talk about their Countries, experiences, and stories but the thing took a life of it’s own. *laughs*, So We ended up getting many people who wanted to be contributors from allover Africa including Men.
some of the contributors we had were lecturers at universities who started sending their students to us as a resource, it’s pretty much started a life of it’s own.
Do you have a any Ugandan contributors?
Currently, we have none but over the years, I have heard 4, first was a pharmacist, then David Mpanga who is a solicitor here and 2 others but currently, I don’t have any Ugandan contributors.
Do you think colourism is real in Uganda, because I actually think it’s on a very low scale?
Colourism is real, it’s an issue of patriarchy, low self esteem, politics and colonialism because now women believe that to get a good job they have to look like Maggie Kigozi. Just stop it, don’t do that to yourself these skin lighteners have side effects that you will have to live with for years to come. Because…
Do you have any plans of organising a charity event in Uganda like the walk around Virginia Water Lake?
Most people in Uganda don’t know exactly what I am doing and after being in the UK for close to 24 years, that’s where all my social capital is, but yeah, I would love to have a fundraiser here or run a Ugandan but it wouldn’t be easy. We have a place at next year’s London Marathon and I was almost tempted to give it to a Uganda to fundraise for us, but the VISA situation would be a difficult thing, so I gave it up.
So how can young people volunteer with LTHT?
Currently, you/that person must be willing to travel to Ruhanga because that’s where we are currently based and some of the things we are looking at isn’t money. If you could get 10-15 comrades who owned laptops and you went to Ruhanga to help the people there to get the computers, you’ve shared your skills and that’s very important, even if it’s just for a weekend. That would be much better than money, people like me value time, if you give it your time, then it’s worth it and we would be grateful.
As a writer I assume you are reading. What book are you currently reading?
It’s a feminist book but its a good one, let me show you…
It’s Beyond the pale and I would prefer the pages but that would mean I have to move around with a book and I mean, look at my handbag, very small a book can’t fit.
Any last words to all the ladies out there and every body?
To the ladies, go do it yourself, that’s advice I got from my dad, make sure that you’re financially independent as a woman and don’t do anything to yourself like bleaching, it will live with you for the rest of your life.
Ps. We do believe that many Ugandans out there are doing awesome things and we would like to be a part of you if you could share your story like Mrs. Ida Horner did. Do you have a story?, you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Writing Shouldn’t be your sidekick- Uganda’s Bwesigye Bwa Mwesigire
A master of his art, a writer and a creative in all forms of mental creativity that refers to himself as just a guy who promotes African Literature in all spheres, and Co-founder of an organization that fronts African Literature, promotes the arts through writivism.
So who is Bwesigye Bwa Mwesigire?
This is always a hard question to answer.I will just say that I am one of three co-founders of the Centre for African Cultural Excellence, a non profit that promotes the arts, especially African literature, through Writivism.
When did it occur to you that you are a writer?
I am hesitant to identify myself as a writer. A writer of academic and journalistic work, yes, a creative writer, no. Writers are human beings who have novels, plays and collections of poetry published. I have none of those. I am only a promoter of African Literature who sometimes writes academic essays and journalistic reviews and interviews writers.
Where does your inspiration lie?
Problems that beg for solutions, which means all problems are inspiring. They give one a reason to work.
They say that if you want to hide something from and African hide it in a book. Do you think this is still the case?
It has never been the case. I want to look at a book as an image for a story. Stories are not all written. There are oral stories. There are written stories. And there are stories that are both written and oral. Africans, Ugandans, human beings have always consumed literature, stories in whatever form, written or oral.
Writivism what does it even mean? Tell us more about this initiative.
Writivism is about the promotion of African Literature produced and consumed on the continent. We hold workshops in various cities on the continent, connect emerging writers to established ones to be mentored, run an annual short story prize, publish annual anthologies, run a schools programme and an annual literary festival in Kampala.
There is a lot of information being written. How shall we make Ugandans read all this information with all the things competing for their attention?
We need to stop thinking of reading as the only way to consume information. Film is important. Music is as well. Oral literature is as important as written literature.
What is your message to Ugandan writers?
They should be pro-active. There are many opportunities, they should grab them. They should work hard too. Take writing as seriously as lawyering, doctoring, engineering and other professions and vocations are treated. Then it will pay. If taken as a part-time, side-kick, it won’t work. Imagine if being a lawyer, doctor, engineer etc. was considered as a side thing, it would not pay as much. Our work, us who promote writing and writers will be easier when we have excellent work being produced, to promote.
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