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Ugandan-South Sudanese writer Taban Lo Liyong at a Writivism event.

To mark Uganda’s 56th Independence anniversary, Writivism is highlighting works by 56 writers from the country. The four-part series, which will feature writers active between 1934 and 2018, was inspired by Bakwa Magazine’s “100 Days of Cameroonian Literature” and Darkowaa’s “GH at 60 | Our Writers & Their Books.”

Early research for the list was done by Jacob Katumusiime and the late Joel Benjamin Ntwatwa and was published in part. The final compilation is done by Sheila Bamugemereire, who worked with Esther Mirembe and Bwesigye Bwa Mwesigire.

The list’s Part 1, covering the years from 1934 to 1978, has debuted.

Part 1: 1934 – 1978

In Part I of the series, we present a selection of some of the country’s most renowned writers who published their first recognizable work from the 1930s until the 1970s. Most of the writers on this list are gendered as men. As such, it is by no means exhaustive. We aim to show in this 4-part series that history is a product of narratives and national memories are constructed both by the stories we tell and the ones that have been lost or deliberately hidden. This list provides an overview of the concerns of the writers whose voices were valued or forceful enough to garner attention – and this is due as much to their various forms of privilege as it is to their talent. There were, of course, many more stories that were devised, reworked and shared orally by women, people of other marginalized genders and people whose various forms of social marginalization precluded them from being memorialized in the canon. We are endeavoring – and we encourage others – to learn about and raise awareness of these stories by reaching out to elders of these demographics and recording their poetry, their songs, their narratives. The current canon only tells part of the story.

The Part 1 includes such works as Apolo Kagwa’s The Customs of the Baganda (1934), Okot P’Bitek’s Lak Tar (1953), Violet Barungi’s Kefa Kazana (1964), Robert Serumaga’s A Play (1967), Okello Oculi’s Prostitute (1968), Taban Lo Liyong’s Fixions and Other Stories (1969), Henry Barlow’s Building the Nation (1970), Richard Ntiru’s Tensions (1971), Pio Zirimu’s Black Aesthetics (1971), Austin Bukenya’s The People’s Bachelor (1972), Peter Nazareth’s In a Brown Mantle (1972), John Nagenda’s Mukasa (1973), Timothy Wangusa’s Salutations (1977), Arthur Gakwandi’s The Novel and Contemporary Experience in Africa (1977), Henry Kyemba’s A State of Blood (1977), and Rose Mbowa’s Awake and Sleeping (1978).

Follow the project HERE.

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Otosirieze is deputy editor of Brittle Paper. He is a judge for the 2018/19 Gerald Kraak Prize. He is an editor at 14, Nigeria’s first queer art collective, which has published volumes including We Are Flowers (2017) and The Inward Gaze (2018). He is the curator of the Art Naija Series, a sequence of e-anthologies of writing and visual art focusing on different aspects of Nigerianness, including Enter Naija: The Book of Places (2016), which explores cities, and Work Naija: The Book of Vocations (2017), which explores professions. His fiction has appeared in The Threepenny Review and Transition. He has completed a collection of short stories, You Sing of a Longing, is working on a novel, and is represented by David Godwin Associates literary agency. He combined English and History at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, is completing a postgraduate degree in African Studies, and taught English at Godfrey Okoye University, Enugu. Find him at otosirieze.com, where he accepts writing and editing offers, or on Instagram or Twitter: @otosirieze. When bored, he Googles Rihanna.

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