By Elizabeth Amongin
While most students wait until they graduate to save money and earn a living, Rachel Hope Namubiru Auma, 24, a playwright, was already earning and saving at the beginning of her last year at university in 2016. The money she was saving would later help her stage one of her plays at the National Theatre.
Writing a play and at the same time directing it is usually a hard task. However, for Namubiru this is what she enjoys most. She has the passion of directing plays, which she has written basing on what she sees or hears in society.
“I develop most of my ideas from what people have told me, and the research I do also helps me write creatively,” she reveals.
Namubiru’s, famous play, The Cage, was staged at the National Theatre on December 10, something she says was a dream come true for her. The play was about a girl who suffers after being raped by one of the rebels. The victim has to live and deal with the agony of her bitter father who wants to marry her off because he fails to face the challenges.
“I wanted to show society the effects of war, having done research about northern Uganda and finding out how girls managed to survive in the camp as refugees. I also thought it was a better idea for me to write a play that can tell a story of what it means to live in a camp,” Namubiru says.
On the other hand, Namubiru’s desire is to bring out the silent stories that are out there. “During the LRA war in 2012, I worked with an organisation in northern Uganda, which exposed me to the real life of a refugee,” she said.
Staging the first play
“Right from childhood, I enjoyed reading and at times when books went missing at school, my colleagues would tell the teachers that I had taken them to read,” she recalls.
With time after reading a lot of literature, Namubiru gained confidence and started attempting to write novels. One of her first novels was changed into a play because she had written it in a dialogue form.
She was later advised by a family friend who read it to stick to writing plays and while she was at St. Peter’s Secondary School, Nsambya, for her A-level, her talent grew. She was very active in the literature classes and on several occasions was recognised among the best literature students. After realising she had a talent in writing, Namubiru says, she was prompted to write her first play, The Cage, while in her S6 vacation in 2012.
And while pursuing a bachelor’s degree in languages at UCU, Namubiru staged her first play in 2014 under the Literature Alliance.
“Surprisingly, after staging the play, The Cage, that very night, I was asked by the then guild officials to write a skit for them entitled Unlike Pole, which is about a poor girl who joins a negative bandwagon while at university.
This gave me the zeal to continue writing plays even when they were not being staged. Currently, I have written more than five plays, and I hope that one day I will direct and stage them,” She says.
Namubiru is the third born in a family of six children. Her father, Moses Nsubuga Sekatawa, a literature teacher has been her biggest supporter from day one. He continuously bought her handouts of literature which enabled her perform better than her classmates at school.
While Namubiru was at O-Level in Bugema Adventist Secondary School, her father one time landed on the poems she had written and was impressed.
“I would write poems and hang them on my bedroom wall. So one day he came in and took time to read each one of them. He was impressed by my writing that he immediately introduced me to his circle of literature friends,” she says.
Namubiru is an ambitious writer who has support from famous novelists and playwrights like Timothy Wangusa, author of Upon This Mountain, and Austin Bukenya, the author of The Bride. The Head of the Department, of Mass Communication, Dr Monica Chibita, has also been supportive to her. Her ability to learn from experienced writers gave her a platform to share her ideas with them.
“Austin Bukenya is a role model and he has helped me see that this play is staged. Besides, he is also editing it for publication,” she says.
“I have various plays that I want to stage, and this is just the beginning. In February, I have a project to work on. There is a particular organisation that am working with.”
Besides writing plays, Namubiru also writes proposals for various companies.