Book Review: Penumbra


“The worst form of dying is to drown. You go through all the emotions, and think you are going to survive, only to die.”

Perhaps that is the one thing we all have in common with the protagonist in Penumbra. But as forlorn as that sounds, it actually a funny book even though it is not supposed to be. In fact, it isn’t. But it is. Does someone catch my drift? It is a story about mental illness, I suppose. Drug addiction, maybe. Unrealized dreams. Finding Jesus in a very comical way. I don’t really know how to say a book is about this one particular thing because I guess it’s all life really.

“I think each person has their journey and that’s it… It becomes yours and no one else’s. This world has this way of measuring people… but time lapses and there’s nothing you can do about it, I think the biggest lesson to be learnt is that of being a person… and that exists outside all these schools.”

Manga is one of those people who are seemingly ‘behind their time'(if ahead of time is a thing then this should be the antonym, no?) And so throughout the book, he is trying, like most of us, to figure out this life thing. I relate with him so much on this. It’s like being the lost sheep. You know how everyone else seems to have it all figured out and you are just constantly asking yourself what’s going on. Okay, I’m losing the point but you get the point. He loses his mind in this process of trying to piece it all together. But what’s interesting is being in his mind throughout the whole dilemma. From when he is a sober human, to when he becomes an addict and when he finally decides to quit in the process changing from agnostic/atheist to believer. It is very melodramatic I tell you.

I think at a point, we are all Manga except we are only bordering on this insanity because we manage to stay afloat. Which is unfortunately not the case for everyone and also something we fail to recognise till it’s too late. Okay, I’m not supposed to be delivering a lecture on mental health. Long story short, I enjoyed the book(3.5/5). And it was especially funny being in Manga’s head. Also sad. Oh yes, and isn’t it ironic how many books there are about someone’s struggle to become a writer?

“The world has created it’s many chains: selling ideas to each other. The selling point for all these things is idolatry. Even for us who wanted to write, certain authors become our gods.” (This particular line reminded me of this story.)

At a point I feel like this book is spiritual, whatever spiritual means. There are some lessons to learn though and for me, it is that whatever does not serve me need not be in my life😊.

“I remember beautiful artists. They have a gift of seeing beyond conditions, and draw us to the blackness of uncertainty. That’s what art should achieve: point out the other side. Art is not there to unearth any truths, but rather to show the multiplicity of the nature of things.”

Oh yes, I was also excited because this is my first read by aSouth African author 🙂

What have y’all been reading?


I am no longer an angry feminist


I gave my life to Jesus friends. I am no longer an angry feminist. Eish, the joy of the Lord overwhelms me.

It was a long weekend mes amies. Long enough for me to find new purpose. Three of my friends were raped, oops, strong words. Almost raped, I mean why exaggerate the gravity of these things? Three different scenarios in the past week alone have sobered me. We need to take things a little more lightly. Calm down mami. In all the three cases, they were asked out by these excuses for human beings-ah, I forget. Fighting that old creation now that the new has come, we were saying- well-meaning gentlemen who they turned down. But you see, some of these women don’t know what they want. You gots to double check that ‘no’, don’t you? Aye, the things I have learned! So these gentlemen went ahead to “show them what they’d be missing out on”. In my anger, the old days of Egypt, I called this rape but now that I have stepped out of the darkness, you don’t let someone make bad decisions. Especially someone you love. You might have to go against their wishes to help them change their minds. Even when they keep telling you to stop, you gots to do what you feel is best for you, I mean, them. They will appreciate later. Don’t you see how grateful we are to our parents?

Anyway, I was still bitter and man-hating back then so for one of them, we decided to report to a person in authority. Retrospectively, this lady was very kind to us. She said she saw us as her own children, especially now that we were telling her about this. And so she told us of her glory days and advised us to dress right, be mindful of the company we keep and where we keep it. The most important lesson though, the “no that means no”. Yes mami, some no’s don’t mean no. I cannot wait for the dictionary updates because the one I have currently only means negating. It’s always a good thing to learn new meanings to words. She even said a prayer for us. Miracles have happened I tell you! My friend avoids her room like a plague because her prince charming occupies the opposite room. There will be no peace for him, yes him, while she is around. And in loving our neighbours as we love ourselves, we gots to help them avoid temptation.

The other one is really a fool. I have not yet told her this, but our beloved gentleman has. The brother says he is nice. I thought, I mean, think so too. He usually invites us for the cell fellowship he leads. I am as perturbed as he is as to why a woman would not be interested in him, even flattered by his interest. He had the nerve, argh- I mean he was kind enough to let my friend know there are not many men like him out there. It is a foolish thing, even despicable, to turn down nice mans. Nice mans doesn’t deserve it after he has ‘proved himself’ to be different from the lot of them mon cherie. I even feel like writing you angry feminists a guide to making peace with some of these things. It would be called Revelations. Scary things, I tell you.

Also, friends, let us not trivialize our lives. There is a war in Syria and Besigye is back to playing cat and mouse with the mafia, sorry, government. Can we direct our anger to these issues? Anyway, I gots to attend to my friend who has been in a terrified stupor since the incident with mans(I know, I know. Melodramatic reaction, ah). Think of sunshine and rainbows and Spongebob.

Post Cards from China


It gets too quiet some nights I can hear the moon make love to you. There are tired tears at times while your favorite song plays. Tired, resigned to your absence.

Nostalgia keeps me writing little meaningless poems. Do stars remind you of love letters and promises? Not empty, not broken, but sabotaged by our ideas of forever. Forever is not always eternity. Sometimes it’s five years or a day, a nonverbal exchange with a stranger. Isn’t time too infinite, even extravagant to want only one forever? Maybe our forever ended before our idea of it.

Do our stars still allow you flirt with the idea of love? Do one shilling coins remind you of priceless moments?

Some nights when the darkness suffocates, God reads me poems. I write some of them.


It’s 1:45am. This is getting old. My unhealthy sleeping habits I mean, but that’s a tired subject. Today, I am extremely grateful that I am writing again. It means so much that I am doing it under no obligation. I feel like a weight has been lifted(I’m not too cool for clichés you know but seriously, I do).
I have been in this place where I had literally given up. On life and everything that comes with it. I let work pile and did nothing to even show the slightest interest. I passed up some opportunities and also grabbed some that I added to the work pile only for them to pass as well. I actually wasn’t bothered. More annoyed that here was something else that needed my attention but wouldn’t get it anyway. Now I know there’s something called procrastination. This wasn’t simply procrastination. I decided(subconsciously of course)  nothing was worth the effort anymore. I was tired, as I usually am, but not a physical kind of tired. There was nothing to show for my energy. What had I done with it? It was the kind of tired that makes you want to forget everyone and everything and move to a new town on the other end of the globe and start a completely different life where no one knows you. The kind of tired that makes you want to forget how to think, the exhaustion that comes only from existing. A deep sense of boredom with everything life has to offer.
How do you deal with this? I didn’t know. I still don’t. I’m just grateful that I am doing this. I am not saying that I am getting serious with my life and moving the mountain of work that has piled with a new determination. Hell, I’m not even sure I want to wake up and face today. I don’t have 9 tips on how you can get out of a deep procrastination trench. There’s no ‘But…’ sentence to follow this as expected either. I just hope you are not going through the motions. I hope you are living life with a little more passion. I don’t know if you have to actively seek it out or if it comes to you somehow. A fate of some sort. But don’t settle. It is so easy to fall into the pattern of just surviving the day, with nothing solid to look forward to. But don’t settle. I hope, unlike me, you can be at your grind every day.
“You are, you are the future.
And the future looks good,
the future looks good…”
– Future looks good, OneRepublic

#Writivism2016 Day 6


Imagine being at a reading of unpublished work. How cool is that? Seriously. Doreen Beingana, author of Tropical Fish and Yewande Omotoso read from their upcoming books at the Miles Morland Panel. Yes, Doreen Beingana has an upcoming novel. The Miles Morland scholarship is one writers of African descent with previously published work can access. All you have to do is write. This year’s submissions are still  open. 

Julius Ocwinyo, author of Fate of the Banished, gave the key note address on Ugandan literature. He says there is no such thing as “English English“. To paraphrase, there are ‘Englishes‘ unique to every geographical area and he gave the example of the English of an American in Michigan being different from that of one in the Appalachian. So to say one is speaking ‘American English’ does not make much sense. The point he was trying to drive home though, is that we should be comfortable enough with our ‘Ugandan English’ as to write in it because when you use words foreign to you, your story loses authenticity. Suffice to say, I doubt he was discouraging learning of new vocabulary but rather, a different way to learn it. Through reading. Read and read and read and write and read and read and read and write. You get the point? On trying to write ‘universal stories’ about ‘serious issues’ he asked, “Which universe?” 

The eternal question of what African literature is or isn’t. I think we cannot divorce the fact that we are African from our work as it is. Write what you will, as long as it is a good story. I think to try to define “African literature” is to box it in. One festival attendee argued that we should not reduce African literature to the whims and fancies of academics. Not paraphrased. 

The winner of the inaugural Okot P’bitek prize for Poetry in translation was also announced. 

#Writivism2016 Day 4


Literature professors insist no language is ‘richer’ than the other. The vitality is lost in translation, they say. And so this was the case for Nakisanze, a luganda performance poet who is also the author of The Triangle, a book that was launched last night. She read an excerpt from her book in English(of course, the book is in English) and repeated it in Luganda.

sometimes i want to say it. and there is nothing in english. that will say it. – Nejma, Nayyirah Waheed 

That is all I will say on the subject. Otherwise The Triangle, even though fiction, fills in some gaps in Buganda history. I am welcome to all blessers who don’t expect blessings 😅. 

Chukwu Owonko, is quite the story teller. The author of How to spell Naija, a short story collection did read us one story. He says he doesn’t write long stories as such because he has a short memory. That aside, the story was really funny as I suppose the rest of the book is. He agrees with Beaton that life is already hard as it is.  The book, We are all Blue by Donald Molosi was also launched in his absence. 

#Writivism2016 Day 3


I have not yet read Sweet Medicine. My to-read list stresses me out. Anyway, I am positive I am going to read it soon after last night when it was officially launched to the universe. Yes, Bob Kisiki, the moderator of the session called the 30 or so people present the universe☺. 

Oh yes, the book started as a short story and was written over a period of five years. Mmh, good things don’t just drop from Mars. And in the discussion that followed, I liked that Panashe talked about a ‘middle class feminism’ which is more acceptable as opposed to the one where people need blessers as a means for survival. The men were asked how they feel about being blessers but I think they were shy😅. Okay, maybe none of them is getting blessings for blessing.

The conversation on religion is one that, I think, will forever be inconclusive. The book begins with someone at the witch doctor’s and ends with the same person thanking white Jesus(I have not paraphrased this. That’s exactly how it was said). And it is an open secret in African society that people will dress up and look nice for white Jesus or whatever and still go to the backyard when things aren’t working as they should. The speaker called it “Africans’ refusal to put all their eggs in one basket”. What do y’all think on this? 

I sadly did not attend the Readers’ choice awards.