POETRY: Focusing on Mercy Geno, a ‘shy’ poet from Uganda

Ms Mercy Agenorwot, the 'Shy' Poet from Uganda. PHOTO/Courtesy.

Mercy Agenorwot is a celebrated Ugandan Spoken word artist, Echo Minds Poet, Events MC, and Award-winning Journalist. She goes by the famous pseudonym Mercy Geno Apachi; – “Geno” obtained from high school when the classmates failed to properly enunciate “Agenorwot”.

“Apachi” was given to her by a nanny who could not pronounce her English name thus, she resorted to the closest thing her mouth could mold.

The name stuck with everybody else, to date.

Geno’s writing and journalism career bloomed as early as Primary three when she would read newspapers or storybooks, and borrow her siblings’ phones to record herself as she “anchored” news.

Later, she joined High school where she wrote stories meant to be novels in her counter books.

She “rented” them out at 500 Ugh per chapter to interested readers.

During Senior six vacation, Geno advanced her journalism carrier at a local community radio station in Kitgum District known as Mighty Fire FM.

She co-hosted a weekend show and later became their youngest English News Anchor.

She then joined Uganda Christian University(UCU) and found her way into the Inter Universities journalism competitions organized by Media Challenge Initiative.

She won her first award as Best Business reporter in 2015 and the second runner up best English news anchor in 2016.

She was selected among the best 20 students to look out for in Journalism to join the first-ever Media Challenge fellowship program in 2018.

In 2017, she officially started performing spoken word poetry, having attended several poetry shows and met amazing poets within Kampala like Carolyn Afroetry MA and Jason Ntaro.

The encounter with the poets catalyzed her inspiration.

Later that same year, she participated in the East African Students Film Festival held at Daystar University in Nairobi, Kenya where she was the first runner-up in the Documentaries category for her story on Nodding Syndrome in Northern Uganda.

She was also a contributing writer to her class’ end-of-year film project and eventually later, she acquired a Bachelors Degree in Journalism in 2018.

In an initiative with Konrad Adeneur Stiftung, Uganda and Media Challenge, she was picked as a student to go for a media trip in Berlin, Germany in 2019 of which she returned to be a part of a theatre fellowship with Tebere Emerging Artists lab where she wrote her first play “Ojwiny” a true story about journalism yet to be published.

She then had a short freelancing career with Daily Monitor where she contributed to their “My Wedding” blog and later went on to do Digital Marketing for Artfield Institute of Design, Uganda 2019-2020.

As a poet, Mercy has managed to stage two shows under a poetry group Echo Minds poets: One staged at the Uganda National Theatre named “She 4 She”, a show highlighting the woes of women and encouraging them and another staged at the German Institute, Goethe Zentrum named “We Silently Hurt” highlighting stories on depression.

As a solo word artist, she has occasionally graced various prestigious platforms as Kwivuga, Ntebeza, Stubborn poetry, Ink-liners, Native voices, She is Hip hop as a workshop facilitator, Human Rights Conference 2019.

In 2020, her poems -I Want Humanity’, ‘My New Husband’ and ‘Jailbird’ were published in an Italian Magazine named One Voice Global, An American anthology named “Home” and Writers Space Africa as the editor’s choice respectively.

Mid 2020, her short story “Who Stole the Chicken,” was long-listed in Writers’ Space Africa under creative fiction for the theme “The African Identity”

She was picked to participate in the Africa Writers Trust Publishing Fellowship Program where she has a collection in the initial stages of editing.

The publishing or launch dates are yet to be announced.

Through the fellowship, she also partnered with Timwa Lipenga, a Malawian writer to be a poetry judge for a Malawian journal named Daughters of Makwena, meant to uplift women’s self-esteem and writing capabilities.

In 2021, she was a poetry judge with Voluntary Initiative Support Organisation(VSO) in Gulu for a poetry project themed “Promoting better understanding, building trust, tolerance, and peaceful co-existence.

This year again, she co-staged Echo Minds Poets’ Pool Poetry; a poetry show against body shaming at Dual Apartments Ntinda.

To Geno, writing is as joyful as finding Christ is to a Christian and as fulfilling as orgasm is to sex.

Geno’s pieces address mainly current issues and the verses have a shrewd sense of humor.

She aspires to inspire everybody that has never fit in for any reason with society’s standards of beauty, moral ethics, success, to voice the inner struggles of those that fail to express themselves, to make a stranger never feel alone, and to be free of her demons.

You can also read POETRY: This is for you!

A look at Uganda’s first all-female poetry label: Echo Minds Poets

A look at Uganda’s upcoming author, publisher

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Ms Akullu is a poet, ED Read-Us Africa, Author, and currently pursuing BAED at Makerere University, Uganda. Her contact: a.akullu@scholarmedia.africa



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