Whine! Whine! Why only girls! Even me I want! Whine!

You saw me in the papers on Sunday, eh? Me I get coverage, mwana.

You heard me as if I was whining that they don’t want to publish me they only want to publish for the girls waaaah waah even me why don’t you publish me is it cos I is male? Whaaah.


It started at Uganda Scarlett Lion the week you guys were layething the smacketh down on SAGE and others at Beefville.
She wrote an article that said Monica Arac De Nyeko’s Caine Prize means men in Uganda are not writers.

Yes. I was upset. This is why:

There was a group of young writers in Kampala a few years ago of which I was a part. We met through a British Council programme, but not all of us were on it. We didn’t discriminate: men and women, young and old, bodaboda and non-bodaboda, we didn’t even discriminate on the basis of talent—even people who really couldn’t write were welcomed into the fold. We would meet and talk about writing, reading, and publishing. When members of the group decided to look to the web for publishing opportunities, they forwarded urls to the entire group—again without discrimination: men and women, students and working people, traditionalists and modernists, we were all in this together. We encouraged one another, we supported one another, we kissed each others asses and patted each others backs. We were in this together.

So one of us made it. She won the Caine. And there I was celebrating, cheering, whooping, “One of us made it! One of us made it!”

Then this chick shows up to say, “Um, what do you mean one of ‘Us’? You are not included. This is women only.”

First of all, where did you come from? What do you mean? What gives you the right? Were you even there?

That upset me.

But I didn’t speak about my own feelings. I spoke about the story.

The story was wrong.

It was wrong in saying that before Femrite, publishing was dominated by men.

It was wrong to say that men are not writing.

It was wrong to say that women are winning awards while men sit twiddling their thumbs. The numbers are so small, it is laughable to even think that. That’s why “one-two-trend” is a joke and not a fundamental media theory.

Gordon closed the discussion before I could make my point (so far all I had done was respond to hers) citing personal attacks.

Maybe if the discussion had gone on I would have got personal, but for then, I was still talking about the story.

I was preparing to move on to the greater issue: The state of Ugandan literature. I would like to make a statement about that. And that is why I am blogging about the issue here:

What we need isn’t a men’s equivalent of Femrite. We need to just not listen to these Gordons and go back to what we were doing before: making art and getting it out there, regardless of the sex, religion, age, height or hairstyle of the artist.

Because even in spite of Femrite, women writers have just as hard a time getting published in Uganda as men do.

When I get time and money, perhaps we can think of following Kenya’s Kwani.org model. I don’t know.

Anyway, I have said my piece.



  1. I saw it too and you featured prominently. The good Bazanye name was paraded in all it’s glory there. In the Monitor. Don’t yo bosses have something to say about this? Seeing as u work for their co-wife.

    And the “Mr. Iwaya” bit made me laugh so hard. Wamma Mr. Iwaya….

  2. Ok. Maybe it is true that women are getting published. Even for argument’s sake, we can assume that women writers are more brilliant, and are being published for those reasons, not, say, because they are women.

    My protest is this – why does Ugandan literature, by Ugandan women focus on the ‘brids singing in the trees’ and the ‘happy gurgling of the brook’ kind of prose? Surely there is more exciting stuff to write about? Give us some humour, some wit, some fast paced plot, something that will keep us awake and turning the pages. This stuff of simanyi the husband beat her, and her co-wife got a better dress – it is all sooooo old and boring!

    So back to the point- Ugandan literature is not yet where it can be, Caine prizes or no.

  3. @Maybe: Nice point. I’m so fuckin’ sick of the current lit in Uganda. It is shitty. Even them women winning awards are only marginally-better than the people they are beating. Maybe we all suck. `Birds singing in the trees …’ That stuff. No rock.

    Meanwhile, I am knocking a song called Top Ranking. Look up the friggin’ lyrics.

    Also, Baz, hold off. I mean … shit! You really got fuzzed by this, eh? Seems the passions run deeper than I first thought.
    Truth is … we need some avant-garde lit period in Africa in general and Uganda in particular. When people like you, Baz, stop fearing to write gay erotica and other such taboo stuff, then the boom will be here. If only because the Americans will, characteristically, find that interesting.

    Not that I am suggesting deprived lit or anything … 😀

  4. @Maybe: That is the very argument Gordon’s story failed to substantiate. Because it just isn’t true. Simple logic, and plenty of evidence will show you that gender doesn’t make anyone a better writer than the other.

    The more I look at it the more absurd the idea sounds. Mo hasn’t published a book yet, when she does it will rock, but until then we have two Ugandans published internationally to acclaim:

    Baingana and Isegawa.

    I like Tropical Fish, but I have never read Isegawa, so I kind of forgot that he was there, too.

    But now that I google… this guy is huge! They are not in competition of course, except in the minds of reporters who think everything is a pissing match, but if they were, Isegawa would be miles ahead.

    Does that mean that men are better writers? No, it doesn’t! All it proves is that Isegawa’s book is more popular than Baingana’s.

    Also, last time I saw lit fic being published in Uganda there was, I recall, two guys and one chick: Glaydah Namukasa, Julius Seremba and Patrick Mangeni.

    I saw the Ejiet short stories being advertised the other day…

    Femrite hasn’t put out anything substantial in ages. Last splash they made was Karooro.

    Generally, the facts just kill her argument. Men are not just sitting back letting women do all the getting published. Women are not even dominant.

    We have some books by men, some books by women.

    We need to get away from this “boyz suck girlz rule” mentality. It distracts us. If we are going to write, let us write without checking what is in our jeans first.

    27, kanzigye.

  5. Ernest Bazanye, you will be hearing from us very soon!!! Believe you-me, its going to be really soon.

  6. So why don’t you guys write the books? I mean you Baz and 27th and David Kaisa and Iwaya and CB and Ivan and Deg and all the other brilliant blogs written by Ugandan men that I haven’t read yet?

    For us we are tired of waiting. What are my children going to read? Shakespeare?

  7. And technically speaking Baz, Worst Idea isn’t THE book. I already had that book before it was even published because I collect the Bad Idea articles.

    So forget that line of defense. And as for you 27th, I have no words.

  8. naweeeee…spill some blood..she was straight hatin and perpertratin and disrespectin ya holmz..u needz to get up on ya two feet and bust a cap in the trick..word!

  9. Lol, Baz…”without checking what is in our jeans first” Good way to put it.

    I didnt read tropical fish but the reviews gave me visions of birds singing in the trees of Entebbe – not much incentive to go and buy. Maybe I am biased, but us girls are still stuck in that mould of “oh, we are so ladylike and our books need to be such” especially if we went to Gayaza or Namagunga.

    @27, if you mean “Uptown Top Ranking”, as in

    ‘See me in me heels and ting
    Dem check sey we hip and ting
    True them no know and ting
    We have them going and ting
    No pop no style, I strictly roots
    No pop no style, I strictly roots’

    It’s so totally lost on me. Gladly, I belong to the more..ahem..musically literate generation of the ’80s and 90’s when lyrics were lyrics. No offence intended to all you pretty young things :))

  10. @maybe, you better read “Tropical Fish and other stories”. It’s really good, I can promise you that. Isegawa on the other hand… his “Abssynian Chronicles” is not for the faint-hearted. It left me feeling whipped.

  11. Fujitsu, funny thing is I was talking to Kaiza just today about that. I am going to try to sell my Kwani idea to him on Wednesday.
    Book publishing in Uganda is dead end because it is just not lucrative (Unless one is publishing Worst Idea. I want to thank everybody out there…) so we are looking at a quarterly zine. Think it’ll work?

    Joshi, I am a gentleman in the classic sense. I will not draw my sword on an unarmed opponent.

    Tropical Fish, Maybe, IS kind of gurgling brooks. But it is very very very good gurgling brooks. I will see if I can find an excerpt somewhere to put up for you.

    And as for Uptown Top Ranking, I think you mean no offence to the pretty old things. Heh heh.

    Abyssinian Chronicles made me doze. Sorry.

    Face, as I always say, Bring. It. On. Roar.

  12. hey, didn’t know some game been here on. but then, am respondin’ 2 the first ‘maybe’. ugandan writers are really trying, really trying. have any of u read alan tacca’s ‘the naked hostage’ or chuuka chibuka’s ‘for the fairnest’?? or partick mangeni’s ‘the virgin’? or mary karooro’s ‘child of a delegate?’ and u tell me we ugandans are writing about birds singing in tree’s because u spend your money on john grisham’s works coz that’s when u’ll appear cool? guys, we have naipal’s & frank mccourts, bernard shaws even among us bloggers. men & women of uganda, let’s support our authors. don’t just open your mouths & yawn. go to aristoc & buy our own works. you’ll realise men & women of uganda are writing. stirring stuff. i assure u

  13. Baz, stop kwesibaring on people who kunyirila. What do you mean “one of us made it”?

    I read and I own that Baingana book. Was well written in a very simple way. Made me realize that writting, getting published and earning rave reviews doesn’t take one to write some multi twisted conspiracy thriller. After reading it I got a surge of inspiration. Unfortunately I am not a writer, so all that inspiration was wasted.

    I am all for patriotism and shit, but we shouldn’t buy crap just because it’s by Ugandans. That something is written by a Ugandan is not qualification enough to buy it.

  14. I see Magoo’s point clearly. We will NOT buy copies of Ugandan’s writing just because we “buy Ugandan- Be Ugandan”. It doesn’t work that way. We will buy it if it makes the cut. That’s why we still use Chinua Achebe, Wole Soyinka, Ngugi Wa Thiongo and Allan Paton and not in our Literature syllabus.(Notice they are only males)

    I think our writing is still very immature. At least when compared to other African writing notably Kenya, South African and Nigeria. And this all comes down to our reading culture.

    The Ugandan’s that ever make it never even live here. They are all in The UK, Norway, USA and Canada. And they hold citizenship there.

    Real Brain Drain.

    At least they win the Award as “Ugandan Writer scoops such and such award…”

  15. Atte, when u look at the acclaimed African Writers, the writers we can talk about… they are all male…..show me one chic that we read about in school…and I emphasize school because this is the foundation of all our reading culture… And they write about any and everything. From rebellion (Carcass for hounds), to family issues (the burdens) to politics (Cry the beloved country), to love stories ( the lion and the jewel). Even religion makes an appearance ( The river between)….

    And all these books are by males. So those of us that did Lit has this as a foundation. To put it safely, we got all round (fictional)info.

    Sorry to say this, but I feel these awards given out to the chics are meant to give them renewed zeal to taste the writing waters. It’s done to advance women. Esp if their kaboozi is about how she survived the war in the North or was battered by her Mr. man.

    I say, we (Ugandans) still need some more years and more political turmoil to really come off as great literary peeps.

    Oba, have I made any sense.
    Baz, I’m sorry I blogged here.

  16. Cheri, if you want to stop thinking in luganda stop listening to kalisoliso…

    I will got to Aristoc and sample our writing gifted by natureness

  17. Kale I be here colouring this page yet u have a new post up..

    Maybe….thinking in luganda is saying it’s 9 o’clock yet it’s actually 3. What I was doing was thinking in French.

  18. i think i agree with cherie all our material seems to be political turmoil the writing culture is nothing to write home about so we guess thats da problem and also its not lucrative really.wama baz we gonna hook you up.

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