Philippa Namutebi Kabali-Kagwa is a Ugandan South African poet, storyteller, coach and facilitator. She is the youngest daughter of Ugandan poet and civil servant, the late Henry Barlow. Both her parents loved literature – her father the writer, her mother the teacher, researcher and narrator. While she most commonly called Philippa, she always signs Namutebi at the end of her poems. “Namutebi is the creative side of me. She is the one who writes.”
She sees her poems more as stories – portraits of moments in her life. Her poems draw images of growing up in Uganda in the 60s and 70s and in the later years as an immigrant in various parts of Africa – touching on both the personal and political as it impacted her. Having lived in Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia, Namibia and South Africa, she often wrestles with the question of identity and belonging. She also explores her triumphs and struggles as a woman.
Namutebi also has a passion for folktales and myths – the wisdom of centuries, the tried and tested imagery, the archetypal characters that give new perspective to the perennial questions that we struggle with. She says, “When a story gets my heart beating faster, or an image in a story stirs something inside me, I know that that story has come to teach me at this moment in my life! I believe this is true for everyone.”
Namutebi lives in Cape Town with her husband, Victor, and 3 children – Faye, Senteza and Chris.