For the third edition of the Long Talk series, Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi and Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor re-examined what it means to formulate a state. “The Root of Nations” was conceived under the pressing need to reconsider what a country might be defined as, and what is possible when one repaints the histories and origins of an African country via the incredibly important but rarely considered female gaze.
Moving away from the regular trope of the “founding fathers,” Owuor and Makumbi who have both written books that critically assess the origin of nations (Kenya and Uganda respectively). Here they are in conversation, exposing us to the anxieties, insights, and stories that birthed their projects.
Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi is a Ugandan fiction writer. Her first novel, Kintu, won the Kwani? Manuscript Project in 2013. Her second book is a collection of short stories, Manchester Happened for the UK/Commonwealth publication and Let’s Tell This Story Properly (for US/Canada publication) came out in Spring 2019. It was shortlisted for The Big Book prize: Harper’s Bazaar. Her third book, The First Woman for UK/Commonwealth and A Girl is a Body of Water for USA/Canada publication came out in Autumn 2020. Jennifer is a recipient of the Windham-Campbell Literature Prize 2018. She won the Global Commonwealth Short story prize 2014 for her short story, Let’s Tell This Story Properly. She is a Cheuse International Writing Fellow (2019) and KNAW-NAIS residency (2021). She has a PhD from Lancaster University and is a senior lecturer at Manchester Metropolitan University.
Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor is a Kenyan author, lecturer, and arts curator. Her first novel, Dust, was published by Knopf in 2014, and received the 2015 TBC Jomo Kenyatta Literature Award. Her second novel, The Dragonfly Sea was published in 2019 and was a REAL SIMPLE BOOK of the year. In 2003, she won the Caine Prize for African Writing for her story “Weight of Whispers,” also the title of a 2003 volume.
This conversation was moderated by Ndinda Kioko.