One night I was dead asleep. And then my neighbor came home playing that “Who runs the world?” song by Beyonce. And I woke with a start, breaking out into a sweat. And I couldn’t sleep again. So I danced the internets. My fervent search for a manual on “How to tell when someone last watched a Nigerian Movie just by looking at them” yielded no results. The “Find out if someone listens to Bieber by the way they walk” search went nowhere too. So I sought deeper stuff. And I landed on “The Cow Needs A Wife”, a play that came third in the 2010 BBC African Performance Play-writing Competition, which was presided over by Wole Soyinka. I liked the play. And I met the writer behind it. Angie Emurwon. And I asked her a few things.
Who is Angella Emurwon?
A Ugandan woman determined to become the hardest working writer in Africa. Plays are only the beginning.
Word has it that writers are deep. That they have white poodles. That they watch movies like Inception 4 times. That they start all their sentences with the phrase “It is thus my submission that…”. Is this true?
Well, I don’t know about deep. But … I did have a white mix breed who looked a little like a wolf and as such was creatively named Wolfie; Yes I do watch certain movies 4+ times (Shawshank Redemption, Lord of the Rings, Inside Man, Gosford Park, Perfume: The story of a Murderer, Spider, etc), and no, I don’t start my sentences that way – I like to ease into the big words (smile)
When did you discover your gifting? Was it while writing one of those “Dear Willy, how is the cosmogony those ends” letters?
I’ve always told stories from as young as I can remember and been in love with the written word probably from the womb. Writing just progressed from that. I do use “unusual” words from time to time mainly because I like to hit the exact nuance of a thing. But not cosmogony (ha!) – not until just then.
Nuance. Hehe. “The cow needs a wife” is a very amusing story. It had me lolling. And giggling. And looking around for someone to tell “did you hear that? Did you?”. What inspired the story?
The story is loosely based on actual events. A guy (in this Kampala) fundraised to kwanjula some chick and she knifed him soon after. His uncles were having none of that. They insisted he quickly look through past girlfriends and replace her before the kwanjula date. I thought it was hilarious: a bride on order.
And what pushed you to join the BBC competition?
A friend called me every day for a week. At some point I needed to get her off my back.
What do you think can be done to remedy our poor reading culture? Word has it that some people only read menus and those short poems that taxi conductors hand out to smiley passengers.
I honestly don’t know. Society is becoming more enslaved to instant gratification whereas reading takes patience and solitude. Perhaps if more of our own stories are told?
“The cow needs a wife” shows at the National Theater starting tomorrow and runs till Saturday. What should we expect?
Expect a Ugandan village like you’ve never seen it before. That said, it’s a night of fun and laughter.