Our first #UBHH of 2018 is on and we shall use this to celebrate Joel Ntwatwa Nevender who passed on recently. We’ll recite some of his poetry, light some candles and basically appreciate the different ways he touched our lives.
Here are some of the tributes that were written about him. You can add yours in the comment section.
Our Dear Ntwatwa,
By the time you appreciate this letter, you will have, I trust, passed through the greatest of your latest fatigues. Six month’s long bloody fatigues! Do not set your occupation with it too great an anxiety. Take it calmly, and let your health be the prime consideration.
The first thing that stroke me on learning of your recurring illness, in February 2017, was the same whenever a misfortune befalls another; they will have the pleasure of trying the resources of their spirit.
However, on your telling me that you were too sick to be seen, I could not help but revert that you had to be seen, whether you wanted it or otherwise. It was the least I could. In you, I had discovered and made a witty, chatty, sensitive human being, a solicitous and loyal friend and brother, a sympathetic observer of men, and the affairs about them, a sagely philosophic commentator of your own and other’s works, on the questions of your and other’s art, and on some of the vexing, unsolved problems of our existence. In you, I found a lover, of words, and men, who, tortured with doubts, and the uncertainties of unfulfilled passion, shared a language of both beauty and anguish at times almost too painful to be borne. I had to see you. We have to see you.
By your illness, much has been crowded into your young life. Within a few years, you have known most of the vicissitudes that are usually spread over a long life. With us, Lillian, for example, you have shared some of them, and, equally, held back, perhaps, most, but, thankfully, we ably acknowledge the strength of your spirit; to accept your fate and to rise above it whenever you are thwarted by the idleness occasioned by hospital walls. In those walls, of sand, steel and stone, we have visited and asked you to accept to reside, until you are much healthier, even when you would prefer being in the self-interesting, indulging, and good state of occupation. Whenever your eyes can afford it, stare at the ceiling, you just might see the stars.
Even for those of us who are somewhat better than you currently are, we are consequently obliged to be in continued burning of thought about many things which have long been the subjects of our and your inner conflicts. We are, like you, trying to understand this our world and to know and master ourselves to put our great powers to their best uses.
These, your powers, have been put to good use before. Before I had last visited, I had delivered, to a gentleman, Collins, Flame And Song, a Philippa Namutebi Kabali-Kagwa book of poems and prose, one which you have reviewed, who said he did not know you, but he did your poems. In an environment where poetry is a strange creature in a culture so low, it delighted me. You have a portfolio which we should by all right see, and that ought to have all the fame it deserves. You are an artist with, luckily, a public.
To return to churning out more of the same, and the best of it, will require the usage of that magic language of yours to illustrate your vision of your and our lives, the kind of life that lies behind unfathomable representations, and what we feel, believe, experience and what might be our significance in this procession of creation.
To return to doing that – as, like I have said to you, there will always be a lot to do – will need, absolutely, returning to a healthier you first. Please find it within yourself to gather as much endurance as you can to weather off all that pain, to serve your time – really, and to let the genius that Crystal sees in you grow with whatever it feeds on – until you reach your full potential growth. The world is and will always be here for your taking just as you tell me you wish.
Sickle cells anaemia is, in the description of Kasichana, who, also admires you and the way you weave words; a bitch. A challenge, she means. Your struggles with it have enlightened, to you, and us, the dearth of hope, the untold anxiety, and the embarrassment it occasions upon both patients and guardians. Heart-breaking, indeed. It is my fervent hope that you will always remember that through it all, you are not alone, and, importantly, that you are loved, and wished the best – always.
Be as happy as you possibly can, Joel. Keep hoping, praying, and believing; in you, in us, and in God. For our, and your family’s sake, be cheerful. Our hearts speak to you.
Your illness is a rather long lane, but we will see you through and at the end of it, and shall mend our paces, together with you, as well as possible.
Let your health be your prime consideration. We will be anxious to see you spring back up again. It is no mean gratification to become acquainted with a man like you.
God Bless You, Nevender.
For your most affectionate friend(s), Twino.
Thank you for not leaving us in doubt of your love
I hope that you knew how special, loved and cherished you were… Your eulogies are breaking the internet.
Thank you for leaving your mark; for not carefully passing through life
You were a special one, Joel
You really were.
Maybe you should write me some letters, I wonder what you’d say.
Fare thee well Joel
Love you Everyday
Celebrate life. Celebrate your gifts
Sometimes they go! Sometimes you expect it. Sometimes like our Joel, they just pack and go.
Celebrate them every day.
Live out loud
Love out Loud
Leave your Mark
Joel inspired me from a distance. At some point, we even corresponded on mail. He was so kind and helpful yet he didn’t know me. He inspired me to write better. I am very saddened by his death but I celebrate the life he lived fully.
Hearing people say “the late ” last night was shocking. I couldn’t get my self to enter the house or see him in the ” little brown box”. We were already talking about the 2nd edition of ‘ Stranger in my bed’….now how will i figure that out?
Thank you for words, Joel. Thank you for presence. Thank you for friendship.
Now you are complete. Rest!
Sad and Joyful, Beautiful and Ugly. All in all, we celebrate the completion of Joel. He reached out and touched our hearts with sincere and genuine love. The words he wrote shall forever piece the veils of time and outlive the earth.
He left his mark on a lot of people. He will forever be missed but his words….. Oh his beautiful beautiful words….. They live on. They make him immortal.
Rest in peace Joel. As sad as we are, we are grateful that you were given to us. The Lord you loved so much called up back home.
I didn’t know Joel personally but his words were so beautifully put together. Indeed angels live among us. RIP
He is well. He is at the feet of God. He wants you happy and his smile is forever
Oh Nev, he truly left a mark of footprints in each life he had a chance to walk in to. We’ll miss him dearly but his legacy and memories live on. Rest well Joel, you are with the angels. Write us some letters on that side of heaven. May God grant strength and comfort to every heart that aches because of your departure. So long soldier, fare thee well…we’ll see you later. I can’t stand the word goodbye noooo…
“Joel was a walking archive of twenty first century Ugandan arts events. And he had high standards. I admired Joel’s courage to say what most of us thought but could not say, especially about books by our peers because people are sensitive about their work. Joel would say what he thought because he was 100% sure it came from a place of love,”
Bwesigye Bwa Mwesigire, Writivism Festival of Arts.
Joel, tonight, your friends came to celebrate your life. You were a friend. You were a connector. You were whole. Your mother cannot believe that you touched so many people around the world. The friends that came to sit in silence with your family tonight and comfort them show her that you were loved.
Jackee Batanda, Success Spark
There was a fierce fire behind scenes of this smile
And you contained it with courage for more than a mile
Waiting for healing rain
And it did come tonight…
Only that it did come, on short notice… And it did leave us broken! So broken inside…
But oh what a smile, the angels receive tonight!
Phumani ngokuthula umfowethu othandekayo!
Size sihlangane futhi nomfowethu!
Joel Benjamin Nevender Your stories live on…
Jacob Katumusiime, friend
Nevender: Of hope that never runs dry | A Tribute by Nyana Kakoma
Dear Nevender, this is about me.
My Neve’r’nder… #CelebratingNevender
You believed in me.
You believed in everyone.
You gave me opportunities.
You taught me to help as much as I could.
You were always happy.
You looked out for everyone.
You gave Ugandan Blogging a face.
You have left us empty.
Sleep Well @nevender #RIPNevender pic.twitter.com/x8MRu1PhxQ
— 📷 Payo (@enywaru) February 11, 2018
Life is a series of pulls back and forth. A tension of opposites, like a pull on a rubber band. And most of us live somewhere in the middle. But love wins.
[Excerpt:Tuesdays with Morrie, Mitch Albom] @nevender your love expressed in literary verses will remain with us forever
— Blast.In.a.Glass (@annethannah) February 12, 2018
— Nabaye Tricia Gloria (@trishangloria) February 12, 2018
You’ve left broken hearts & empty souls behind but still we celebrate your life. A life where you gave unconditionally. A life where your words breathed encouragement & wisdom. A life that left a mark that YOU WERE HERE.
— Florentina Aranél (@theflorentyna) February 12, 2018
I am so saddened to hear that @nevender has transitioned to another life. He truly was so supportive of the arts in all ways. I remember he constantly offered encouraging words in my own art and of others.
Rest In Power beautiful Joel.
— Kemiyondo (@Kemi_stry) February 11, 2018
Joel I first met you as a student in my class @CoCISMak your gentle spirit was that of a giant. Your calm demeanor spoke volumes. Your resilience to live life was unquestionable. You have impacted humanity in your simplicity. The Lord grant you the rest you so deserve. Rest Well! pic.twitter.com/p4cGfK7pQ2
— Michael Niyitegeka (@niyimic) February 11, 2018
A tribute to the best poet I’ve ever met, Joel Benjamin Ntwatwa. Rest well my friend.
Death kissed me last… https://t.co/2Oma9wyucX
— Paul Kisakye (@paul_kisakye) February 11, 2018
— Emmanuel Kasomi (@EKasomi) February 11, 2018
I felt comfortable around you @nevender, and your subtle conversations always had some knowledge to take home!
You never despised young talent, thanks for encouraging me to always keep at it.#RIPNEVENDER 😪😪
— Emmanuel Kasomi (@EKasomi) February 11, 2018
I lost a friend by The Fray playing in my head right now…
“Where did I go wrong?
I lost a friend
Somewhere along in the bitterness
And I would have stayed up with you all night
Had I known how to save a life…” #RIPNevender
— Mark Keith Muhumuza (@mumakeith) February 11, 2018