Wednesday, April 12, 2017


       "We are looking forward to Africa themed haiku i.e. haiku about African sights and sounds. Haiku must contain clear images, settings and juxtaposition. Haiku must be concise; three lines each.
·         It is open to ALL African poets (LIVING IN AFRICA), who will not have published a full-length collection of poetry by July 2017
·         Submissions should be original, in English. Submit using Times New Roman, single-spaced and size 12.
·          Send three Haikus to as a word attachment. DO NOT include your name or contact details on the haiku  itself
·         The subject line should read, #BABISHAIKU2017
·         Include your name, email address, country or birth and country of permanent residence, telephone number and the titles of your haikus in the body of the email
·         The submissions will be accepted from April 13th 2017 to July 4th 2017
·         The 2016 winners are not eligible to apply
·         The short-list will be announced in mid-July 2017
·         More details on the face book page, Babishai Niwe Poetry Foundation, on Twitter @BNPoetryAward and the website,
·         The top three winners will receive 200 USD each and receive publication in the Mamba Haiku journal;
The chief judge of the #Babishaiku 2017 Competition is:-
 Adjei Agyei-Baah 
Adjei Agyei-Baah is the co-founder of Africa Haiku Network and the co-editor of the Mamba Journal, Africa’s international haiku voice. He promotes haiku in Africa and as well serve as a haiku teacher and consultant for several schools and institutions in Ghana. He is the author of “Afriku” published by Red Moon Press, 2016 and a winner of several international haiku awards. 

This Babishai Haiku 2017 award is proudly sponsored by:-


Tuesday, March 21, 2017


Tuesday 21 March 2017       World Poetry Day Press Statement

How do we take back our power if we never knew we had it in the first place?
In 2009, when the first Ugandan annual women's BN poetry prize was awarded to Lillian Aujo, it was a novelty. It was a platform that emboldened the closeted poets; unsure of their poetic power. Floods of gratitude poured in from the Ugandan women. After five years, when the award stretched to include all African poets, it was also the opportune time for a Ugandan woman to say, "Here I am, I'll continue the Ugandan women's poetry prize." That was power.
For the five years it lasted, the poets attended master classes at various continental festivals like Storymoja. where they met and were mentored by London 2012 Olympics poet Lemn Sissay, where they were published in Babishai poetry anthologies alongside Prof. Jack Mapanje and Dr. Susan Kiguli, read from the same stage as Sitawa Namwalie and experienced a vast amount of unlimited poetry.
The conversation about this poetry prize re-emerged during the second Babishai poetry festival in 2016. The panel of impassioned Ugandan women poets spoke with conviction and pride. Let the actions begin. When the prize began, there wasn't even a blog to its name. The founder hadn't published any poetry collection unlike today and her only literary achievement was attending a writer's retreat in Lamu. There were hundreds of others more advanced in their literary careers.
What did the founder of this BN Poetry Award have that was different? The power of decision and the heart to make it happen at all costs. There is every feasibility to revamp this prize. Just say Yes!  Make the decision. The Babishai Niwe Poetry Foundation will offer support. Don't wait for an endorsement from heaven. You have it. Anthony Robbins says, "Use whatever life gives you... The truth of the matter is, there is nothing you can't accomplish if you clearly decide what it is that you're absolutely committed to achieving."
To the Ugandan women poets, take back your power. Bring back the prize. Babishai will give its support. As you do so, in the words of Roxanna Kazibwe, published poet, 'Remember to have the time of your life while at it.'
FOUNDER AND COORDINATOR                        

Friday, March 10, 2017


'Husband, now you despise me
Now you treat me with spite
And say I have inherited
The stupidity of my aunt
You say you no longer want me
Because I am like the things left behind'

Lawino,  the central female character in the famous poem by Uganda's Okot p Bitek, Song of Lawino.
Lawino stands for self-respect, traditional values, feminism and she's also still a relevant voice for today. Tonight, you too will believe that Lawino is indeed our uncelebrated Uganda sheroine.
Make Acoli great again. That's what Lawino stands for. Respect of tradition, upholding Acoli values. Acholi people also known as Acoli is an ethnic group from the districts of Agago, Amuru, Gulu, Kitgum, Nwoya, Lamwo, and Pader in Northern Uganda (an area commonly referred to asAcholiland), and Magwe County in South Sudan.
The Acholi language is a Western Nilotic language, classified as Luo. Organised in chiefdoms. Leader is Rwot. Main activity is agriculture.The dances too, Lawino does not waste her time but presents the openness, liveliness and healthiness of Acoli dance positively, without apology:
«When the drums are throbbing
And the black youths
Have raised much dust
You dance with vigour and health
You dance naughtily with pride
You dance with Spirit,
You compete, you insult, you provoke
You challenge all»,

 Her husband Ocol, educated in Western ways, married a second woman called Clementine, an African lady who dressed and spoke in ways that devalued her African tradition and upheld Western ways. This is exactly what Ocol admired. By so doing, held Lawino, his traditional wife, in disdain.

Brother, when you see Clementine!
The beautiful one aspires;
To look like a white woman;
Her lips are red-hot;
Like glowing charcoal;

‘My clansmen I cry
Listen to my voice
The insults of my man
Are painful beyond bearing
He abuses me in English
And he is so arrogant
Second major factor explaining Lawino’s sheroics, Lawino challenged this Western education, whose literacy,  it appeared,  held tradition in contempt. She continues to say,
'In the deserted homestead
You insult me
You laugh at me
You say I do not know the letter A
Because I have not been to school and I have not been baptized. '
And yet, I agree, like Taban lo Liyong, indicated in Popular Culture of East Africa, published by Longman in Kenya, 1972, that while education may be formalized, it may also remain informal in the sense of cultural information. E.g the Luo proverb, Jatelo ogongo ogwari, meaning The leader will be scratched by the thorn.
How many of us here have other rich proverbs in our languages? There are invaluable lessons .
This book, Song of Lawino, which we must all purchase to understand the sheroics of Lawino, is available at Aristoc at 19, 600/-.  The Acoli version was published in 1966 by East African Publishers, before its English translation and last year there was a global celebration of the 50th anniversary. The English version was published in 1984 by Heinemann as part of the African Writers Series.
According to an online essay, written by  poet Allan  King in 2011, entitled, Song of Lawino and Song of Ocol, Colonization's Remnants in Africa, he stated that the verbal brawl between Lawino and her husband Ocol were reflective of husbands who once loved and adored their wives, despised them once they returned from abroad. To Ocol,  a newcomer to European values.
'Akurri ma welo maro moko, which in Acoli means, ' A newcomer is usually in danger of being trapped or tricked.'
Lawino is our uncelebrated feminist, our modern day Leymah Gbowee. Leymah is a Liberian female fighter who led the women's peace movement to put an end to the second Liberian civil war in 2003. She received a nobel peace prize in 2011. Leymah said that it's time for women to stop being politely angry. In Search of Our Mothers' Gardens, Book by Alice Walker, Lawino is a womanist, a feminist of colour.
Published in 1983, In Search of Our Mothers' Gardens: Womanist Prose is a collection composed of 36 separate pieces written by Alice Walker. Originally published: 1983
Publisher: Harcourt/
Standing up to Ocol in her unapologetic feminist stance,'
My friend,
age-mate of my brother,
Take care,
Take care of your tongue
Be careful what your lips say.
Dr. Godwin Siundu, who teaches literature at the University of Nairobi, mentioned in an article published on  February 6th 2016, in The Saturday Nation,  in celebration of the 50th anniversary of Song of Lawino, mentioned the relevance of Song of Lawino. The questions  raised enable readers to identify if they have been addressed today and sadly, they haven't. Lawino remains a critical relevant voice in today's debates.
 Let's all become Lawino; feminists, upholders of traditional values and relevant voices of today who are able to embrace Western education while the same time, embracing our culture.

Beverley Nambozo’s speech delivered at Bukoto Toastmasters Club

Sunday, January 8, 2017

The New Year Bubbles Like A Brook

Whenever the Babishai team meets,  one of the messages that helps us to realize our annual objectives is to plan as if we have unlimited amount of money. With that,  each of us dreams big without limitations. Poetry offers boundless opportunities. With our third annual festival this year, more publications and poetry adventure through forests, together we'll break limits.

#Babishai2017 will light with poetry

#Babishai 2017, believing

Cynics will tell you that expressing exuberance at the start of the year won't mean anything as long as corruption and poverty exist. These cynics usually have an abundance of mental poverty and emit bad vibes wherever they go.

New years,  new beginnings and new plans are an excellent way to guarantee a year of hope and pleasantness. Starting with energy is like driving a car that's fully serviced and full of petrol. You'll travel far and safe.
During the January 2017 Dine and Dream event organised by Joan Mugenzi's Imagine Me Africa's team, main speaker Julian Kyula empjasized that we should position our vision well. It's impossible to do that with so many negatives outweighing the positives. If your team doesn't value time-keeping,  professionalism and hard work,  it may be time to restrategize and get a new team.
Julian Kyula in centre with Emmanuel and Nambozo Nsengiyunva

When like-minded driven people follow and apply their drive towards the same vision,  the impact is always great.
Julian went on to tell us that we must serve in the correct place.

How often do we engage in time-wasting,  uninspiring activities with unmotivated individuals who only invite you because they expect you to perform a miracle with their extremely poorly thought out plan? It's time to put an end to that. Serve in places where you're valued,  where there's honour and where you're not doing all the work.
Also,  Julian says, that according to investment bankers,  raising 1 Million US Dollars takes the same amount of energy as raising 100 Million US Dollars. We may as well dream big.

Inspiration for the new year.
At Babishai,  we wish you nothing but the very best as you create positive impact.


Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Babishai and Open Mic at Kampala International School Uganda Poetry Slam

When poetry escapes through the minds and hearts of children,  there is no doubt that the universe has made a great investment.

Early reading inspires creativity/photo from Kampala International School Uganda

 Babishai Poetry Foundation Director,  Beverley Nambozo Nsengiyunva and Open Mic Director Shiraz Murray witnessed a cocktail of indescribably brilliant poetry at the Kampala International School Uganda Poetry event held in early November.

Shiraz Murray

From Years 7 to 9,  the children captivated the wide-eyed audience for over two hours. Being part of a competition did not deter the pupils from adorning themselves in the most glorious poetry costumes possible.

Topics ranged from deep seated society issues like cruelty to animals,  racism and poverty.  With unexpected word twists,  creative imagery and unapologetic realities,  the children were courageous and explored those themes affecting them. This proved that U. S elections,  race relations and political attitudes affected them as much as everyone else.

It was difficult as the judges selected winners and no surprise that there were several ties. The Babishai Niwe Poetry Foundation,  through the children's literary program,  Babishai Poetricks,  identifies with school poetry programs like this to maximize a child's potential through exploration of poetic devices.

Students at 2016 Babishai festival

In 2017,  Babishai will conduct another primary school poetry competition after an extremely successful one this year. They will also continue with their creative literary outreaches in children. 

Wednesday, August 31, 2016



Orimoyole Moyosore

Isaac Tibasiima, judge

Ambassador Ngesu Chief Guest from the Kenya High Commission

Sanya Noel from Kenya,for his poem, What would we have called you had you lived, emerged joint winner with Orimoloye Moyosore from Nigeria for his poem Love is a Plot Device but your insecticide is not. In the middle of an evening filled with poetry,music, Babishai festivity and conversations from all over Africa, Ambassador Ngesu from the Kenyan High Commission in Kampala, announced the two winners. They  both win 700 USD, participation in the 6-month Babishai mentorshsip scheme and fully paid for attendance and selected festivals around Africa.
Here is Sanya’s winning poem.
What we would have called you if you had lived
The fat graduand. The laughing ugly girl.
But you would have laughed it off.
And your father wouldn’t have stormed into college,
with plain clothes policemen.
No arresting a teacher for having struck you.
No epileptic attacks, Maggie.
No collapsing at your own graduation
fourteen years later.
We watch you walk to be given the power to read.
You’re not a baby now, Maggie.
You’re not a fat spoilt baby at all.
You’re not ugly anymore, Maggie.
You don’t twist your mouth when you speak.
We’re not envious of your having gotten an epilepsy attack
just when the teacher was about to strike you, Maggie.
But no epilepsy protects us from the teacher’s cruelty.
No disease prevents us from going to school, unlike you.
Not even simple Malaria, Maggie.
And our fathers won’t come to school with policemen
because a teacher struck us.
But you’re dead now.
We buried you, Maggie.
And we never took it back;
the fat, the ugly, the twisted mouth.
We just wanted your epilepsy.
We just wanted a father
who would not beat us because teachers beat us, Maggie.
We just wanted a disease, a condition, the police, a mother, anything,
to protect us from the cruelty of the math teacher.
And you had them.
Won’t you just understand that, Maggie?
Sanya Noel
Duduile za Mabaso from South Africa, reading her poetry         and      Oswald Okaitei from Ghana, in performance
Here is Orimoyole’s winning poem,
Love is a Plot Device and your Insecticide is not
And when you design
The ultimate insecticide,
You’ll tell me about malaria,
And how I never have to worry
About artemether,
About lumefantrine,
Ever again.

And I’ll tell you about my lover,
How she runs her fingers
Through these bumps at night.
How she pretends these mosquito bites
Are nothing but bullet wounds.
How she asks with feigned concern,
Where did you get these?
How I wince as I say Kosovo-
We were outnumbered…

Orimoyole Moyosore   (Nigeria)
 Kakinda Maria Birungi frrom Uganda and Kyle Allan from South Africa, were the poets amongst the top five.
Agnes Kabaungi from Uganda ,performing.
Ngartia from Kenya, performing
The #Babishai2016 team thanks you and congratulates the winners.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016



The Toastmasters Challenge is an intellectual battle of words between Kampala Toastmasters and poets. Poets in Kampala have created a positive shift in the creative industry. Through their inventiveness, Kampala flourishes with rich verse. Kampala Toastmasters Club is part of an international organization that trains in public speaking and effective communication. They meet every last Tuesday and every second Friday of the month at Protea Hotel in Kampala.

Tom Jalio,astmasters challenge judge

Meet the contestants:-
Moderator: Phillip Matogo

1.       L-Ness  Lydia  (Kenya)
2.       Winnie Apio (Uganda)
3.       Fahima Kimbugwe  (Uganda)
4.       Mark Gordon Slam Poet (Uganda)
5.       Jordey Lonyo (Uganda)

Kampala Toastmasters
1.       Connie Nshemereirwe (Uganda)
2.       Abubakar Matanda (Uganda
3.       Davis Tashobya (Uganda)
4.       Stephano Kiyemba (Uganda)
5.       Paul Kavuma (Uganda)

Meet the Judges
Lekpele Nyamalon (Liberia)
Doreen Baingana (Uganda)
Tom Jalio (Kenya)

ROUND ONE is a knock-out round where two toastmasters and two poets will leave
Each of the ten contestants has between 3-5 minutes to present their speech or poem on any topic of their choice. Their presentations will be timed and any piece below 2 and a half minutes or above 5 and a half minutes, will be immediately disqualified.

There will be time cards.
Green time card will flag at 3 minutes
Yellow time card will flag at 4 minutes
Red time card will flag at 5 minutes

Judging Criteria:
        I.            Relevance of message
      II.            Eloquence and Enunciation
    III.            Creativity
    IV.            Connection with audience
      V.            The oomph factor/originality

ROUND TWO is also a knock-out round where two toastmasters and two poets will also leave
In round two, each of the 6 contestants has between 3-5 minutes to present their speech or poem on any topic of their choice. This time they are permitted to use a prop of their choice to enhance their presentation. Their presentations will be timed and any piece below 2 and a half minutes or above 5 and a half minutes, will be immediately disqualified.
There will be time cards.
Green time card will flag at 3 minutes
Yellow time card will flag at 4 minutes
Red time card will flag at 5 minutes
        I.            Relevance of message
      II.            Eloquence and Enunciation
    III.            Appropriate and creative usage of prop
    IV.            Connection with audience
      V.            The oomph factor/originality
In round three, each of the 2 final contestants has between 3-5 minutes to present their speech or poem on any topic selected by the audience. This time the two finalists will leave the area while the audience selects a topic. The finalists will then pick a random number in a hat to decide who goes first. Their presentations must be based on the given topic chosen by the audience and they will have minimal time to prepare. They will be timed and any piece below 2 and a half minutes or above 5 and a half minutes, will be immediately disqualified.

There will be time cards.
Green time card will flag at 3 minutes
Yellow time card will flag at 4 minutes
Red time card will flag at 5 minutes

The audience will then select the winner.

The winner will receive a card to the award-giving  dinner on Friday 26 August at Fang Fang Restaurant and a book of their choice.
Our festival programme is available on our website and we can be reached via email at