Photo: Eugene Kavuma
How would you describe yourself?
…and then Proggie asks me to be my own mirror. How do I describe myself? Hmmm. Quiet. Quiet around those that I do not know well. This has sometimes come off as pride. Around those that I know, however, there is no boundary to what I may do or say.
I have a problem with keeping time… and on that note, dear Proggie, I am very sorry for taking long with responding to this! What else..? I like a nice conversation and dislike useless words. In Talib Kweli’s Where do we go, he asks a question I wholesomely believe in!
“What you gonna do when you gotta face the manifestation of the words you put in space?”
Poetry. How did you get so entangled with poetry?
I like to believe that each and everyone of us has a release. Some take a walk, others watch movies, some drink while others may listen to music. My release is in writing, writing poetry. Before I started writing I got entangled in many compromising positions because of funneling my frustrations through the wrong catheter… Then I met Guy Mambo, an architect and poet, who in turn introduced me to The Lantern Meet of Poets. As soon as I started writing, I learnt that I had to own my pain as equally as I do my happiness. To write I must feel. I learnt that I must feel each emotion for what it is. In doing so, I was able to let go and breathe. As pain and happiness seem to be a constant, poetry will be my constant process. In this process, poetry has become a part of me.
Do you have a ritual before you get on stage?
Before I get on stage, I am sucked into a dark noisy world of self doubt; Am I ready? I should have practiced more! Is this the right poem for this crowd? and the like.
My friends laugh at me all the time!! I shake and sweat…nerves never leave! So, Is there a ritual? I have never considered this a ritual! Usually, when I write, I play music that suits the mood of the poem I am to write. So before I get on stage, I jump a bit in place shaking my hands of the tickling feeling, put on my earphones, melt away into the music and pace while reciting to myself.
How did you master the art of elocution? No one, at least in Kampala, beats the way you recite poetry. How do you manage to get it right?
Sure? Have you listened to Moses Laku, Laura Byaruhanga, Qrea-us Emmey? Personally, though, how do I do it? There are many contributing factors. Practice. After writing a piece, I go through it, aloud, making sure I pronounce each word. I usually write with the knowledge that it is going to be a performance piece and that pushes me to make sure that every word can be heard.
I can not ignore the fact of family! Mum is very particular about communication!!! How you sound plays a very heavy role on how people receive and perceive any bit of information you give. I remember a time not to far back when I was to perform at Open Mic Uganda, one of the Poetry platforms in Kampala. I had picked the poem One Day Someday Will be This Day. I decided to put on a small performance for mum. Not even past the first line, she stops me.
‘You know how the words should sound. do that!’
My elder sister ,Rita Asiimwe Magara, is an all round instrumentalist and music teacher. My brother whom I follow, Moses MMC Sabiiti, is a producer and Tabitha Kentaro, the last born, is a Peace and Security Policy Advisor… need i say more?
And of course the feedback I get from people that come to speak to me at the end of a show. There is this young rapper, MC Flo. A very talented and confident girl. She came up to me once after a sharing at Poetry In Session and said: I like the way you perform, BUT, you are too fast! You should not rush. We also want to hear you.
What’s your take on poetry as a pass time as opposed to poetry as an art that should be taken seriously?
I believe everything is an art and I think we should learn to enjoy whatever art we choose to lean to. I enjoy poetry as a pass time, reading different works from different hands, experiencing other peoples experiences. However this question begs the question, what does it mean to be serious about your art? One may wish to publish while another is comfortable writing for self. We all have our personal reasons for putting experience and thought to word.
How do you relate with the ladies? Any woman in your life for that matter?
Hahahahaha. How do I relate with the ladies? I assume I relate quite well with them… of course not with all, but quite well.
Any woman in my life? MANY!
I will not gratify her with a positive answer to this question because then she will say I have acknowleged her presence…Drat!!! Too late!
Share with us some of your top 3 books, music,movies.
This question is hard… and promotes segregation and suicide amongst the books.
I will start with movies since that is simpler. Top three movies in no order would be Fight Club, Limitless and Waking Life. I like narratives very much.
Books: Darkness At Noon, Animal Farm, because let us face it, a mirror never lies! and The Burdens. The Burdens is a play so let me add Artist the ruler and A Wreath for Udomo.
Any favourite poetry?
Black rains! Black rains!
Trepidation I have for my my plantains
Sowed in these fertile soils
Through sweat-soaked toils!
Black rains! Black rains!
How the cold, sullen wind proclaims your
Carrying upon its back, a myriad grains
Of ill-luck to befall my only left plantains!
See me through this deep cloud
Shrouding me from life’s merriment,
Heed my plea and shelter my plantains
From these annihilating black rains!
This is one of the many piecies from a very silent storm. Dennis Bogere. He is a teacher. His writing has always caught me and to that, inspired much of my writing.
Saul Williams~Bloodletting, Ursula Rucker~Humbled, Gil Scott-Heron~Where did the night go? Ojakol Omerio~Who is to blame…I could go on and on and on…
What’s the worst thing you have done?
Ha! My filth goes into a dustbin, not here.
What do you do apart from poetry?
I write for a paper…nope, you may not know which. I also do a bit of counseling and I teach. A majority of my time is spent on growing my writing.
Do you plan on professionally producing your work?
Professionally? I am not a professional at this. Everyday is a moment to learn! I will be producing my work though!
Recordings or publishing?
Recording and publishing! I am currently working on something with the talented JT at Yego Productions. I am also working with the Lantern Meet of Poets who are mercilessly, and rightfully so, wripping through my words to piece together a single string of a journey.
The Lantern Meet. Tell us about your experience with them.
I largely owe my writing to The Lantern Meet of Poets. They have taught me most of what I know. A stage? Ntaro? No chance! But somehow… look at me now!
My first day at the meet was quite surreal. We sat under one of the grass thatched huts at the National Theatre. People would come with their note books and read their poems. This has changed though. To keep the opinions unbiased, the writer reveals themselves after the poem has had its round of discussion.
I had never been to a place where people just enjoyed talking and discussing poetry so freely. It was what I desperately needed and The Lantern Meet provided just that! It Is the first place I ever wrote and performed poetry. Before, I just gambled in the dark and once in an eternity stumble on something ‘poetryish’.
This family of mine has beaten my writing and performing to where it is now. It is from here that my words have been sown and grown in able hands!
Will there be another recital this year?
Most definitely!!! 9th October, at the National Theatre!
By the way, did you register for the National ID?
No. Not yet.
What’s your take on feminism?
Feminism…It just had to come up! Well, I have nothing against feminists. Some of my closest friends are feminists! I have had to repeat this over and over again. I hate anything that brings about division. In saying this, I hate all isms. I believe in us figuring things out as human beings. As one. I believe that the thing we need to focus on is respect for all and not splitting problems between genders and fighting each other. This goes mainly for those with so much negative vibration towards anything male! We can only move forward if we understand the foundation of humanity, which is to live for each other! I have met feminists that have a deep hate for anything male. How can you extricate yourself from life? Hate men all you want but the fact is that if there was no man you would not be born. We need each other. this is a fact.
Any human being that believes in man minus woman and vice versa is just deluded. Unemployment, child labour, illiteracy, rape…these are things that affect us all! These ills have no respect for gender!
A word to the people that appreciate your art?
Economic disparity amongst the masses,
Two different kinds of classes,
He who has seemingly everything,
And he who seemingly has nothing.
But in the between, I lie.
Here I lie,
Blood oozing out of my scalp.
He who has less took the little I had by force,
Crushing in my head,
I slowly walking towards dead…
While he that has more sleeps comfortably in his bed! (Excerpt↑)
Growing up, one of the lessons my mum has taught us is that every one needs the other. Non stands alone.
I have come to believe that everything has a ripple effect, whether it be negative or positive. When we deliberately hurt one, we hurt all. This is something I am still learning and think is something we need to sit down and think about. If I cheat or steal from my neighbour, I cheat/steal from his family. This negativity will spread from the family to those they relate with. We need to realise that solitary gain is what creates all this disparity. We need not feed greed, but feed humanity.
“Due to unavoidable circumstances, the Lantern Meet Recital has been postponed to a date that will be announced later.” – Lantern Meet of Poets.