The Observer (Kampala)

9 December 2012

Uganda: When Kiguli Treated Us to a Poetry Festival

For lovers of poetry, it was an evening to remember at the Goethe-Zentrum German Cultural Centre, along Mackinnon road in Nakasero, when one of Africa's finest female poets, Dr Susan Kiguli of Makerere University, read from her latest poetry publication, Home Floats.

Home Floats, written in both English and German, is Kiguli's second book after her canonical lyrical debut and award winner, The African Saga. If the poetry diehards had any misgivings about the chilly evening, when the jovial Kiguli stepped forward, any such misgivings gave way.

She was accompanied by fellow don Dr William Wagaba from the German studies department who read the German translations and an Arua-born fresh talent songwriter, singer and guitarist Bosco Anziku who provided some melodious interludes. After paying tribute to Niyi Osundare, a Nigerian poet of nature known as the "poet of the people", Kiguli took poetry to a higher level reciting poems such as I Love Home, That's Us, Survive and Win, A cockerel at the Break of Day, childhood Friends, Sunset on Zult, a Collage, This Poem Refuses to be Written, No Longer a Voice in the Wilderness (which she dedicated to Femrite, an association of women writers) Guilty, The Rainbow Nation and Ugandan Privilege (that praises the beauty of her country), among others.

Whenever it was Dr Wagaba's German rendition, the audience would applaud uproariously, giving the impression that they understood the language until Wagaba made a pause and the crowd clapped thinking he was done reading. Kiguli's poetry highly exploits the first person, the poetic 'I', giving the subject matter a touch of performance advantage. She is a master of parallelism, while the crescendos in her recitations invariably hook the audience to the subject matter.

The poems mainly explore contemporary gender, social, political issues, and at times, delve into nature and the cosmos which the poet renders with powerful images rarely encountered. Born in Luwero, Dr Kiguli is the current head of the Literature department at Makerere University and a member of Femrite.

The reading was part of a series the Centre holds to promote indigenous culture, artistry and talent in Uganda. The function was attended by many poetry lovers, including Nigerian writer Chuma Nwokolo, who happened to be in the country.

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