“A Conversation about Women, Writing, and Leadership in Uganda”
Hilda Twongyeirwe and Goretti Kyomuhendo
Hilda J. Twongyeirwe is a Ugandan Feminist, a mother and a member of different women empowerment initiatives including FEMRITE – Uganda, Action for Development & the Pan-African Graca Machel Trust – Women in Media Network. Presently she works with FEMRITE – Uganda Women writers Association as Executive Director, a position which has enabled her to initiate and contribute to several actions for the advancement of women writing in Africa. She is a member of the Permanent Bureau of African-Asian-Latin American Writers Union and the National Book Trust of Uganda. She is the first woman writer to receive the Uganda Government National Medal in recognition of her contribution to women empowerment and emancipation through Literary Arts. She is a recipient of The Women for Women Award – Uganda 2018 and Uganda Registration Services Bureau Recognition Award 2018 for contribution to Uganda’s Cultural and Literary arts. In 2015, she was named among 18 Phenomenal African Feminists to know and celebrate by For Harriet Website. She holds a Master of Arts Degree in Public Administration and Management, from Makerere University, Kampala.
She is a published writer of short stories, poetry and creative non-fiction and an editor of several literary works by women writers. Her political satire short story; Baking the National Cake was translated into Vietnamese in a journal of Vietnamese writers. Her poem; Threshold, introduces a section in Mire Soraya’s memoir against Female Genital Mutilation; The Girl with Three Legs. Twongyeirwe is one of the New Daughters of Africa in Busbay’s ground-breaking 2019 anthology of women of African descent.
Goretti Kyomuhendo is one of Uganda’s leading novelists. She holds an MA in creative writing from the University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Her début novel, The First Daughter, was published in 1996, followed by Secrets No More in 1999, which won the Uganda National Literary Award for Best Novel in the same year. In 2002, she published a novella, Whispers from Vera. Her third novel, Waiting, was published by The Feminist Press in New York in 2007. In 2014, she published the Essential Handbook for African Creative Writers. She has also published short stories and children’s books.
Goretti is a founding member of FEMRITE – Uganda Women Writers’ Association and Publishing House – and worked as its first Director for ten years (1997-2007). In 2009, she founded and is now Director of the African Writers Trust, an organisation that aims to bridge the divide between African writers and publishing professionals living in the Diaspora and on the continent, bringing them together in order to promote synergies between the groups.
Goretti was the first Ugandan woman to receive an International Writing Program fellowship at the University of Iowa, and has since participated in many literary events internationally. In 2013, Goretti was one of the five international judges for the Commonwealth Book Prize. She lives in the UK and Uganda.