Ugandan writer Jude Erupu wins BBC radioplay prize


Erupu Jude won the 2016 BBC radioplay prize

Ugandan writer and Makerere University alumnus, Erupu Jude, is the winner of the International Radioplay Writing Competition 2016 dubbed “the Georgi Markov Prize”.

The competition is organised by the BBC World Service and British Council in partnership with Common Wealth Writers and the Open University.

The winners were announced at the close of last month in the various categories.

Joanne Gutknecht from Canada won the English as a First Language category for her script “Playing With Fire”, while Pericles Silveira from Brazil triumphed in the English as a Second Language category with his play “The Day Dad Stole A Bus”.

As part of their prize, both Joanne and Pericles will visit the UK later this year to attend a prize-giving ceremony on 26 October at Marlborough House, London.

Whilst in the country, they will experience their winning radio scripts being recorded at the BBC ahead of their broadcast on the BBC World Service in 2017.

Erupu Jude from Uganda was awarded the Georgi Markov prize for his play “Darkness At Dawn”.

The unique prize – which honours the script with the most outstanding potential from the competition’s shortlist – was set up in memory of BBC World Service journalist Georgi Markov, who championed freedom of creative expression.

Erupu will also travel to the UK to attend the prize-giving ceremony and spend two weeks at the BBC where he will be mentored by BBC Radio Drama and BBC World Service.

This year over 1,000 entries were received from a record 112 countries. Previous winners have included both new and established playwrights, with the competition providing a platform for success elsewhere.

Last year’s English as a Second Language winner, Virginia Jekanyika, has since moved from Zimbabwe to the UK and a film of her winning play is currently in development.

Summary of Erupu’s Darkness at Dawn

Erupu talked to Insider about the play in which reminisces the days of Lord’s Resistance Army [LRA] insurgency in northern Uganda.

“Darkness at Dawn” epitomizes the unconventional warfare that transpired in parts of North Eastern Uganda (Teso Region).

It is based on the life of a young 18 year old Chandwong. He loses his father (Oneka) and siblings to the Lord Resistant Army (LRA) rebels of Kony when they attack his home village – otuboi.

When the rebels under the command of Rebel Commander invade their home town, his father is murdered in cold blood. It is here that his story unravels.

The insurgency has led many people to Otuboi which is believed to be safe since it is guarded by the newly formed local army known as Arrow Boys.

All these Internally Displaced People (IDPs) have been resettled in makeshift tents and grass thatched mud wattle huts.

Meanwhile, Apukun(20) an ex-soldier, Chandwong’s best friend has joined the Arrow Boys and proudly comes to urge him to follow suit but he refuses.

He thinks it’s not the way to protect what he now treasures most – his family, but Apukun thinks otherwise.

At home, Chandwong reveals to his traumatized family how Apukun urged him to join the Arrow Boys, but his mother advises against it although the traumatized siblings – Nancy (14) and Okello (12) think it is a good idea because they want to repay the rebels for what they did to their father.

Now Chandwong must fend for the family but he is not swift enough even to get food Aid distributed to the IDPs by World Food Program, so he resorts to robbery which leads to his arrest.

Apukun later bails him from jail and implores him to leave Otuboi immediately to avoid lynching. He gives him bus fare to Soroti District, but before he arrives to Soroti, the bus is ambushed by the rebels and set ablaze but he escapes with his dear life.

After arriving home, later in the night, he takes his mother – who is writhing with labour pains – to the hospital on a bicycle, unfortunately, they encounter an accident.

Although she manages to have a still birth in the rain she eventually dies. He musters his strength and in dazing frustration buries the mother and the dead child that very night.

When he comes back to Otuboi, he finds the rebels have razed it to the ground. His whole family has been butchered. He is left a devastated man. Now he has nothing to lose, so he joins the Arrow Boys, determined to wipe the rebels from his village.

Excerpt from the play

Chandwong [main character]:

If you are a human being like me; you must also have a heart which beats, a body that pains, a brain that is haunted, blood that bleeds red and bones not metals under your flesh. This is my story, I also had a holocaust in my village, and all I am left with now are memories, memories of my past. They accuse me for not being man enough, yet I cherish them because they’re all I have got left of the broken pieces of humanity. They are my family, my world. Who knows; time may heal them.

Erupu is a teacher/teacher trainer, screen/script writer and novelist.

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