On February 25, Daniel Omanya of Uganda Christian University Mukono won himself Shs 300, 000 for submitting the best story in a competition organized by the African Writers’ Trust (AWT). This was at the Uganda Museum.
According to renowned writer Goretti Kyomuhendo, director of this Trust established in 2009, books published in Africa rarely find their way outside the continent.
She tells of a story of an author who published his book in Nigeria and was blocked from having it stocked by a bookstore in the US because the book looked like it was infested with viruses. Meanwhile, books published out of Africa are usually too expensive.
As such, ignorance about writers on either side of the world is encouraged and the AWT wishes to banish this ignorance. The Trust hopes to encourage Africans to write. To this end, 18 students from Uganda Christian University Mukono, Kyambogo University and Makerere University (6 from each university) were trained in writing for four days.
Daniel Omanya, the winner of the competition says: “This workshop has helped me a lot. I had some manuscripts and poems but did not know how to go about publishing them. I found out how here”.
The help he is speaking about is in the form of being given a chance to meet people from publishing houses like Femrite, Pen Uganda Chapter and Fountain publishers.
Another form of encouragement was in the form of accomplished authors reading books to students and other members of the audience. Jackee Batanda Budesta, the regional winner of the 2003 Commonwealth Short Story competition read out “Dance with Me”, a story she wrote while still at Makerere.
Sade Adeniran, the 2008 Commonwealth Writers’ Prize Regional Award winner for best first book also read some excerpts from her winning book “Imagine This”. AWT is supported by other respected Ugandan writers such as Ayeta Wangusa.