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Rajat Neogy Editorial Fellowship, Mulera’s Fireplace, and opportunities for writers

Rajat Neogy Editorial Fellowship, Mulera’s Fireplace, and opportunities for writers

Young African writers have an opportunity to become part of a visionary project by an online magazine called “A Long House.”  The editors of A Long House have created the Rajat Neogy Editorial Fellowship that is only open to Africans between the ages of 18 and 35 years that are resident on the African continent. To be eligible for this one-year fellowship, one must “demonstrate a deep interest in African literature and the ecosystems that nurture it.”


According to a statement by the Magazine, the successful applicant will “work with the founding editors on editing works of contributors; manage communication with contributors; oversee publication schedule and curate a newsletter; reach out to or suggest new contributors; work with founding editors on themed issues; and work with A Long House team on the Long Talk series.”


This is an opportunity that Uganda’s young creative writers and thinkers should seize. The editors of A Long House have observed that “in Africa, after almost a century of modern literature as we know it now, the continent has produced many solitary stars but there are still a lot of lapses in the structure around the institutions that produce said literature. One of the more obvious lapses, a deficit of an editorial ecosystem (though a lot of young people continue to selflessly peer-read and support each other), is what has guided our impulse in creating a fellowship geared towards fostering editorial talent on the continent.”


The choice to honour Rajat Neogy, the Ugandan founder of Transition magazine, is very welcome and appropriate. Neogy, who published the first issue of Transition in Kampala in November 1961, was a trailblazer that set very high standards for the published word. 


As I wrote in this column three years ago, “Transition was a first-rate publication, the likes of which we have not seen again in English-speaking Africa. Neogy had done much to nurture an environment in which free intellectual discourse and a battle of ideas was beginning to be relished in our infant country. He had given equal space to the rulers and their opponents; to thinkers across the entire spectrum; to the finest literary creators and the full breadth of politics, culture, and society. It was a labour of love that Neogy and a very small group of people had turned into a platform that captivated the intellectual community around the world. Ideological contestation had found a battlefield where there would be no bloodshed.” 



The editors of A Long House appear to be following in the footsteps of Neogy. 

Receipt of applications for the Rajat Neogy Editorial Fellowship is open until September 28, 2021. The fellow for the 2022 tenure will be announced in November this year. The applicant is required to upload a motivation letter of not more than 500 words, together with a curriculum vitae, to Interested individuals can also get further information and clarification by writing to the editors at


Meanwhile, I encourage and invite Ugandan writers of all ages to take advantage of Mulera’s Fireplace, a website that promotes written conversations about all subjects of interest to humanity. It is a digital forum that seeks to emulate the experience of traditional Africa where we sat around a fireplace to hear stories, riddles, and proverbs, to exchange reports of our day’s exploits and to learn from the masters of various skills. 


At Mulera’s Fireplace we believe that ideas and thoughts are free. Expressing them is one of the unalienable rights of being. Whereas we do not pay writers, we promote a free market of ideas and consciously expose good writers and great thinkers to a broad, worldwide audience.  


We are especially interested in writers who can tell stories about the lives of people in Uganda’s villages and other places that the daily newspapers tend to ignore. We want to read success stories that do not get covered in newspapers because they are not considered sensational enough to sell copy. We want historical accounts and analyses by historians and non-historians alike. We want to learn about the traditions of our people all over the country, from West Nile to Bugisu, from Karamoja to Kigyezi. We want those personal memories of school and college. Every human experience is worth documenting.


I have discovered many great writers and thinkers on social media, especially Facebook which I joined nine years ago and some WhatsApp groups that I joined more recently. I have learnt a lot from people who post their original thoughts, observations, and questions. 


The other day, I read a very lovely story by Jones Ruhombe, a fine gentleman with a gift for expressing candid opinions about difficult subjects. His Facebook wall is a daily go-to place for me. Writing about the traditional rivalry between the people of Sheema and Igara in Ankole, Ruhombe reminded us of the complex history of that region and did so with subtle humour that characterises his posts. I would love to read longer articles by Ruhombe and many others like him posted at The Fireplace. 


I have been asked by some readers of this column how come I write when I have no training as a writer or journalist. It is a fair question in a world that assumes that scientists are incapable of writing about life “outside the microscope.” 


To me writing is speech with a pen or typing keyboard. I believe that anyone who can speak, who can tell a story, who can describe their observations of daily life, can write for a public audience. 


I encourage everyone, especially young people, to get into the habit of keeping journals of their daily lives, conversations, thoughts, and observations. Write the way you speak. Do not stress over your command of the English language. Do not use complex words where simple ones will do. Do not worry about perfect grammar as though you are sitting for your final university examination in English. Just write the way you think and speak. You will get better and better at it over time. 


Above all, I encourage people to write in our mother languages. We are very happy to publish articles written in any of Uganda’s languages, including Kiswahili. We shall ask the authors to summarize the contents of their articles in English to assist readers like me who may be linguistically challenged. 


We are privileged to live in a time where getting one’s ideas and observations is no longer the preserve of a few. Your thoughts are free. Share them. We shall do what we can to make it happen.


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