Author Lillian Tindyebwa of Uganda shares about her writer journey with MAI staff intern Meaghan Zang. Last month MAI Trainer Lawrence Darmani led a writer workshop in Kampala with Lillian and the Ugandan Faith Writers Association (UFWA). Pray for UFWA as they lay foundations for launching a publishing house.
When and how did you know that you wanted to become a writer?
I was influenced through reading, and I grew up reading many books at home. My late father was a teacher of English and, although he never wrote, he read a lot. When I was in primary school, I particularly remember coming across an old copy of Bunyan’s Pilgrims Progress among his things and reading it.
I had often thought that I could be a writer, especially during my secondary school. For some unknown reason, possibly due to lack of role models, I did not get around to putting pen on paper until much later in my life.
Are there any challenges unique to being a female Christian writer in Uganda?
As a woman, I have to balance many roles which hardly leaves me with enough time for writing. I still do not have role models of female Christian writers, but I know I am called to be the role model, so I am at peace now with this issue.
Describe one or two of the books you have written.
I have written one full-length novel, entitled Recipe for Disaster, which mainly deals with the dangers of peer pressure in secondary school and also tackles problems of HIV/AIDS. Although it does not quote verses in the Bible, it still shows the wrong decisions leading to disaster. A publisher in London rejected it, saying it was too moralistic, but it was published by Fountain Publisher in Kampala and is now used in secondary schools. Teachers tell me it helps them communicate with students about the problems they face and how to avoid them.
My other works are mainly short stories, and my most successful one is titled Looking for My Mother. It deals with problems of rejection and teenage pregnancy.
How did you become involved in founding the Uganda Faith Writers Association?
Uganda Faith Writers was born out of prayer sessions with my friend Betty Kituyi. We both had time between jobs and decided to seek God to really get to know His purpose for our lives. We read the Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren every day and sought Him. There was no doubt that the Association was what He wanted us to do.
Why are you hoping to start a Christian publishing house in Uganda?
Like I mentioned earlier, when I wrote my novel, a London publisher rejected it for being too moralistic. Yet in Uganda, it is popular. I know there are many Christians in this country with many good testimonies, stories, sermons and expositions that could help others to grow in their faith. When published, these writers could serve as role models, and a local publishing house would go a long way toward meeting these needs and pushing forward the work of God.
Do you have any advice for aspiring Christian writers?
Seek God and never give up!
More MAI articles about Lillian and UFWA:
Redeeming the Night: Youth tramautized by war write with UFWA
The writer’s call in Uganda