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Mulira’s Kwivuga gamble pays off

The first time I heard about the Kwivuga poetry sessions three months ago, I thought that it would remain mainly unnoticed like previous poetry sessions that occasionally happen in town.

See, poetry is quite a complex art; it speaks to the soul and forms expressions that bring to life that which the heart dearly seeks. The average Ugandan is not ready for such sophisticated expression; they are content dishing out thousands to watch some intoxicated guy lip-sync on stage. I’m not much of a poetry person myself, but with almost every concert in town flopping, it was time for me to try something different.

So, last Thursday, I headed to GatoMato garden bar on Bandali rise in Bugolobi, which was hosting the seventh Kwivuga poetry session. The stage was set, with The Sundowners band ready to do their thing. There was also a bonfire on the side to keep patrons warm. And goodness, I thought such things only have a handful of people, but poetry actually has a large fan base. There was also a plasma screen in one corner relaying live tweets on the event.

I also expected people to recite some William Shakespeare, Robert Frost, John Milton or William Carlos stuff (if you don’t know those names, please stop reading at this point) but to my surprise, each poet was original and good at the art. There were poems about life, love, lust, marriage, arrogance and even Uganda’s heritage.

A musical break and comedy were provided by Enygma, new kid on the block Ruyonga, Keko and Patrick Idringi.

But what is Kwivuga?

Kwivuga is Kinyarwanda for folk-telling and the sessions are a brainchild of Linda Butare Muliira, an online manager at Fast Track Productions. Muliira is a “natural poet”, so every evening after work she thought of something that she and her friends could do. So she joined hands with Agaba Tumusiime to come up with this idea of hosting poetry sessions.

Muliira was discouraged about the name Kwivuga, but being a Rwandan, she says she wanted something “that would be attached to home”.

So, last December, she started the gigs at Club Gabiro in Bugolobi. She approached her cousin Cedric Babu who helped through his Kinetic Management group. Kinetic changed the venue to GatoMato. Then they brought Heineken beer on board as the title sponsor. And they are rocking this town, going by the numbers that flocked the venue for the Shs 10,000 session.

Mulira says the sessions will be held monthly and depending on how they go, Kwivuga could even become weekly.


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