Sleep Well, Siba and Saba | Written by Nansubuga Nagadya Isdahl & Illustrated by Sandra Van Doorn

Sleep well, Siba and Saba is a powerful children’s book that tells a story of the power of dreams, the future and Uganda.

Sisters, Siba and Saba are always losing things and constantly forgetting where they put them. But once their father puts them to bed by saying, “Sula bulungi Siba and Saba”, they dream of all the places they left their lost items. In the Savannah watching an impala pass or on the sun-lit Sipi Falls watching a sun-bird fly away. But one day this changes and they begin to dream of things in the future and not in the the past.

The story is a great celebration of the sights and sounds of Uganda and a great showcase of our rich country. It is a very relatable read for any child growing up in Africa as they can see the things they grow up surrounded by like taxis and markets. Even the one’s they may not know, like the Sipi Falls and the Crested Crane are great teaching opportunities.

The sisters are put to bed by their father which is something rarely seen in African books as the father is more commonly portrayed as being a provider and disciplinarian for the children. It is a great image to see and show children a soft and nurturing father.

The story brings out the idea of dreaming about the future and moving on from the past. We see the sisters begin to let go of the remorse about their failure to keep their belongings and dream of bigger and greater things, encouraging children to dream about the future and to dream big.

Because the book is written in short rhyming sentences, it easy for young beginner readers. It is great for read-out-loud sessions as it is filled with beautiful and bright pictures. The pictures showcase various things about Ugandan Heritage and are a great teaching point, helping the children learn new things about the country.

This is a beautiful tale reminding us why stories that children can easily see themselves in are very important and should continue to be told.

This book is suitable for readers aged four to eight.

Looking for a place your child can enjoy more stories like this? Our children’s book club, The Fireplace: Tot Tales is it! Call us on 0705711442 or 0788310999 for more information.

The Wooden Camel | Written by Wanuri Kahiu & Illustrated by Manuela Adreani

The Wooden Camel is a story set in Turkana, Kenya about a little boy, Etabo, completely obsessed with riding camels. His family owns a few, but before he is big enough to ride, his father sells them in order to afford water for the family. Etabo prays and is assured that his dreams are enough.

With no camel to ride, Etabo and his older brother Lopeyok and sister, Akiru are tasked with herding the family’s goats. It is a mundane task but they have each other and the stubborn goat, Keti, for company. The price of water keeps rising however and his siblings have to go and find work. He gets lonely and wishes more than ever he could ride a camel. Because he can’t, he begins to settle for anything in sight. He tries to ride goats and chicken and even Keti the goat. His sister sees his despair and whittles him a herd of camel made of wood. Excited, he goes to play with the camel herd in the sand, and they seemingly come to life and he is able to ride! That night he thanks his sister for her kind gift and remembers Akuj’s words – his dreams ARE enough!

One of the most beautiful things about this story is the relationship between siblings. Akiru and Etabo especially are great examples of the love that should exist between an older and younger sibling. For children that sometimes find it hard to tolerate their younger siblings, it’s a great story.

This story also helps children see a life that is probably different from their own. That Etabo’s family is struggling to buy water might not be something they can relate to, but is important for them to understand nevertheless. They are able to appreciate all that they have a lot more and see that even with little, it is possible to be happy and content.

Like all books, the story also encourages the power of imagination. Etabo’s family might not have been able to afford camel anymore but through imagination, and a little love from his sister, he was able to ride.

This book is great for four to six year olds as it is filled with illustrations and words easy enough to understand. It is also written in present tense so the children are able to follow the story like it is happening in real time, which makes for more engaging content.

At our children’s book-club, The Fireplace: Tot Tales, we delve into titles like this and more! Would you like your child to be a part? Reach us on 0705711442 or 0788310999 for more information.

#BooksAndBeats | Esther Nshakira

I love music! And I love books. I have seen someone match their photos with family and friends with songs (Hi Belinda!). I thought it would be interesting to apply the same to books. So without further ado, in no particular order, here are a couple of songs and books I think go together.

The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives by Lola Shoneyin & Johnny by Yemi Alade

If you have read this book and listened to this song I think the connection speaks for itself. First off, the drama. Naija sponsored! The character development in both is brilliant. Each of Baba Segi’s wives had my heart for different reasons, and when watching the Johnny video you cannot help but root for Yemi! I really wanted her to find and beat Johnny. Still on character development, the host of the TV show, ‘We Don Catcham’ in the Johnny video was amazing. This man needs a segment in real life! Another connector between the two is they are both about this one man whom all these women’s lives revolve around. Baba Segi and Iya Segi, Iya Femi, Iya Tope and Bolanle and then Johnny and Yemi, Cynthia, Uche, Nene and God knows how many others. All these women’s lives are turned upside down because of this man and yet despite all the trouble, they stay roped in. In Yemi’s song, Johnny stays ‘her Johnny’ even after she lists all his sins! Anyway, Baba Segi is forced to deal with his secret in the end and Johnny is served mob justice so…we’re okay. Baba Segi’s Wives is actually one of my favourite books by a woman. Check out why, here.

Book Thief by Markus Zukas & Seasons of Love from Rent

This is one of my favourite books of all time. Set in World War II, it tells the story of an orphan girl taken in by a German couple after she loses her mother and younger brother. She falls in love with reading at a time when it is very dangerous to. Her foster father encourages her passion and she continues to grow in her love and knowledge of written word and it carries a firm message of love and hope throughout the book. The song that I think goes perfectly with this book, is Seasons of Love from Rent the movie. The question in the song is how do you measure the life of a man? And I think one of easiest and most beautiful ways to do that is through the written word. Through stories. If you tell your story on a page, it lives on so much longer than you do.

Anybody Out There by Marian Keyes & Work Out by Chance The Rapper

This was the first Marian Keyes novel I ever read. I remember I picked it up before a long plane ride back home and I had random strangers really concerned because I kept laughing out loud. It was one of the funniest books I had ever read. I read about six more of her titles right after. This one is about Anna and her wacky family in Ireland, but more importantly, the life that she has built for herself back in New York. She heads back and finds that things aren’t quite as she left them and as she comes to terms with some truths, we are taken along for the ride. The perfect song for this one is a new fave by a fave of mine, Work Out. It’s perfect because in it Chance The Rapper, talks about different not-so-perfect situations that end up ‘working out’. And that is what most Marian Keyes novels are about. Messy women living messy lives with everything working out in the end. Also, both are just really feel-good. They are what I always want to use to describe my mood.

Patchwork by Ellen Banda Aaku & Fast Car by Tracy Chapman

Books about mother-daughter relationships are up there for me. I read them with my heart full of so many emotions, and Patchwork was no exception. We review the book over on our #MEiREAD channel here, so I won’t get too much into it, but to summarise, it is about the life of Pumpkin, a little girl in Zambia born to the alcoholic mistress of the affluent businessman Joseph Savavungo. We see the effect of blended families on all concerned in every aspect. This book is a reminder that happily ever after is a thing of fairy tales. In real life, even if things start off beautifully, there are always curves in the road. Which is the story in Fast Car by Tracy Chapman. Here is a girl convinced that she has found forever with this guy but that changes quickly after they run away together and start a family, and when it does she is ready to get into the next fast car and drive off. Pumpkin, as she grows older, is also quick to do that. She is engaged three different times before she marries her husband Tembo.

Flame and Song by Philippa Namutebi Kabali-Kagwa & All We Got by Chance the Rapper, Kanye West & Chicago Children’s Choir

 A beautiful book if there was one. This is a memoir, documenting the life of a young girl and her family during the time of Idi Amin. Unlike many books of that time, this one highlights life being lived with war as the backdrop. As Philippa narrates stories of first days at school and living-room concerts with her cousins, the whispers of ‘Bamutute’ and the hurried manner in which many characters leave, you are reminded that this was in fact war. Philippa’s solace throughout the book though was music. She sang all through her childhood joining the school choir in all the high schools she joined. Philippa still loves music. And a good thing too, because Chance said it right – music is all we got! All we got is also a bit of a story that like Flame and Song describes growth and change all while hoping and finding that hope in music.

What are your thoughts? Am I way off?

What song matches a book you know?

SmsUg x FEMRITE Bloggers’ Workshop | A Photo Essay

During the FEMRITE Literary Week of Activities which took place a few weeks ago, The SmsUg team had the privilege of facilitating the Bloggers’ Workshop. Because Sooo Many Stories began as a blog, there is a wealth of knowledge we as a team have been able to amass on the topic. It was a one-day workshop in which we explored nearly all facets of blogging; branding, content creation, platform selection, website set-up…there was a lot to go through! It was wonderful to see bloggers interacting and sharing experiences and learning from each other and from us. Here are a few photos documenting our experience.

Some of the attendees at the Bloggers Workshop.
Nyana Kakoma on Blogging Basics; blog name, topic, audience profile, unique selling points e.t.c
Here to learn! Attendees taking notes and doing exercises.
Guest, Ella of Brands Made To Last, on creativity and its impact on humanity and human behaviour.
Carol Kagezi on communication platforms: blogs, vlogs, digital magazines and podcasts
Hilda Twongyeirwe, FEMRITE Executive Director and workshop attendee.
Peter Kakoma, Software Engineer and WordPress expert on the technicalities of setting up a WordPress blog.
From theory, to practice.
Esi Nshakira on scheduling, blog management and social media for your blog.
Ladies and gentlemen, we give you…bloggers.
The Sooo Many Stories Tribe that facilitated

Thank you so much for this opportunity FEMRITE! We cannot wait to see all these amazing bloggers step out and shine. Looking forward to many more teaching experiences!

Copyright, The Creative & Online Content | Esther Nshakira

A few weeks ago, the Sooo Many Stories team attended a copyright workshop hosted by KTA Advocates, a law firm that specialises in Intellectual Property (IP) law. It contributed to the very necessary conversation in the creative space on the ways in which creatives can protect their work and ensure that they are not exploited. The one day conference covered various areas such as the necessity and process of registering copyright and the work of associations that help with copyright law enforcement such as Uganda Reproduction Rights Organization (URRO) and Uganda Performing Rights Society (UPRS). Briefly covered during the conference was the protection of online content using copyright law. I met with Kenneth Muhangi – a partner with KTA Advocates and an expert on media law especially in regards to IP – afterwards and went into detail about the ways in which the copyright law here in Uganda expands to cover content published online. Here are some highlights from our conversation.

A copyright is a form of protection provided by the law to authors of original works of authorship.

Copyright is inherent. Once you reduce something into a form of creation (writing, photograph, graphic etc) it gets copyright automatically. The easiest way to prove in court that you own the copyright to a piece of work is by registering it and the organisation responsible for copyright registration in Uganda is Uganda Registration Services Bureau (URSB). The registration process here, like other content types, is governed by the Copyright and Neighbouring Rights Act 2006. For registration of online content, you are required to register the content on the blog and not the blog itself. The reason for this is the fact that most platforms used for blogging, like WordPress or Tumblr, are already registered IP domains. It is different if you develop an app and store all your content there. Here you would register the app and then by default all content under it would be within your copyright, unless stated otherwise. A good example of this is the Eunie’s Kitchen app, an app by Dr Eunice Adubango of the Eunie’s Kitchen where she shares recipes. Once her app is registered, she does not need to register the videos she puts up. On a platform like YouTube however, if registration is how she would like to prove ownership, she would need to register each video.

Registering each piece of content on a blog however doesn’t sound very practical, especially given the lengthy and pricey registration process at URSB which you can see here and here.

Enter time stamps.

For online content, another way to prove your copyright is using the time stamps that can be retrieved from whatever platform you have used. However, sometimes maintaining the chain of evidence can be hard since time stamps can very easily be tampered with. It can be conclusive proof if it is very clear and has been certified by a forensic expert but a certificate of registration still holds more weight in court. It moves the burden of proof to the defendant.

With that being said though, time stamps make it easier to prove copyright ownership with online content than with other content forms such as books or paintings. It is for this reason that, for these other forms of content especially, registration is always encouraged. For online content, be very deliberate about time stamps. Record times and dates of uploading and sharing so you can look back and prove copyright. If you have subscribers, people that comment, like and share your work, then these can be witnesses in your case of infringement.

If you use a picture or graphic from someone else’s website and give adequate credit (possibly with information on how to reach that person) then there will probably be no need for monetary compensation. It will depend heavily on how much you have taken though. If it is a whole article or a whole album of pictures then that might cross the line of what in law is known as fair usage. Fair usage will include derived work used for academic purposes or work that is very minimally reproductive in terms of the original work’s core and purpose. What is looked at is quality rather than quantity. What have you taken? Does it form part of your core article? Is just a reproduction? Have you taken the information from something that should be bought? Are you giving out the information for free? To re-echo, in these cases, crediting work is essential. But note that the work credited shouldn’t be a substantial portion of the work, you shouldn’t take more than you need, and it should not reduce the value of the original work.

On the other hand, in cases where your work has been infringed upon by other online platforms you can work with an internet intermediary and have the act reported and the work taken down. Internet intermediaries include internet service providers (ISPs), search engines and social media platforms. The terms on many social media platforms account for infringement and cite that once it is reported there will be a notice and takedown requirement issued. In some cases the intermediary will be liable if they do not issue the notice after being informed.

When it comes to ownership of copyright and the rights ensuing, if you are not creating for yourself, it would depend on the contract created with your employer. Most employers will state in the contract that work created within the confines of employment (in work time or using work equipment) unless otherwise stated, will belong to the company. This is how intellectual property currently generally works. Here, the copyright can only be enforced by the employer and for that purpose will belong to them. If the employee would like to file a case citing infringement they would need to involve their employer. In this case, both have rights but the economic rights belong to the employer and the employee has the moral right: they can demand credit. Lesson here? Read and re-read and re-read your contracts before you sign! Even better, have a lawyer look through  and advise you accordingly. At the very least you must know what you are getting into before you get in.

We also talked about the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) circular issued earlier this year (which you can read here) pertaining to the registration of online platforms and how it affects us as a company that publishes heavily online. Mr. Muhangi was quick to mention the fact that one, it is legal. Technically it is law, in the sense that UCC derives its powers from the UCC Act which is very clear in regards to the jurisdiction UCC will have and that bloggers and other news distribution platforms are within that jurisdiction. It is arguable since the law is ambiguous, but it is very clear that as long as you are publishing something online, UCC has regulatory purview. The best thing to do here would be to dialogue with them through an association; it is okay for UCC to regulate online publishing platforms, but can they be more specific on the criteria? If I am running a blog sharing my personal stories can I be exempt? Can the scope of online platforms be better defined; will it include my twitter threads or instagram stories? What platforms is it limited to? The issue is the notice has come out but it is not clear; right now it includes everyone and every platform. Understanding the need for the circular is also important as we dialogue. There are so many newspapers, especially online, publishing fake news nowadays and there is no way to regulate them and that becomes a problem. The fact that they are anonymous makes regulation even harder. This is what Mr. Muhangi thinks was the main focus of the circular. You can read more on his thoughts here.

Thank you so much KTA Advocates for the enlightening conference! Thank you for taking it upon ourselves to equip and educate the creatives of Uganda. We look forward to the creation of more conversation like these in the future.

The Lost Treasure of The Emerald Eye by Elisabetta Dami | A review by Alexa Waweru

This week, our intern, 11-year old Alexa, decided to show us why we should pick up one of the books in her favourite series, Geronimo Stilton. Geronimo Stilton is a mouse residing in New Mouse City, Mouse Island. He works as a journalist and editor for the city’s newspaper, The Rodent Gazette. He has a younger sister, Thea Stilton, a cousin, Trap Stilton and his favourite nephew, Benjamin. Geronimo is a mellow mouse. He would like nothing better than to live a quiet life, but he keeps getting involved in far-away adventures with Thea, Trap, and Benjamin. The Lost Treasure of The Emerald Eye is one of those many adventures.
For the review, Alexa writes from the perspective of Geronimo Stilton and brings to life the characters and story. Read on! By the end, you will need a copy for your tot. This series is most suitable for children 8-12 years.

My name is Geronimo Stilton. I want to tell you guys about the time my little sister, Thea, dragged me and my cousin, Trap, to help her find the lost treasure of the Emerald Eye. It all began with a map Thea discovered at the flea market. She was convinced that it led to actual treasure and even if I was not as persuaded, I decided, as her big brother, I would have to go with her.

We packed our bags and left New Mouse City Harbor on a ship named Lucky Lady. Our first meal at sea was horrible! It turned out Trap, my cousin, was a huge liar. He told us that the clams he cooked were fresh but we discovered that the mouse that sold them to him instructed him to eat them in two days or else they would spoil.  He ignored the instruction and fed us spoiled clams that gave me a horrible stomach ache! Why, oh why had we brought him along?!

I have a little nephew called Benjamin that I love so much. He is my favourite nephew. Well, the little mouse snuck aboard the Lucky Lady. I was so happy to see him! The joy that brought was short-lived because the next night was awful! I do not want to sound like a worry mouse but WOW! You try staying in a ship with Trap and have to listen to him go on and on about himself. You’d want to pull your whiskers out.

The next morning wasn’t any better. We needed to stay on the lookout for the island we were to land upon and Thea and I were in charge. A few minutes into our lookout, a huge wave swooped me overboard! Fortunately, Thea saw me and sent Trap to save me before I drowned and died. When I came to, Trap was jumping up and down on my stomach to get me to spit out the water I’d swallowed. I was so cold, my whiskers turned blue. I was ready to go home, treasure or no treasure. I longed for my nice comfy mouse hole.

The next storm was so bad, we were all washed off the Lucky Lady and we had to use my trunk as a boat and, sadly, my favourite robe (with my initials in gold letters) as a sail. When we spotted treasure island, we built a shelter and went to find the treasure. We were tested every step of the way. The worst part was when we thought we lost Trap to a spelling mistake. Luckily though, he survived.

The most shocking part of the entire trip however, caught us totally by surprise as we tracked the treasure…

Looking for a place your children can enjoy stories like these and more? Look no further! The Fireplace: Tot Tales is just for you. Call/message us on 0709711442 for more information.

Our Hosts | The Fireplace: Tot Tales

Some of the most important people, when it comes to The Fireplace: Tot Tales, are the people that host us in our Ntinda, Muyenga and Bugolobi chapters. Most of you do not know the faces behind these locations and we thought it was time we introduced them and heard a little on what they have to say about our partnership.

Sophie N. Bamwoyeraki is the Head Teacher of the secondary section, over at The North Green School which hosts our Ntinda Chapter. She is also an English and Literature teacher.

As a teacher of English and Literature, I find the partnership with Sooo Many Stories to be such a great blessing because they are laying a concrete reading and writing foundation in our young ones; skills that will enable them to read across the curriculum.
To begin with, Sooo Many Stories involves children in activities which enhance their imagination and creativity and provide them with a bank of ideas for their own compositional skills. The children at The North Green School have benefited a lot because Sooo Many Stories has added emphasis to what we hold close to our hearts. We have a strong reading culture and our students enjoy reading. It is needless to say that getting an independent body to add more emphasis has been such a huge blessing.
From the first time, when Sooo Many Stories ran activities during the Book Week for both primary and secondary schools at the school, a lot has changed and I am sure the children will continue to thirst for more as they get involved in more book club activities.
For sure, The Fireplace: Tot Tales is a praiseworthy initiative that is developing the children’s language skills from such a tender age. A lot has been said about a wanting reading culture in Uganda, however, with the speed and energy that Sooo Many Stories has exhibited, I can see light at the end of the tunnel!

(L-R) Leila, a proprietor and Head of Finance at Harmony International Preschool, with Yasmin Mayanja, head proprietor.

Yasmin Mayanja is our Muyenga host at Harmony International Preschool, located along Kiwafu Road. She is also a parent with The Fireplace Tot Tales and has been for 2 years.

My child had been going to The Fireplace: Tot Tales, Ntinda Chapter for about two years. At only seven years, his reading has developed so much so that he could read a 250 – page book in only two days! He has gained so much confidence in his reading. He talks about becoming an author now, thanks to the Children’s Writing Workshop that Sooo Many Stories organised last year.
Given our dream to see that the next generation of children are more adaptable, capable and willing to continue to discover and learn new things, partnering with Sooo Many Stories was a no-brainer for Harmony International Preschool.
We felt that we shared the same hopes for these children. In order to encourage our parents at Harmony to enrol their children in the book club, we invited Sooo Many Stories to Harmony. So far, many have joined and we are able to see growth in the children.
We believe that the future of our children will be much brighter because of initiatives like Sooo Many Stories. The exposure here is immense! The children are able to see the world richly through the books they are exposed to. They are reminded that they can do anything they want to. They are encouraged to dream big.

Pamela Ashanut Okille runs a play centre for children in Bugolobi called Aida’s Place which hosts The Fireplace: Tot Tales, Bugolobi Chapter. She is also a parent with the book-club.

I set up Aida’s Place to provide a safe and nurturing space for children to explore their creativity, grow their self-confidence, socialize and make friends. So when I met with Nyana and Dushiime about a year ago and they told me about the Sooo Many Stories children’s book club, I was very excited. Excited because we share a similar vision and passion, to provide children with the opportunity to explore different ideas and possibilities, and to be inspired by books that have a positive portrayal of Africa, and particularly African children. The partnership has been mutually beneficial, with Sooo Many stories complimenting the other activities ran at Aida’s Place- Computer Coding, Art, Gymnastics, Dance and Drama/Public Speaking. We look forward to our ongoing partnership.

Looking to enroll you Tot in one of our chapters? We want to hear from you!

 

 

Their Stories | The Fireplace: Tot Tales

Through our children’s book club, The Fireplace: Tot Tales, we are able to reach different people. The ones we work closely with are children, parents and our volunteers. Here is a little on what some of them had to say about our book club.

Our Tots

“This is better than swimming!” -Letal, Tot

“I didn’t know there were other children that like reading as much as I do.” -Keza, Tot

Our Parents

“The Fireplace: Tot Tales has increased my children’s love for reading, it is an activity they look forward to every month. The months when Tot Tales is on break at the begining of the year , they cannot wait to start again.” -Rebecca, Parent

“We have been attending Tot Tales for the past two months and I can see the change. It has helped him open up more, he is more engaging.” -Ivan, Parent

Our Volunteers

“Sharing the gift of reading with children opens up a world of wonder, and excitement. Children are our future and it is now in this little pocket of time that we get to impress upon them the love of books and they’ll in turn learn through reading that anything is possible!” -Gigi, Volunteer

“It’s always refreshing seeing the hopeful smiles and hearing their laughs during the stories. Seeing them attentive and contributing freely gives me hope that these kids are most definitely going to change many things in the future.” -Jason, Volunteer

It is experiences like these that make what we are doing worth while!

New to the idea of The Fireplace: Tot Tales? Contact us on 0705 711442, choose your chapter and join our tribe.

Dyslexia Demystified | Patience’s Story

After discussing the diagnosis and accomodations for dyslexia in our Dyslexia Demystified essay, we are shining the spotlight on three individuals living and thriving with the condition. You can find Joel’s story here, and Rajan’s here. This is Patience’s story.

Patience Ruth Nakibirige is a Ugandan currently pursuing her Masters Degree in Organiazational Leadership from Saint Mary’s University, Minnesota. She attained her Bachelor’s Degree in Business Economics from Nkozi University. She is a blogger over at https://www.adaezeblog.com/ and uses words as her largest form of self expression.

“When I was younger my prayer always was, ‘Lord, take away these pimples from my face and help me spell.’ Those two were my biggest problems. They were the cause of so much bullying and all my self esteem issues. It wasn’t until much later in life that I realised my problems with spelling were because of a condition known as dyslexia. It suddenly all made sense; the constant yelling from my parents and teachers, my tearful frustration at being unable to spell even my own name. I was not just stupid. There was a name to all I had struggled with.

My dyslexia is self-diagnosed. I began to actively seek information on the condition in my senior 5. It was my struggle with other mental health aspects (depression and bipolar disorder) that forced me to figure out what the cause was for all my issues. Once I found out I had dyslexia, after the initial relief, I began to wonder: ‘What next?’ Therapy had worked for some people but I did not have that privilege. I needed to find ways to deal.

My dyslexia manifests predominantly as issues with phonetic awareness and reading. Reading for me is really a memory exercise. If I have seen a word before, I store it in my memory with context (either the story I am reading, or the person in the book that said the word) and the next time I see it in a book or somewhere else, I can recall it. Reading new or unfamiliar words for me therefore, is a problem. I have to hear someone say it a couple of times then commit it to memory. Words in my head come with images. That is how they are stored. I expose myself to as many words as possible so that my bank is full so to speak. So that I can soak up as many words as I can. In primary school, my exposure to words was limited so if a text book did not have pictures processing that information was nearly impossible.

I have bottom-line parents. For them the point was always good grades. How you achieved them was really up to you. Once I realised dyslexia was what I had, I found ways to work around it. I found that for me visual learning worked best. All my school notes and summaries had doodles. Because I have a really good memory I also learnt more from people talking and explaining things so I would pay a lot of attention to teachers. I discovered the audio dictionary and for me that has helped a lot too. So if I find a world I am not familiar with I put it in and once I know how it’s pronounced I say it a couple of times and commit it to memory.

One of the things that has helped is how I see myself: I am perfectly fine. I refuse to see it as a hindrance or this negative thing about me. My family has had to accommodate me too! They used to complain a lot about my typos in texts. Now, we agree that as long as they can understand, we are good.

Another thing that has helped immensely is my friends and family. If you are dyslexic, surround yourself with people that know and understand your condition. These are your support system! I love mine for speaking and being life when I couldn’t find it. This one time in primary school, I came home beside myself with tears because some kid had said something mean to me. So I went to my elder brother Chris and said, ‘I’m so ugly, I’m so stupid.’ He lifted me up and said, ‘I don’t know why things are like they are now, but all of this will go away someday. And you will change the world.’ My best friend on campus, Melissa, would let me use her notes because half the time even I could not understand my own. She would help me study and fill in the places my dyslexia left me lacking because it was not a disorder you brought up or expected sympathy for.

You know what’s crazy? It never raised flags with my professors. I guess what helped is I was doing a course that dealt heavily in numbers, Business Economics, so I hid behind that. The thing is even numbers weren’t an obvious choice for me. But that is a story for another day!

When I moved to the United States for Masters though, all that changed. In my first class, I was able to talk about my struggle with processing information and it was so well received. I felt so much compassion; many people talked about helping me study if ever I needed it. Professors even talked about giving me extra time with assignments.

Honestly though, all in all, even with all the coping mechanisms I put in place, it was God that got me through that time. The opportunities for dyslexic people in school to thrive are so limited, even more so in Uganda. There were many times I was ready to call it quits, but I didn’t. And here we are.

Uganda isn’t where it should be when dealing with mental health and learning disabilities. There is still a lot of stigma. It is easier to say I am an addict or an alcoholic than I am depressed or dyslexic. We need to learn to be more compassionate; to give room for issues we do not understand. When people are faced with issues like this that we do not know how to solve we put them in a box, try our best to explain and rationalise them instead of allowing the issues to exist and finding ways to accommodate them. Dyslexia, with support from systems and people around you, is a manageable condition. As Ugandans we need to be those supportive systems and people.

My name is Patience Ruth Nakibirige. I want to change the world. I know with absolute certainty that I can.”

Read more about Patience’s journey here; https://www.adaezeblog.com/pacience/

Read more on dyslexia and what resources are available in Uganda for dyslexic people here: Dyslexia Demystified – Part 1 | An Essay by Esther Nshakira

Dyslexia Demystified | Rajan’s story

Following our dyslexia demystified series, here is another story of someone thriving with the condition. Check out Dsylexia Demystified – Part 1 here and Joel’s story here.

Rajan David Daniels is a Canadian-Indian TV producer, currently living in Uganda. He grew up in India with his missionary parents and 11 years ago, moved to Uganda as a missionary too. He started his work as a producer after doing mission work with a team producing a radio show. He realized the expertise and professionalism of the team he was working with would do well commercially. He has since produced two seasons of Revved Up, a motoring show that shows on NTV. He is set to produce another show, Jangu Tulye, with DSTV on a channel yet to air.

“I was about eight years old when it became apparent that there was a problem. I was doing home school at the time and I was with a bunch of children making large strides in terms of progress and there I was, stuck. My mother sat me down and said my uncle was diagnosed with dyslexia and that was probably what I had. It was not until 17 however that I received a clinical diagnosis. I did a learning aptitude test in India that confirmed the diagnosis. By this time though, the school door had closed for me. At 16, I just decided I could not do it anymore. The entire process was torture. I was so happy to stop! In India we learnt using home-school curriculums but the arrangement was a mission school of sorts for all the children of the missionaries working together. I remember the torture of trying to copy down what the teacher would be writing on the white board. I used to write letter by letter, not word by word because half the time I didn’t know what was being spelled. So by the time the board was full and they began erasing to write again, I wouldn’t even be half way through. I couldn’t keep up. The teachers were particularly problematic honestly. I remember reading one of those Ladybird books with one of my teachers and I got stuck on this word, I think it was ‘they’. She said we are not going to move on until you say this word. I know you’re just being stubborn. And we spent almost an hour with me trying so hard to read this one word and I just couldn’t. School was painful.

I have always been in countries where school options for dyslexic people aren’t really present. In India the diagnosis process was smooth. But after that, no one answered the ‘what next’ question. There were no next steps. Knowing was huge though. I received validation. I realised, no, I’m not just stupid. My brother on the other hand was able to go to Canada where he just completed high school. He is dyslexic too but has been able to get ample help! They have examination and lesson provisions for children with dyslexia, so he has thrived.

My biggest issues have always been phonetics. Sounding words is always a trick because there are a lot of words that don’t sound like they are spelt. Consequently spelling becomes a big problem too. The thing about dyslexia is you don’t really outgrow it. I still have some trouble reading and writing! Legal documents for example, I just cannot get through them. I also tend to procrastinate when it comes to reading or writing tasks. If I have a big contract to go through, or a proposal I need to write I will put it off as long as I possibly can.

Of course technology helps a lot. I can do audios and podcasts as sources of information and there is always spell check. I also learn a lot from talking to people. I glean a lot of information from good conversation. I think if I had been given the necessary help, I would be slightly better off. I don’t think my life would have turned out much different because I love what I do, but I probably wouldn’t avoid proposals and contracts as much.

Ironically my reading habits got much better once I left school. I began to read out of curiosity and interest, not because I had to. I love stories! I actually got through the whole Lord of the Rings Trilogy. Whew! That was an uphill task. I skipped quite a few words, especially character’s names. Unfamiliar words I would recognize by the shape of the letters and using context, I would apply them. I would never actually read these words.

A dyslexia diagnosis is not the end of the world! In fact it can actually be a good thing. I read once that there are more successful dyslexic people than regular people. Dyslexia is really just another form of language processing. You can figure out how to work around it and make it work for you. I have a daughter, and honestly, I was never worried that it would be a problem. I knew that if she happened to have it we would be able to work through it. So far though she’s doing really well! She reads far better than I did at her age.”