By Genoa Barrow | OBSERVER Senior Staff Writer
They’re separated by thousands of miles and cultural norms, but women from Sacramento and Uganda are connecting and realizing that the distance between their realities easily fades when they begin to listen to one another and understand how their experiences connect them.
Twenty women converge as writers in the new book, “This Bridge Called Woman: A Cross-Cultural Anthology: Uganda & U.S.A.” The Ugandan women wrote about women in Sacramento and vice versa. Some conducted interviews with the subjects and others did research and developed their pieces.
The project is a collaboration between the Sacramento nonprofit Women’s Wisdom Art and FEMRITE, the Uganda Women Writers Association. Women’s Wisdom Art seeks to improve women’s lives and advocate for equity and justice through art, writing and wellness. FEMRITE is a nonprofit dedicated to training, publishing and promoting African women writers.
The project was supported in part by grants from the City of Sacramento’s office of arts and culture, and the California Commission on the Status of Women and Girls.
In support of the book, African educator Dr. Euzobia Mugisha Baine called it “revolutionary and unconventional in both style and methodology.”
“It contains deeply rich life stories of women who have made significant contributions to improving the lives of other women in Uganda and the United States of America,” said Dr. Baine, who serves as director of gender mainstreaming directorate at Makerere University in Kampala. “The book is a mirror of the possibilities and promises between national and international women’s movements for promotion of gender equality as a key to social justice and sustainable development.”
Praise from former Sacramento poet laureate Bob Stanley is also included in the book.
“At its best, art opens us to possibilities. ‘This Bridge Called Woman,’ a remarkable international collaboration of memoir and storytelling, reminds us what art can be,” Stanley said.
Topics include feminism, women’s struggles to access education and the practice of genital mutilation, which is featured in “Winning Our Freedom” by Dr. Diana Tumminia, who shares the story of 70-year-old activist Jane Frances Kuka, who saved countless women from the practice.
Writers offer a glimpse into the lives of local women such as Sacramento County Public Health Officer Dr. Olivia Kasirye, who is credited with helping the region navigate the COVID-19 pandemic. The piece on her, “Black Gold,” is by Beatrice Lamwaka. Artist and Brickhouse Gallery and Art Complex curator Barbara Range is featured in “Rokundo,” by Fortunate Tusasirwe. LGBTQ activist Ebony Ava Harper shares her story through “The Journey” by Doreen Baingana. Local health advocate Valarie Scruggs has an essay included, “You Don’t Have to Worry Until My Feet Touch the Ground,” which introduces readers to Lene Nshuti, a Ugandan journalist and LGBTIQ activist.
The book also includes dynamic artwork from women artists such as Olivia J. Mary Nantongo, Deja Adrianna Manriquez, Lydia Matovu, Shonna McDaniels, Kathy Lynne Marshall and the late Gloria Grandy, who is also featured in one of the essays. The art carries names such as “Sisters,” “Women on a Mission,” “Women in Conversation,” and “Black Woman Rising.”
Women’s Wisdom Art hosted several events in May to mark the book’s release.