Nambozo’s new bold poetry anthology takes on her past past life

Friday March 04 2022
"Dress Me in Disobedience", an anthology of poems by Beverley Nambozo.

"Dress Me in Disobedience", an anthology of poems by Beverley Nambozo. PHOTO | MORGAN MBABAZI | NMG


Ugandan poet Beverley Nambozo's second poetry anthology Dress Me in Disobedience is deeply personal and tackles issues like romantic love, travel, sexual and emotional abuse and church hypocrisy.

The anthology, published by her company Babishai Niwe Poetry Foundation in 2022, is based on the poet’s experiences in three decades as a Christian, and is proof of her boldness and courage in taking on matters mostly discussed behind closed doors.

Nambozo, who has a Master’s of Fine Art in Creative Writing from Lancaster University in the UK, says in the Poet’s Note that the writing the collection was both a nightmare and a fulfilling pleasure.

In an e-mail interview with The EastAfrican, she said, “The poems comprise scars from 30 years of misguided faith. I take responsibility for being so gullible and taking people’s word at face value. My lack of discernment from 30 years ago led me into many pits, most of them as a result of an insatiable need for validation.

“I was hurled into fellowships; I gave out money, and time, not realising that God was the answer, and not humans. In this poetry collection, I cry out, laugh out, sing, dance and weep at the things I lost, because I lacked prudence."

She says the collection took her two years to compile and that she was grateful for the past few years because, from 2020, she was able to reassess her past 30 years and reclaim her rightful place. Her story is captured in the poem My Story Changed at 3am, in which she laments waking up at 3am from a self-induced comatose of 30 years of one scarring decision after another, one misleading friend after another.


The poem "Dress Me in Disobedience", which lends the collection its title, states in part;

Dress me in disobedience

allow the fabric of ides

draw its curtain over my eyes

so that I can no longer see you.

The 55-page collection has 41 poems divided into three parts.

In the third part, Nambozo takes the reader to places she has been to: St. Margaret’s School in Hampstead, London, Lake Nalubaale (Lake Victoria), Butare-Rwanda, Bujumbura and the Nyali Beach in Mombasa.

The poems "Mt Rwenzori", which extols the country’s natural beauty, and "Lake Nalubaale", an ode to its life giving waters, show her love for nature and the environment. She also has a poem in honour of Phionah Mutesi, Uganda’s chess prodigy.

Discussing the subjects of her poems Nambozo said; “They arouse some of my highest form of emotion, memory and drive. Travelling for me begins in the mind, where I take myself to places of rest, of excitement and passion and of ambition. It also enables me to cross over to places of calm, when there is chaos.”

Of her life experiences she says: “I have been a born-again Christian for long and I am grateful for the lessons, the beauty and the depth and reach of life that God brings. I am heavily disconcerted by hypocrisy that comes in the form of sexual abuse towards minors, sexism and passive aggression. I am deeply disturbed by the layers of leadership that promote a poor financial management culture. I believe that there are opportunities for fellowships within various church spaces to grow with respect towards one another, with learning about resource management and while doing so, allowing individuals to thrive in the creative gifts they have been given."

Nambozo is the founder and director of the Babishai Niwe Poetry Foundation, which promotes African poetry. She was first runner-up in the 2010 erbacce-press poetry international contest, and her first poetry collection is Unjumping. In 2014, she was appointed the BBC Commonwealth Games Ambassador for Poetry, representing Uganda.

Nambozo has a Bachelor of Education in English from Makerere University.