Ugandan poetry

“The African Madman” who dines with dogs, mocked and alone

The unaware protagonist of these verses is described in three scenes: the place where he barely sleeps and eats, his weatherbeaten body, his condition as a prisoner of his own mental illness. Such a life is here described through the lenses of poetry to convey that same message that both scientific and artistic communities are spreading: mental health conditions must be destigmatized and people affected by them must be treated, instead of being socially isolated. In this concise and powerful poem, talented Ugandan author Amanya Aklam has managed to restore literary dignity to the life of a desperate man.

“No title”, when words dissolve in the whirlpool of deep depression

A poem entitled “No title”, because when one suffers from depression there seem to be no words to describe it. The world around seems to dissolve and words are deprived of their meaning and unfit to describe one’s feelings. This is the theme at the heart of the poem by Alum Comfort Anne, a young and talented Ugandian poet who has been inspired by her personal struggle with depression. She takes us in the middle of a stormy night, torn by the desire both to live and to die, until the break of dawn. The final verses convey not only the despair behind a suicide attempt but also the invincible faith in human solidarity and mutual support, because “we are all just human, anyway”.

“I want humanity!” I want the little things you find shaming to do

“Imagine you gathered all the courage and walked up to me? Me, that random girl sitting alone in the cafeteria
Me, that seemingly busy lady over a steaming cup of coffee at the cafe. Me, that swaggered teenager flocked by admirers, the envy of all. Imagine you just walked up to me and said “hi?” Imagine you gathered all the empathy and walked up to me?” Those are the first verses of a poem about solitude, depression, search for compassion.

“Weak Pillars of Sanity”, silencing the drama running into the brain

“My doctor walks in, hands out her gloved limb tainted with the multicolored silencers that she wants me to pill-pop to steady my weak pillars of sanity.” Those are the first verses of Ssekajja’s poem which goes through mental distress, alienation from society, sense of non-belonging and -maybe – a guilt feeling towards a family which cannot really understand him and his mind. Ronald is writer and performer of both English and Luganda.