Monday, December 22, 2008


Last nite, our neighbours, our delightful sisters and brothers of the accepted-polygamy faith, were at it again. This time two of the sisters were fighting over a man. It would have made better sense to me if they had been fighting over a turkey for Christmas-but a man. The screams almost woke up my baby Zion but thankfully did not.

Have you ever felt a chill when someone’s long nails scrape the chalkboard? That’s exactly how my husband and I felt. We heard the house help adding onto the screams by threatening anyone who dared interfere and help. That meant us, the willing to help neighbours. We were actually more curious than willing to help. We heard the sticks thrashing someone’s back. Does that constitute as domestic violence if one woman beats another? That is something for NGOs to fret about. As I mentioned before, why not fight over a Christmas turkey? That would make the season a little more merrier and meaningful.

I do not know how the fighting women story ends. I just hope that I do not have to spend the night before Easter listening to the same cries. I would rather hear women fighting over an Easter bunny or Easter egg.

My daughter’s first Christmas will be at Kingfisher Resort in Jinja because Christmases in Kampala can only be summarized as cooking, cleaning, washing, serving guests and lying idle and it doesn’t get better with a baby. We want to change the tradition. Cooking not, cleaning not, working not and stressing not.

As one wise man once said, no, not wise man, wise woman. As one wise woman said, Anyway since there are many wise things that women have said I am finding it very difficult to choose just one.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008



I have decided that Sharm El-Sheikh neither exists in Asia nor in Egypt. Neither does it exist on any map. I do not feel that there is any map in the world that can locate it to its exact likeness or true worth. In these pages, I decide that Sharm El-Sheikh exists in a place where my mind meets with enchantment. It is also the place that holds the Sinai Desert, at the tip of the Red Sea, where the Israelites got lost for 40 years.

I travel through Jordan Airport and saliently sail through the stares from the Arabs who either have never seen anyone black before or are not used to women showing their arms. Young children peer at me clinging to the safety of their mothers’ skirts lest I ‘eat them up.’ The braver passengers on the flight whisper to me how beautiful they think I am. I believe what they mean is how different I am from them and where on earth am I from?

Sharm El-Sheikh is a desert. It stretches from whichever point you are at to as far as you can bear the glare of the desert sun. The Airport is hardly occupied at the time of my arrival in June. My red suitcase sits forlorn on the static conveyor belt. A man in a white uniform ushers me to the immigration desk. A small line takes forever to clear. There is no hurry in Sharm. Finally, after a few questions about where I work, he stamps my passport.

One cab driver hurries to take my luggage to his car. Domina Coral Bay, South Sinai, is where we are headed. The desert looms ahead of me. A vast desert with one or two large unfinished buildings. The paved roads are my only link to home and within 10 minutes, I arrive at Domina Coral Bay. It looks like a Sultan’s Palace. Uganda’s state house can comfortably fit in the parking yard. I feel like Jack before the giant beanstalk, intimidated by the grandeur of the place. I pay the cab driver his 25 US dollars without thinking of how I have been cheated.

Domina Coral Bay is located in South Sinai and was officially opened in 1994. The resort extends across an entire coral bay of 1.8 kms and has the capacity to hold more than 5,000 guests. Two very kind gentlemen relieve me of my luggage as I check in. Despite being the only guest at the check in desk, it takes long to locate my name and get my room. That’s when I make up my mind that apart from the Latin languages, Arabic is also one of the most important languages that I must learn. There are about six sections of the resort at Domina Coral Bay which are all five star but even within the five star they are categorized from Standard to Deluxe. I feel filthy standing on the gleaming white tiles and next to the polished plants. I just smile politely at the staff and make up my mind to have a bath as soon as I get to the room. That is when I begin to conceive the concept of vastness. At Domina Coral Bay, you need to travel in a shuttle from the reception area to your room. The shuttles run at specific times and they have specific routes to cover all the sections of this magnificent resort. Tourists came walking past me in skimpy swimming suits and trunks with see through tops and sun hats. All the foreigners walking past me are clad in the bare minimum. I notice as I check in, a sign that says, it is forbidden to walk in wearing just a swimming costume. The sign obviously has little or no impact. Shuttle 2 arrives and I ride to my hotel room; and what a room! Oasis is supposed to be five star Standard. It should be called anything but standard. I itch to tear off my clothes and just bask in the view overlooking the Red Sea from the balcony. The heat slowly makes it way through my clothes and I take a cool shower. Sunglasses are not an option at Sharm El-Sheikh. Neither is sun cream or very light clothing. I look at the clothes in my suitcase which I have brought for the AU Summit which I will be attending. I lock the case again. Time to do some shopping.

Outside my room window, hundreds of tourists are milling at the diving center at the Red Sea. Lines of shops lie below me. They glitter with their ornaments and crafts and I can hardly wait to step outside again.

Unlike most five star hotels whose shops are obscenely expensive, I find Domina Corale Bay prices quite moderate. At Sharm El –Sheikh, contrary to the popular saying, “All that glitters is indeed gold.”

The shops are lined up just outside the reception area.

“Sister, sister,” the men from their shops call out to me.

So many trinkets, souvenirs, metals of all kinds and perfect clothes for the weather.

“Where are you from sister?”

Uganda,” I reply.

Uganda, oh is that Rwanda?”

“No, Rwanda borders Uganda. It is not Uganda,” is my firm response.

“Okay, you are very beautiful.”

“Thank you,” I answer with dignity.

I notice immediately that there are only men who work in the shops. There are actually only men at the concierge, men who carry the luggage, men who deliver the room service and also men who operate the telephone booths.

“Where are the women?” I ask.

“Oh, they are in entertainment,” is the response.

I look at the US dollars peeping out of my handbag, each dollar worth just over 5 Egyptian pounds. I look forward to changing my suitcase.

Having heard, read and imagined so many things about the Red Sea, it was hard to envisage that it was just within a walking distance. I could not have been more wrong. Domina Coral Bay is as vast as a small city anywhere. The temperature was at 48 degrees and the heat just consumed me. So while the Red Sea seemed near, it was a struggle to get through the heat. It was as if someone’s hot fingers were resting on my head adding a burden to my walk. The walk to the Sea however was worth it.

It was like clean bathing water with blue shower gel. I could see all the way to the bottom of the coral reef. I could see the fish teasing each other and manoeuvering in between the bare legs of some of the tourists who had gone snorkeling. Parts of the Red Sea had been demarcated to make swimming pools. It was really something else. I got enough pleasure from just staring right down into the aqua depths of turquoise colour. I waded through; battling the coral rocks at the start and then I plunged right into its magnificence and began to glide along just as I had seen the other tourists do. I hoped at this moment that God would not decide to part it again like He did in biblical times because I felt heroic just knowing that I was at the place of the miracle. Unlike the Indian Ocean however, whose salt is good for the skin, as soon as I stood up I felt cuts all over my body. It felt uncomfortable after a while with the heat beating down on me and so I backed out of the water from my million dollar aquatic experience.

Each day I spend at Sharm El-Sheikh, I keep reminding myself that this is the Sinai Desert. And so every carving, plant and building is from imported material. Part of the place looks like it is unfinished and that an oasis could pop up any time. The other part looks like a city of lights; a dream world. One such place is Neeama Bay, an artificial city that sleeps only during the day. It only makes sense that some places are only active from 8:00pm to the wee hours of the morning. The heat dictates so. From the entrance of Neeama Bay to its end, there is glamour on every side. All kinds of food restaurants from Italian, Greek, seafood, Macdonalds and so many more that it is hard to make a choice. Dancing dummies parade over the rooftops, swinging palms knock against each other in the night, neon lights illuminate the body of black sleek limousines for hire, couples open their mouths to let the humidity sprays gush into them and for my four friends and I, we try to allow it all to seep in.

Many tourists have been checking in everyday since my arrival at Domina Coral Bay. I now know that this is where everyone ends up. The Italian food is delightful. Even the service fee that is part of the bill is not a bother. It is a clever way of making the frugal leave a tip. Arabs enjoy space and colour. In many of the shops, different colours keep blinking back at me. From the shawls, hats, bags, shoes, key holders and statuettes to the pictures on papyrus, colours combine into a mélange. At this place, time waits for everyone. There is no end to the activity.

At Domina Coral Bay Hotel, I do not necessarily feel any sense of crowdedness. It is only at the Coral Restaurant, where we have breakfast. Thankfully it is always easy to locate my friends because all I have to look for is similar skin colour to mine. The Restaurant is just as far as any other place. While the people directing you make it seem near, it is actually downhill, across a hot plain and then downhill again. The breakfast is a large spread of all types of sweets, beverages and pastries. My favourites are the chocolate croissants and Spanish omelette. I also took a liking to the coffee. Egyptian coffee, they say, is supposed to be very good. A particular fruit which is best described as a green watermelon is popular amongst the crowd too. I usually down at least four slices a day. Breakfast is always a desired part of the day for me especially when it is already paid for.

During the evening of the first day of the workshop, I saw two types of entertainment that completely dazzled me. The first was of an Egyptian dancer who wore many puffed up coloured skirts with yellow sleeves and black dancing boots. He used huge rattles to spin round and round until he worked himself into a frenzy while his skirts billowed out like a failed parachute. And as the skirts billowed, they covered his head and all we could see were coloured balloons dancing round and round. Quite spectacular. The next was of a belly dancer. Her movements at first appeared easy and tame until she too slipped out of her sanity to lure us into a hypnotic state of awe as she wiggled her belly this way and that.

It is not enough to keep describing the different scenes of Sharm El-Sheikh. The language of the city is encrypted for everyone to decipher in their own way. I was not sad to leave. I was only humbled to have been part of such an immense existence. At the airport, the wonders did not cease. After ordering a sandwich from there, once again I noted that there were no female staff. That was not until I entered the ladies’ room. Seated on an overturned bucket, I was given some tissue paper and then told to leave some money behind. I did not know if the money was for her or for maintenance. In every perfect place, there is a flaw and I found that the lack of female staff in many places at Sharm El-Sheikh; one of the greatest imperfections.

Fondly known as Sharm, I can only wait to take my family there. It is the least I can do.

Black is Back; ask Barack

I hear that Black is Back. It is the next best thing. I don’t know if this emerged after Barack Obama’s successful election to The US Presidency or if it is a more analytical view of the socio-economic cycle of life. Well, whether it is black, brown, blue or green, I tell you that certain hues will remain the same.

Take for instance an office where someone is in charge of the office driver and which errands are important. Of course, in countries, where the traffic jams and imprudent drivers take the better of the roads, any parent would prefer if someone else could bear the road rage for a while. So this diligent person at the office will occasionally use the driver to pick up a child or two from school and also drop them home. This starts out once during a very busy day at office but after noticing that nobody in office brings the culprit to book, it becomes an obtuse habit. And while other staff members would like to use the office car for office duty…the rest remains unsaid. Black is not back.

How about the dim-witted parents who begin to fret just because their newborn babies are growing dark at the ears? Such lack of confidence in one of God’s most beautiful miracles is a reason to believe that black is not back.

Is there a chance that the pettiness amongst friends is just play-acting? What car do you drive? How often do you change your hair? Brand of clothes? Is that weight gain or wisdom fat? How about the parents who want you to marry from a certain tribe, religion and class? Is it pettiness of play-acting when friends want to compete over whose baby is bigger, bolder and brighter? Is it pettiness or play-acting when someone faults you for staying sexually abstinent until marriage. They say it is impossible. Black is not back.

The husband who lets his wife do all the bread winning in the name of pro-feminism and activism just doesn’t get it. Black is not back.

But because we can, because we did-we are back. Black is back

Sunday, December 7, 2008


The writers are convinced they will write
The lovers are convinced it’s love
The Beach Boys are convinced it’s theirs
The ocean doesn’t care
Neither do the donkeys
I shall call you Horacio-my Mexico
After the long-haired Spanish speaking gentleman;
Mexico-I implore you. Let me call you Horacio
You rubbed balm on my Uganda ness
I gloated over others who paled against me
Your sombrero blushed as my hip glossed over the pyramids
The water fountains spurted tequila as we fluttered by
The daunting Palacio de Mineria followed us towards the clothes market
30 pesos for you Horacio; 5 pesos for me
3 hours shy of Kigali
The gorgeous visage of the populace
Intimidates me
I succumb to my vanity.
Doodling like an overpaid journalist
So tell me about the genocide?
The ugliness of my interview mars the University Woodland
I peer at the pines
I puke.
Right on the graves
Amsterdam Airport
The sniffer dogs decide
I am unworthy of their time.
My budding dreadlocks relax
Under blondey’s armpits.
I stir to the bathroom
Peculiar gawks from a woman.
"I’ve had a long journey."
Her response - a stiff exit.
My dollars cum Euros
Clogs and chocolate are
My visas for a safe return home
Sun City
Posing like African magic
I feel wasted.
Tourists cling to their egos
Animal statues mock my feeble pockets
The water slide carries the screams
Of spirited infants.
I scream too
At the ice cream that has stained my last Rand.
Kingdoms and dominions-romanticising black wealth
Lies in saying no
In Sun City.
Mamba Crocodile Farm
Big Daddy
80 and counting
Snapped at the hand that fed him
Like Moo-S-e(v)nemy.
The v is silent
It stands for violence.
A trimester of empty promises
Larger than croc’s jaws.
Big Daddy watches
As fifty tiny crocs feed and grow
The fifty ministers of his kingdom.
His children sit on the throne of Bid Daddy’s nostril
To grab at the chunkiest pieces of meat
The leftovers feed the 28 million populace.
Freckled legs in roller skates
Firing water guns at the tramp
Kissing lips and kissing lollipops
At Thorpe Park.
Sun-tanned babes line up for a ride.
Mittens for overcast times
Nervous teens chewing their nails at the underground.
Graffiti-Terrorism is a hoax.
Kabale-Western Uganda
The cold fought for my attention.
It blurred my vision
As the golf ball landed at my feet.
The cows stared at me for so long.
I envied their tits
Covering mine in shame
I went to White Horse Inn
To eat eshabwe
Gold Reef City
The man with the gold bar calls me.
I run and bump into a statue.
My obsession with muggers chokes me.
The peacock in front spreads out its crown.
I bend down and touch the real gold.
Samuka Island
Wild in Jinja.
Untamed love at the Nile source.
Virgin hopes-
The birds fly away
Before I can catch them.
A hammock for the fearless.
A trilogy of faith, incomparison, tomorrow.
Mbale-Eastern Uganda
"This is your home,"
Father said.
I placed my ears
To the hard ground
As it welcomed me.
And the circumcision crowd
Knocked me down in their haste for manhood
Kitale-Western Kenya
I took my thoughts for a walk.
The maize stalks swayed in disapproval
Of my forlorn imagination.
Kitale is for people
Not artistes.
The local chatter guided me to the market.
And I laughed as the cowrie shells
Rattled from the shelves
Nyali Beach-Mombasa
A tourist caught a salmon.
The ocean spat out salt in fury.
As digital photos reduced the salmon
to a statistic.
It almost fit me like a glove
Before I entered into the heart
I heard a widow’s faint cry.
A grandchild ran to rummage for food
Bujumbura is too big for me.
Traces of UN patterned the dust
My eyes grew sore from gazing into reality.
Dar es Salaam TANZANIA
Scorched by the heat of Kiswahili
The coast is dressed in bitenge
Tomorrow I will catch Nyerere
Before they recolonise us.
Sipi Falls, Kapchorwa
Dried coffee guiding my trail
The cold hills warm my cold heart.
Sipi, make me wet
Like the mountain behind you
Make them envy me
That travel to see you.

Friday, December 5, 2008


With a strong belief that women have some of the greatest potentials that go unrecognized and unnoticed, this award is opening up more creative spaces for them to excel. The Beverley Nambozo poetry award is open to all Ugandan females from the age of 20 to 40 who are residing in Uganda. The award, which was launched in December 2008, will recognize upcoming Ugandan female poets. There are three prizes to be won. Working with Uganda Women Writers’ Association (FEMRITE), this award, the first ever of its kind is another opportunity for women to push the pen.

The first prize is 200 US dollars.
Second prize is 100 US dollars.
Third prize is 50 US dollars

· Ugandan females from the age of 20 to 40 who are also residents of Uganda
· Poetry of not less than 15 lines which do not exceed 30 lines
· Poetry that has never been published before
· Each participant may submit up to 3 poems of any theme.
· The deadline for the 2009 award is March 31st 2009 at midday GMT and results will be announced in July 2009 during the FEMRITE week of activities.

Submissions will be accepted by email to:- and
The poems should be submitted in English with a title page including Title of poem, Name of poet, phone number and email address. The poets’ names should not appear with the poems themselves.
Hilda Twongyeirwe:
Currently the Coordinator of FEMRITE. She is a published writer of both adult and children's fiction. Fina The Dancer, her children's book is an all time favourite amongst children. Hilda is the founder of Women Writers Africa Network, an association that aims at promoting creative writing amongst women of Africa.

Sam Iga:
A Ugandan entrepreneur who has large experience in creative writing especially poetry. He has often taught at workshops and has inspired many upcoming Ugandan writers. Sam also has a knack for public speaking and persuasion.

Beverley Nambozo Nsengiyunva:
Currently serving on the FEMRITE Executive Board and also working at The Eastern African sub-Regional Support Initiative (EASSI). Her passion for poetry and writing has led to several publications and now is a chance for her to open up more space for Ugandan women.

day one-the beginning of the exodus

Getting a name for blog is not as difficult as choosing a name for a child. My daughter’s name is Zion. My husband and I chose it a month before she was born. We knew she was coming and so had time to get a name. But this blog-I had no idea if it would ever be born . Needless to say, the name for this blog is The Exodus of Whatever. And that means exactly what you want it to mean. Yesterday was World AIDS Day. On the news, we were told that Uganda’s prevalence rate is 6.4%. I wore my red ribbon and then took it off because I was alone in the house the whole day with my daughter who really didn’t care much about anything else except feeding. She is 2 months and 1 day today.

I do support all measures to lower the rate of HIV infections. I just think that maybe there is need for something newer and more radical.

I have about 6 weeks left for my maternity leave to end. The first half I spent watching a whole lot of series and trying to fit into my old clothes. Now, I am starting a blog and I hope this lasts at least up to the end of maternity leave. I am a member of FEMRITE and have been since 2000. FEM is a great place. It’s like a place I can hide away to when I want to be away from the harsh realities like food crisis, global warming, Mumbai attacks, The King of Bugisu who is not really a King and whatever other problems are threatening world peace.

This is the start of the Exodus to all the places this blog will take me.