Friday, 30 October 2015

10 Reasons Why You Need to Attend Jackee batanda’s Success Spark Brand Writing Retreat

I recently had the pleasure of attending Jackee Batanda’s Success Spark Brand Writing Retreat on Bulago Island, and here are the top 10 reasons why I think you should be a part of  the next one:

  1. They will accept you at whatever level of writing you find yourself. You don’t have to be published, or be an active blogger. You just need to have a passion for writing, and be willing to share and learn.
  2. You will spend five days with people who are natural born storytellers like yourself. For four nights, you will no longer be the outcast in the family who has decided to pursue a writing profession. Apart from the resourceful workshops, breakfast, lunch and dinner conversations will surprisingly become the highlight of your day. You will probably laugh like you have never laughed before, but remember Jackee has one rule, “what is spoken on the island stays on the island.” 
  3.  It’s a safe place to share your writing. Take it as a great opportunity to gain insights on your work from experienced facilitators like Nyana Kakoma of ‘Sooo Many Stories’, and other budding writers like yourself.  The constructive criticism from the facilitators will help you start to polish your own unique style and voice.
  4. Jackee’s goal is to make sure that you actually get published.  The facilitators will help you think through your writing goals, and consider publishing platforms that are relevant to your work. Rejoice! Your one-on-one mentoring session will occur on the beach and not some dingy classroom that was built in the 1970’s. 
  5.  You will most likely gain weight, but don’t panic because it is totally guilt free. Not once in the five days will you ever set foot in the kitchen to prepare a meal or to wash the dishes.  The food cooked by the resident chef is so mouth-wateringly good, that it would be considered RUDE of you and the other participants not to gain weight. The chef makes fresh orange muffins for breakfast from scratch; no Nakumatt-bought cake mix is involved in the process at all! Take a minute to pause, smile, and fully grasp the meaning of the last few sentences, because during the retreat Jackee’s only task for you will be to focus on honing your writing skills. Alas, gaining weight is the only way you will be able to show your appreciation and gratitude to the chef who is working so hard in the kitchen to prepare your delicious meals. 
  6. Prepare yourself to be mesmerized by the majestic sunrises and sunsets. Every day you’ll find yourself either standing by the window, or outside watching the sun like a zombie.  I have a whole new kind of adoration and respect for God, and the first two chapters of the book of Genesis. In my head, I’d like to think that this island is the spot where God first told the sun to rise. 
  7. For all you social media junkies, let me confirm that the internet does work on the island. We were not totally cut off from civilization. You can still access all your accounts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and share your wonderful experience with the friends and family members who told you not to come *wink wink*.
  8. Imagine falling asleep to the sound of waves at night, instead of the sound of the mosquitoes you usually fight with, or the prayer shouts from the local church, or even the road-side disco and bar. Just relax to the melodic sound of the waves as they entice you into dreamland, because it’s a well known fact that writers need their beauty sleep too. 
  9. This is not a drug or alcohol fueled retreat!  You should definitely leave behind in Kampala, the belief that you will find your muse while using illegal substances.  We are all upstanding citizens, who just happen to be writers. So tell your Dad, Mum, your hubby and your wifey, that they can stop hyperventilating, you are not being abducted or brainwashed. All you need to do, is come prepared to take writing and storytelling seriously.
  10. You will return to your normal life and anxiously await for Jackee to announce the dates of the next writing retreat.  You’ll have had so much fun, that these retreats will just have to become a permanent fixture on your annual calendar. 

I’ve already booked my place at the next writing retreat, so make sure you contact Jackee and book yours. You can reach Jackee  via e-mail at I am looking forward to meeting you, and hearing your stories.  

Dear Social Media Star, I have Every Right to Share My Life too.


I want you to imagine a person who has everything that you are currently working towards in your life. Imagine that they have the dream house, the dream relationship, the dream job, the dream friends, the dream life and a perfect personal brand and reputation. Picture the kind of person that has over 5000 friends on Facebook and each time they post a simple selfie, within an hour they get over 300 likes and 100 comments.

Visualize a person who is always dressed impeccably, and speaks so eloquently, even when caught off guard in an office meeting. They are always seen at the hippest events, and let’s not forget to add the fact that they have  a feature column in the national newspaper to share their latest escapades.  Imagine this person is always posting pictures of themselves and ‘bae’ on some paradise island trip, while you are busy sunbathing at home in your garden reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s book ‘ Eat Pray Love’.They have told people that “bae” is amazing and fulfills all their dreams and expectations, so poor ‘bae’ joins the perfectionist bandwagon by focusing on making the kind of money that maintains their lifestyle. ‘Bae’ has no time to post perfect selfies. You are not jealous of this person, rather you admire their tenacity to  reach  their goals and really succeed  life.
Now let’s add a little twist to the story. Imagine discovering that the person is obsessed with your life.  This person would like to know every detail of your life, from the house you live in, to the friends you have, to the person that you are dating. Immediately upon befriending them online, this person went and studied every Facebook post you’d ever made and every tweet you’d sent out.  When you realized this, you  decided to alter your name on Instagram, because you were tired of the online trolling. All this time, you were quite content to share your simple life with your 150 Facebook friends, until this person, started making sly comments about how boring your life was.  Eventually, after while you find yourself questioning your mundane existence, and you stopped posting your life events and stuck to the regular bible and inspirational quotes. One day after this person had thrown a full blown public tantrum in my face because I’d subtly blocked them on Facebook , I found some time to reflect on the way home about the kind life that would create such behavior. I wonder whether some Social Media Stars unknowingly set a claustrophobic trap for themselves by the life they create online.

They set the bar high and make it impossible for themselves to appear human and flawed.  I am a picture of flaws so I am not surprised when people point them out.  My experience in this particular case was that, anyone who didn’t bow in adoration was  bullied and manipulated to help the star maintain their status and reputation. Although it makes me giggle, one has to admit it’s hard work taking the perfect selfie. You have to think of the background, the prefect angle for your face, all the while balancing the phone at the right height so that you can catch the right light! I feel sorry that some social media stars have made everyone believe they don’t make mistakes. That bad days don’t happen and, that acne breakouts consider their skin an inhabitable foreign planet. We have all been made authors and artists because of the way we can narrate our lives on social media.  I believe that we all have a right to share the good, the bad and the ugly of our story as we choose.   Is it too much to ask that anyone who wishes to part take in any social media discussion try and use some social media etiquette too? 

Originally Published on : Memoirs of a Kangaroo in the Sun