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Sunday, March 18, 2012

Women have a mandate to look good

Even after she has got the ring on her finger, a woman should never give up on looking good. It is in fact the best way to get your man to be what you want him to be; by endeavouring to always look as good as when he met you, writes Dennis D. Muhumuza 

 "God, I love women! The look of a woman, the shape of a woman, the smile of a woman, the voice of a woman, the tenderness of a woman, the motherliness of a woman…God I love women.” That was my Facebook update on Women’s Day, and I meant every word of it. There have been fascinating inventions from the light bulb to the computer to the aeroplane but nothing beats the woman.

Beautiful ladies like these should work harder and stay in shape for their men and for the sake of their relationships 
Men are known for their toughness but when a woman you love looks you in the eyes and dishes out that killer smile, you can do anything in the world for her! And no, I’m not a hopeless romantic. I’m just a realist telling you men love women! Most of my friends are women. And on Women’s Day, I spent the day telling them what fascinating creatures they are. And when I discovered the celebration of womankind would go on all month through, my mind went into overdrive; coming up with adjectives that best capture the loveliness of women.

It was invigorating to discover I was not alone. Ugandan husbands that day brought their women breakfast in bed, others stayed home and offered them fabulous company, I tell you. One woman, who had no hope of getting spoilt because her husband is in the U.S. studying, called me in a voice tinged with joy. Her husband had actually called to say happy Women’s Day and whisper on the phone his love for her.

It was quite a rosy day for me until I called up a woman I will just call Flower. Is it that after a woman has nailed a man with a ring on her finger, she ceases to care? That’s the feeling I got from Flower and it shook me. I attended the same primary and secondary schools with Flower, and can assure you Shakespeare’s Juliet and Elechi Amadi’s Ihuoma pale in comparison with her beauty. After S.4, Flower joined a nursing college and married a doctor two years later.

Even in marriage, she continued to glow and grow in her beauty. But when I saw Flower in December after many years, her curves were gone and the once spotless face has since transmogrified beyond belief! And then she has grown so fat that she can hardly walk through the door. And I donot mean this in a disrespectful way but you have to pity the man who marries a woman that ceases to take care of herself.

Anyhow, when I called Flower on Women’s Day and asked where she was going to spend a romantic evening with her husband, she responded: “Those things are for campus girls. For us we are old and making money to put our children through school.” That night I lay on my bed and thought of the pert girl I love, and dreaded the very prospect of her ever having Flower’s attitude. What if we get married and she starts hogging herself with food and loses her mystery?

What if she stops being the lady she is and starts competing with the housemaid to see who is well-versed about Mexican soap operas? After watching Flower and talking to her, I think I understand why some men would rather have the ground swallow them than be seen in public with their wives. And as much as it’s painful to accept, this is why some men cheat on their women.

As women celebrate their month, it’s my appeal they do all it takes to retain their electrifying power. We men like flaunting you. And if you are not in that shape and look as to be flaunted, then, you’ve lost us. It is the point of this article, really. That it’s the woman’s mandate to work hard and look good. Be your man’s muse, and he will become the best man you want him to be.

--Saturday Monitor, March 17, 2010

A befitting celebration of poetry


"As poets it is our duty to feel, to learn and unlearn, to be present and not absent and to remind ourselves and those around us of our very human nature through our gift of words.” Those words by Beverly Nambozo will carry refreshed meaning and significance during the World Poetry Day celebrations in Kampala next Wednesday.

Celebrated every March 21, World Poetry Day was inaugurated by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organisation in 1999 to promote the reading, writing, publishing and teaching of poetry as well as to reflect on the power of language and development of creative abilities in individuals.

Revelers listen to a poet during Poetry in Session, a monthly sitting at Isha's Hidden Treasure in Kampala
Uganda’s poetry is thriving like never before, arguably. Storms have come and gone without extinguishing the poetic candle that Okot p’Bitek lit with Song of Lawino (1966), an epic that won him plaudits as the finest East African poet of the 20th century. The classic was followed by Poems from East Africa (1971) a powerful collection that includes some of Uganda’s finest poems. More poetry collections of distinguished quality such as Dr Susan Kiguli’s The African Saga (1998), Prof. Timothy Wangusa’s Africa’s New Brood (2006), Augustine Omare Okurut’s Songs of Rage and Other Poems (2009), Mildred Barya Kiconco’s Give Me Room to Move My Feet (2009) and Beverly Nambozo’s Unjumping (2010) testify to Uganda’s gift of poetry.

It’s on days like World Poetry Day that such works are celebrated in form of discussions, readings and recitals in honour of exceptional talent and to inspire budding others. Preparations are underway in some circles already. The Femrite Readers/Writers Club will for example celebrate the day on Monday during the club’s session.

“We shall be celebrating by reading poetry only, so come with your very best poems to read,” says Tino Akware, Femrite programme assistant. “You can also read poetry from your favourite poet.”

More recitals are expected in schools, in what should pass as a resurrection of the country’s oral tradition of poetry performance. In fact, this beautiful form of expression is back and vibrant, when you consider the grand recitals by the Lantern Meet of Poets, and what happens during the Spoken Truth night at the National Theatre when rap is amalgamated with spoken observations about life in our society.

So, remember to write or read a poem on Wednesday. For as Unesco’s former Director-General, Koichiro Matsuura observed, poetry must be celebrated because “it offers a multitude of ways and actual forms of writing, is an area of research and experience that enables the human condition to be reviewed in its entirety ... it designs the contours of possible forms of dialogue among cultures, histories and memories.”

--Saturday Monitor, March 17, 2012

Monday, March 12, 2012

Uganda’s finest poets celebrate Black history month with poetry evening


Bursts of energy and emotion, music and sensuality, inspiration and edification defined an evening of poetry commemorating the month-long U.S. celebration of Black History Month, on February 29.

The Black History Month was originated by African-American scholar Carter Godwin Woodson to highlight the accomplishments of African-Americans and the overall unique aspects of their experiences that had been ignored from the time of slavery and racism up until the 1960s. It started as the Negro History Week in 1926 before it was extended and renamed Black History Month in 1976 and has since been celebrated every February.

Anyhow, the Conference Hall at the College of Engineering, Design, Art and Technology, Makerere University, was packed with the country’s literati that along with students and budding literary talents spent two hours reveling in poetry.

For the sages of old like Prof Timothy Wangusa and Dr Okello Ogwang, the commemoration brought memories of the 1962 Literature Conference at Makerere that was attended by African-American writer Langston Hughes whose depiction of racism in his poems continues to move humanity long after his death.
On Wednesday February 29, Hughes’s famous poem, Herlem (1951) about a black American’s pain of being excluded from the “American Dream” because of the colour of his skin, was recited by Peninah Ninsiima. The audience could not help reciting achingly along: “What happens to a dream deferred? Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun? Or fester like a sore—And then run? Does it stink like rotten meat…Or does it explode?

Ms Ninsiima, a Makerere University Masters of Literature student also recited Nikki Giovanni’s Seduction (1997), and Maya Angelou’s Phenomenal Woman – two poems that exude the sexuality Ms Ninsiima brought out with her idyll voice.

But it was Beverley Nambozo’s newest poem, Ssebo Gwewange! and its patent eroticism that rocked the house most, judging by the response it evoked. Call it a love poem or an interaction of lovers under the sheets, its first stanza goes: “You pound me like the ngalabi/ I slap the wall to your rhythm/ Sharp, unforgettable, your tightening subdued I moan like thunder…”

Exactly 22 poems – both Ugandan and American – were recited and sung with a lot of enthusiasm that resonated with all, because the issues embedded are universal, or as Dr Ogwang put it, are “issues central to the existence of humanity.”

Dr. Susan Kiguli reciting one of her poems. Photo by Edward Ecwalu
You should have been there to hear the zeal in Dr Susan Kiguli’s voice as she recited her poem, Ugandan Previlege about the ideal of loyalty and brotherhood that are unfortunately vanishing from our society! And how frustration was tangible in her voice as she launched onto I am Back Home, depicting the muddled up country she still finds after four years abroad.

Prof Wangusa was there too, and from his 2006 anthology, Africa’s New Brood, he recited The XYZ of Love with its famous summation that true love is “when one of the couple finally dies –the other one fondly follows soon.” Prof. Wangusa is the Ugandan master of poetic playfulness and rhythmic satire. And he had the audience when he performed Africanology, a magnetic swipe at the intellectual big man of Africa. The poem, on the surface, is about African think tanks that meet and set up “strategic organs” across the continent to “research and promote the ethos of Africanology.” Some of the organs include: “The ampthitheatre of Anti-Governmentology in Algeria/ The Bureau of Bankruptciology in Burkina Faso…” not forgetting “The University of Ubiquitoniquitology in Uganda…”

Then there was the Lantern Meet of Poets luminary, Jason Sabiti, reciting Amiri Baraka’s Preface to a Twenty Volume Suicide Note (1961), Jean Toomer’s Portrait of Georgia (1923) and Margaret Walker’s For My People (1942) – charged poems whose mood and emotions Sabiti captured with perfect annunciation, timed pace, breath control and a stirring voice.

Susan Kerunen added her own music to the overall musicality of language with two songs, Akuru (a singing bird) from her third album by that name, and Akello, a folk song she learned from her mother that lures the children to come grab something to eat for, yeah, it’s dinner time! And yes, the nourishments were in plenty, and as Doreen Baingana thanked all for coming to listen to poetry, some were already stepping out to catch a bite.

The Black History Month in Kampala which started on February 2 with the screening of the movie, The Great Debaters, was organised by the US Mission in Uganda together with Femrite and the Department of Literature, Makerere University.

--Saturday Monitor, March 10, 2012