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#Writivism2017 #UBHH “The Future is Free”

Confession. The writer of this post had never been to The Square until yesterday. So when he got to the gate and the askari told him to enter, he paused for a moment because all he saw was a car parking and a building with three storeys. He in fact had to come out and ask the askari again where the Writivism festival was taking place. This is when he was told it was at the top of the building.

Those steps, yamawe…. Anyway, story for another day.

This year’s Writivism festival is geared at engaging a lot of creatives in Kampala. If you look at the program, there was a panel of hair stylists, a one woman play by Kemiyondo Coutinho, a happy hour by the bloggers, and there’s more like Kelele poetry on Friday, Keynote address by people like Daniel Kalinaki, Nii Ayikwei Parkes, book launches like The Jalada Fear Issue, JJ Bola’s No Place to Call Home, Mzilikazi wa Afrika’s Nothing Left to Steal and more. Panel discussions like Kafunda Kreatives, kids activities like Sooo Many Stories’ Tots and Tales….kwegamba it’s a lot.

On day one we were privileged to host a number of bloggers, writers, thinkers, and book lovers to our happy hour which took place from 6pm to about 7:50pm.

Three of the creatives in attendance gave pop up speeches about what work they were doing with blogging and how they were affecting the lives about them. We had Prudence Nyamishana speaking about her writing in social justice and mentioned a few unforgettable things such as

“It’s hard to walk away from a story.”

She highlighted her stories of the homeless and prostitutes and how those stories somehow change their fortunes. Her stories are readable here

When Carol Kagezi spoke, she spoke about how she envisions an amalgamation of different art forms like sound, video, writing to tell stories. Her Voices of Abantu is one such tool she uses to tell stories. She says the stories are not limited to particular people but everyone who has a story is invited to tell it.

Simon Rakei’s case is a bit different seeing as he comes from South Africa and has been involved in a number of social / race issues like “Fees Must Fall” or “Rhodes Must Fall” and does a lot of work in enabling access to free education through his “Pathways to Free Education” pamphlets.

“The Pathways to Free Education pamphlet is an attempt to grapple with these questions and to rejuvenate political participation, particularly from young citizenry.

Launched in July in Cape Town, this 26-page booklet contains interviews, essays, poetry and articles on free education from students, academics and professors from South Africa and abroad, high school learners and workers. There are insightful perspectives on a range of issues from how to make free education possible from an economic standpoint, to the politics of free education as it relates to different classes and income groups. There are words of advice and encouragement to student activists from the older generation and also messages of solidarity from Brazil and Ghana..”

It was engaging seeing how people use different blog formats to speak to their present and their future. Nyamishana herself noted, “Storytelling is the past, present, and the future.”

Pearl Gahwera who moderated the event led us into different discussions on issues like censorship, rules, trolls, and more. There were words of wisdom from veteran bloggers like TMS Ruge about how blogging can be used to create audiences and to speak to those audiences. He posited that our current generation are the voices creating content  for the next generations so let our words be meaningful.

A few of the thoughts shared are below

It was definitely a vivacious engagement on day one of Writivism but the bloggers plan to have more of this in the future. Writivism goes on till Sunday, so make it a point to visit.

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