Currently working with Record TV Uganda, Omuna was announced winner during a Facebook Live “Babishai 2020 Haiku Award-Giving Ceremony” on Tuesday 29 December, 2020.
In second place came Adipo Sidang from Kenya.
Meanwhile, other shortlisted poets included; Akello Charlotte-Uganda, Praise Osawaru-Nigeria and Ali Znaidi-Tunisia.
Beverley Nambozo Nsengiyunva, Ugandan poet and author and founder of Beverley Nambozo Poetry Award (BNPA) told reporters that as a team, Babishai congratulates this year’s Haiku winner, Andrew Herbert Omuna.
“It’s the first time a Ugandan has won the award, since it expanded and became continental,” she said.
“We have several highly recognized magazines who always publish our winners and interview them”. She added.
Omuna also walks away with USD300.
“The African Haiku is still young, but we intend to magnify its importance and share it across the continent, with like-minded partners, and through more Babishai initiatives,” she said.
Omuna’s comments upon winning
“It’s been a second time trying at the competition, though under a new writing style of Haiku. It’s obviously a great feeling to win this time round. Putting in time, and expressing what is around me made the poem relatable to everyone,” Omuna said.
“The prize money will most likely be put into savings because I seem to have a lot I would like to invest in but not sure of the hierarchy of importance. Saving would help realign my priorities after all this excitement has fazed down.”
Omuna went on to explain that all genres of literature and poetry in particular, has helped give exposure to many youths in the creative world.
He said poetry in this era is leaning towards performative arts and many are hopefully taking that route.
“As for the Haiku form, there is more to be done in order to highlight it as another form of poetry. Competitions, publications, and mainstream teaching can increase exposure of this poetry form,” he said.
When judges asked Omuna whether this was his passion or part-time, Omuna said it is both.
“I live by a teaching I got at the university that “writing is shedding sickness on a piece of paper” Poetry is done in combination other writing forms I am interested in like film, photography and art. Poetry is one form of expression in my passion and pastime.”
Comments on Omuna’s poem from Kariuki wa Nyamu, the chief judge
The morning rain falls
endlessly hugging thy sleep
frozen ideas die
Andrew Herbert Omuna, Uganda
This haiku exhibits well-crafted nostalgic moments of childhood. It resonates well with me since as a little boy, instead of waking up and getting ready for school particularly on rainy days, I used to pull my blanket and put it over myself looking for warmth. Clearly, it was an uphill task waking up as pleasant sound of rain hit the rooftops, here described as ‘endlessly hugging thy sleep’. The haijin skilfully creates an interesting shift of action whereby early morning plans stall due to the soothing rain, just like ideas freeze or die in the rain. As the last line of the haiku projects the poet’s agony, it touches readers with delight and calls us to reflect on the effect of morning rain. This ku merits the first prize as it portrays an intense emotion of nature which is hardly ever noticed. Congratulations!”
Comments on Sidang’s poem from Kariuki wa Nyamu, the chief judge;
ringed with its papers
and tracked like jailbird on bail
the immigrant lands…
Adipo Sidang’, Kenya.
“This haiku was definitely inspired by a rare migratory bird known as Osprey. It landed in Kenya in January 2020 after flying over 6,000 kilometres from Finland. Its plight reminds us about the futility of life and lack of freedom of especially migratory birds. The sight is memorable since the ringed bird is described as an immigrant; a person who comes to live permanently in a foreign country. Apparently, immigrants too are not free of control. Its death sparked mixed feelings since it occurred a few days after being ‘discovered’ and rescued. Was it worth, one wonders, flying over 6,000 kilometres only to perish after seemingly acquiring the long lost freedom it was thirsting for? This poem merits the second prize for recording a historical wonder of nature in an unforgettable way. Congratulations!”
Kariuki wa Nyamu, the Chief Judge Babishai Niwe 2020 Haiku Prize, was the overall winner of Babishai Niwe 2017 Haiku Prize. He is currently a Daily Nation correspondent.
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