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Goretti Kyomuhendo

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Goretti Kyomuhendo
Maria Goretti Kyomuhendo

(1965-08-01) 1 August 1965 (age 58)
Alma materUniversity of Natal; University of KwaZulu-Natal
Known forFounder of African Writers Trust; former Programmes Co-ordinator FEMRITE
Notable workThe First Daughter (1996); 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 internationally recognised for her novels such as Waiting: A Novel of Uganda's Hidden War.[2] She was the first Programmes Coordinator for FEMRITE—Uganda Women Writers Association, from 1997 to 2007.[3] She founded the 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 degree (Hons) in English Studies (2003) from the University of Natal, Durban, South Africa, and a Master of Arts degree 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


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 (2007),[10] has garnered the most international recognition to date.[2] Publishers Weekly described it 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 BookLoons 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] were among other publications that also gave favourable notice.

In March 2009, the Poetry Café in Covent Garden, London, featured Kyomuhendo reading a selection from Waiting for African Writers' Evening.[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.

She is a contributor to the 2019 anthology New Daughters of Africa, edited by Margaret Busby,[19] participating in a British Library event, alongside Anni Domingo, Ade Solanke and Zukiswa Wanner, to mark the 2020 publication of the paperback edition.[20]

Service with FEMRITE – Uganda Women Writers Association


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)[21] published.[22] 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),[23] 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."[24]

Kyomuhendo was joined by another and already established Ugandan author, Violet Barungi, who served as the FEMRITE editor from 1997 to 2007.[25] 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.[26]

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."[27]

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."[28]

African Writers Trust


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][29] 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][30]

Kyomuhendo has also written The Essential Handbook For African Creative Writers, published by African Writers Press in 2013.[31]




  • 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



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

See also



  1. ^ a b "Goretti Kyomuhendo" Archived 7 November 2017 at the Wayback Machine, CultureBase.Net: The International Artist Database, 28 April 2005. Retrieved 2 November 2017.
  2. ^ a b Torberg, Peter. "Goretti Kyomuhendo (Uganda)" Archived 23 March 2012 at the Wayback Machine, Internationales Literaturfestival Berlin. Retrieved 24 August 2011.
  3. ^ Kyomuhendo, Goretti. "Profile: FEMRITE and the Politics of Literature in Uganda" Archived 29 September 2011 at the Wayback Machine, 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" Archived 16 August 2011 at the Wayback Machine, Mosaic: literary arts of the diaspora, 13 December 2008. Retrieved 24 August 2011.
  6. ^ a b c d "Conference 2010: 'Africa: Cultural Translations'" Archived 20 December 2010 at the Wayback Machine, 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), BookLoons. 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. ^ Tom Odhiambo, "'New Daughters of Africa' is a must read for aspiring young women writers", Daily Nation (Kenya), 18 January 2020.
  20. ^ "Representing Africa with the New Daughters". The British Library. 30 October 2020. Retrieved 10 June 2023.
  21. ^ Memoirs of a Mother, African Books Collective.
  22. ^ "Interview with Peter Nazareth", Iowa University, 1998. Retrieved 22 August 2011.
  23. ^ Men Love Chocolates But They Don't Say at Amazon.
  24. ^ Musoke-Nteyafas, Jane, "Ugandan Writers: Meet Mildred Barya Kiconco" Archived 9 August 2011 at the Wayback Machine, AfroLit, 10 March 2006. Retrieved 24 August 2011.
  25. ^ 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.
  26. ^ "FEMRITE Achievements and Milestones", FEMRITE – Uganda Women Writers' Association. Retrieved 22 August 2011.
  27. ^ "Caine Prize Interview: Monica Arac de Nyeko", Africa Beyond: BBC, July 2007. Retrieved 30 August 2011.
  28. ^ "50 Visionaries Who Are Changing Your World", UNTE Reader. November–December 2009. Retrieved 26 August 2011.
  29. ^ "What is African Writers Trust?" African Writers Trust. Retrieved 24 August 2011.
  30. ^ "Blog and News" Archived 7 September 2011 at the Wayback Machine, African Writers Trust. Updated frequently. Retrieved 24 August 2011.
  31. ^ Ssenkaaba, Stephen, "Kyomuhendo launches book on creative writing", New Vision, 26 March 2014.