How Flame And Song Came to East Africa: Part One

Nov. 2014:

I am in Bellagio. I am here at the invitation of Uganda Women Writers’ Association (FEMRITE) and Hilda Twongyeirwe. Being in Bellagio alone is everything, of course, but I am also here for an important meeting. It’s a meeting for African women doing great things for African women writers. I feel a little out of place, like a fluke, really, in this room with women I have admired for so long. My blog Sooo Many Stories is only a couple of months old and I keep wondering why I am here.

One of these women is Colleen Higgs of Modjaji Books. I have heard a bit about Colleen. Crystal Butungi Rutangye did an internship with them and she wrote a review that amused me and left me thoroughly envious. Colleen has a softness and fierceness about her. She talks about the challenges she is facing as a publisher but you know from the way she talks that this, publishing, is really what she wants to be doing. Maybe even the only thing she wants to do. We don’t talk much, but when we do I ask about an internship. She says they aren’t taking any interns at the moment and we leave it at that.

Goretti Kyomuhendo of African Writers Trust has been looking for internship placements for me. We had gotten a publisher in Namibia but getting a visa and the travel arrangements and all that seemed to be one really big headache. Goretti did everything but we had to let Namibia go. We are still looking.

A couple of weeks later Goretti tells me Colleen will have me and we start the process of getting me to Modjaji Books. I am excited and terrified: I am going to work with a real publisher.

Beverley Nambozo Nsengiyunva hears that I will be travelling to South Africa. She tells me there is a Ugandan poet who stays in Cape Town that she would like me to deliver something to. She has poems in the BNPA anthology, A Thousand Voices Rising and it would be nice if I take her some copies. That’s the first time I hear of Philippa Namutebi Kabali-Kagwa

#FlameAndSong #Maasokulutimbe #KatandikaButandisi

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