There was a time when poetry was a secret passion of a few young men and women in Kampala. However a while after, poetry nights started happening in Kampala. Some had music, lights, cameras, and alcohol action. Poetry quickly became urban entertainment.
Yesterday, 28th July, 2015 marked the start of a new poetry night : “Poetry Night”
It started on time, at 6:30pm.
The venue was The National Theatre big hut. There was no entrance fee. Names in the Ugandan literary world were present : Bob Kisiki, Dr. Charles Mulekwa, Lilian Aujo, Rashida Namulondo, Bwesigye Brian (Writivism) to mention but a few.
I noticed intently the glee on Bob and Charles’ faces as they listened to poetry from some I would consider Kampala’s revelations like the sing-reciting-dramatic form of Ibrahim Balunywa who performed a poem called “Take Me to Church” that asked questions about spirituality and materialism.
Take me to church where
We perfume ourselves to mask foul odors
Yet if like a whiff of incense with essence
we reached the pulpit first to confess and sacrifice our greed, pride, and materialistic bridal majesty to our majesty forgiveness would be in order but we do not bother.
we act naive and pay high prices
To live exquisite niggard/selfish lives,
Driving five sit cars but can’t afford to give
Another brother a lift oh do you get my drift.
Kagayi asked questions about where the generation’s political mind was, saying in one of his poems
There were several masters of their craft on their night. Qrea-us delivered a short poem in a fusion of Runyankore and English. Even I who did not understand Runyankore, picked up on the rhymes with the fusion words. Rashida delved into her poetry’s characters with ease.Bob Kisiki read some of his earlier poems and noted how some were born out of a time when he was addicted to sorrow. Daniel Nuwamanya, after a terrible stage fright finally performed, getting prompts from his smartphone at a time. Alex Kakuru Shaw’s “Can you feel me” took a very satiric jab at feminism but even the feminists seemed to love it. Irene Esther Mutuuzo tantalised us with a very romantic piece but let a lot of us down after she said it was about God’s love. Al though Xenson was on the line up, he wasn’t at the show.
This poetry night showcased a lot of Kagayi’s former students’ work. Called Vac in Verse, they expressed an unusual confidence and expression. I caught a few of their names – Diego, Fahima, Shamsa, very brilliant young poets.
It ended on time. 8:00pm. And a few remarks came through, the most important from Dr. Charles Mulekwa who demanded that the nature of the poetry night not “jerk up” the time he has sacrificed. He was commenting on the several love pieces on the night.
Dr Mulekwa says he is nolonger interested in love poetry, he loves engaged poetry. Love poetry is good but for the old, deeper stuff…
— Bwesigye B. M (@bwesigye) July 28, 2015
The reason songs of people like Elly Wamala are being redone is because he focussed on the art, not his personality. – Mulekwa #PoetryNight
— Bwesigye (@bwesigye) July 28, 2015
He asked the poets master their art and tackle thought provoking themes that can enable him sacrifice time with his daughter to attend the nights. That said, the night did not “jerk up” any of our time because it felt fresh, pure and had candor. It can for now be rightly called a poetry night for poets because its appeal is to the art, not entertainment.
Kagayi hopes that if the night starts charging for entrance, the funds will go into developing the art in the young who have a passion.
I will definitely attend the next one.