In a pioneering project, the Uganda Women Writers Association (Femrite) has published an anthology of poems in Ugandan languages and their translated versions in English by the respective poets.
The anthology titled Go Tell Home was published by Femrite Publications Ltd in 2019 and is the first multi-lingual poetry anthology in the country. The poems were contributed by 31 poets.
The 122-page anthology costs Ushs25, 000 ($6.7) at bookshops.
According to the project co-ordination team of Hilda J. Twongyeirwe, Ingrid Aguti and Jackson Otim Dre, when the theme was conceptualised, there was excitement but there was confusion too.
“There was a lot of doubt regarding the multi-lingual approach and yet part of the set challenge was not to use professional translators. Each writer had to translate their own work.
We are indebted to every individual contributor who took on the challenge which ultimately enabled them to go back to their roots and reclaim their identity through language.
There will probably be few slips but that should not be hindrance to rekindling our first love – mother tongue,” the team in a statement.
Prof Timothy Wangusa, who is one of the contributors, describes the anthology, as: “In a nutshell, here is a fitting feast for every monolingual, bilingual, and multi-lingual lover of poetry.
And seven cheers to Femrite for this singular project that has accorded as contributors the opportunity to compose our poems in our languages, in which we think and dream best.”
The anthology tackles the themes of love, death, truth, poor public administration, corruption, road safety, democracy, environmental degradation and nationalism, among others.
Akankwasa Melvin Vincent’s Kiswahili poem Kama Haukuona (If You Didn’t See) extols the beauty of Uganda.
If you did not see the variety of wildlife, the beauty in the savannah grasslands of the parks, all-seasons weather, humoungous lakes bursting with life, riotous rivers, the touristy falls Sipi, Murchison and Bujagali, then it was not Uganda.