Suubi and Moonscapes, by African Writers Trust

Since its establishment in 2009, African Writers Trust (AWT) has held many workshops for writers, editors, and publishers. “AWT’s vision is to create an environment that nurtures the writing, reading and publishing of African writers,” writes Goretti Kyomuhendo, the director of African Writers Trust, in an introduction to the paperback copy of Moonscapes, a collection of short stories and poetry by the training workshop alumni between 2012 and 2015.

Moonscapes.

“January 2013 saw the successful conclusion of the joint mentoring scheme between the African Writers Trust and the British Council Uganda. The programme, which paired emerging Ugandan writers with established UK based writers, lasted six months. During this period the mentees submitted short stories and poems and received critical feedback on their works via email.” This resulted in Suubi, AWT’s first collection of short stories and poetry.

Suubi.

Most of the writers and mentees from AWT’s workshops are now not only successful writers and editors but also publishers or publishing consultants. Last year (2017) I felt honored to be invited as one of the participants in AWT’s workshop at Country Lake Resort, Garuga in Entebbe. We were given copies of books, Moonscapes being one of them. After reading it I was compelled to download Suubi, which preceded Moonscapes, from AWT’s website.

I read both collections – one story and poem at a time. Though some stories are better written and more enjoyable than others, most of the stories and poems are well written. The stories and poems in both collections cover various themes from the personal like sexuality, rape, family conflicts, to the political and religious. In terms of style, most stories are similar, with the same points of view, mostly first person and third person narrative, except for Lilian Aujo’s Getting Somewhere, which is fantastically told in second person.

For lack of space, here are my two cents on some pieces. Sophie Alal’s Here Are the Children, the first story in Moonscapes, is so beautifully written with simple sentences and good diction.But it leaves you wondering whether it’s fiction or nonfiction (memoir).

Crystal Rutangye’s Legal Alien is yet another well written story which blurs the thin line between fiction and nonfiction. The Stone Baby by Adelina Mbekomize is my favorite story in Moonscapes. Except Nakisanze Segawa’s At the Nile, which doesn’t flow, and Zuhura Seng’enge’s Lesedi reads more like broken up prose sentences than a poem, the other stories like The Search by Regina Asinde and Stella’s Riunga’s Tunu the Invisible are very interesting and well written.

Suubi invitingly opens with Lilian A. Aujo’s brilliant poem,The Eye of Poetry, and short story, Getting Somewhere. I must say, wow, Lilian is gifted poet and writer. Spoken word poetry is the in-thing for poets nowadays, but reading Lilian’s poem made me realize that sometimes written poetry can be more profound than spoken word poetry. Also, I don’t know much about haiku, but if Harriet Anena’s short poem, I Died Alive, is a haiku, I want more.

For some reason Crystal’s Legal Alien appears in both Moonscapes and Suubi, but there are other very impressive storiesin Suubi, likeGloria Kembambazi Mutahane’s The Gem and Your Dreams, Hellen Nyana’s Waiting, and poems by Davina Kawuma, Elone Ainebyona, and Emmanuel Monychol.

Even though The Stone Babyis my favorite story of both collections, Suubi’s stories are generally of better literary quality than Moonscapes. No wonder three writers from Suubi were offered places on the Caine Prize for African Writing annual writing workshop, which was held in Uganda in April 2013.

Once condemned as a literary desert by Taban lo Liyong, a well known writer and literary critic, Uganda has turned into a literary oasis of sorts, thanks to initiatives like AWT, Femrite, and Writivism, among others,  for such short story collections like Suubi and Moonscapes published often, several literary events and a growing literary fraternity.

This review was written by Hassan Higenyi, for Turn The Page Africa.

For a copy or more of these books and others, please visit ttpafrica.com.

Man On Top – Jeremy Byemanzi

Man On Top: Lessons On My Journey To Manhood – Jeremy Byemanzi

Almost every Sunday a pastor or evangelist publishes a book. Some pastors have over a hundred titles to their names as a result. These books are usually self-published, for spiritual inspiration with references to the Bible. A friend gave me such a book recently, to read and consider reviewing it. The book is titled Man on Top: Lessons on My Journey to Manhood, by Jeremy Byemanzi.

Admittedly, due to my rather biased and snobbish literary tastes and preferences, I tend to dismiss such books as intellectually inferior and spiritually cliché. Reluctantly, however, I read Man on Top and was pleasantly surprised by how creatively well thought out and crafted it was.

For starters, the book’s title and cover picture might arouse “dirty thoughts”. This was probably intended to visually attract our “sinful” attention, given the author’s experience in the advertising industry where we’re told that sex sells. If so, it worked. Every time I moved with the book, most people who saw it asked me for permission to have a look.

As for the content of this small book of eleven chapters and 126 pages, published last year (2017), Dr. F. F. Tusubira puts it best in the foreword.

“Jeremy’s Man on Top can be read from two perspectives: one as a sermon, with his life’s journey used as an illustration; and the other as his life’s journey, with lessons from that used as a fusion of practical sharing of experience for others to learn from. In both cases, he draws heavily on Christian scriptures and his personal spirituality either to illustrate, or to explain his messages.”

Unlike many self-published books, this one was quite well edited, with one or two typos. And it is such a humorous and relatable (especially for young men), easy read that one can finish in one seating.

Much as its intellectual depth may be debatable, its spiritual depth and inspiration is more or less like for an abridged version of The Purpose Driven Life. Jeremy writes in Chapter 4 (W for Wisdom), for example:

“The thing about human beings is, we can have knowledge and refuse to apply it. It’s called free will. I’ve met many doctors that know that cigarette smoke causes lung cancer and other diseases yet they choose to smoke. I’ve also met several people that know that exercise is good for their bodies but they choose not to exercise.” For which he aptly refers us to James 1:5 – If any of you lucks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.

While reading this book I had a conversation with a Christian friend who is an editor and a publishing agent well informed about Uganda’s publishing industry. She told me that the market for books like Man on Top is only rivalled by that for text books. She also asked if it’s the kind of book whose content and quality I would recommend as a gift. And I said, absolutely.

This review was written by Hassan Higenyi, for Turn The Page Africa.

For a copy or more of these books and others, please visit ttpafrica.com.

On Writing – Paul Kisakye

On Writing – Paul Kisakye

When I first read of the book online, I thought it was another of the typical how to guide books. The kind that goes straight to the point. One question that always finds its way in a writing related conversation is the how to question. How do I write? I Know what I want to say but I do not know how to write it.


My mind rushed off to the Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr, a book that the author references in his work as a guide of going about the writing business and all its details. William’s book comes off as a general book that does not address a beginner’s writing interests directly. Here, Paul labours to paint a picture of the entire writing process. This is key especially in a market where people want to see immediate returns on their book investments.


People write books for different reasons. Some want to tell a certain story while others want another stream of income. In either way, it is important to pay maximum attention to what you are putting on the market. Some books stay long in the reader’s mind while others, they have to be reminded that they read them that is, if indeed they did. When one writes a book for the monetary bit of it, it is such a heartbreak when they do not get the returns as they quickly expected. Why? It is simply because books create their own demand. A good book paves its own path.


Publishing being a free world for all, some authors and publishers underscore the importance of given stages that ought to be followed. As a result, you have a number of half-baked books hitting the market. It is such books that have validated the argument that Ugandan books are not well written. That is what the author of this book is advocating for; better writing.


The writing process should not be influenced by the fact that one has the will to pay for their work to be published or that they have good story. There should be a substance, an identity, value for which the reader should get in exchange of reading a given text. Good books do not have to be shoved down people’s throats to have them bought.


The author should be willing to pay handsomely for handsome work to be produced. Paying peanuts to the editors and expecting a good book in return does not hold up. Invest the money and time not one of the two and you will be grateful for the outcome.


In trying to talk about the entire writing process, the author misses (or intentionally leaves out) key details that could be of significant help to both the writer and the editor. How I wish the author could come up with an advanced style guide for editors and proof readers in particular.
The middle part of the book could, in itself, make a book of its own. It handles the primary tenets of writing not only for a book but writing in general. Subjects like language, theme and characterization bring out the details of any writing assignment better.


By the time one is done reading the 122 pages of this guide, one realizes how biased opinionated facts on writing are. Every book should be treated as an independent entity with a distinction that makes it stand out.
This book is so timely. It comes when there are so many people with writing ambitions but without a guide on where to begin. Now, here is one.

This review is written by David Kangye. Get a copy from ttpafrica.com.

The Beggar’s Mansion – Paul Kasami.

The Beggar’s Mansion is a poetry anthology by a Ugandan poet, Paul Kasami. The poetry traverses contemporary African issues, especially in Uganda. The book is divided into eight distinct parts, which will make you feel like you have read eight different books, each with a different mood and tone.

The poet uses a lot of strong imagery, so that reading the poem really does feel like traveling to different places. From the slum to the street, to the mountains to trek gorillas, and to the corridors of power, the anthology is quite the ride. He paints the setting effortlessly, and it is refreshing to see Kampala and all the different issues we face in the expertly crafted works. You will likely find most poems relatable because he writes about everyday life. He describes war, despair and broken promises as aptly as he does for love, hope, and lust.

The book starts with harrowing descriptions of suffering, poverty and war, but later eases into life advice, relationships, and love. He tackles political issues like leaders who stay too long in power, neo-colonialism, and inequality with all the wit of a good satirist. He writes love poems (including a delightful sonnet) that tug at the heart. He describes nature with wonder and tackles climate change with passion. He celebrates Africanness in a way reminiscent of the legendary Okot p’Bitek. He moans despair, heartbreak and mortality with typical poet-like cynicism. This book will likely make you chuckle, smile, and then shake your head in despair.

I enjoyed reading the poems immensely, especially the poems that bore the biting satire of a cartoonist. Paul Kasami is a satirist to be proud of with this set of thought provoking but cheeky poems.

This review, of Paul Kasami’s The Beggar’s Mansion, was written, for Turn The Page Africa, by Hazel Birungi.

Homegoing – Yaa Gyasi.

The cover image of Yaa Gyasi’s Homegoing.

Yaa Gyasi writes Homegoing from her heart. She tackles the tough topic of slavery in the Gold Coast with a finesse that the reader has to admire. Her descriptions are superb making the reading experience pleasurable. Take for example this depiction of an old woman who was considered a witch in one of the Gold Coast villages;

‘She was missing all but her four front teeth, evenly spaced, as though they had chased all of the other teeth out of her mouth and then joined together in the middle, triumphant’.

Homegoing is a fitting tribute to West Africa’s men, women and children whose lives were upended both in Africa and abroad by the horror that was slave trade. This tribute is particularly special because Yaa Gyasi endeavours to tell their story with a positive tone, depicting them as survivors instead of victims.

This review, of Yaa Gyasi’s Homegoing, was written for Turn The Page Africa, by Lynn Gitu Turyatemba.

You can order for your own copy of the book by visiting our online bookshop ttpafrica.com.

The Joys Of Motherhood – Buchi Emecheta.

The cover image of Buchi Emecheta’s The Joys Of Motherhood.

All Nnu Ego (pronounced new ego) ever wanted was to make her father proud by birthing many sons to her husband to whom she was married off in the most lavish wedding ceremony Ibuza had ever seen. She was a lovechild- a result of her mother and father’s unconventional relationship. Nnu Ego’s mother, Ona, had refused to marry Chief Agbadi despite his obsessive love for her.

Unfortunately, for Nnu Ego, her deepest desire is not met and after about a year being married to Amatokwu and not getting pregnant, a new wife is brought home. By and by, Nnu Ego, is disgracefully sent back to her father’s home. She is eventually married off again to Nnaife Owulum- who lives and works in Lagos as a ‘washerman’ for a white couple. To her utmost joy, she goes on to give birth to nine children with him.

The Joys of Motherhood is poignant. A 20th Century book whose themes still hold true in the 21st Century. Buchi Emecheta handles the issues of patriarchy, polygamy and the disadvantaged lot of the African woman without fear or favour. To her credit, she manages to balance her portrayal of the African mother as strong, all-weather, even willing to give up everything including her very own life for her children, yet, vulnerable.

This review, of Buchi Emecheta’s The Joys Of Motherhood, was written by Lynn Gitu Turyatemba, for Turn The Page Africa.

You can order for your copy of the book by ordering from our online bookshop ttpafrica.com.

The Frank Bushuyu Mutaremwa Books

Young and Rich.

The cover image of Mutaremwa Frank Bushuyu’s The Young And The Rich.

The first time I saw this book I thought, oh great, another cliché self-help book.

But while reading it, I was pleasantly surprised. It’s a book written by an African, for Africans.

In Young and Rich, Bushuyu portrays discontent with the education system of the country, a sentiment shared by lots of people and also disappointment in those who stay in or work jobs they have no interest in because they have been pushed into it by status quo and/or parents that don’t know better. Essentially ignoring their talents.

This book is for the student, the educator, the parent, the employee, the employer, the business person. It is for everyone, really.

Young And Rich is filled with quotable phrases and deep truths brought forward in a very simple style of writing, and in 83 pages only.

The book encourages self-discovery and is highly educational.

I enjoyed Young And Rich so much that I learnt so much from it so I highly recommend it.  It will motivate you to chase your dreams as it did me.

Forbid Not Speaking In Tongues.

The cover image of Mutaremwa Frank Bushuyu’s Forbid not Speaking In Tongues.

The subject of speaking in tongues has for long been a polarizing and controversial topic in the Christian world today. However, Pastor Frank Bushuyu, in his very simple delivery, conveys powerful truths about this topic while also answering the common misconceptions and objections raised concerning this subject.

With scriptural backing, Pastor Frank points out the need for speaking in tongues and as well as the benefits to a believer. The book is for tongue speaking Christians, it will encourage you to speak more tongues and also help you realize the importance of speaking in tongues.

It is also for those do not speak in tongues and desire to, this book will give you a practical way to receive the gift. And, finally, for the skeptic as well.

Forbid Not Speaking In Tongues is essential for today’s Christian.

Love Most Excellent.

The cover image of Mutarewa Frank Bushuyu’s Love Most Excellent.

Let us talk about love! It is all about love. Over these three books, I have come to enjoy and appreciate Frank Bushuyu’s very simple way of revealing profound truths.

Love Most Excellent is extremely quotable as it talks about a theme that’s very vital in the church, love. It has even been called the greatest commandment.

The love talked about in this book is not human affection, not erotic love, but love most excellent. Pastor Frank takes various scripture and delves deeper into them.

With a deep understanding of the examples of scripture he uses, Pastor Frank illustrates that love is not just love, but rather it is God.

It’s a book that’s relevant for today’s Christian.

All three Mutaremwa Frank Bushuyu’s books, The Young And The Rich, Forbid Not Speaking In Tingues, and Love Most Excellent, were reviewed by Mable Amuron, for Turn The Page Africa.

They are available on our online bookshop for local and global distribution.

Kingdom Of Gravity – Nick Makoha

Nick Makoha’s Kingdom Of Gravity.

Kingdom of Gravity is written by Nick Makoha, a poet born in Uganda whose other works include Resurrection Man, The Second Republic and Lost Collection of Invisible Man.

Thefirst time I read Kingdom of Gravity, I didn’t get what I was looking for.

I had heard a lot about the poet that I sought a deeper hidden meaning of the poems that I was reading. It took a second unbiased reading that I was able to appreciate the story and message that Nick ably portrays in the anthology.

The poetry is centered on the time during the tyranny of Idi Amin in Uganda and the fight for liberation from his rule.

The cover of the book is intriguing. At first sight, it will draw your wondering mind,  preparing you for the story being narrated throughout the anthology.

The poems that precede the sections in the book show that the writer penned down the poems either at an airport lounge or on a plane.

The writer vividly describes the after math of war, the plight of those that were persecuted, turmoil, the fear, assault and violation of rights during Idi Amin’s time.

The mood is somber, filled with caution, pain, and a reminder that history has taught us nothing. The sarcasm employed by the writer whilst he illustrates corruption and bribery as business as usual is a reminder of the sad reality that is contemporary Uganda.

The history told through the poems is eye opening and an echo of voices seldomly heard. A good and must read for everyone who seeks to know the history of Uganda.

This review, of Nick Makoha’s Kingdom Of Gravity, was written, for Turn The Page Africa, by Hazel Birungi.

You can get yourself a copy by purchasing it from our online bookshop, which is accessible via ttpafrica.com

Kamwe Kamwe Nigwo Muganda – Rita Kenkwanzi.

The cover image of Rita Kenkwanzi’s Kamwe Kamwe Nigwo Muganda And Other Lessons From My Father.

I carried Rita Kenkwanzi’s Kamwe Kamwe Nigwo Muganda And Other Lessons From My Father to work many times. Each time someone saw it at my desk, they asked incredulously: “You are reading a whole book in Runyankore?” I was quite amused each time because I do read Runyankore very easily thanks to my mother’s lessons and the book is not entirely in Runyankore/Rukiga. That made me wonder though, about why it is so unbelievable that an educated person of a certain heritage can read their mother tongue. Many people I know can read English easily but stumble through texts in their own languages. So I enjoyed this book partly because of the way Rita weaves Rukiga proverbs into the fabric of her and her father’s life.

 

Of course, it is common for us to write eulogies when our loved ones pass. How often do we celebrate people while they are alive? How many times do you tell your parents, friends, siblings, that they are wonderful and you appreciate them? I thought it was extremely heartwarming that Miss Kenkwanzi chose to write about her dad while he is here. I hope reading this book will encourage you to tell your people more often that you value them. The comments from family and friends was a nice touch. It really brought Chris Kataama the man to life! I am convinced I would be tempted to run up to him and say hello if I met him.

 

I enjoyed her simple but poignant conversational style of writing. The use of old adages and proverbs along with their lessons lent the book authenticity because we all know how our elders often express themselves in the mother tongue. I definitely recommend this book, though I must warn you that the picture she paints of her family is so vivid and so beautiful, that one may turn green with envy!

This review, of Rita Kenkwanzi’s Kamwe Kamwe Nigwo Muganda And Other Lessons From My Father, a 2017 publication, was written, for Turn The Page Africa, by Ophelia Kemigisha.

Copies of the book are available for you to purchase.

The Extinction Of Menai – Chuma Nwokolo

 

Godmenai! Amis andgus. Rubiesu… Aiyegun Yesi Yemanagu…

 

I find myself mumbling a language I cannot understand as I drift in and out of the pages towards the end of Chuma’s riveting epic – The Extinction of Menai.

 

I am not sure I can say this is a feat for Chuma especially because of his storytelling history – The Ghost of Sani Abacha, How to Spell Naija, and Diaries of a Dead African; also, because the poetry and stories I follow on his social media as well as blog but more still because of his profession as a lawyer.

 

Chuma’s dance with language is enviable. And this is not because of the sometimes very sophisticated words but the easier ones, how they arranged and make sense.

 

And perhaps it is this respect for and knowledge of and experience with -language- that informs this book.

 

It opens with the “Universal Declaration of Linguistic Rights (Article 10.1) All language communities have equal rights” then a dedication to the less-equal half of the world’s 6000-odd languages, which will be extinct in another hundred years.

 

Clearly, Chuma has an almost spiritual relationship with language –  and what it means in terms of identity, culture, dignity for those speaking these languages. His is an exposition of the connections that language holds, not to just people but to histories.

 

However, enough of my fascination with the author’s fascination with language. Let’s talk about the book without trying to give away much.

 

The Menai are dying. They are running out of time. This is the idea we are brought to deal with as the book starts. How it plays out is the journey that Chuma expertly takes us on, him – an  omniscient narrator, giving us magnifying glass views as well birds’ eye views of the process of the extinction.

 

However, this is not a journalistic narration. The writer was akin to an angel taking one through visions, through pasts and futures, a back and forth giving context and reason and then painting a bigger picture. This was done exemplarily well through an expertly crafted cast of characters who seem thrown over different parts of the world but are connected by events that at first glance seem not at all connected.

 

A half-naked procession of mourners. Unexplained deaths. Failed coup attempts. A doctor and his wife’s designer drugs. A mock burial. An author’s messianic book deal go wrong and more…

 

The events are primarily set in Kreektown and Sontik State in Nigeria; however, the journeys take us to Scotland, England, Cote D’Ivoire, Sudan even China if not to prove a certain point about roots and connections.

 

In as much as the few chapters that detail the thoughts and experiences of Chief (Dr.) Ehi A. Fowaka give an introduction and thought about the Menai people and their perceived absurdity and strange customs but more generally a look down on cultures that are getting extinct- it is the chapters that have the stories of Zanda, Badu, Humphrey Chow, Tobi Rani, David Balsam, Amana, Penaka Lee, and Mata Nimito that give this story its heart and soul and take you on a journey of discovery of what the Extinction of Menai really means – why and how all language communities have equal rights.

 

There are love stories, international-level political plots, terrorist attempts, mystic occurrences, scientific explanations that all connect together in what seems the dying of the Menai.

 

It was masterful how Chuma took on top-level happenings while at the same time giving eye to individual, interpersonal happenings and exposing many of society’s inconsistencies, conflicts, sins while at it.

 

It is in questioning strong topics like sexism, corruption, greed, capitalism,  with great use of language.

 

“Women and children, always women and children! As if men that died there are donkeys!”

 

““Bastard! Were. Aje! You take one million US dollars and give me a hundred thousand naira!” I was angry myself, “What did you bring? Was it not ordinary photocopy form? Hundred thousand for a fifty naira paper, was that not enough?”

 

“‘Goodbye, Humphrey,’ and her voice was as cold as the kiss had been warm.”

 

“‘We’re burying a nation, David…Not just a man…’”

 

“After all, eyeswater is not for drinking.”

 

It is hard to tell after a while when reading the book whether this is fiction or a true story. You want to look up places and see whether they exist, companies like Trevi Biotics, IMX; names of famous people – Malcom Frisbee, Phil Begg,  because for a while inside Chuma’s tale, everything is alive, as big as it is small, as compelling as it is hard to believe. And moreso because he has overlapped worlds. More than overlap, it seems like a perfect amalgamation.

 

And when you do get to the end, you realise why Chuma goes to the lengths and depths. He is making a plea for language but not just language, cultures on the brink of extinction and he is also asking us how well we know who we are. He asks for introspection, asks for an inquiry into our religion, our sociology, our financial systems.

 

His main characters seem to be living on different sides of the world but are connected. We are as some would put it, living in a world of six degrees of separation.

 

It is written very much like an Ousmane Sembene God’s Bits of Wood book but with a wider plane of influence. It is a modern day epic that is intriguing as it is teaching. It’s epic scale is in no way confusing for those with the patience to follow through to the end, to the extinction of the Menai to wonder whether the race, the language, the customs, the wisdom, the songs, have come to an end or maybe could be saved.

 

On reaching the end of the book, and reconciling his first words, you realise you have just read one of Africa’s best writers. His ability to create the world that is “The Extinction of Menai” was ambitious because of the seeming scale but  Godmenai it was enjoyable and unforgettable.

 

Perhaps because of what language means to him, he went to the lengths of an epic to relay a message that a story can better tell than a declaration, and while declarations have their space, the story should awaken us to a deeper appreciation of our roots and identity as African regardless what shade we are. And that we are human no matter what language we speak.

 

An epic that doesn’t shy away from the cultural, spiritual, financial, political and sociological influences on people, this is my best read this year of our Lord, 2017.

 

P.s As a writer, there was a lot to take from the chapters that had Lynn Christie, Grace, Humphrey Chow, and Malcom Frisbee in terms of writing. Especially the Malcom Frisbee and Chow lunch. So much. Every writer, every emerging writer should read it.

This review, of Chuma Nwokolo’s The Extinction Of Menai, a 2017 publication, was written, for Turn The Page Africa, by Joel Benjamin Nevender.

You can order for a copy of the book by contacting us. We will be delighted to deliver to you wherever in the world that you are.