So, I’m going to be sharing various lists of my ’10 Top of Everything Ugandan Poetry.’ All the information is based on my own meandering experience with poetry, so take it in good stride. Today we begin with my list of:
The Top 10 Ugandan Female Performance Poets
1. Ife Phianki
When Ife gets on stage, the stage becomes something else. One night at Nabisunsa Girls School we held a poetry night. I invited her. When she got on stage, even before she spoke a word, the hall was filled with sounds of ‘wow’. Her regalia and poise commanded attention. She then removed her shoes and started to wiggle her waist. The girls had never seen a poet like her before. The screams were deafening. And when she began to recite, her lines cast a spell of silence across the main hall. You could hear the crickets outside.
I miss Ife.
2. Susan Kiguli
Poets are possessed beings in/of performance. If you think I’m lying, watch Prof. Susan Nalugwa Kiguli perform a praise poem! Her body disappears and it becomes the poem itself. By the end of the performance, the audience’s adulations encapsulate the infection her performance has caused. If Uganda was serious about ‘that poem thing’ during the Presidential swear-in ceremony, Susan Kiguli would surely merit that call.
3. Ber Anena
Anena is on record to have said her choice was to remain a page poet. Thankfully she soon realized she was wasting talent. A talent that would even be resourceful in her pursuit of further studies. Us who saw Anena’s earlier poetry performance ‘I bow for my boobs’ were not as surprised at her bravado as those watching her for the first time in her electric poetry show ‘Footprints of Memory’ directed by Deborah Asiimwe. I’m sure Robert Kabushenga will never forget that night
4. Linda Nabasa
A prolific writer, Linda is now into films. She has left the poetry stage. But that does not erase the various memories of her artistic display of words. She rocked the stage wabula. Muyenga Mansion became Muyenga mansion. Other poems followed. But her range of talents were more than just poetry. Though I hope one day she comes back on stage because I’m sure she now has a lot of content to share.
5. Roshan Karmali
Roshan talks a lot. And that’s because she’s got a lot to say. For one who turns up on stage with her book of written poems, cuddles the mic like it’s her only worldly possession and then takes the audience on a journey in her mind, watching her perform is a poetic spiritual reckoning. I heard she recently dropped her first audio poetry album along with a book of poems. I better get myself a copy before they run out.
6. Hawa Nanjobe
A poetic trailblazer in the Ugandan female muslim community, Hawa always delivers. Simple. History has its eyes on her.
7. Maritza Byooga
Before she went into radio hosting, performance poetry was Maritza’s thing. Then she left poetry for radio and voyages in Twitter storms. We missed her. But soon after realizing performance poetry is her real thing, she returned to stage (and studio) with new resolve. To make poetry her thing. Nowadays she plays the ntongooli while she performs her poetry.
8. Rashidah Namulondo
Rashidah left poetry, I think. She does more social work through drama and theatre these days. But a time there was when Rashidah, Nabasa and Nankoma filled the Uganda national theatre auditorium with their drama-soetic ‘African Spice Show’. Rashidah would go ahead and stage solo theatre poetry shows after the group unfolded. Rashidah was the first female poet I heard in our circles openly using the word ‘vagina’ in her poems. Meanwhile, she would be veiled. Imagine the discombobulation the patriarchs would go through…
9. Gloria Kiconco
Gloria makes poems feel important. Like they are Magna Carta of the everyday soul. It is an honour to have watched her all these years perform her poems. Her voice is distinct, her poise purposed and her words are lyrically magical and warm. Unrushed, untempered with rigours of stage tricks, she simply delivers her poetry powerfully. Also, why is it so difficult to read her poems without hearing her voice echo in your subliminal thoughts?
10. Afroetry Caroline
If Carol ever forgave me for calling out page poets some years back, I’m sure she never forgot! The circumstances surrounding the events of that night are already urban myth. What is factual, however, is that ever since that night at Ladu Poetry Slam, Carol has never been the same performance poet. The day she stopped nervously reading her poems on paper and began mounting poetry stages with her lines memorized, Afroetry became something else. She was such ‘a burning bush’ that her performances became revelations you could not ignore. Later you could not even recognize the shell she had cracked out of as she became the force behind an all-female talented poetry group called ‘Echo Minds’ that continues to embrace and alight various African poetry stages to date.
There you go! Let me know what you think
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