The Stray Bulletin

Arts and culture in East Africa and beyond

Art & Poetry in Concert: The Butterfly Dance August 21, 2010

Filed under: Art reviews,Book reviews,Events,Poetry — Sophie Alal @ 3:52 pm

Extract of art review by Sophie Alal for on 31/05/2010

Window dressing makes some uncomfortable situations bearable, while makeup, when skillfully applied to an ordinary face masks flaws and makes even the plainest individual an enigma.

And thus it is with visual art too, assuring that any extraordinary painting can transform a dull wall, page or any words by lending a little bit more of much needed colour and character.

The Butterfly Dance is the third episode in the poetry poster project series.

Cover of the book

It amounts to a mixed artistic grill, where established authors and upcoming writers collaborate with the finest of Uganda’s contemporary artists in transforming their words into colourful paintings.

The paintings were produced in the book to accompany the poems and stories.

Each one of the paintings was unique, though something similar shared by all of them was the presence of characters and plot.  And so even after taking a casual glance, you can imagine what is going on without the help of the accompanying poem or story.

The various techniques employed in the artists’ colourful interpretations of the poems encompass a wide range of media and styles, giving birth to works of collage, acrylics and water colours.

The artists are Stella Atal, Maria Naita, Paul Kaspa Kasembeko, David Kigozi, Joseph Ntesibe, Anwar Sadat and James Musaali.

After seeing some of David Kigozi’s paintings for the first time, it is natural to give a sigh of wonder at the realism with which he executes his work. His craft is displayed in a number of ways.

One  is the apparent ease with which he treats all his subjects, and the second is the economical use of colour which is in more ways dramatic, and no doubt done with an excellent artistic sense.

A Cockroach, shows fat cockroaches scurrying away to the right. In the near background, the black feet of chickens loom ominously, while the keen eye and beak of one of them is poised to strike.

Read the full review at AfricanColours


The Thing Around Your Neck November 27, 2009

Filed under: Book reviews — Sophie Alal @ 11:54 am
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The short story is making a comeback. Publishers have recently taken to giving them the status once accorded to novels, and Chimamanda Adichie Ngozi who is best known for her novels “Purple Hibiscus” and “Half of a Yellow Sun”, returns with an anthology of short fiction, The “Thing Around Your Neck”, published by Fourth Estate.

Miss Ngozi moved to the United States at the age of 19 and is still spiritually close to Nigeria with its murkiness and dangerous turns of fortune. Her twelve short stories hold a suspended state of curiosity and repression as most of the characters are dissatisfied, unhappy and frustrated regardless of their economic status. In Nigeria outbreaks of violence, palpable crime and macabre rituals are propped up by the added appeal of carjacking, pugnacious policemen and youth involved in cults. (more…)


Terrible things can happen

Filed under: Book reviews — Sophie Alal @ 11:04 am
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Review by Sophie Alal of the novel The Year Of Numbers

Published in The East African on June 8th, 2009.

There are some things that the Lonely Planet guide to Egypt does not prepare the traveller for, such as Cairo’s underbelly of refugees and illegal immigrants. The Year of Numbers follows Genevieve, a young Canadian documenting the stories of Dafurian refugees, as she struggles with her love for Alpha, a Sierra Leonean Muslim of mixed descent.

Writers of contemporary African fiction have drawn from the deep pool of Africa’s unending humanitarian crises even though there are not enough words to catalogue human suffering. This book which was written by Paulina Wyrzykowski, a human rights and refugee lawyer based in Kampala, is a tribute to the African refugees she worked with in Cairo. (more…)