Meeting her for the first time, one can’t fail to notice Beverley Nambozo’s gentility through her strong verbal expression.
In a British accent, similar to that of the Victorian age, she welcomes me to her house in Kiwatule, offers me a seat and hands me a glass of water.
Although Nambozo is a jack of all trades, the mother of three decided to concentrate on public speaking, confidence-building and poetry. In her pass time, she enjoys swimming for longer distances – a trait she sees in all her three children.
Nambozo realized she could become a professional public speaker just last year. After joining Toast Masters Club, an international group of public speakers, her passion for speaking to larger crowds heightened.
“My latest passion, public speaking, has always been there since I was young. I have developed and I’m now a professional speaker and trainer,” says Namboozo, who joined Bukoto Toast Master’s Club and was elected president.
Her past experiences in leadership and positions that require effective interpersonal skills have enabled her not to face a lot of challenges in her professional.
She has ever been a radio programme host on 104.1 Power FM, worked at the British Council and Eastern African Sub-Regional Support Institute for the Advancement of Women (EASSI), among other organisations. She has also worked with children at Rainbow International School as a teacher and dance instructor.
Nambozo is not only a public speaker, but also trains both the young and old on how to effectively communicate. She empowers her tender trainees with confidence and life skills, while to the older ones she teaches how to excel in interviews and business communication.
“I asked many of them: ‘what do you want to overcome?’ and they said: ‘the fear of embarrassment while speaking’. Most people fear public speaking more than they fear spiders because they think everyone is judging them,” Nambozo says.
She observes that many people have the abilities and talent to succeed at public speaking, but what fails them is the lack of preparation. She says that despite how good one is at what they do, they always fail the moment they don’t do any preparations like background checks; and that’s why they end up blundering.
As a public speaker, she suggests that one should be able to read and get inspiration from the best there is. Apart from Okot p’Bitek’s Song of Lawino, Nambozo is inspired by the words of Barrack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Maya Angelou and sometimes Robert Mugabe.
“When you don’t read, people can see. It doesn’t matter how good you are as a speaker; I have seen the most qualified speakers unprepared,” she says.
On poetry, Nambozo reveals that her passion for words has always been with her. From England where she spent her childhood to Gayaza high school and Makerere college school, her thirst for writing has never been quenched. Even when she joined university, she undertook a Bachelor of Education in Literature course.
She later graduated with a master’s degree in Creative Writing from Lancaster University. In 2008, after understanding the state of poetry in Uganda, Nambozo decided to launch an award to reward women for their efforts in promoting poetry. The first Beverley Nambozo Poetry award was won by Lilian Awujo, a female poet and lawyer.
Nambozo explains that for many years, women were never part of poetry because it was a patriarchal society. She adds that poems were taught in literature classes, and once outside college, people shunned it for other careers. It is for this reason that the awards were started. Rebecca Kadaga, then
Deputy Speaker of Parliament, was selected as the patron. Being the ambitious woman she is, Nambozo also started up a foundation – Babisha Niwe (BN) – to promote poetry. The awards were then extended to the continental level in 2014 and the Haiku (Japanese poetry) was incorporated.
An anthology – A thousand Voices Rising – of poems from all past winners, and works like the Poetry Nature Series and When Children Dare to Dream has been produced.
One of the biggest hurdles BN has faced is getting resources. Nambozo says that although poetry has picked up in the past decade, selling ideas to non-poets and corporate companies is still a challenge.
She says most of partners are from Europe because they have grown into loving art, but those in Africa are after short-term gratification. Distribution of books is also another hurdle she faces as a writer and poet.
The 14-time published poet hopes to issue out her first novel soon and hopefully, when she has set up the right team, she will launch her leadership institute.
“I love to create and know that there are a thousand possibilities. Every day, I wake up and think of how I can create, or make another giant out of my possibilities,” she says.