Ugandan author Austin Bukenya famous for his book, The People’s Bachelor, has urged upcoming young writers to take advantage of the internet for publishing their literary works.
In an interview with Redpepper Online Wednesday, Bukenya said young writers in Uganda can widen their prospects by utilizing the internet.
He admires upcoming writers in African literature such as Goretti Kyomuhendo, Monica arac de Nyeko, Chimamanda Adichie Ngozi among others.
Speaking to our Reporter on the subject, Dr. Aaron Mushengyi, Head of Journalism and Communication Department at Makerere University and Senior Lecturer in Linguistics agrees with Bukenya, he says students of literature today can take advantage of vast online resources.
Mushengyezi notes that current students are more interested in courses that generate money, unlike the days of Bukenya where writers sold their knowledge.
Bukenya, who prefers to be called Mwalimu, was born in Masaka town in 1934, where his father worked as a policeman.
His family later moved to Kitukutwe 15 miles from Kampala. His father, a staunch Catholic, would narrate biblical stories which he would alternate with his mother’s folk stories.
According to Bukenya, these stories inspired his imagination.
Bukenya attended Gayaza primary school and joined Kisubi Seminary where he studied three languages, French, English and Latin; this would soon inform his literary thinking and future academic career.
His growing passion for literature was soon cemented at Namilyango College where he took his O and A levels.
In 1965, he went to Dares Salaam University where he continued to nurture his keen his interest in Language and Linguistics in addition to a growing interest in Kiswahili.
He studied the Language Linguistics and Literature and Education (LLLE) for his undergraduate course.
Most of Bukenya’s writings are in Kiswahili, he attributes this to his grandmother, whose roots can be traced back to Dar-salaam.
He was also inspired by linguistic teachers including Wilson Whitely, a Briton author famous for his book, Kiswahili: the Rising of a National Language.
He joined Makerere as a postgraduate student in 1968 and later developed the oral literature course. Dr. Mushengyezi says Bukenya’s works are still taught in the department, he remains an inspiration in the literal circles.
Some of Bukenya’s works include the mermaid of Msambweni, Thirty years of Bananas, The Bride – a play in four parts; John Ruganda’s The Floods among others.
He has taught in Kenya at Kenyatta University, and also Bayreuth University, Department of African Studies in Germany.
His recent publication, A Hole in the Sky focuses on the need to protect the environment and honors the late Kenyan Environmental activist and Nobel Laureate Wangari Maathai.