The Uganda Radio Network (URN) newsroom is where you will find this young, inquisitive and focused gentleman. The sky is not the limit for him. He is an investigative journalist that seeks to ask those hard questions. He is a loved and a trusted source by Ugandans for his hard work and trustworthy stories, His name is Mujuni Raymond Qatahar a Journalist, a blogger, poet, debater and volunteer. He recently asked the president of Uganda tough questions. We are all still waiting for the answers and by the way his blog The Mast is a must follow.
Briefly tell us about yourself.
I am a journalist currently working with Uganda Radio Network, Majorly when I am here, I do security reporting and investigative reporting, in other capacities, I write for the Buzz Feed on assigned stories that’s basically it for now.
Investigative pieces-“Risky” Do you feel safe doing this kind of work?
Of course, the idea of investigation arises out of the very notion that some people have things they don’t want said. Well, there are insecurities that are broadly open, there are people who will threaten you. But on the greater part of it, I am safe.
Tell us about Journalism school, your path to where you are right now.
Actually, I didn’t study Mass Communication or Journalism at University, I joined URN in my vacation but I was doing journalism way before I joined URN. I used to write for T-Vibe magazine, then I did some little work for the New Vision, then I joined URN where I officially got employment. I also got employed by New Vision again then I left New Vision for the Buzz Feed and I finally came back to URN.
Though, I have done an introduction to journalism an online institution and I am certified, I have done a lot of studying from the African Media Centre of Excellence on Data journalism and I have gone through oil and gas reporting for bloggers and journalists. So I have done a lot of studying but with journalism, you learn something new every day.
Tell us about law school & how you juggle journalism besides a Bachelor in Laws at Makerere University
Huh, that is a trick… I go to Law school in the evening, so I am doing evening, during day I am at work. I study at Makerere and yeah, I am doing a Bachelor’s degree and I am in my final year.
The newsroom! Does this place warm your heart? Why?
If you are passionate about storytelling, the newsroom is your place to be, there is a lot of news that goes through this newsroom every day, interesting and sad stories. This is a hub of information.
Tell us more about Buzz feed, what is Buzz Feed, Why Buzz Feed?
Buzz Feed is the fastest growing media organization at the moment, it is read more than the New York Times or the Washington Post. It’s because they have ushered in a new style of doing stories, they have ushered in a style of doing journalism that appeals to the people out there. They haven’t done most of the Ugandan work, I mean I do the Ugandan Work, but they take in like only four stories from Uganda in a year. So, I work for Buzz Feed on assigned stories, whenever they need a story, I get it for them.
Uganda Radio Network (URN) is not a radio as many might think, it is an agency that supplies news stories to radio stations. Most of the investigative pieces can be found on the URN website.
What do you attribute your success to?
(Laughs) that will mean I have succeeded right… it’s a lot of hard work to start with, a lot of persistence, hard work and learning. Journalism as you might know it’s not a profession that you can completely get from the blackboard. so u have to keep learning, every day you meet a source who teaches you something new in your journalism sphere, so it’s a lot of hard work. It’s a lot of persistence because you will not get the goals you want from journalism in one day, you’ll have to wait a long period of time to get what you want from journalism.
Journalism is largely a passion, it’s something that has to appeal to your heart, there is no way you can call journalism a job, journalism is a service that requires passion, persistence and an open mind.
Who inspires you in the world of journalism?
There is one Kenyan John Allan Namu who is a Kenyan Investigative journalist, this dude has done more investigation work than any other East African Journalist, and he has uncovered some of the world’s most shocking stories.
Charles Onyango Obbo, has also done a great job, then Allan Kasujja of BBC, is also one of my greatest inspiration.
As a writer and blogger, how do you fight the “writer’s block?”
The block happens to every writer, but the idea is to keep practicing, keep writing, and keep writing. But also a writer’s block will only happen when you have completely run out of experiences. Writing is all about experiences so you have to go out and start a whole new string of experiences. It’s impossible to have a writer’s block in journalism because there are stories that should be told on a daily basis. Everyone has a story they have to tell, so you can’t get a block when people have those many stories to tell. It’s impossible
#PoeticJustice is the name of your poetry blog, why is your poetry still hidden to the masses?
I share my poetry with a group of people, the lantern meet of poets. Poetry for me is a form of expression. Expression from the deep that I don’t like putting out to the public, but I put it on a blog. Those who can access the blog, well and good. Those who know me very well will get to the blog and read it, those who don’t, wont.
You are the Director of Campus Ninjas a now dormant humorous online campus site. What happened to campus Ninjas as it has been dormant for quite a while now, what happened to the Ninjas?
Campus ninjas was a dream we were chasing when all of us were still too young at campus. We put in too much investment in terms of time, investment in terms of money. It was running well until all of us got too busy for it. each of us that were writing, the five ninjas, we all have a job that keeps us busy 24 hours… we were hoping that we would get some people at campus who would take on the blog from where it had stopped, there have been positive responses but we haven’t found people with much humor to run the blog as it is. For now it will be there until someone comes and takes it on.
What is Social Impact Activism?
Social Impact Activism Is the ability to use social media places like; twitter, Facebook, your blog to impact society that you live in … I do much of this with 40 days over 40 smiles. It’s the ability to know that for every follower that you have, they can positively contribute to a cause if that cause is reported to them, so you use social media to show them the cause so that they can contribute. And of course in Uganda there is a lot of poverty, there is a lot of disagreement and people have to keep up. So, it’s incumbent on every person with a social media space at least a sizeable forum to devote some of that space to a social cause.
That said, you are very active in 40-40 events, are you one of the founding Fathers?
(laughs) I am not a founding father of 40-40 but a committed member of the team. There is a lot of work to be done, and that work can’t be done unless some people volunteer to do it. Its open volunteering but there is not as many people that are willing to devote their time towards charity. So whenever I can, I devote my time to 40-40, which is most of the time.
Talking of Social Impact Activism, tell us about 40-40’s upcoming events at least those within this month, so we can also be part of this “Social Impact Activism.”
We have an activation this Saturday 9th May at Makerere grounds in partnership with the Global Health Corps who devoted their day which was supposed to be a field day to 40 Days 40 Smiles to raise money for a school called Elohim Children Foundation where disadvantaged and orphaned children go to in Luweero. These children dance for a living, it’s the food they eat, the school fees they pay. And we are thinking we can help them, hence we want to raise funds so we can build them a dormitory. So every penny from the event will be dedicated to building these children a dormitory.
You were ranked by Green Light Movement Polls as one of Uganda’s ten best debaters in 2013, what you have to say about the future, and structure/life of debating in this country.
The culture of debate in Uganda is appalling, it is very appalling, people don’t have the skills to debate but much less they don’t have the audience and the norm to take in debate. There are basic principles of debate that people do not want to uphold to, which would be vital to the running of society. People don’t want to listen to other opinions, people don’t want to take in opinions that are varying from their own opinions. There are many people sharing information and opinions that is not research based or backed by data. So the culture of debate at the moment is very appalling. Every person should go through a phase of their life where they learn how to debate, when they learn how to have a conversation with someone who doesn’t fully believe in them or whose opinion is totally different from theirs.
What about debating at University level?
University would have been a good sample case, but go to the high level, start with the Parliament its self, you watch a Parliamentary session and you can’t positively identify one issue that people are having a conversation about. Which is why the proactive debaters/members of Parliament are able to push through bills that would otherwise be considered infamous by people outside parliament. But at University also, there is an appalling culture of debate, I have watched Guild Debates, and you notice that the culture of debate in Uganda is at an all-time low.
There has been a case of yellow journalism in Uganda. What do you think about it?
I think every story is worth telling, whether it’s good or bad or whether people perceive it as bad, every story is worth telling. Yellow journalism has already done its fair share of disrepute to the journalism fraternity, you can see that the papers that are being sold every year are on the low side and people are no longer buying newspapers because they don’t see value in them but every story is worth being told, whether it is good or bad. The balance has to be struck by editors who have a wholesome view of journalism at a whole, but the journalists who do the day today work, our biggest challenge is to identify stories that mean something to society, we need to move away from official press statements and we talk to people who are affected by these press statements. I think we are having our moment of reconciliation with the facts as journalism. Every media manager is talking about how social media is stealing money from journalism, every media house is now actively considering an online platform and how they can invest in it and how to tell better stories. And soon, we shall be telling better stories that impact on society as a whole.
Do you blame the negative publicity on the international scene especially out of Africa on Yellow journalism? I mean people think Uganda is all about Kony, Idi Amin or Obote!
No, the way people decide to perceive Uganda is the way International Media decided to report about us, because many of these people learn about us through the International media so, If International Media proactively construes us as a nation or continent with wars and whatnot, we shall be perceived as that, but also the struggle is of us journalists to tell our own stories, we can’t keep waiting for International Media, we have to do this ourselves and I think the trend has started to change. You have seen BBC Is now looking for stories like Katoto. It has changed because of the great amount of debate that was put in, in the year of 2013 and 2014 into “how do you report about Africa.” And BBC invested time to understand how to report about Africa, they are now thriving which I can’t say for the other International Media Houses.
What was your tweef with the President really about? It all started with, “Naye @KagutaMuseveni ddala kiki, can we jointly get you something more attractive to do than lead us to our graves as a country?” what inspired you to attack this account or rather the personality behind the account?
Well, it wasn’t exactly a tweef but there was a pointing out of over the time what has appeared to me as hypocrisy by the President. If you visit his social media spaces you will realize that he has made a string of promises which when placed if context of the things he has been doing, he has largely delayed on these promises. So what I really did was sit down and point things out because a few weeks ago, the same president had made a contribution towards the treatment of a cancer patient and here is a country struggling to build a cancer ward. People are having marathons day in day out to build a cancer ward which should be UGX 700Mn, and here is a President who says he is committed to fighting cancer but on the other hand, he is purchasing UGX 3bn Land cruiser V8s for Party Officials. So I feel, there is a right or an obligation for every citizen to ask for accountability where they must ask for it, and that is all I was doing.
The problem is when people Critique Mr. Museveni, they want critique the regime but I think the first level of critique of Mr. Museveni should be the personality that is Mr. Museveni who is the president. So his personality is in question for many things, then his leadership based on his actions. At the end of the day if each citizen is able to see the glaring Hypocrisy, the failures of this person, they are able to make an informed decision during the coming elections.
Recently, a concerned citizen (Sam) posed some very factual and interesting questions via Twitter, he mostly challenged Journalists. What do you have to say about this?
I think he asked the questions, very justified questions that I think we as the media need to ponder and think about. Some of the questions Sam asked have been actively answered in some of our stories and some have not been answered. I think journalists cannot be able to answer some of Sam’s questions unless we drag the editors into the equation, some of the questions like organ harvesting at Mulago is a broad investigation that requires a commitment of resources that can’t be done without editorial approval. So, some of the questions he asked are justified questions to our journalism, but they should also be asked to the editors, the media managers the people that make the decision on how much money is spent.
At thisis256.wordpress.com we are fighting to bring out the Ugandan positive stories, from the bourgeoisie to the low people, it’s a tough thing I must say, any word of advice for us?
There are stories within Kampala that haven’t been told, lots of them and when you get to the bone of journalism, do fact driven stories, like the old school kind of journalism. Tell the stories because they have to be told.
Mentoring of journalism is expected to improve Uganda’s journalism, unfortunately, not many journalists are willing to mentor these students mostly at a free cost. What do you have to say about this?
You must admit that journalism is a very busy profession, so the person you are telling to mentor you is extremely busy in terms of live interviews and such. So I think the best form of mentoring in journalism is to stick to the person, see what they are doing, move with them, talk with them on a daily basis, ask those questions, and call them. Because it’s easier for them to respond to partial questions than sitting down and designing you a curriculum. Go with them to the field, go interview people with them, just tag along and you will get the broader view.
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 email@example.com
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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