Guest lecture by Beatrice Lamwaka (Uganda)

Queer Writing in Uganda: The Struggle for Literary Space

09.05.2019, 18:00 c.t., IG 4.201

Uganda today is vibrant with literary activities − poetry performances, book clubs, publishing, public readings − despite repressive laws that limit freedom of expression. With the 2021 elections forthcoming, spaces are becoming narrow and narrower. The internet, which should have provided spaces for writers, sometimes is used against them to systematically harass, intimidate and stifle government critics under the Computer Misuse Act − charges Dr. Stella Nyanzi. Some writers have resorted to self-censorship. Writing stories with queer characters has been shunned by writers, while readers want a nice story. Yet women writers have excelled in a space which is patriarchal. Many are nurtured by FEMRITE (the Ugandan women writers’ association), and some have received national and international recognition for their writing. Emerging writers are nurtured by established writers; creative writing work-shops are held (even in prisons) to encourage new voices. Writers have started initiatives with no or limited support from the government, and all these initiatives are encouraging and promoting reading and writing in Uganda.

Beatrice Lamwaka is a reporter with Global Press Institute. Her collection of short stories, Butterfly Dreams and Other Stories, was published in 2016.