Today saw the launch of 2 books, Sweet Medicine by Panashe Chigumadzi and A Death Retold in Truth and Rumor by Grace Musila. While Professor Musila was unable to make it, Chigumadzi was part of the session that was chaired by Bob Kisiki.
As usual, in what I am beginning to believe is proper literary fashion, both books sparked interesting conversation.
We dived into Professor Musila’s book first – A Death Retold in Truth and Rumor, a story of a tourist who is murdered in Masai Mara and the mystery surrounding her death. One of the reactions to this book was in relation to the different roles that the governments played and their reactions or lack thereof.
In the discussion, Africa became analogous to the colonial playground where every once in a while a royal will drop in to get engaged or visit a wildlife sanctuary.
There was some disbelief in the room when it was said that the blame at one point was shifted toward the animals at Masai Mara. After which the blame was turned onto something else. The invisible third force that crops up whenever superiors on the dark continent are put to task .
Chigumadzi took two readings out of her book, Sweet Medicine, and her writing really did take us there. Titsi, the main character of the book, came to life in those short pieces. For a person who has not yet read the book, I was able to get a teeny tiny picture into her story.
Tonights, Aha! moment: Chigumadzi said characters are not a vehicle to write about an issue but rather the other way round. Which is quite interesting when you think about it, I am notorious for trying to model a character after an issue that my mind has fixated on. However, as soon as I am done with that issue, then my character remains lingering with nowhere to go and nothing defined to do. I believe that this discussion started when a question was asked about whether she had a pretty good idea of where the story would lead or whether she just let the story develop as she went along.
Which makes me wonder about something else, do characters have a will of their own, aside from the agenda of the author?
One curious point was with regard to the duplicitous nature of Africans that was blamed on the fact that we would rather not put all our eggs in one basket. For a country that is largely Christian, why is there still a large number of callers to advert that says, ‘Do you want your ex back? Call this number 0777 123 456.‘
The question that closed off this session was directed toward the African Male, and whether they feel the pressure to be a blesser a.k.a Sugar Daddy?
The night was closed off by the Readers Choice Awards: with 11 submissions in the Ugandan Classics category and a whooping 47 submissions in the African category. The awards were hosted by the team and
In the Ugandan Classics category, the shortlisted titles were:
1. Kintu – Jennifer Makumbi
2. Fate of the Banished – Julius Ocwinyo
3. The Headline That Morning – Peter Kagayi
4. Song of Lawino – Okot P’Bitek
5. Tropical Fish – Doreen Baingana
In the African category, the shortlisted titles were:
1. Americanah – Chimamanda Ngozi
2. Black Ass – Igoni Barett
3. The Fisherman – Chigozie Obioma
4. The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives Loya Shoneyin
5. Season of Crimson Blossoms – Abubakar Adam Ibrahim
The absence of francophone literature did not go unnoticed, this begged the question: Why? Is it that the call was not wide spread or…
The winners were Kintu by Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi and Season of Crimson Blossoms by Abubakar Adam Ibrahim.
Yes, I might have done the dance as I nominated and voted for Kintu because Kintu shattered my world and actually was the first African literature book I read and reviewed.
update: I am not sure how I forgot this, well maybe I do – I didn’t win grrrr…. Afrikult held a raffle at the end of the ceremony where Writivism tees, Anthology & a bag and chocolate were up for grabs. However, because #francophonevoicesmatter, the last raffle ticket was rounded off to the nearest number and we had our first francophone winner of the night.
The Writivism Festival is an initiative that brings together established writers from the African Continent and beyond.
It will be happening this week (22nd to 28th of August) at the Uganda Museum.
Monday – Thursday: 6pm – 8pm;
Friday: 12pm – 8pm;
Saturday: 10am – 8pm;
Sunday: 12pm – 8pm.