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Thursday,October 22,2020 14:41 PM

Anthology of Uganda's great poets launched

By Vision Reporter

Added 14th December 2000 03:00 AM

It was a moment of excitement on Friday 8, 2000 when Mary Karooro Okurut launched the Uganda Poetry Anthology.

It was a moment of excitement on Friday 8, 2000 when Mary Karooro Okurut launched the Uganda Poetry Anthology.

By A. G. Musamali It was a moment of excitement on Friday 8, 2000 when Mary Karooro Okurut launched the Uganda Poetry Anthology. "It is the first time in a very long time that people of different shades, opinions, and political convictions have come together to put up something of this type," said Mary Okurut, at a ceremony held at the St. Augustine Students' Centre. She called for the inclusion of Ugandan literature on the teaching and examination syllabus. "Education will not go far if we do not put our Literature on our syllabus," said Okurut, a former Makerere University literature lecturer, and now commissioner at the Education Service Commission, said. "If we cannot quote from ourselves, where are we going?" she asked. "I wish to congratulate all those poets whose work has been published here." Published by Fountain Publishers, the anthology is the first to come out of Uganda in a very long while. The last serious anthology was Poems from East Africa, edited by Rubadiri and Cook, and published in the African Writers Series of East African Educational Publishers in the 1960s. Some of the Ugandan poets in the publication, such as Timothy Wangusa and Henry Barlow of the Building the Nation fame, have again appeared in the new anthology, albeit with different poems. Others with equally established records elsewhere, such as Taban Lo Liyong, show up again too, with yet some more. This may show that the people who went into a writing career when Uganda was referred to as "a literary desert' are still alert in the field. What is more notable, however, is that alongside Professor Wangusa and Barlow are their own biological children and academic progeny also writing impressive pieces. Ayeta Anne Wangusa, daughter of Wangusa, sub-editor at The New Vision, and an already published writer, had her own piece, Sometimes proclaiming weird stuff: Sometimes' absurdity breeds sanity. With these clean looks I could play virgin in Hollywood; With my blood-penned tongue Devil in the Churchyard.... This, is in a text where there are at least four other Barlows than Henry, with George Oloya Okot, son of late Okot p'Bitek,. It shows the way Ugandan art may be heading, with children and academic progeny inheriting their parents' and mentors' literary genes. To celebrate the launch, the poets performed their own pieces to the audience. Most remarkable was Okaka Opio Dokotum, a lecturer at the Institute of Teacher Education, Kyambogo reciting his Song of a Rebel. You could have thought the whole Makerere hill was under invasion as Okaka sang his piece: I was born in grass; I live in grass; I kiss blood And can split brains! Other recitations were from Patrick Mangeni, a lecturer in Music, Dance and Drama at Makerere and Julius Ocwinyo, editor at Fountain Publishers. Ends.

Anthology of Uganda's great poets launched

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