Ugandan author and poet Joshua Mmali published a poetry collection titled The Women Are Here: And Other Poems that reveals things about his experiences and brings to the fore his musings about contemporary issues, including love, death and loss, war, politics and social justice.
The book, which is Mmali’s first collection of poems, is a reflection on, and a recognition of the strides that women have made in pursuit of equality. It is also a rallying call for men to accept this reality, and work with women towards building a better world. In the 71-page collection that is rich in form, diction and tone and published this year, Mmali also pays homage to his late mother. The collection is divided into five section headings: love, life, friendships and all things sweet and silly.
The longest poem in the collection, The Women Are Here, which took the longest time to write, runs in part: “…They’re campaigners seeking justice and equality for all/And communicators telling the world patriarchy was but a lie/They’re doctors fixing broken limbs and saving precious lives/And engineers and architects with skills to tap into…”
He pays tribute to his mother in the poem “The Presence of Absence.” “…Ma/Ma/Mama/I can see you/Please let me through/Your world of silence/Your silent presence/Your present absence.”
In “Home, without papa and mama” Mmali, without his parents is struggling to redefine the idea of home. He has accepted the sense in the old adage home is where the heart resides. Although they neither talked nor saw each other daily but life was so much better with both of his parents.
Mmali pays tribute to his ex-BBC colleague Komla Dumor in the poem “An Elegy to a Big Man.” “…You lit up the world stage with/Your big smile/You nourished our heads with/Your big mind/You played your part and lifted all with/Your big dance/You left the stage with all still/In big want…”
In “The Selfie” a man promises to take a photo of his love. With a little help of edition apps on his phone, the photo will expose her paper white teeth and shapely face. The photo will reveal the tenderness of her skin, that seasoned photographers always miss. It will also trigger jealousies.
Mmali is the author of a children’s book, The Bad Friends, which is part of a series of books aimed at creating HIV/Aids awareness, and three plays: God of Small Hands, The Land is Ours, Too, and The Betrothal.