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Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Writivism: Meet the finalists

Writivism sought for unpublished fictional works from young writers aged between 15 and 25 years on topical issues of concern to society, stories able to inspire positive change in our communities. Forty-three entries were received for the inaugural young Writivism writers’ competition with only 23 making it to the final shortlist. DENNIS D. MUHUMUZA brings you reviews of the top 5 stories which will be made available on the Daily Monitor website, and Facebook page, next week. To vote for the top three, go to

“Together” by Kathryn Kazibwe
An older sister, driven by the jealousy of not being as much loved as her young sister, abandons her dying mother and returns two years later after losing her own child. In a society where the older are expected to take care of the younger, there is an interesting twist as little sister is forced by circumstances to forgive and forget the pain of abandonment and console her now remorseful big sister. When they finally embrace, they realise how much they have needed each other, and they know nothing can part them again.
On being a finalist Kazibwe says, “It feels surreal! It has been a lot of hard work; writing and rewriting with the help of my mentor Beatrice Lamwaka. That I’ve come this far is pretty satisfying. However greater things lie ahead; I’ll keep writing and have a ball while at it.”

“Picture Frames” by Anthea Paelo
This is not just a story about a mourning mother but also about a father who is embittered more by his dead son’s sexual orientation than his death. The fact that Okello is a homosexual who has committed suicide does not change his mother’s love for him. She clings to everything that reminds her of him, including the cot he slept in as a baby. But her husband, Daudi, is fed up and wants her to get rid of those things because keeping them is like “living with his ghost”.
“He was a homosexual. We are better off without him,” he tells her. Will Rose ever forgive him for saying that? Even more, will she overcome her grief and find herself again? A powerful, subject-driven story that leaves you torn on who to empathize with between Rose and Daudi. Anthea says, “It’s a great feeling being a finalist. It’s one thing to think you are a storyteller, it’s another thing when someone else tells you you can be really good at this. It’s a validation of sorts, and I’m grateful to the judges.”

“Emotional Rollercoaster” by Paul Kisakye
Another story on homosexuality. When a battered woman, Sanyu, comes to seek solace from her homosexual friend David, they end up dancing to Maurice Kirya’s music: “…I wrapped my arms around her and we swayed to the smooth ballad. We continued dancing to four or five other songs until Sanyu asked me a question that caused my heart to stop beating: “Why can’t you be straight, just for me?”
Sanyu then undresses David and they kiss. By the time David gets his senses back, this reality confronts him: “I was naked. I was not alone in bed. And the person on the other side of the bed was not Joel. It was a girl. A stunningly beautiful girl with lips slightly curved in a dreamy smile.” Call it a story of a homosexual who is compelled to question his sexual identity. “It is a privilege being a finalist,” says Kisakye. “It has confirmed to me that I’ve potential as a writer. Get ready to read more of my writing in the near future”

“The Shadow” by Emmeline Bisiikwa
A First-Person narrative on the familiar theme of love, betrayal and revenge. Jess pours everything into her marriage to Danny but he still leaves her, saying his mistress is “ten times the woman” she shall ever be. It transpires Danny wants a son yet all Jess has given him are daughters.
The words “hell has no fury like a woman scorned” are lived out as Jess sets her husband’s house on fire and leaves. The power of this story is in the perfect use of verbs, making it rhythmic and enjoyable to read.
“It’s delightful being a finalist,” says Bisiikwa. “Working on this story was a challenge but my mentor, Ukamaka Olisakwe was a genius and together we managed to make the story work. The competition and mentoring process has helped me grow as a writer, so I intend to keep getting more stories out there.”

Side Walk” by Nassanga Rashidah Sarah
Life on the streets is brought to life in this story. It reveals what drives people to the streets. For example, Kama, an albino and her little brother Timmy had no option after their parents were lynched on orders of a witchdoctor because “in a backwater village of perfectly black people, two children with rare health conditions equalled sorcery.” Then there is Mamadou, a perfectly healthy mother of twins who goes to the streets because it is the easiest way of earning quick bucks. In fact she hates that she has competitors in Kama and her brother. What follows is a power struggle; one party must liquidate the other to enjoy the monopoly of beggary.
A memorable story with all the earmarks of great story-telling; fast-paced, twists and turns, tangible conflict all convincingly bringing out the idea of survival for the fittest, or the smartest – if you want! “I’m humbled being a finalist,” says Rashidah. “It was my first competition and I entered solely for the experience and skills. I never expected to get this far, at all. Whether I win or not, I’m definitely going to write some more because writing is such good therapy; I want everyone to experience it.”

--Saturday Monitor, August 10, 2013