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I said a long time ago that one of the reasons I wrote, and enjoyed it, was the perpetual battle against the sentence.

Born: 25 April I938. Parents: William Nagenda, Sala Nagenda (nee Bakaluba).

Schools:

Kiwanda Primary School, Namutamba 45-47;
Busoga College Mwiri 48-49;
King's College Budo 50-56 (except for Kigezi High School 53);
Makerere University (or Makerere University College, as it was then called - taking Univ of London degrees.)
BA (Hons) in English, 62.

I was first interested in reading, and then writing, from an early age. For reading, perhaps around ten years,
both in Luganda and English; writing perhaps five or six years later, mainly in English.

To this day I have written in Luganda only as a hobby or experiment. In Luganda, which has only a short tradition as written literature, every word and sentence has to be newly hewn out of rock! Time becomes a factor.

I said a long time ago that one of the reasons I wrote, and enjoyed it, was the perpetual battle against the sentence.

 

It is a hard but stimulating adventure. To "defeat the sentence" by putting one word next to another in the best possible way open to you, is a reward in itself. You lose when the sentence, the challenger, refuses to fall in place as you want it.

The carpenter must feel the same regarding a table;  the singer the song, the painter the picture, the architect the building. Such fights occupy a lifetime, if you are lucky.

I have had published two novels, one for children, another for older people; this was in the US and Europe respectively; in '73 and '81. What a long time ago! I have also written poetry (who hasn't?) some of which was published; now that I am quite old in years but not I hope in spirit I feel more poetry coming on. This is natural.

I have written (and had published) many short stories, articles of all description, including travel pieces which were contracted and paid for (how lucky can you get?), reviews of books and other writing: with these you make few friends and many enemies.

The great thing throughout, and which keeps putting you in your place - both good and bad - is that you keep learning more. But the ear and the eye, to say nothing of the nose and the pores, must be left open;
unlike a tap running! What does the future hold? One of the traps of my presidential post (and the pluses far outstrip these) is that my daily reading intake is basic beyond belief; a diet of worldwide news and news opinion from dawn to

beyond dusk; not only reading, but listening to the airwaves. If books had a say, they would, in their hundreds and thousands, march out of my house in high dudgeon. I can't remember the last time I read a whole book and I agree it is pathetic and wrong. But "one day, over the rainbow," I shall return.

Likewise the writing: I have boxes and boxes of this in various stages of repair; I intend to come back to where I broke off. Will I recognise my earlier self?

Currently, my regular as clockwork writing more or less boils down to my One Man's Week column in Saturday's The New  Vision newspaper here in Uganda. Don't get me wrong, I love it. To be in a position to state your views on any subject under the sun on a weekly basis, without fear or favour, with the sub editors relegated to the dim shadows, this surely is a kind of paradise on earth! When editor Pike asked long ago whether Imight be interested I said yes before the words were dry on his lips. Plus he pays.

My title is Senior Presidential Adviser, Media & Public Relations; regardless of those who consider that I am in strong need of help myself in public relations. Those who bet I would not last a year paid heavily more than three years ago! One of my jobs is to deal with our media. In my own way I am a media person myself and no cannibal.

But if you continually let down our fraternity, by not dealing scrupulously in facts, by concocting or fabricating stories and passing them off as true, by talking about freedom of the press with one tongue while behaving irresponsibly with the other, then we will let the courts decide. Of course some journalists fail because of lack of experience and expertise; who doesn't?

But then their leaders, their editors, cannot easily plead the same. And in any case you would be too harsh to proceed without establishing a pattern. We are not too harsh. Although some clashes have been known between journalists and myself, the truth is that they are not all that frequent, not too much of a love-hate relationship.

Thus it is not difficult to balance my presidential job and that of my column. Of course in the latter I am myself, above all else, so it gives me a chance to kick with more pleasure! Wouldn't you? But with either role you have to believe in the efficacy of what you are doing.

As far as the man I advise is concerned, I believe he is amongst the top five African leaders of the modern era. Naturally he is not perfect nor does he know everything. His greatness includes the fact that he always wants to know more, and this manifests itself daily by his curiosity.

Compared to some other world leaders, he makes them seem almost brain-dead. If I have on occasion convinced him to take a different path from his original one, then I did not work for him in vain.
But such occasions have never merely fallen in my lap; they had to be hard won. It is the way it should be.

I have been asked, "Are there any special rituals you go through when preparing for your column?"
Also, "What are the tricks of the trade?"

To both I answer, Concentration, or getting yourself immersed into what you are about. You may, as a child, skim a stone just right on top of the road so that you hear it hum; but it leaves no mark (although that would in the circumstances be concentration of a kind! But digging deeper is better.)

Not everything must be deadly serious but it must be felt. After concentration, practice. Again and again; with this comes facility and knowledge, and how they should be applied.I have been asked about sport.
That is a whole subject in itself, and one which I have sometimes loved nearly as life itself.

Perhaps cricket was the greatest; but also tennis, soccer and athletics.

With cricket, a quarter of a century ago, in England, I rubbed shoulders with some of my heroes, in the First World Cup: only eight teams in all! Today I have to pinch myself to believe it really happened; miracles do happen,
but not often!

"I must away to the sea again, to the lonely sea and the sky," sang Masefield. Me to the writing, and reading. Given the right water and a following wind, will the fates allow me to burn in the heads and hearts of other sojourners? Would it could be so.
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