Some Thoughts on Kwani? LitFest from Beverley Nambozo

I asked fellow Kwani? LitFest/SLS 2006 participant Beverley Nambozo for some thoughts on the experience, and she provided the following...

The performance poetry class began like a secondary school literature lesson. Thankfully, it escalated to a mature discourse. The students did not get the opportunity to perform before others but it was a good learning ground. There was genuine enthusiasm in the class and some students also had a chance to visit other workshops. With more training material and a stronger communication network, much more work can be covered for next year. The Heron Hotel: Stiff necked writers, editors and librarians concealing their huge breakfasts with manuscripts, note pads and journals. Hmph! Timid students milling around the Tin House editor, Farafina Magazine editor, Sable litmag editor and Kwani? editor wondering if their works had hopes of existing off their worn out looking manuscripts into the above mentioned finer established magazines. An orderly disorderliness marked the routine at the Heron Hotel. Meals, workshops, meals, bus trips, payments, checking in and checking out, busy lobby, intellectual interaction. In the dining area, the literary fanatics would ogle the damsels from other continents wondering if they should ask if she could share her manuscript with them or share her body with them. Biding their time, they waited and waited and waited…

Human beings are incapable of such equanimity. The wonders lay in the sand. Numerous. Each grain a potion to feed the egos of lustful tourists, idlers and children. The winders lie within the Muslim prayers echoing with comic earnestness. I was hypnotised. I was enchanted. I walked into Lamu at night blindfolded as the beach boys led me through the alleys whose stone walls veiled the secrets of the coastal girls. I held on. Trusting. Running. The blindfolds came off and danced before my eyes tempting me to dance with them. Standing in the ocean, the fluorescent algae swam around me daring me to join them in their aquatic frenzy. I plunged in washing away my urban burdens. Time, urgency and promptness are but luxuries in Lamu. With extended breakfasts, exaggerated desires to swim and sluggish exits from the hotels, Lamu is an island that detaches itself from international dialogue, reason and common sense which is why it is the most imperfect place for writers who need to exist in a real world. In Lamu, the best way to engage with the Island is to talk and watch. Talk to the island folk, talk to the squeaky voiced henna artists, talk to the red skinned tourists, talk to the orange and black haired beach boys, talk to the ocean, talk to the donkeys.. and when the conversations end…(which they never do) go back to your hole called home and write. I am wary of writers who go to far away islands to write. They are just show offs who are suffering from identity crisis and so need to pollute an island with ink from pens that never dry.

Beverley Nambozo is a Ugandan writer born in 1976. She has been a member of Uganda Women Writers’ Association (Femrite) since 2000. She is currently working on a collection of erotic poetry and a novel, Two Lives. She has also written a few academic papers on gender, media and literature.

Beverley has worked as a radio show morning host of two years at 104.1 Power FM in Kampala. She also served as an Audience Relations Manager, conducting regular market surveys. Before that she was a teacher and dance instructor at Rainbow International School in Kampala. Since 1999, she has been in an active dance group that usually holds concerts in and around church and the community. Beverley has also been involved in several HIV/AIDS sensitization campaigns amongst youth in secondary schools and universities.

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