Apio Eunice Otuko Graduated with PhD in Anthropology from the University of Birmingham in the UK. She worked with the Concerned Parents’ Association at the peak of the LRA war in Northern Uganda and she is a co-founder of Facilitation for Peace and Development, a human rights and development NGO based in Lira, Uganda.
Zura Maids is a secret holding owned by a powerful ring of human traffickers under the cover of an employment agency for house maids. This is a story of Lena who is recruited from a camp for internally Displaced people in Acokara, only to find herself trapped into clutches of traffickers. So powerful is the network of the traffickers that her efforts to escape land her into prison. She must now make a choice between surrender and fighting back. In this powerful first novel Apio Eunice Otuko Breaks new ground for the African novel by creating fresh awareness about a major social evil sustained by human greed on a global scale.
The Switch is the story of the travails of Chelimo, a brilliant young girl from Kapchorwa, Eastern Uganda,whose life,when circumcised, in accordance with the tradition of her tribe,takes a horrendous turn. Chelimo’s struggles in life are at odds with the promises she was given at circumcision and as government minister, she embarks on a delicate personal crusade to ensure that the girls of her tribe do not ever have to face the dangers posed by the knife. However, not everyone is happy with her crusade.
Straddling two continents, Shock Waves Across The Ocean portrays the struggles of people trying to make sense of their lives, and of the web of relationship that holds them together. Nico – the trouble shooter, Denis – her lond suffering husband, Cola – Puerile and enigmatic Jeremy, the pimp, Peter, Hazel and Jenna are all part of a rich tapestry depicting the strength and foibles, joys and tragedies, as well as greed and generosity, that characterize human life as it is lived from day-to-day. In these characters we see an authentic reflection of ourselves of those things about us that we find admirable and those we find less flattering.
Cassandra is the story of an independent-minded self-confident and ambitious girl, who is determined to reach the top without using men’s coat tails to do so. She believes women have more going for them by society. But what happens when she is waylaid by love, with all its power to subdue and overwhelm is a lesson in self-discovery. Written against the backdrop of the turbulent early eighties, Cassandra is a girl’s statement on life and on how to balance gender roles to transform society positively.
Silent Patience is a family saga which takes the reader through three generations of a Tutsi family. It begins with the arranged marriage of the protagonist, Stella, to an older man of the same tribe whom she has never met. She is prematurely withdrawn from school and married off without consulting her or considering her wishes. With succeeding generations, however, the order of things changes and old tenets based on gender, traditions and sectarianism are replaced with new concepts that seek to do away with all forms of discrimination. In Silent Patience Kaberuka gives a vivid account of domestic life that provokes thoughts about human emotions of love, pain and compassion, and raises questions about some of the traditional societal values. Its excellent dialogue, vibrant characters and deft plot make it a good read.
A tale of compelling human interest, Mary Okurut’s The Invisible weevil is an extremely talented translation of history into literary art. It is a fictionalized record of a tragic national experience, which every Ugandan will readily recognize. Spanning the decades of successive regimes, this is a sad story of Africa’s post-colonial political actors typified by the thinly distinguished presidents Opolo, Duduma, Polle and Kazi. Deftly weaving together strands of political and gender concerns. The Invisible Weevil is both a humorous and somber work full of unforgettable episodes. The weevil, the central image of the novel, manifests itself in many forms. Karooro Okurut’s gender-sensitive stance informs the texture of the entire novel, whose heroine is the tender, assertive and admirable Nkwanzi.
Memiors of a Mother, Ayeta’s first novel, is deeply moving story of a Ugandan who is forced to trade the romantic dream of her youth for a mundane marriage, based on outmoded rules and obligations. The portrait of Elizabeth Sera, the protagonist, is that of a woman ‘more sinned against than sinning’. Her attempt to balance the need for social respectability and dictates of her heart lead to painful discoveries, which finally force her to assert her individuality against oppressive social norms.
“Here is a fitting feast for every monolingual, bilingual and multi- lingual lover of poetry. Seven
cheers to Femrite for this singular project that has accorded to us contributors the opportunity to
compose our poems in our mother tongues – the languages in which we think and dream best.”
Professor Timothy Wangusa
This poetry anthology is all encompassing and presents a variety of writers ranging from seasoned voices to new ones of great promise. The voices are adventurous, reflective, provocative and even sassy. The poets explore with passion diverse themes from the private to the public realm reassuring the reader that poetry is about everything and is perhaps everything. The pages of this anthology pulsate with rhythmic variations that give unexpected pleasure and provoke the readers to be exceptionally alert. This is a welcome and priceless addition to Uganda Poetry Anthology 2000.
Another long poem of the song school has come out of Uganda. Christine Oryema – Lalobo is a harsh strong voice in the wilderness pointing the cancerous effect of war, hitting hard at obstinate egoistic forces. This is an expose of the anguish and tortured souls of children who never chose this situation but became the central victims of it. The harshness and repetitiveness in this long lyric is alluring. The burst of feelings as if rolled in a hard ball of intensity entices and frightens simultaneously. The raw anger and the poets poking a festering wound makes this poem an earthquake. In fascinating blend of different voices, a country is put on trial.
Susan Kiguli has been writing poetry since she was a schoolgirl at Gayaza High school. She is an associate Professor and a lecturer at Makerere University.
This is the first volume of poetry devoted to her work and it won the National Book Trust of Uganda Poetry Award 1999.
“Her poetry reveals a sensitive and lyrical response to events around her. Her strong imagination allows a poem to develop through original but understandable metaphors. She has a wide vocabulary and artistry in the pattern of her poems that does not swamp the reader’s spontaneous enjoyment of the communication. This work should be heard as well as read with the eye. She is a poet worth reading.”
Prof. Margaret Macpherson
This anthology invites the reader to enter into the innocent delights of childhood experience through poems, songs, and short stories. The emphasis on rhyme and rhythm in this book produces pure poetic pleasure and makes memorization easy. Some of the poems are accompanied by reproductions of paintings that are visual illustration of ideas and some have music accompaniment. This approach to poetry enables readers appreciate poetry without any abstraction since visual imagery would be painted concretely and the sound structure put to music, making the encounter with poetry a memorable experience. At a time when students are running away from poetry because of poor foundations, a stiff, boring and scientific approach to teaching, this book is what every teacher of poetry needs to raise a crop of creative thinkers for the future.
memories / biographies / auto biogrraphies
“One day, leafing through an ancient 1950s copy of the Makerere Yaerbook I saw the name Nyendwoha Sarah, who had been to Makerere and Oxford, both iconic centres of higher learning – the first woman graduate in east and central Africa. I had always hungered for African stories in the papers – anything Africa and/or female to identify with. Finding Sarah sent thunderbolt that blinded me with its sights and struck my whole psyche. She did it! It was my Damascus moment.”
Fatoumata Toure, Pan-African Feminist
short story anthologies
“Imagine you are held aloft by a group of wonderful women from Uganda, Ghana, Botswana, South Africa and Niger. Then with skill and grace you are carried across Africa to meet engaging characters that they know well. Reading the pot and other stories is both a delightful literary experience as well as a journey deep into intimate spaces of the continent. Although the stories are individualistic and they tackle a variety of themes, there is seamlessness in the style. Each writer presents us with characters that take you by the hand into vividly painted worlds. Each writer seems to pick up where the other left off. Each has achieved storytelling excellence. Eight stories, eight writers, five countries, one remarkable journey. Reading this collection, we are reminded that Africa is a birthplace of human kind and as such the origin of all storytelling. These writers have skillfully crafted a collection that honours an ancient tradition.” Sylivia Vollenhoven, SouthAfrica
“In Nothing To See Here, sixteen African Women writers ably deal with the politics of nationhood and identity, and the burden and beauty of womanity. From the serious, to the absurd to the seriously absurd, these stories will leave you pondering, crying and laughing as you travel from East Africa to South Africa through West Africa. If you don’t know any of these writers yet, hold your breath because you will want to tell everyone that you read them here first. A beautiful collection with 16 well – plotted stories from 16 amazing African female storytellers.”
Zukiswa Warnner, Author of men of the South, shortlisted for Commonwealth Writers Prize.
“But your noble mission was never accomplished as Ezinne was reconciled with her husband saying she was sorry she had upset him enough to beat her. ‘I just need to understand him better,’ she said to you. You had a series of sensations, as you felt that if you opened your mouth you would release fumes. You saw your mother in your sister.You saw your life heading for a vast dark pit. She was like as standby actor in the theatre – understudying momie’s role for the future and nearing her ultimate performance. And you, what were you?” The Absorber by Onyinye Ihezukwu, 2021.
This Anthology addresses themes of love, betrayal, abuse and confessions in bold and emotive ways. The protagonists respond to universal challenges in unexpected ways that keep the reader engaged from start to finish.
This short story collection is the outcome of the writing residency for African women writers held in Jinja, Uganda, in January 2021. Writers from across English- speaking Africa contribute stories as diverse as the continent itself, stories that explore universal concerns in acutely individual ways. Among others, an upper- class Ghanaian confronts the irony of race from a prison cell, a Zambian mourns her sister and tackles the restrictions of tradition in a surprisingly humorous way; in Tanzania, two strangers go to extremes to seek elusive health; a Ugandan housewife reflects on personal and world politics as she watches a dog fight; another Ghanaian remembers a love affair that led her into an ancestor’s embrace; two Nigerians shopping in happiness during armed conflict (in a story by Ugandan Beatrice Lamwaka, nominated for the 2021 Caine Prize). There is more in this rich store of emotion, reflection and ultimately, truth that is the best revealed through fiction.
Although Never Too Late is fiction, the social issues it presents are very real. Dark images of loneliness, seduction, shattered dreams and torn lives emerge on the pages of this anthology to challenge readers to search for answers for a better life. The authors use The Role of Christianity as the running theme for most stories each provoking readers to rise above the realm of human wisdom to a higher hope of forgiveness, righteousness and deep reflection offered through the unconditional love of JESUS CHRIST.
Jo DiStefano Kapus, (Author and Publisher, USA)
In Talking Tales a variety of women tell their stories in prose and poetry. They cast their nets wide, hauling in themes that celebrate as much as they castigate and mourn. There is the delight of discovering oneself on the cusp of womanhood, and of hearing about success in the fight for women’s emancipation. There is also the wonder at the restorative power of love. However, the murkier side of human life explored too: the failed search for love, unwanted advances, misunderstood affinities, incest, betrayal, disillusionment, unfruitful enterprise, domestic violence, corruption, brutality, injustice, the capriciousness of fortune…The realistic, the near-fantastic and the bizarre all find their place here. The themes are handled with forthrightness and humour as the writers take full advantage of the possibilities inherent in the different ways of telling tales:
poetic, expository, and straightforward narrative.
The names of those who penned the writings in this impressive collection alone tell half the story. They hail from different parts of Africa and from different cultures. They tell their stories in different modes. They run the whole gamut – they tell of defiance, and spin hilarious tales of elopement and wry tales of despair, loss and loveliness. Some of the poems lift up the heart, others peel back the blinkers that blind our eyes. There is the romantic, the macabre and the surreal. The writings never leave you indifferent – you are likely to take sides, to get angry, to laugh, to cry, and to think of a lot that goes on inside the human heart.
Often it is the tragedies that befall us that bring out the best in us in terms of creative talent. This is reflected in this short – story anthology. From the origins of life and its antithesis, death through tradition as opposed to modernity, through depredations and ravages of war, HIV/AIDS, marital infidelity, school experiences, to the importance of resilience, this anthology traverses a broad literary territory both in terms of Uganda joined together by a commonality of concerns.
Some of the twelve works published in this anthology have won prestigious literary awards and prizes in their individual capacities or have made it to the shortlist, making this collection the best. The patience, sensitivity for detail, and total absence of melodrama even in the most tragic of pieces, signal a watershed in Uganda’s literature and give the reader a glimpse of the greater things to come.
Words from a Granary is a collection of ten short stories, which tell different tales and recapture different experiences. These stories explore various aspects of life and high light issues of concern in contemporary Uganda and offer the reader a glimpse into lives of ordinary people faced with odds and how they deal with them each in their unique way. From the dramatic to the lyrical, the humorous to an absurd and the poignant, the stories are written in a range of different styles and offer diverse readings for a variety of different literary tastes. Words from a Granary in an entertaining and inspirational collection.
A woman’s Voice is a compelling collection of twelve short stories which talk of human relationships, courage and endurance of the woman in the face of hardships and social injustices. The collection offers a variety of readable material used on real, if sometimes controversial and provocative experience.
With this Ugandan Creative Writers Directory, the first of its kind, Alliance Francaise aims at promoting local literature and its authors.
As reference book, its purpose is to be booth a tool and a manifesto for the recent revival of Literature in Uganda. We would also like it to be an incentive to more discoveries.
The traumatized woman who dies of grief, the girl whose dream to become a doctor is thwarted, the little girl who raises a vulnerable family of little children because her parents and all her relatives have been killed by LRA rebels, and many other harrowing tales comprise this collection of Farming Ashes.
These are real life experiences told by women of Northern Uganda about the atrocities that they have endured for over decades at the hands of the notorious rebel leader, Joseph Kony and his vicious lieutenants.
Farming Ashes offers cogent and explosive tales of the LRA exploits that are disturbing and baffling in the extreme and leave the reader asking the question: ‘why’ and for longing for ‘the world of no war’, as one of the storytellers puts it.
Today You Will Understand is a collection of women’s voices on their experiences of war in Northern Uganda collected alongside Stories of Farming Ashes.
Female genital mutilation is the excruciation and damaging experience that a lot of women in many cultures across Africa and in many other parts of the world suffer. Even when the women find themselves, for one reason or another, relocate in what should be safe havens, this practice frequently follows them like a vengeance ghost.
Beyond the dance is a compilation of testimonies and poems about the humiliation of female genital mutilation, and about the resulting deprivation and loss. It encompasses accounts, factual in some cases and lyrical in others, of the experiences of this practice lived or witnessed, and the visceral responses to the practice. The anger is palpable, the bafflement tangible. Beside the pain, though, is the hope borne of the voices raised by government, organizations, institutions, and individuals, urging a stop to the practice and coaxing off-unwilling communities into abandoning it or transforming it into a meaningful ritual that builds up rather than ruins.
A collection of varying experiences and style knit together by the storytellers’ desire to speak out about HIV and AIDS in order to make difference. Some of the narratives record unbelievable tales of oppression, of violence against women, blatant inequality and some are intensely personal.
These women courageously speak so that those who hear may learn. It is as if their stories are guided by the philosophy that knowledge is power. Their voices are invested with dignity, touched by bravery and compelled by the desire to protect themselves and others. These are stories of commitment to a cause, a second chance and realization that HIV and AIDS happen to real people.
In their own words contains twelve anecdotes which give an insight into the first ten years of FEMRITE. It is a record that will always remind us of what it meant to build a woman writers’ association in Africa. The booklet will also serve as a springboard for other women writers’ groups in Africa who look to FEMRITE as a role model, or those which aspire to come together and associate with writers.
The creative writing pieces that configure this anthology are accompanied by articles written by our comrades in this adventure, our dear colleagues, Carolyn Jess – Cooke and Helen Liebling. Infused with the life writing spirit of the workshop, Carolyn’s honest insight into the confluence of trauma and writing in her own life offers an invigorating record of the therapeutic potential of literature. Helen’s detailed recounting of her ample experience in Uganda as a clinical psychologist reveals her devotedness to explore different approaches and courses of action to alleviate the ordeals of victims of gender based violence. Their writings in this anthology are genuine and conscientious testimonies of the feasibility writing (about) trauma. Last but not least, let us thank again our dear Hilda Twongyeirwe of Femrite without whose enthusiasm and hard work this would not have been possible.
No Time to Mourn is a collection of short stories, poems, artwork and photography penned, produced and presented by South Sudanese women. It reflects the lives of the women writers and artists and at the same time gives voice to the very real lived experiences and lives of every woman of South Sudanese heritage. The ideas and experiences in this book span decades, the straddle boarders, they cross continents and describe events that are hard to imagine, even with some knowledge of south Sudan’s history. It is hard not to be moved as you read what many of these authors have lived through as they strive to achieve those basics of human rights: life, liberty and security. Through this book, we learn more about the cost of war and the value of peace and how they affect women’s ability to found a home, bear and raise children, stay healthy and safe, secure education for themselves and their children, seek professionals fulfillment and even fall in love, while navigating society’s often narrowly defined gender roles.