My First AWT Seminar Experience by Lorna Mwebaza.

Monday morning had been quite busy and the unforgiving Kampala city sunshine didn’t help either. Despite my long morning, I was looking forward to this two-day getaway- better yet, a two-day getaway for something I have been deeply passionate about for as long as I can remember. 

This would be my first time attending a seminar or workshop organized by African Writers’ Trust. I have always seen the flyers, admired and envisioned what it would be like to attend one of these workshops and now I had the golden opportunity to finally do so! I gathered my belongings and hopped onto a boda boda that took me to the top of a hill, a beautiful place-  one that I’d never seen! 

Have you ever walked into a place and it just felt “right”? Hot Springs Villa- The people were delightful and the environment was calming from the moment I set foot at the gate. I walked to the reception and a kind lady walked me to my room. She carried my backpack as we took the stairs to room 108, my new home till Wednesday. 

It was about 4:30 pm when I checked in. I wondered what to do first! To walk around, to read something, to pray, to sleep, or to take a quick shower. It had been so long since I’d had a getaway so I was extremely ecstatic! The nature of my morning and super busy weekend made me look at that bed with covetous eyes and the next thing I remembered was waking up feeling fully rested and ready to attend the first session at 7 pm that night. 

I started to meet some of my fellow participants as we one by one started to converge for dinner. Then came this beautiful package, a clear bag full of books! Oh, my days! My heart leaped and skipped from within, I took a few pictures to save them as memories on my phone, but also to make my social media followers a little bit jealous! 

Later that night after dinner, I started to read the book by C.C Adetula, The Perfect Girl and I was in awe! “How could someone have such a rich brain? How can someone curate fiction that can be as relatable as this? Why do I suddenly feel like my very animated mind has a home in this world and that I can freely share it without worrying that I will be misunderstood?” I wondered to myself. “I have got to meet her!” I thought. The stories were beautiful, funny, and also very relatable! 

My happy bubble quickly burst the next morning when I had a random conversation with Ms. Goretti about my experience reading the book! It was only then that I learned that C.C. Adetula had passed on about three years ago. I was deflated, but still very intrigued. There was a session set to happen later that day where we would learn all about C.C. Adetula and her sister, who was present as an attendee at the seminar and would talk at length about C.C. ‘s legacy. Nonetheless, I was excited for a full day of learning, sharing, and hearing from great writers! After a scrumptious and heavy breakfast, I was all set for session one! 

I walked into the room to a very heartwarming setup! I saw my name placed on a table inviting me to settle down right there. Once again, I made sure to entertain my social media fans a little bit by posting my beautiful setup. Remember that feeling I mentioned earlier, it felt right. Yes! Here, the feeling came back! 

My spot for the seminar, with my name! 

The day went on pretty well, with plenty of conversations and discussions starting with copyright law, then into publishing across borders to learning about ghostwriting, and more. I got to interact and ask questions. I was mostly fascinated by the session by Mr. Tegule Gawaya about ghostwriting. 

There was a snack and tea given between every session so there was no room to feel hungry! We had one last session in the evening where we learned more about the author of the book I had enjoyed earlier, C.C. Adetula. 

Her sister, Nena Ndioma, also had a book that was given to some of the other participants. Hers was a memoir and after hearing her share and talk more about it, I decided that I needed to purchase a copy to take home with me! 

Nena shared in depth about her sister C.C.’s work and her tragic demise. In memory of her sister, she then went ahead to launch the C.C Adetula African Female Creative Writer’s Fellowship.  I then learned I was a beneficiary of this particular workshop through the fellowship. Hearing about her generosity was humbling. Her kindness would now give me a stepping stone to kick-start my career as a creative writer. 

By Tuesday night while we shared and talked some more over a lovely barbecue, I was convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that everything I wanted to achieve as a writer was possible if I set my mind to it! I look forward to getting myself into like-minded spaces, with the African Writers’ Trust- but also around the world! 

Wednesday was the final day. Deep long sigh!  It felt like returning to boarding school after a lovely holiday. At about two pm, we shared a final lunch before we started saying our final goodbyes. I would like to thank the AwT Team, the director, Ms. Goretti Kyomuhendo, and her warm, fun and friendly team: Kizza Rachael, Mark, and Vicky for the tireless effort and work that made this experience worthwhile. I would also like to commend the staff and management of Hot Springs Villa, the experience was phenomenal and the staff all very friendly! Lastly, I express my gratitude to Nena Ndioma who sponsored my attendance through the C.C Adetula Fellowship. 

I have been inspired to start with what I have and not to be scared to put myself out there. The sky’s the limit and anything is possible if I set my mind to doing my part! Keep your eyes open, very soon, you will be interviewing me! 

Lorna Mwebaza is a Ugandan Creative Writer, Blogger(Sparkles In the Ink), and Podcast Co-Host (Things I Think About Ug).

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