Ninety-eight Ugandan poets passionately explore various themes ranging from modern slavery, democracy and poor governance in Africa, to greed and corruption, to incitement, peace and hope in Acholiland after enduring the Lord’s Resistance Army’s 20-year war in northern Uganda, in the poetry anthology “Wondering and Wandering of Hearts.”
The anthology which offers a feast and a face of poetry as it currently is in the country was edited by Susan N. Kiguli and Hilda J. Twongyeirwe and published by Femrite in 2017. The 255-page anthology contains 184 poems also includes notes on the contributors.
Danson S. Kahyana’s “You Dare Not” is about the dangerous times in Kampala. You dare not walk on the city sidewalk because bodaboda men will invade you and walk you to orthopedics.
Although the zebra crossing gives you the right of way, many people have died there, and the state doesn’t care. You dare not go to public hospitals because doctors will send you to private pharmacies, for his age since public hospitals had medicine.
In Ernest Katwesigye Tashobya’s poem “The Promised Land”. The country was in bondage to despotism, and the Prophet came with his promise to lead the nation to the Promised Land, where milk and honey flowed.
A potentially three day trip turned into a 30 year trip and counting. Citizens moved in circles across the desert. Tired citizens still wait to reach the Promised Land and cling to broken promises. The prophet ages rapidly and loses sight of the Promised Land.
exploits of pastors
Uganda is full of stories of pastoralists growing rich from their poor flock. Jane P’Bitek Langoya Okot’s poem ‘Man of God’ is about a pastor who reminds his flock that ‘Happy are the poor for they will find riches in heaven’. And the congregation gives everything in anticipation.
The man of God grows rich on earth. His monstrous, energy-guzzling machine is shamelessly parked next to the papyrus reed church. And he lives in palaces and outrageous mansions while the herd he feeds on is knee-deep in misery.
James Turyatemba’s poem “Wake Up Africa” is a call to the continent to wake up from its deep slumber and plan properly for its development in this first millennium. “…Are you pathetically mad/Or slightly demented/Why woo poverty/By borrowing today/To pay yesterday’s debts?” it turns in part.
“Repressive wars/And gratuitous genocide/A form of family planning? /Should dictators overthrow dictators/To entrench systematic dictatorships? …”, continues the poem.
While “Life is a Gift” by Subira Yamumpa talks about the importance of being alive and taking comfort in what we have and stop wanting more. “…Before you complain about your children/Think about someone who’s barren/Before you complain about your nagging partner/Think about someone who cries out to God for a mate…”, the poem goes partially unfolds.
And, James Ogoola’s “Foetal Position” chronicles the torturous life of a young girl, who was raped at the age of 10 by her father, trapped and trafficked in human traffic lanes, and forced into sexual slavery.
Vicky Achro’s poem “Peace” is an urgent call for peace. The village has risen and it seeks the peace that should be lost in the brushy neighborhood.
Harriet Anena’s ‘Tame My Tears’ is a lament for the 16 mothers who die every day in childbirth, the bare-bones students of Mpigi and for the help of donors who grew up and fled the public treasury.
In his poem “Why do I have to pay taxes? Jackie Asiimwe questions the purpose of paying taxes when all she sees is – overflowing rubbish, potholes growing, teachers yawning, children nagging. don’t learn, doctors frown, nurses go on strike, districts sprout, departments die, the State House budget goes up, while the shilling goes down.
Samuel Kamugisha’s “The Honorable Weevil” is about the disturbing trend that politicians have turned burial ceremonies into political campaign platforms. After the mourning, politicians will ask mourners to remember them in the next election.
Violet Barungi’s “The Inescapable” is a reminder of what to expect when you get older. While accepting that aging is a natural order of things, she, among other things, firmly opposes all the evils that take refuge in the smallest recesses of her beleaguered body. She also resents the fact that her once torch-like eyes darken surreptitiously, denying her the pleasure of reading books.
The dangers faced by the inhabitant of Uganda’s national bird, the crested crane, are captured in Solomon Manzi’s poem “Recreting the Crane”. The place where the wide-winged, long-legged crane once came from is cold as ice and no longer warm. The birds left behind a darkness without music.
The crane floats without a mother, on the marshy stream. Who will rest our crane? Who will find her nest and hatch her fragile, speckled eggs?
The collection aims to…
Twongyeirwe says, “The collection not only celebrates the poets it contains, but also the collective soul of Uganda as reflected through the pages – prized poets who need no introduction to young poets to the unparalleled talent and a new generation of budding writers that Femrite has nurtured. through creative writing clubs in secondary schools…”
“The featured authors live up to the bill by covering an astonishing variety of human experiences, aspirations and thoughts. Love is present, as it should be, but what we have here primarily is not the cheap sentimentality of two-cent pop rap,” says Twongyeirwe.
“Rather, poets explore the niches and nuances of relationships from a startling variety of angles, of longing, searching, pain, joy, loss and salvation. Indeed, what one might at first sight taken for a pure “love poem” eventually opens up to a whole new world of historical, political or spiritual contemplation.Social issues are often tackled head-on, ports seeking and burning in their satire and sarcasm or in the brutality of their criticism,” adds Twongyeirwe.