‘In Creative Fiction, We See What Others Don’t’ – Lawrence Amaeshi
Lawrence Amaeshi is presently a student of Novel Writing in Stanford University, USA and in this conversation we try to explore in-depth the ideas behind the story, the structure and his style of writing.
In this book that could be described as many things but best regarded as a crime thriller, Bruce Telema, a young man who has recently lost his job and now works selling technical filter replacement kits to oil companies based in the Niger Delta, is approached by Steve, a representative of a high calibre network of oil criminals, skilled in the siphoning of oil from government pipelines using armed militants and selling the stolen oil to ‘the highest bidder’ in the international market. Bruce is offered the opportunity of representing the interests of this organization based in London – he is to be their point man, with the responsibility of travelling to the Niger Delta creeks to negotiate for oil from militants, villagers who have scooped oil from burst pipes, various local illegal refineries, and helping the network deliver these products to their clients. Bruce Telema is promised ‘wealth beyond his wildest imagination’ and yes, he gets into this business and soon begins to make lots of money, living an exotic ‘fast life’. However, soon rival militant groups, security operatives and even his own network place a price tag on his head.
I am reminded of six years ago. I had just flown into Johannesburg from Kampala. I was in Johannesburg to do a screen test for a TV series about Botswana. Before the screen test was over I had already landed one of the lead roles. Of course I was elated, mostly because even though I was enjoying an award-winning acting career on-Broadway and off-Broadway in New York City, I still had the firm desire to do something at home. A week later I was in Gaborone, script in hand, and ready to film. Then an email from the series producers popped up on my phone saying that after “much careful thought and consideration” I had been dropped from the production for “not looking African enough.” The news was more infuriating than disappointing. I found myself wishing they had told me that I had been dropped because I had not been a good enough actor during the screen tests, or that I was asking for too much money. But to say that I did not fulfil some British self-styled Africanist director’s zoological notion of what an African looks like was to abuse even my ancestors. I tell you, Upright African, you and I must write and perform many-many stories about the Africa we know where my perfect teeth are not remarkable.
Beatrice Lamwaka (born and raised in Alokolum, Gulu) is a Ugandan writer. She was shortlisted for the 2011 Caine Prize for her story “Butterfly Dreams”. She is the founder and director of the Arts Therapy Foundation,[a non-profit organisation that provides psychological and emotional support through creative arts therapies. She is the general secretary of PEN Uganda Chapter and an executive member of the Uganda Reproduction Rights Organisation (URRO). She has served on the executive board of the Uganda Women Writers Association (FEMRITE), where she has been a member since 1998. Lamwaka’s writing has been translated into Spanish and Italian; she released her anthology of short stories Butterfly Dreams and Other Stories in 2016. Continue reading “Interview with Beatrice Lamwaka on Butterfly Dreams and Other Stories”
FEMRITE has been described as one of ‘the most organised literary initiatives in Africa promoting female authorship’ and we are inclined to agree. As a non-profit publisher of fiction and creative non-fiction, FEMRITE champions Ugandan women writers with their literary nurturing. Founded in 1996 by female academics and students lead by Mary Karooro Okurut at Makerere University, the organisation provides writers workshops, editorial services, training, writers residencies and a resource centre with space to work in. It supports young writers and encourages reading for pleasure; Continue reading “FEMRITE @ 20: A Cornerstone of Ugandan Literature”
Nakisanze Segawa was born in the Luwero Triangle, Uganda. She is both a fiction writer and a Luganda performance poet. Her poetry and short stories have been published by Jalada and FEMRITE. Nakisanze is a contributor to both the Daily Monitor and Global Press Journal.
A. What was your motivation in writing this novel?
N.S I always thought that Buganda has interesting stories to tell about our past, but I also thought that Kabaka Mwanga was fascinating person. He came onto the throne when he was a teen, in the mid 1800s, at a time when Buganda was experiencing fundamental change. He was faced with lots of challenges, and his responses to these challenges, changed everything, resulting into what we are today as a country. The wars, the deaths, the hopes and frustrations faced by the people of his times motivated me to write this story, The Triangle. Continue reading “Interview with Nakisanze Segawa on her novel ‘The Triangle’”
In March 2017 Jalada Africaembarked on its first Mobile Literary and Arts Festival, visiting five countries (Kenya, DRC, Uganda, Rwanda and Tanzania) and twelve locations (Nairobi, Nakuru, Kisumu, Mombasa Kampala, Kabale, Goma, Kigali, Mwanza, Arusha, Dar es Salaam, Zanzibar). Not only does the range of activities reflected in the programme illustrate the creativity of the visited regions but also demonstrates a comprehensive attempt at inclusivity. From panel discussions to performances to book stalls, there was something for everyone, with particular attention paid to language and orality.
Published this year Nakisanze Segawa’s The Triangle is a work of historical fiction that will leave you wanting more. Set in the Kingdom of Buganda in the late 1800s the story centres on life at the royal palace. Segawa skilfully makes us privy to the varied and complex relationships played out between the young Kabaka (king) Mwanga II, his wives, his courtiers and the foreigners in his kingdom, European missionaries and Arab merchants. Segawa meticulously researched historical archives in the process of writing this book and it really shows; from Continue reading “Bite-size Review: The Triangle | Nakisanze Segawa”
This collection of stories and poems from Beatrice Lamwaka is a powerful contribution to Ugandan literature. Not only does she question the internal politics of Uganda but raises issues that are pertinent the world over. A few of the stories are rooted in the atrocities endured by the Acholi people of Northern Uganda during the time of Joseph Kony and the Lords Resistance Army. The opening story Butterfly Dreams is a short yet formidable read as it conveys the suffering of the individual, the family and society at large as it Continue reading “Bite-size Review: Butterfly Dreams and Other Stories | Beatrice Lamwaka”
With a steady hand Abubakar weaves an affair between fifty-five year old Hajiya Binta Zubairu and twenty-five year old Reza Babale. Reza, a local weed dealer, finds himself entangled in Binta’s life after robbing her place. As Binta stands shocked in the centre of her invaded living space, she suddenly feels a cool blade gently pierce her throat and Reza’s warm breath trailing behind her neck. His abrupt entrance and body warmth arouses Binta – something she had never experienced in her recent marriage before becoming widowed. Continue reading “Bite-size Review: Season of Crimson Blossoms | Abubakar Adam Ibrahim”