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.