Inspired To Complete My Novel

I recently participated in the AWT Professional Training workshop for Creative Writers in Kampala on the 9th and 10th of September 2019. The workshop, facilitated by novelist and distinguished professor of Creative Writing, Okey Ndibe was excellent; similar to the AWT: Uganda International Writers Conference in May 2019, which I was fortunate to attend. In both cases the calibre of the invited speakers was extremely high. We were treated to Scotland Poet Laureate Jackie Kay as keynote speaker in May; and last week, Okey Ndibe did not disappoint. He, like all AWT’s invited speakers and tutors, has an active commitment to nurturing African writing talent. Okey Ndibe, Goretti Kyomuhendo and Glaydah Namukasa recounted their professional trajectories with openness, authenticity and generosity; inspiring all the attendees. At the May conference, Ugandan author Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi noted that there are no creative writing courses of any kind in Ugandan Universities. This was a sobering fact indeed.

All the more reason for the AWT workshops, which are crucial for developing and nurturing creative writing talent in Uganda. The workshop was focused and intensive, making best use of the limited time. Key issues in the writing process were discussed, and strategies for improvement outlined. The tutor and speakers were accessible and open, even at mealtimes. The workshop has also helped create the much needed community amongst us generally isolated individuals from all walks of life, who simply share a burning desire to tell stories in the literary form.

Networking is an integral part of developing oneself as a writer and the AWT workshops bring Ugandan writers in contact with acclaimed writers both local and international, whom it would have been highly unlikely to ever meet in person otherwise. I have already begun to apply some of what I learned at the workshop to my current work- in -progress, and I have increased my writing output as well.

For example, Professor Ndibe’s session on the power of fiction to humanise historical events was particularly useful to me as it is exactly what I am attempting to accomplish in my current novel in progress, Hot Comb. Hot Comb is the story of an unlikely friendship between two girls from opposite sides of the social divide in colonial Uganda. As a social anthropologist I use my research and understanding of history and cultural change to provide a context for my story. Professor Ndibe encouraged this and more, impressing upon us that there are hundreds of thousands of stories to be told from an African perspective. I have a better understanding of the writing, editing and publication process, which had previously been a mystery to me. I also understand that most writing takes place after the first draft and with this now in mind, I am well on my way to completing a version much sooner than I had thought.

I am deeply grateful to Goretti and the AWT team for a well-organised and well-designed workshop. I look forward to the next event with joyful anticipation, knowing that this high standard will surely be maintained. Well done and thank you!



Agnes Nasozi Kamya is an anthropologist and writer from Uganda. She went to school in Uganda and Kenya before moving to the United Kingdom. In 1997, Agnes completed a Masters in Civil Engineering at Imperial College, London, followed by an MA and PhD in Social Anthropology at the University of London. Agnes is the writer of the screenplay for Ugandan feature film Imani which premiered at the Berlin International Film Festival in 2010. It is the most awarded Ugandan feature film to date.

In 2011, Agnes was headhunted for the prestigious Binger writer’s lab in Amsterdam to work on her second script Hot Comb. After living in Spain for several years, Agnes now lives in Kampala. She is re-working Hot Comb into a full-length novel. She is a member of the AfricaInEs Research Group at the University of Granada and Honorary Lecturer at Makerere University in Kampala.

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