Celebrating Wycliffe Kiyingi; the Encyclopedia of Ugandan Theater

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In short
Kiyingi is celebrated far and near as the first Ugandan who wrote the first African play that was staged at the National Theater in 1953. He wrote more than ten books that have been widely translated and many directed into admirable plays and others adopted into both the secondary and university syllabi.

Literature enthusiasts in Uganda are mourning the passing of Wycliffe Kiyingi, one of the greatest Ugandan playwrights of all time. He died on Saturday November 15, aged 85.

Kiyingi is celebrated far and near as the first Ugandan who wrote the first African play that was staged at the National Theatre in 1953. He wrote more than ten books that have been widely translated and many directed into admirable plays and others adopted into both the secondary and university syllabi.

Some of his great Luganda plays include; Gwosussa Emmwanyi, Lozio Bba Ssesiriya, Olugendo lw'e Gologoosa, Muduuma Kwe Kwaffe, Ssempala bba mukyala Ssempala and the Radio play Wókulira which ran on the then Radio Uganda for close to two decades.

W'okulira, for instance, was a popular drama on Radio Uganda (now UBC radio) for many years and sometimes referred to as Kadiidi, in reference to one of the popular characters in the play.

In an exclusive interview, Kiyingi once told Uganda Radio Network that he reaped more in "Wokulira" because at its premier, Sir Andrew Cohen the British governor of Uganda offered him a scholarship to study playwriting techniques at Bristol University in Britain.
 
//Cue in; (Luganda) "Twakolanga emizannyo…
Cue out…… Nfune more knowledge."//
 
Kiyingi also penned Pio Mberenge, Kaamulali and Omwana w'Omuntu (his personal favorite, penned in 1969).

The National Curriculum Development Centre (NCDC) adopted one of his plays ‘Lozio Bba Sesiriya' for inclusion in the literature school syllabus for S.6 candidates. His other book Gw'osusa Emmwanyi is among the books on the O-level examination syllabus. Makerere University is also using some of his publications in the institute of languages.

At 85, Kiyingi was the only surviving literary greats of his era. His contemporaries such as Nsimbi who wrote books like Olulimi Oluganda, Kawere who wrote Omuzimu gwa Kasooba have since joined their ancestors.

As we celebrate the life of a legend, URN brings you one exclusive interview it had with Wycliffe Kiyingi before his death. In this interview, Kiyingi  says the love for money threatens the future of Drama in Uganda.
 
//Cue in: "Nasobola…,
cue out;….state of confusion."//
 
During the celebrations to mark 50 years of the existence of the Uganda National Cultural Centre, Kiyingi was recognized with a Golden Artiste (1954-2009) award and his play Muduuma Kwe Kwaffe, was re-published by Angelina Books.

He also received the Golden Drama Award in 2007 for the most Prolific Multimedia Playwright, from the Golden Drama Foundation.

Kiyingi founded the African Artiste Association, the first all-Ugandan theater company to promote local drama.
 

 

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