Goretti Kyomuhendo

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Goretti Kyomuhendo
Goretti Kyomuhendo.jpg
Born Maria Goretti Kyomuhendo
(1965-08-01) August 1, 1965 (age 52)
Nationality Ugandan
Occupation Writer
Known for Founder of African Writers Trust; former Programmes Co-ordinator FEMRITE
Notable work The First Daughter (n1996); Secrets No More (1999); Waiting (2007)

Goretti Kyomuhendo (born 1 August 1965) is a Ugandan novelist and literary activist.[1] A participant at the inaugural International Literature Festival Berlin in 2001, Kyomuhendo has been recognised for her "internationally renowned novels."[2] She has also earned notice in African literary circles for her service from 1997 to 2007 as the first Programmes Coordinator for FEMRITE—Uganda Women Writers Association,[3] and her founding of African Writers Trust in 2009, after her relocation to London, Great Britain, in 2008.[4][5]


Maria Goretti Kyomuhendo was born and grew up in Hoima, Western Uganda. She obtained a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) English Studies degree (2003), from the University of Natal, Durban, South Africa, and a Master's of Arts in Creative Writing (2005), from the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Durban.[1] In 2003, Kyomuhendo was awarded a Graduate Scholarship for academic excellence by the University of KwaZulu-Natal.[6] She was the first Ugandan woman writer to be declared an Honorary Fellow in Writing at the University of Iowa, 1997, after participating in the International Writing Program of Iowa.[6]

Writing and critical reception[edit]

Kyomuhendo's first novel, The First Daughter[7] (published in 1996), was well received in Uganda, earning some regional (East African) attention as well. Her second novel, Secrets No More (1999),[8] won the National Book Trust of Uganda Award for 1999.[6][9]

Kyomuhendo's third novel, Waiting: A Novel of Uganda's Hidden War,[10] has garnered the most international recognition to date.[2] Publishers Weekly described Waiting as "a sensitive, slowly unraveling observation of daily life in a remote Ugandan village as Amin's marauding soldiers approach on their retreat north."[11] A reviewer for Book Loons praised Waiting as "a complex and disturbing story told with almost a touch of sweetness to it, through the eyes of a young girl forced to grow up before her time."[12] Kirkus Reviews,[13] the New Statesman,[14] Pambazuka News,[15] and the Mail & Guardian Online (South Africa)[9] among others also provided favourable notice.

In addition to the published reviews of Waiting, the Poetry Café in Covent Garden, London, featured Kyomuhendo reading a selection from Waiting for African Writers' Evening in March 2009.[16]

Kyomuhendo's first graphic novel Sara and the Boy Soldier (2001), written for UNICEF-ESARO about child soldiers in Africa, received a middling review by GoodReads.[17] Kyomuhendo has written a number of children's books and stories,[6][18] but these have not been widely reviewed yet.

Service with FEMRITE – Uganda Women Writers Association[edit]

As a founding member and the first Programmes Coordinator for FEMRITE from 1997 to 2007,[4] Kyomuhendo has been cited by some younger FEMRITE members as being instrumental in their development and success. Ayeta Anne Wangusa, in an interview with Peter Nazareth of Iowa University, affectionately remembers Kyomuhendo as "a tough lady" who would not take no for an answer until she got Wangusa's first novel Memoirs of a Mother (1998)[19] published.[20] Mildred Barya, who joined FEMRITE in 1997 and later won the Ugandan National Book Trust Award in 2002 for her poetry collection Men Love Chocolates But They Don't Say (2002),[21] has claimed: "from her (Kyomuhendo), I did not only acquire knowledge in publishing dynamics, but my writing improved, my poetry soared to the skies, I was set free, so I flew."[22]

Kyomuhendo was joined by another and already established Ugandan author, Violet Barungi, who served as the FEMRITE editor from 1997 to 2007.[23] During the Kyomuhendo/Barungi period of service from 1997 to 2007, FEMRITE members Doreen Baingana and Monica Arac de Nyeko would be nominated for the Caine Prize, with Monica Arac de Nyeko eventually winning the award in 2007. Additionally, other FEMRITE members during this time were shortlisted for or won various other prestigious literary awards.[24]

Regarding FEMRITE in general during the period when Kyomuhendo was Programmes Coordinator, Monica Arac de Nyeko in her 2007 interview with the BBC declared: "FEMRITE has definitely had a positive impact on the Ugandan literary scene, particularly in forging a space for women’s voices to be heard. Perhaps as recently as the mid nineties there was a clear absence of women’s writing. FEMRITE came in, stormed the writing scene and is now a remarkable addition to our literary landscape."[25]

Based upon both Kyomuhendo's FEMRITE service and published works as of 2009, the USA-based UTNE Reader nominated Kyomuhendo as one of "50 Visionaries Who Are Changing Your World", while describing FEMRITE as a "dynamic association for indigenous female writers."[26]

African Writers Trust[edit]

In 2009, Kyomuhendo founded African Writers Trust (AWT) in an effort to "coordinate and bring together African writers in the Diaspora and writers on the continent to promote sharing of skills and other resources, and to foster knowledge and learning between the two groups."[4][27] Kyomuhendo has since served as the Director, joined by the following African writers as Advisory Board members: Zakes Mda, Susan Nalugwa Kiguli, Aminatta Forna, Mildred Barya, Helon Habila, and Ayeta Anne Wangusa.[18] Although the Advisory Board includes members from various nations and regions in African, African Writers Trust as of 2011 is primarily operational in Uganda and headquartered in London.[4]

The activities of African Writers Trust under Kyomuhendo have included writing workshops and conferences, with these receiving favourable attention from African journalists – albeit so far primarily from East African journalists.[4][28]

Kyomuhendo has also written The Essential Handbook For African Creative Writers, published by African Writers Press in 2013.[29]



  • The First Daughter. Fountain Pub Ltd. 1996. ISBN 978-9970021192. 
  • Secrets No More. FEMRITE Publications Ltd. 1999. ISBN 978-9970901050. 
  • Sara and the Boy Soldier. Maskew Miller Longman, South Africa. 2001. ISBN 978-0636048157. 
  • Whispers from Vera. Monitor Publications Limited. 2002. 
  • Waiting: A Novel of Uganda's Hidden War. New York: The Feminist Press. 2007. ISBN 978-1558615397. 

Children's books[edit]


  • The Essential Handbook for African Creative Writers, African Writers Press, 2013, ISBN 9789970280025.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Goretti Kyomuhendo", CultureBase.Net: The International Artist Database, 28 April 2005. Retrieved 2 November 2017.
  2. ^ a b Torberg, Peter. "Goretti Kyomuhendo (Uganda)", Internationales Literaturfestival Berlin. Retrieved 24 August 2011.
  3. ^ Kyomuhendo, Goretti. "Profile: FEMRITE and the Politics of Literature in Uganda", Feminist Africa, 2003, vol. 2. Retrieved 30 August 2011.
  4. ^ a b c d e Lamwaka, Beatrice. "Goretti Kyomuhendo of African Writers Trust" Archived 20 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine., AfroLit, 22 May 2011. Retrieved 24 August 2011.
  5. ^ Lamwaka, Beatrice. "Goretti Kyomuhendo", Mosaic: literary arts of the diaspora, 13 December 2008. Retrieved 24 August 2011.
  6. ^ a b c d "Conference 2010: 'Africa: Cultural Translations'", Lancaster University African Studies Group, 22 May 2010. Retrieved 24 August 2011.
  7. ^ The First Daughter, Africa Book Club.
  8. ^ Secrets No More, Africa Book Club.
  9. ^ a b Smith, David L., "Rich pickings in Uganda", Mail & Guardian Online, 29 April 2011. Retrieved 24 August 2011.
  10. ^ Waiting: A Novel of Uganda's Hidden War at Amazon.
  11. ^ "Waiting: A Novel of Uganda's Hidden War", Publishers Weekly, 30 April 2007. Retrieved 24 August 2011.
  12. ^ Smyth, Mary Ann, "Waiting: A Novel of Uganda's Hidden War" (review). Retrieved 24 August 2011.
  13. ^ "Waiting: A Novel of Uganda's Hidden War", Kirkus Reviews, 15 March 2007. Retrieved 24 August 2011.
  14. ^ Khera, Jastinder, "When war intrudes", New Statesman, 10 January 2008. Retrieved 24 August 2011.
  15. ^ Barya, Mildred K. "'In the zone of waiting', by Goretti Kyomuhendo", Pambazuka News, 1 February 2008. Retrieved 24 August 2011.
  16. ^ Video: "Goretti Kyomuhendo @ African Writer's Evening" on YouTube. Poetry Café, Covent Garden, London, March 2009. Retrieved 24 August 2011.
  17. ^ "LeAnne's Reviews – Sara and the boy soldier". GoodReads, July 2008. Retrieved 24 August 2011.
  18. ^ a b "Advisory Board", African Writers Trust. Retrieved 24 August 2011.
  19. ^ Memoirs of a Mother, African Books Collective.
  20. ^ "Interview with Peter Nazareth", Iowa University, 1998. Retrieved 22 August 2011.
  21. ^ Men Love Chocolates But They Don't Say at Amazon.
  22. ^ Musoke-Nteyafas, Jane, "Ugandan Writers: Meet Mildred Barya Kiconco", AfroLit, 10 March 2006. Retrieved 24 August 2011.
  23. ^ Caples, LaKeisha L., "I try to highlight social issues affecting women – Violet Barungi" Archived 27 September 2011 at the Wayback Machine., AfricanWriter.com. 10 May 2010. Retrieved 24 August 2011.
  24. ^ "FEMRITE Achievements and Milestones", FEMRITE – Uganda Women Writers' Association. Retrieved 22 August 2011.
  25. ^ "Caine Prize Interview: Monica Arac de Nyeko", Africa Beyond: BBC, July 2007. Retrieved 30 August 2011.
  26. ^ "50 Visionaries Who Are Changing Your World", UNTE Reader. November–December 2009. Retrieved 26 August 2011.
  27. ^ "What is African Writers Trust?" African Writers Trust. Retrieved 24 August 2011.
  28. ^ "Blog and News", African Writers Trust. Updated frequently. Retrieved 24 August 2011.
  29. ^ Ssenkaaba, Stephen, "Kyomuhendo launches book on creative writing", New Vision, 26 March 2014.

External links[edit]