Feature: Writer & Poet Mugabi Byenkya
Updated: Sep 1, 2021
Mugabi Byenkya is an award-winning writer, poet and occasional rapper. Mugabi was longlisted for the Babishai Niwe Poetry Award in 2015. His essays and poetry have
been published in The Good Men Project, The Mighty, and Skin Deep, in addition to over 25 other publications.
He has been interviewed on Voice of America, NTV Uganda, Africa In Dialogue and Brittle
Paper, among 40 other media outlets. Mugabi's writing is used to teach high school English in Kampala and Toronto schools.
His award-nominated debut, ‘Dear Philomena,’ was published in 2017 and he went on a 43 city, 5 country North America/East Africa tour in support of this.
In 2018, Mugabi was named one of 56 writers who has contributed to his native Uganda’s literary heritage in the 56 years since independence by Writivism. Dear Philomena, was named a Ugandan bestseller in the same year.
Most recently, Mugabi published his piece Ode to Bucket Baths through Skin Deep, a deeply personal piece that explores his relationship with bucket baths and how the experience of being in control of one's body and circumstance helps to reclaim a narrative in which one is not often given a choice.
When asked about what his work means to him, Mugabi shares the following:
"I’ve been disabled since I was 9 years old. By the time I turned 18, I had been through 9 years of intensive physical therapy which conditioned me on how best to ‘pass’ as able-bodied due to internalized ableism/self–hate and the intense fear/reality that if I stood in my truth, I would not be afforded the opportunities that my able-bodied brethren were."
"When I turned 22, I was wracked by newfound disabilities and no longer able to ‘pass’.
"What my work means to me is that it is proof that writing for the angsty confused disabled little human I used to be and still am, is what I and the world need right now."
To support Mugabi and his work, you can follow him on Instagram (@mugabs)!
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