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Alex Smith

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

Animal Portraits by Susan Kiguli (Note of Affection #4, Love Africa Carnival)

Susan N. Kiguli, a poet and lecturer at Makerere University in Uganda has been called ‘the leading intellectually astute voice in contemporary East African poetry’. Celebrated in East Africa, Kiguli’s work appears in many East African collections, including Luvai and Makokha’s Echoes across the Valley (2000), Benge and Bangirana’s Uganda Poetry Anthology (2000) and Eye of the Storm/L’oeil du cyclone (2002). Her first collection of poetry, The African Saga (1998) made literary history in Uganda by selling out in less than a year. Published by FEMRITE,Uganda Women Writer’s Association, the collection won the National Book Trust of Uganda poetry award in 1999 and was reprinted in 1999 and 2003.

It is an honour to include as Carnival Note of Affection#4, four poems from Animal Portraits, Susan Kiguli’s collection in progress of poems intended for 9-11 year olds.

From Animal Portraits
by Susan Kiguli



Do you see the lion
Tawny yellow like the setting sun
Head of hair flowing down
Brown in the golden grass
Majestic king of the Savannah plain?

Do you hear the lion
Roaring like a cannon
Impalas fleeing in their billion
Buffaloes scuttling about like chicken
Like they have seen a demon?

Do watch the lion
Walking through the woods
Stopping now, strolling again
Yawning and shaking his mane
Royal beauty of the grassy plain.



Kokoliyoko kokoliyoko
All of you lazy people
Out of beds, you are able
Come borrow my bugle
Eeh you, do not cackle.

Oh you lazy people
Pound grain with the pestle
Put on the kettle
Bring the ladle
Oh, leave me, I am pecking at a weevil
Oh, you unkind people.

Here on the myrtle
Ready to dazzle
My comb is a fire so is my wattle
Look, I have caught colour
I have the yellow, the black and the purple.

Oh you lazy people
Come for the carnival
The twist and the waddle but no wobble
Eeh you, stop the twaddle and twattle.
What a lot of noisy people!



White upon blue water
Gliding along at leisure
Graceful long necked creature
Fondly fluffing its feather
White upon blue water

Rising up on strong wings into clouds
A lovely V in the skies
Slowly beating the miles
Necks outstretched full-size
Grandly taking the high-rise.

Koh-hoh ko-hoh Ko-hoh
When the heat is like a heavy sack
One pink leg folded up on the back
Elegant bird of the outback
Ko-hoh ko-hoh ko-hoh.



We the tortoises live long
Watching the years play ping pong
We see the right and the wrong
Eating the grass on the lawn
And for a treat the snail at dawn.

And because we are shy
You may see us peep as you go by
We hide in our shells – don’t ask why
The best tents ever made.
The world’s toughest blockade.

On flat land we spend our play time
We do not like to climb
But our legs are strong
They carry us along
Surely we are a happy throng.


Recent comments:

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">Alex Smith</a>
    Alex Smith
    September 29th, 2008 @09:06 #

    Africa theme at International Literary Festival in Germany: This year's Berlin International Literary Festival focusses on Africa. Susan Kiguli, who submitted her Animal Portraits for the Love Africa Carnival will be giving a poetry reading at the festival.

    Link to International Literature festival in Berlin, Germany:

    Article from
    New Vision (Kampala)
    14 September 2008
    Posted to the web 15 September 2008

    By Harriette Onyalla

    UGANDAN poet and writer Dr. Susan Kiguli is set to recite 12 poems at the International Literature festival in Berlin, Germany, later this month. The festival, which attracted over 34,000 literary enthusiasts in 2007, is focusing on Africa this year.

    In a press statement, the event organisers, the Berliner Festspiele in conjunction with the Peter Weiss Foundation for Art and Politics, said Kiguli will recite 12 poems during three sessions of the festival which opens on September 24 and ends on October 5.

    "She is regarded as one of the most interesting and promising young African poets who compose their poems in the form of oral tradition. The four sections of her African Saga, namely Poems of Protest, Relational Poems, Poems of Nature and Existential Poems perfectly illustrate the range of her themes," the statement said.

    African Saga propelled Kiguli into the ranks of the most exciting recent African poets when it made literary history in Uganda by selling out in less than a year.

    The collection of poems also won the National Book Trust of Uganda Poetry Award the year after its publication.

    Kiguli, a lecturer at the Literature Department, Makerere University, said she will have at least 20 minutes in each session to recite poems off her African Saga collection written in 1998 and some poems from the Anthropology of poems she is soon to publish.

    She told The New Vision on Wednesday that Back Home a poem which was distinguished by the Stan Journal of Leeds University, UK, is among those she will recite.

    The festival will also feature Lebogang Mashile, whose approach to issues like diversity and unity in South Africa; the status of women; violence and the fragility of individuals with a sense of urgency; humour and sometimes sadness has placed her among the Rainbow Nations most popular artists.

    Zimbabwean poet Chirikure Chirikure - a critic of the political elite and advocate for the disadvantaged people of Zimbabwe, will also recite a series of poems.

    Kiguli and Grada Kilomba will share their experience as members of the African Feminist Movements in which Kiguli has long been known to hold strong sentiments.

    Kilomba is a writer, researcher and psychologist from the West African Islands of Sao Tome e' Principe who is now teaching at the Free University of Berlin.

    Because of Kiguli's literary achievements, she has been labelled a 'woman poet'.

    "Why do you have to emphasise that a writer is a woman when she can ably find her place among her male counterparts," says Kiguli, who is also the chairperson of FEMRITE, Uganda Women Writers' Association.

    The festival will also include a panel discussion on African writers and their public responsibility to cause change on the continent. Kiguli has recited her poetry at international book fairs, literature festivals and conferences.

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">Alex Smith</a>
    Alex Smith
    October 27th, 2008 @08:19 #

    Thanks to Gabeba Baderoom, Susan Kiguli in Uganda and Sherissa Roopnarain in Cape Town will each receive a copy of Gabeba Baderoon's 'The Dream in the Next Body' (for Susan Kiguli), and 'A Hundred Silences' (for Sherissa Roopnarain). Susan Kiguli's Animal portraits and Nani’s Sari by Sherissa Roopnarain have been voted most loved love notes of October (running a little behind schedule!).

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">Alex Smith</a>
    Alex Smith
    October 27th, 2008 @08:21 #

    That should be Baderoon! Anyway this gives me an opportunity to post Gabeba's web site details


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