1. When I interviewed renown Editor Ellah Wakatama Allfrey last year about her experience as an editor, she said that as a temp at Penguin, she remembered walking into the building on her first day and thinking, Oh My God. This is my tribe of people. I understood exactly what she meant last week when I walked into Colleen Higgs’ house to begin the six weeks of my editing and publishing internship with Modjaji Books.
I was awarded the internship last year by African Writers Trust after the Editorial Workshop that Ellah Allfrey and Vimbai Shire conducted in June last year, courtesy of Commonwealth Writers and African Writers Trust. I was meant to go to Namibia in the first place but I was denied a visa because according to them, as a Ugandan, I could have had Ebola and they were not willing to take that chance (*side eye). You can imagine how happy I was when Colleen Higgs of Modjaji Books (South Africa), who I met very briefly in November at the African Women Writers Initiatives meeting in Milan, said she could have me this year.
Modjaji Books is an independent feminist press that is changing the lives of South African women and giving a platform for their voices to be heard. People may describe it as a small press but after seven years, there is nothing small about the work Colleen is doing. Modjaji Books publishes those stories that traditional publishers might need a lot of convincing to publish, even though they are stories that must, must be told. From poetry anthologies, to non-fiction to fiction (novels and short story collections), Young Adult series, Modjaji is doing it. I spent my first week reading some Modjaji Books and I wished I could read books the way Mike Ross does in the TV series, Suits!
There is really nothing like meeting people you know will understand you when you explain your passion, when you get excited about books and writing and who are willing to teach you what they can about things that they had to learn the hard way. Without even saying do this or that, I have already learnt so much from listening to the conversations Colleen has with her business partner, Emily Buchanan and Modjaji’s Isabel Richie.
So I am here, ready to learn as much as I can and I will share my lessons here every so often. I have found my tribe of people, you guys!
2. I spend most of my writing/reading life gushing about Toni Morrison but I am going to keep this short today. My literary boo has a new story out over at The New Yorker:
I wasn’t a bad mother, you have to know that, but I may have done some hurtful things to my only child because I had to protect her. Had to. All because of skin privileges. At first I couldn’t see past all that black to know who she was and just plain love her. But I do. I really do. I think she understands now. I think so.
More here: Sweetness.
3. Our dear photographer friend here at somanystories.ug, Darlyne Komukama, has a new exciting project she is working on. Inspired by FitClique Africa’s Mildred Apenyo’s Ted Ex Talk (go on and follow that link), Darlyne seeks to document women asserting ownership over their own bodies. Her first subject was Mildred Apenyo here: My Body Is A Dictatorship
I love Darlyne’s work and I am quite happy to see how she has grown as a photographer over the last couple of years and this particular project is one I am proud of! Well done, Darlyne!
If you would like to be photographed, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the ‘Body Dictatorship’ as the subject line.
And our Valentine’s Day Specials:
4. Let me just say that no Ugandan writer is writing heart-warming romance like Rich Wagaba is currently doing. His writing makes me feel things I could never express even if I tried. Trust me on this one. This guy is good!
Here is Wagaba in:
And again in: Dear You Girl Who Plays Kwepena With My Heart
I think I’d be fine if you didn’t understand me better than anyone else.
If my father didn’t smile when we went to see him because he knows you make me so much better. If it wasn’t your voice I heard pushing me to hold on just a little longer when my body’s weak and the day disastrous. I’d be fine if you were just a pretty smile and apple-bottom babe, some hollow vessel through which I’m meant to define manhood. But I could fill novels with all the ways I love you and I’m done pretending it’s okay to live without you or as some asterisk on your romantic history.
Infact Muwado, where the above piece is featured, is running a love letter writing competition. You have until Friday February 13, 2015 to take part.
To read the other love letters on Muwado, check: MuwadoLoveLetter
5. On the evening before Valentine’s Day, do go for the Love, Romance n’ebigenderako Mu Kampala Poetry Reading organised by BN Poetry Foundation. If you are a poet, go with a poem you can read.
6. If the girl you are eyeing is a Muganda, Lydia Namubiru has done you a favour and written something on How To Marry A Muganda Girl. Very funny read!
7. In closing, A Telephone Call by Dorothy Parker is an old favourite of mine. For those of us that will be sitting by the phone, willing it to ring, it might interest you to know that someone who was a teenager in 1909 knows exactly how you feel.
This is silly. It’s silly to go wishing people were dead just because they don’t call you up the very minute they said they would. Maybe the clock’s fast; I don’t know whether it’s right. Maybe he’s hardly late at all. Anything could have made him a little late. Maybe he had to stay at his office. Maybe he went home, to call me up from there, and somebody came in. He doesn’t like to telephone me in front of people. Maybe he’s worried, just alittle, little bit, about keeping me waiting. He might even hope that I would call him up. I could do that. I could telephone him.
Have a wonderful week and happy love day and whatnot.
7/7 is Sooo Many Stories’ way of helping you beat the Monday blues (or Tuesday Blues if they slipped into your Tuesday by mistake). 7 things that are making me happy in the literary world that will make you happy too!