Thankful to all my subscribers

The African Literature Magazine on Flipboard has gone from strength to strength. What a journey!

Thank you for being a part of the journey in 2014 and for continuing strong into 2015.

With 15,491 subscribers catching up on stories coming out of Africa, it is easy to forget where we started.

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With humble beginnings in Feb 2014, I just wanted to collect stories about African Literature in one place. I wanted to fill my tablet with these books and read them without much fanfare. Then 6 people subscribed to the magazine. That was so startling, but also VERY informative. Other people were looking for these too!

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By June it was obvious that people were searching for this content online. But it also meant that I had created a baby that needed caring for. It was exciting, and daunting, and so very, very humbling.

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By August we hit 10,000 + subscribers! Every day was like Christmas, checking to see how many more of you came to the magazine for more stories. It was wonderful.

Now we’re in 2015 and I’m still committed to bringing you the latest from my sources. Invite your friends, invite your relatives, invite your enemies. As we continue to write our stories, lets make 2015 the biggest year yet!

Happy 2015!

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Micro 0112: Through the Yellow Door

Gayaza High School

The hallway was empty.

The clean floor, polished by years of moping rags and stomping feet, reflected the cool, crisp early morning light through the glass door that marked its end. The brightly coloured doors that separated adjoining rooms from the hallway entombed the sleeping girls, who floated on the last vestiges of their dreams.

With a soft noise, the ruffling of a many layered skirt, Pajini stepped out of nothingness into the middle of the HSC block in Korgi House. Her image shimmered, a bad signal adjusting itself, and then solidified and stabilized. This was her hour and there were changes that needed to be made. Asiimwe was key.

With silent, but purposeful footsteps, she sent ripples of slumber through the floor and warm sleepy bodies turned around in bed pulling their blankets closer to their faces, breathing deep and allowing their minds to be drawn in further into wild and vivid dreams.

Asiimwe’s door, the only yellow door blazed like a beacon, beckoning. Pajini glided soundlessly to the door pausing for a quick second before passing straight through the thick door to the darkness inside.

Asiimwe was locked in a familiar dream. Children. Lots of children in an idyllic setting, but as they passed her, haunting images flooded her mind, grabbed her gut and squeezed. In a dream minute Nambi was beside her exchanging worried glances. They had to do something, anything to take these children away from whatever suffering had snuffed out the innocence in their eyes, replaced by a magnetic hopelessness, strong and unavoidable.

“Please take us away.” The voice of a child who had not yet turned four.

Nambi reached for the child’s hand and Asiimwe flinched. Something was not right. This was not what happened at this point in the dream. Was it changing?

“Asiimwe,” Nambi’s voice urged.

“Something is wrong.”

“Don’t be ridiculous.”

“I’m no…”

“We’re wasting time Asiimwe, come on!”

There were children who needed to be saved. Worrying about what  felt wrong would not help. She grabbed the free arm of the child who stood with Nambi and raced to one of the free standing buildings that dotted the grassy hillside.

“Don’t let go,” the child whispered, locking eyes with Asiimwe.

“I won’t,” her voice was resolute.

Pajini smiled, the warmth of victory spreading over her body. She reached deeper into Asiimwe’s body enjoying sensations alien to her, watching imagination build a World that rippled, a syncopated accompaniment to Time’s own ripples.
It was going to be a wonderful day, the warmth of the room had already risen by a few degrees. The night was chased away by the galloping sun, fleeing in all directions.
Loud thrum, thrum, thrums of cowhide drums echoed through the dewy morning air and the HSC block of Korgi House stirred with the noise.

“Asiimwe!”

“Yeah, I’m coming!”

Pajini smiled with someone else’s lips, the last vibrating tremors of her call still echoing in her lungs.
This was going to be a fantastic day.

The Struggle Factor

There is nothing so unappealing to me as the struggling artist. I know that many do, but can I say that I don’t like it?

When there are so many examples of artists that have been able to ‘get there’ I just cannot understand the appeal. That being said, I know that so many compromises have to be met in order to get to that point and many artists have (and quite rightly so) said they had to sell their souls, but I’m of the opinion that I can buy it back and make it all worth it.

Am I naive in suggesting that this might work? Possibly. But I’m still gonna try.

Please don’t misunderstand me, I know that people legitimately struggle in an effort to sell the work for a price that is reasonable. After all, no matter what medium we use, paint, fabric, words, film, we all find it difficult to convince people that it actually takes effort to create what we create.

But I find it difficult to go quietly into the night. I’mma fight for mine, hope you’re fighting too!

Never ending battles & Micro0109: For the Queen

I wrote a story today.

I liked it. Wasn’t sure anyone else would so for a moment I decided I was going to keep it to myself. Started on something else that did not inspire me and it fell flat like a cake with too much moisture.

Time and time again we’ve heard people say that you need to write for yourself and not try to pander to an audience. The ones who like your story will find it wherever they go, and those who don’t will read other stories. How hard is that to learn and understand? Quite hard, apparently, coz I’m still working on that.

So, in light of that, here is my story, the one I actually wanted to tell, the one that inspired me. Enjoy.

For the Queen

Once upon a time, a woman inherited a kingdom. To the west, grassy knolls rolled over the countryside curving artfully around overflowing gardens that burst with bounty, stretching as far as the eye could see. The eastern border came to an abrupt halt at the jagged edge of plunging cliffs, where the sea writhed and roared and moaned and spat.
The land was rich and the people lacked for nothing and lived in peace with their neighbours, but the crown sat heavily upon her brow, each stone a ton of worry, each pearl a thundering wild horse pounding through her mind.
A spell of great and dire magic had been cast on the kingdom by a Witch Queen, wild and deadly, her bewitchment reaching out with deadly fingers of greed, malcontent, envy.
Sister struck down sister, soaking her garment in the blood, brother struggled against brother, pushing him six feet underground. Chaos reigned and the young woman’s ears were filled with the desperate cries of her people.
She called to the Witch Queen, the fell words like bile against her tongue, and begged her to undo the magic and free her people.
The Witch Queen demanded one thing. Her soul.
The hopeless councillors spread their hands, their pain a Goliath against their own consciences, and they surrendered to fear.
The crown upon her head sunk deep claws into her head refusing to be cast off, perplexing the councillors and angering the Witch Queen. Only the crown bestowed the kingdom upon the wearer and it had a mind of its own.
Urged on by the spell, the young woman’s people dragged her from her throne and marched her eastwards to the edge of the cliff. A vile threat. An action. Collective consciousness stained with the blood of a young Queen who had no choice.
Her body lay broken, the waves smashing her against the toothy wall of the cliff, the weight of the crown dragging her into the depths of the sea.
The spirit of the young woman rose out of her watery grave and fell upon the Witch Queen destroying her utterly. It flowed through her kingdom, raining justice like a thunder roar and ending the years of malcontent and strife. She does not distinguish between friend or foe. So when you pass through the rubble remnants of her kingdom, remember your offering at the cliff’s edge, and bow the knee when a jewel encrusted crown floats your way.

Micro 0107: Bad Dream

Once upon a time a young man met a young lady. In his presence, she effervesced and he was run over by his emotions into the dream of romance. In her words he found comfort and the missing companion with whom he could share his innermost being.

You see, this young man carried great pain and fear. Dark, shapeless shadows haunted his dreams. By day, memories that refused to fade into the fuzziness of history, abused and corrupted his present. His great need for a collaborator, a powerful voice that spoke his torture, a body that encased itself in the shroud that had stooped his shoulders, overshadowed any sense of self preservation, and he dissolved himself in her.

His blindness would be his undoing. Hiding behind a well crafted mask that had been decorated with the multitude of hurt collected from past lovers, the psychopath stepped forth into new pain. The soft hands that reached out to comfort, grasped for stories to embody and inhabit. The truth of his pain, stripped from him, left his soul exposed and her words like sharpened knives tore at it, leaving a husk. Pitiable and weak.

He awoke from his dream, but having been reduced to half spoken words and interrupted thoughts, rather than fleeing from his captor like a thrush suddenly set free, he lingered. As though from the safe side of the movie screen, he watched the husk wear away and crumble into dust.

His life ended yesterday.

She drags his shroud around, clutched possessively by her heart, perfect mascara drenched trails stretching from eye to chin. Her periodic soft sobs are pleading and girlish. Her adoring fans huddle against her for comfort, yearning for more stories of love and the mysterious agonizing man who had been her companion. His safely guarded secrets tumble vigorously out of the shroud, shocking and hideous.

The letter he sent me is safely tucked in my pocket, but burns hot against my thigh. I know how this play must end and how severe the theatrics will be. But those who are gathered here, grieving his loss, must want to know too. This is not my secret to keep. He trusted me. I must.

“Ahem,  ladies and gentlemen…”

Gasp! … and *faint*!

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Go on and say something about the punctuation in my title.

Now can we get back to the super cool awesome thing I wanted to tell you?

I curate an amazing magazine on Flipboard that is all about African Literature. Book reviews, book releases, author interviews, opinions about African literature, competition news, submission requests, short stories, and so much more. Seriously, if you haven’t subscribed, in the famous words of Anne Kansiime, “You like taking risks!”. If you have subscribed and you haven’t shared this super cool awesome magazine that ANYONE can have on their mobile device or computer, nga you’re being selfish! SHARE!!!!

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So, anyway, there I was, flipping the magazine when I saw this:

I seriously need smelling salts for the victorian swooning I’m doing about this magazine. Now click the picture and check the magazine out. Not later… I meant now. Stop what you’re doing (you weren’t that into it anyway) and go check out the magazine.

Where did they go?

Have you ever had a childhood dream? Something that you wanted so badly, and had to have the moment you were old enough to get it? What did you want to be when you grew up? Did you get to do it, or did your desires change as you grew older? Did you succumb to the pressure of doing that sensible thing so your life could seem meaningful to others? Did you follow your heart? Did you chase your dream?

I think that if most of us were pressed into saying something about our dreams we would come up short. My confession is that I don’t even remember what I wanted to be. Somewhere in my teens I read a novel called Doctors, ER in novel form, but about medical students. Which teenager with big dreams would think that wasn’t something to do? I tried working towards it, but my heart was not in it.

An engineering degree later, here I am. Wondering what happened to the dream I do not remember having. What the hell did I want to be? Where is my dream?

Maybe it is different. Maybe it is now a part of the future I’m trying to create by sheer will and the sheer force of my determination.

Today is a day filled with questions, and precious few answers.

Goodnight y’all.

Not so hard, is it?

The hardest part about being a writer is that you have to write.

The easiest part about being a writer is that you have to write.

Don’t challenge me, my friend. I have written 8000+ words in one day. Good words that I did not edit out.

So I know I can hammer out a reasonable story in a short amount of time.

The one question I’m left with is, why the em-effin’ agony? GAH!

The story always begins well, introducing my character, describing the scene, seeing the action play out in my mind like my very own movie… Oh My GOD! I’m a genius, this writing thing is what I was meant to do, look at my character! Woo hoo! 4,000 to 6,000 words later, I’m practicing my speeches for all the wonderful awards being thrown at me. Tomorrow, chapter two. I fall asleep with the secretive smile of a soon-to-be millionaire who just signed movie deals.

Day Two.

What is this crap?! Who took time logging on to my computer to mess this shit up? This isn’t my story. Where the f**k was it going? Who is this dreary, dull character? Ugh. Okay, I can salvage it. I’m a writer! Let the cutting commence!

SNIP!

After an exhausting day of editing chapter one I figure I’ll work on chapter two tomorrow. Which is why I have about 17 novels with chapter one sitting on my hard drive. I look at them sometimes, and ache.

Bee! Get back to it. I try to rouse myself into that state of movie madness, the place of my first love. But sometimes even the stories realize I’m not the vessel they were looking for.

I’m writing. I honestly am.

Remembering 2005

In the early 2000s I was a tortured soul looking for my place in the World. I found my old Geocities page somewhere on the intertubes and the “blogging” I used to do.

I’m glad I learned this lesson back then. It is so astute even today as I continue to work on making my dreams a reality.

Let’s go back to almost 10 years ago.

—————————————-

Lately I have had the opportunity to be introspective… allowed myself to look inside to try to understand the way that I am created. The reasons for my passions, my fears, my needs and what I have discovered is in the process of changing my life.

This world is incredibly demanding, constantly requiring you to give of yourself to surrender a part of you so that something can be accomplished. Unfortunately, many times we are unable to prioritize and end up surrendering pieces of ourselves that are vital to our survival. You may think you don’t ever surrender, but never be deceived because you will ALWAYS have demands placed on you that are inconveniencing.

Friendship is not to be taken lightly, it is a responsibility that one claims for one’s self in order to give, to share, to reduce the loneliness that plagues the human soul. When two hearts acquire that special feeling of kinship, then the mind must be engaged to establish the boundaries of the budding relationship. At that time the minds involved claim the responsibility of friendship which includes surrendering a piece of yourself whenever the situation demands it.

My struggle hasn’t been with surrendering pieces of myself, and those who know me well will testify to the fact that I will surrender every last resource I have available to me to aid my friends. It is a responsibility I will not take lightly because a soul has now been connected to my own. Whenever that friendship fades/goes away/is torn from me by whatever circumstance I lose a little piece of me… that connection that was made.

I talked to God today about it for I am told that my very identity seems to be defined by the relationships in my life, which insulted me at first because it insinuated that I am void of character and substance without relationships. So I was forced to look inside and take stock of my current relationships, but not on my own because we all know where the mind can go if it is not directed by God. He and I talked about friends, loves, crushes, family, extended family, church family and a host of other relationships in my life. I was affirmed and what had been stolen from me by another’s opinion of me was returned.

I am Bwandungi, the second daughter of (redacted).
I am Asiimwe’s younger sister and Tumwijuke, Ayebare and Twonjeirwe’s older sister.
I am one of the maternal Aunts of (redacted)
I am Lydia’s best friend
I am a friend and confidante to Lisa, Rachel, Anne, Julie, Sally, Aja, Mwenki, Grace, Anita, Saison, Message, Christine and a host of other people I cannot name in this little space
Most of all I am God’s precious child, whom He loves and whom He would have gone to the cross for even if I was the only creature on this Earth

I AM defined by my relationships, otherwise I am just a floating soul wafting in the wind, here today and gone tomorrow. We will all die and no one will remember the things we did, or the feats we accomplished, but those lives we have touched that have been brought to us by the grace of God will remember and will smile, or chuckle, or laugh out loud.

I am not apologizing anymore for loving and being totally involved with my friends and family. My relationships give me the roots I need to be stable, support me when I am down and allow me to grow and plant my own seeds in other places. They provide me with rejuvenation when my soul is weary and plant their own seeds of wisdom in my life. And this is who I am!

Rule #1

I have a difficult relationship with rules.

If the danger (and it has to be danger) is not explained in a way that makes sense, my brain gives instructions to my body to break those rules.

If the danger is explained, but is just unconvincing, the same thing happens.

Someone told me recently that it is important for a woman my age (I know, right? GASP! I don’t refer to your age, don’t mention mine!) must dress a certain way.

Look, I wasn’t going to wear skinny jeans. I happen to think that blood circulation is important. I’m not gifted with a butt cleavage even though I’m a proud card carrying member of the IBT (itty bitty titty) Crew. I don’t let it all hang out. But please don’t tell me to shop for Chanel suits. Lemme wear my frills and bows. Don’t give me rules.

I’mma have to start going out like this:

Don’t mess wit me!