Angella Emurwon speaks on her global playwriting award

Friday April 12 2013

By Bamuturaki Musinguzi

What does winning the International Playwriting Competition award mean to you?

I’m honoured. My dream is to be a resource to the theatre community in Uganda as a playwright, stage director and mentor.

What motivated you to write Sunflowers Behind a Dirty Fence?

Where I used to live, in Kawempe, there was a garden of sunflowers behind a dirty fence. After several weeks of no activity behind the fence there would suddenly be these big, beautiful, yellow blooms. It was a mood lifter.

I also wanted to write a story for a special little girl who has no shortage of best aunties and I badly wanted to be one of them. This story is dedicated to Muthoni Muteru and my country Uganda, which I love completely and unabashedly.

How best would you describe your story? 

It is an adventure story set in modern-day Kampala.

You have so far won two radio playwriting awards. Does it mean you are a radio playwright?

It means that I’m determined to be a writer. I read a lot, especially writers I admire in all genres. As Newton said, “If I have seen farther, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” This is my testimony.

What is your comment on radio playwriting in Uganda?

It is doing really well, especially in rural communities, as part of behaviour change campaigns. Some of the adverts that use stories are pretty hilarious, and really clever.

It seems that local language FM stations are the leaders in promoting radio playwriting.

Radio is an accessible communication medium for a cross-section of people. I also think local languages can communicate better, as English can sometimes have shortcomings in translation.

What is your take on the publishing industry in Uganda, which seems to be skewed in favour of textbooks?

Publishing is a business. As much as we’d like to play the blame game, the business world is all about bottom lines. We need publishers to take more risks, but we also have to up our game.