A Triple book launch AND a Long Story Short Staged Readings is what was planned for tonight. Unfortunately, I could not attend all the events, however, I did manage to get the first half hour of the triple book launch.
The books on the line up were: The Triangle by Nakisanze Segawa, How to Spell Naija II by Chuma Nwokolo and We are All Blue by Donald Molosi. This session was moderated by Nwokolo, who I think was a fun and engaging host.
We started off a bit late with people trickling in at their own pace, so Nwokolo got a brilliant idea on how to lure them in. He gave those of us who were in the room the plan and we were all in agreement.
Up he stood, book in hand, in a bold loud voice – he started to read. Was the story already written on the pages of the book, I have no idea. As he read aloud, people started coming in and with everyone who entered, we clapped as loudly as we could – as if we wholehearted agreed with what he had just said.
It was probably the clapping that caused the tarrying feet to pick up their pace – Ingenious idea Nwokolo, ingenious! Standing ovation from the timekeepers in the room!
After he made the introductions, we dived head first into Molosi’s We are All Blue. Sadly, Molosi was unable to come however, he was well represented by his publisher – Shaun Randol. Randol talked about the significance of the book not only in Botswana but also in the US, where the book speaks to racial tension. What had me amused was that this is not a novel but a play packaged in a book. Who does that? Packages a play into a book?
One of the organizers of a local arts festival raised a question about how she found it difficult to convince publishers to take on similar publishing projects because they were more interested in work that had the potential to make it onto a school curriculum. She then proposed that Randol take a look at the different works coming out of East Africa. To which he responded in the affirmative. He did note that he was not initially looking to publish drama, but that Molosi’s manuscript was powerful enough to change his mind.
Next up was Nakisanze who took us into a little background about her book, The Triangle, and some of her reasons for the angles she took while writing it. She took a reading in English and then also gave an electrifying brief performance in Luganda. In her words, the book takes on the life of Kabaka Mwanga and especially the periods of his life that are not popular in history text books.
One particular question that she got asked that had me bobbing my head was, how did she make the choice on what to include in her book and what to leave out of her book. To which she responded, that her research did lead her to a staggering wealth of information, but she was urged by fellow writer, Jennifer Makumbi (of the Kintu fame – book review here) not to include every single thing into her book. After all she was not writing a historical piece but a book in which she was going to weave truth and fiction.
Which makes me wonder about where one is supposed to draw the line between fiction and fact? Who has the authority to do that especially when the protagonist in the story is a well known figure in the hallways of Ugandan history?
Then the intriguing question of language reared it’s head once again. For those of us whose first language is not English, there is the laborious task that involves thinking in your mother tongue first, then attempting to switch back to English. Most times, English does not truly portray the emotion that is bellied deep within the intonations and gestures that come along with speaking in a native tongue.
Unfortunately, that was all I had time for last evening as I had to rush off to another meeting. However, I did manage to get a recording of Nakisanze giving a short captivating performance of a scene from the book (The Triangle) in Luganda.
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.