Poetry leapt off the page and lit up the stage amid therapeutic wilderness and children’s dreams, before Kenyan Kariuki wa Nyamu fended off fierce competition from Nigerians to win the inaugural Haiku prize
SWEET escape from the fumes and the noise of the city
Into the freshness and sereneness of Mother Nature
For what better way to awaken the poet within
Than to walk through the heart of Mabira forest
As Babishai 2017 beckons you to be wild and free
SWEET serenade by a choir of birds and crickets
A monkey swings away as if chasing a cheating wife
A giant black millipede coils up at a nagging touch
Red ants aim for the highest point of friendship with a girl
Before you can say “Ouch!” she has vented in a poem
SWEET healing from the juices of tree roots and barks
They cure malaria, some cancers and even impotence
But who will treat the sickness of Musamia river?
Falling as it flees from a factory force-feeding it foulness
It breaks a poet’s heart how brown its teeth have become
SWEET sounds of the guitar at the Ugandan Arts Trust
A thousand voices rise to belt out boda boda anthems
Taking you on a matatu tour from the old taxi park
The African Poetry Library waves at you and shouts
“Don’t be a passenger without a voice!”
SWEET installation of artwork on paper panels
By an artist in residency passionate about migration
Words, quotes, calendar and broken mirrors
Induce deep meditation and varied interpretations
Before she recites with emphasis, “We are one people!”
SWEET stroll through the grassy slopes of Maisha Garden
Grab a ‘Rolex’ and enjoy a kabaka’s view of Lake Victoria
Then listen to drums and harps at the amphitheatre
As the hunter who doesn’t carry a gun is preyed on by a poetess
And a seated poet prompts repeated cries of “Tontoma!”
SWEET this and that from the little angels at the Uganda Museum
Miserably poor in one act, boisterously rich in the next one
You’ve got to admire their confidence on stage!
They dash here and there in a frantic treasure hunt
And mingle-mingle with you as they dare to dream
SWEET lessons from two leading poets in workshops
From free-styling forgotten lines and costuming on stage
To studying your audience — don’t perform erotica in church!
Beba beba chanters, waragi bingers, professional mourners wax lyrical
Don’t just capture the poetry in English; give mother tongue a chance
SWEET culmination at the dinner in Humura Resort
As spoilt poets confuse the African woman with high school love
Until she begs them to “free me” or sieve their passions
And after the human right to a full stomach is discussed
A Haiku prize awarding leaves the winner “lost for words”
TO be at one with nature and inspired by the communion
To meet talented minds and expand your literary circle
To see the faces behind great books and get their autographs
To learn from the best and watch tomorrow’s stars shine young
Sweet does not begin to describe the whole experience
Dedicated to the organisers of the annual festival, led by its founder Beverley Nambozo, and the many poets and lovers of poetry who attended the event
Tom Jalio is an editor by day, writer by night, runner part-time. He won the Babishai Poetry Award in 2014 with There was once something special here (http://bit.ly/SthSpcl) and has since then been a Poetry Ambassador, judging at the Kampala Toastmasters Challenge and reporting on the Poetry Slam Africa (http://bit.ly/SlmAfrka). His short story, No rest for the wicked (http://bit.ly/NbiGrit) appeared in the 2013 anthology Nairobi Grit, while his passion for running is captured in The other side of the Nairobi Stanchart Marathon (http://bit.ly/LonelyMrthnr). His other notable works include Mama Africa gives birth to poetry (http://bit.ly/BabishaiFestival) and King’s Worst Slayers (http://bit.ly/mohawkdown). A quiet boy beneath a loud hat, Jalio lets his writing do the talking. His work is compiled at http://bit.ly/JalioTales
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