Book Review: Kintu

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I didn’t really think my first post for the #UgBlogWeek would be a book review but I’m all about that ‘Hype your writers like you do your rappers‘ life. So here goes nothing.

The question for the person who has not read this book is whether it is worth it. Because if your acquaintances, like mine, are voracious readers, then they have surely read it and incessantly make references to it. The natural response, if you are noncomformist or pretend to be, is to assume you’ll never read it because really, why so much talk? Okay, this applies to those who have not(and obstinately refuse to) watch Game of Thrones. Otherwise, the normal response is FOMO.

Sigh. It is with a heavy heart that I say, yes, it is worth it. (Now I am like everyone else who has read it, can you believe? I need to spend some time in the company of the good people at Kampala Express.)

The story of Kintu is a very stunningly disturbing one. I don’t know, are you superstitious? Coz damn, this story made me believe all kinds of things. But you know what they say, nothing imagined is too far from the truth. Joel actually believes the things in this book to be true, and not just myths or nice stories. *shiver* It sort of traces a curse from the 17th century to well, the 21st century. I really hope that’s a neat one line representation. But if it isn’t, read the book πŸ™‚

The thing about literature, I have come to learn, is that it plays an important role in decolonization of the mind because it makes you ask yourself questions(right? Right? Yea, we good). Kintu is such a powerful book in this sense. I want to add especially for our friends with fragile masculinity but I don’t have the energy. Anyway, in a way we have ‘culture’ to blame for this. My very brilliant friend, Sunshine, likes to say that if you are going to throw the word ‘culture‘ around, be sure you are not picking out only the parts of it that serve you. And it seems like we are always trying to reconcile this culture Β with who we are. You know, like Faisi’s family who are Christians and want nothing to do with any of their ‘pagan’ ways or the atheist and believes in neither the ‘pagan’ nor Christian ways. It’s really interesting, the way Jennifer deals with these characters (yes, first name basis what about? Lol, I’m wanting.)

Anyway, do you think if black people had colonized wypipo we’d all be worshipping Jjaja Ddungu or whoever else? Like, I mean the mainstream religion.

P.S: don’t read the book at night or just before you sleep πŸ™‚

P.P.S: The background in the photo is the place the book is about. Coooool, right? Yes, that excited me.

Book Review: We Are All Blue

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I am jealous. Why isn’t Donald Molosi Ugandan? Why? But the universe has been so kind, though he is a Motswana(yes, a person from Botswana is a Motswana. You are welcome.), he is an African.

What led me to grasping at any form of connection with the highly talented actor was his book, “We Are All Blue” which is what I should be telling you about and not my selfish interests.

Did Africa begin with colonialism? Was there no Africa before then? Why is it then that history lessons in most, if not all, African schools do not teach the time before then? Who made the curriculum? Is it still relevant? That we should learn about the French revolution like nothing significant was taking place on our continent just yet? Do other countries learn our history like we do theirs? Isn’t Africa, after all, a country that was only divided by governments that were taking up colonies?

I’m not sure that is what Donald(first name basis ey πŸ˜‰ wanted me to think about but those are the questions that plagued my mind while I started and as I finished the book.

We Are All Blue” is a collection of two plays; Blue, Black and White and Motswana; Africa, Dream Again. I’m guessing this is the part I justify my jealousy, right?

Blue, Black and White captures Bechuanaland right before it’s independence to become Botswana(Well, it was always Botswana but, apparently, the British could not pronounce it hence the name Bechuanaland.) It explores the racial tension that was created by the marriage of Seretse Khama, Botswana’s founding father, to Ruth Williams, a British lady. Yes, the play is factual. No, it is not a boring history lecture.

[Aside: Is this book used in Botswana schools? If not, WHY? If yes, can I change nationality? Tihihi]

The Botswana flag is actually blue, black and white(Y’all need to pay me for this education I swear) which, I believe, is very telling of the essence of this play. I was going to say it is to tell Botswana’s story but there’s so much to it that I feel that would be an injustice to the genius of Molosi. Yes, it does tell the story. But oh so insightfully it forces you to examine your own racial biases, rethink the education you have received and of course, question your history(as an African). Which is why I wish Molosi was a Ugandan. Don’t you think that would be about Uganda instead? (I’m sorry for being selfish. I can’t help it)

Motswana; Africa, Dream Again is more inward looking, questioning the concept of a nation. Again, it isn’t one of those ‘wire-rimmed-glass-wearing-barely-making-sense-but-sounding-intelligent-professor’ lectures. That was long. I know. It is an ode of sorts to what I would call ‘heroes’ of Africa that the author clearly admires(biting my tongue in case he doesn’t). Thabo Mbeki, Philly Lutaaya(yap, we got a shout out my people), Seretse Khama…what can I say? Reading this book made me so proud to be African, I tell you and I’m not even thinking about the play wright’s intentions here. It challenged me, my beliefs to be specific. Like a voice of reason that I think everyone needs to read. Oh yes, I mean everyone.

“I want to believe that a common ancestry is what binds us as Africans. I often imagine a common ancestor holding all Africans fiercely and warmly inside her womb. But we do not know that history, that womb. We are orphans. Bitter, broken, and beggarly orphans.

Our history of victories, intelligence, and organization has been successfully erased and replaced with sad fictions of -to borrow my dad’s phrase- things tumbling into rough weather.” – Motswana; Africa, Dream Again.

Donald Molosi, like the boy in the Botswana folk tale that begins the book, is giving life to some of these stories that are like lost scrolls. And very brilliantly so. In my stalking business, call it research, I found out he’s done a play(No Idea, 2010) on former Ugandan child soldier too. We need more Africans telling the African stories this way, not people who are going to call some strange thing rolex.

I’m not sure I have told you everything that is amazing about We Are All Blue, but suffice it to say, every page is food for the soul and mind. It is proactive Pan Africanism, and it does not fail to capture your attention so I recommend you read it on a weekend/public holiday(like I did) as it is easy to want to finish it in one sitting.

Yes, and I still think he should be Ugandan.

 

 

 

 

#UgBlogWeek Day 1:You Foolish Ugandans!

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I was at a graduation party today. Silas, now with the title Eng. before his name has graduated as a manager of one of the fastest growing ICT companies in Uganda(or even the region, if you like). No, Silas didn’t finish top of his class. As a matter of fact, he’s supposed to have graduated three years ago. But retakes (and careless lecturers) at universities are real and we have them to thank for this company. One day Silas awoke to the fact that he would not graduate at the same time as his classmates. That day Silas cursed. “Phuck books”, he said. Then he went ahead to start the company which employed his classmates who had graduated. Some are even continuing on their Masters’ now, but he who only got a degree recently is their boss. *Insert Applause for Silas* If you are one of the people who missed graduation because you were unserious, or your lecturer messed you up, Phuck books. Yes, I said it. Get off your butt, employ your friends who have graduated. Please.

But that’s not the story.

At the party, I met Dan(not real name for the sake of our friendship). It’s been long since I last talked to Dan so it was all catch up and whatnot. Then Dan asked, “So you’re still doing your business ish?” Now Dan is generally a Slow Laner(if you’ve read The Millionaire FastLane by MJ Dermarco you surely understand. If you haven’t, do yourself a favor and read it.) With no attempt to detail anything I simply said, “Yes, would you like to make an order?” Dan laughed a sarcastic laugh and said, “Oh Ugandan products, no please. Just save me a job when you guys make it.” He thought it funny and I wanted to spit in his face. I didn’t because he said he was going to vote. It calmed me. At least he had some reason left. (I’ll still spit in his face. When he comes for that job. Please.)

I thought about that conversation enough to know that it is true of how most of us think.

Case 1: The company filming the Uganda presidential debate was a US company. Is it possible that no Ugandan company was good enough to do the job??? I don’t think so.

Case 2: Recently my friends were giggling about a wedding that was IT. I missed it, so everything they described sounded nothing short of glam. “Tell me about the dress please,” my curiosity kicked in when they were stretching the description of the decor. “It was imported,” they said, evidently awestruck, more by the fact that it was imported than how it looked. “It must have been expensive,” they ogled. I asked to have a look at a picture of this dress. Nothing fancy. Okay, it was fancy but it could be made by those guys in Namirembe plaza. Please.

Case 3: Taata Owen recently opened a supermarket down the street. On this random morning, the house help comes to me and asks for money to go grocery shopping. I hand it to her. I was taken aback when she said it was less. “Why?”, I asked, “have the prices gone higher again?” No, she needed transport to go town. More confused. “For what?” Turns out she wanted to go to Nakumatt. No way boss. Taata Owen is the place now.

Case 4: I have cool friends (and they think they are cool too hihi) so we listen to cool music yo! It stopped shocking me when they go like “Who even listens to Ugandan music?” Because cool to them is not Ugandan. *sigh… Also, when I wrote Fatal Attraction* and took to Twitter to invite people for Abaasa’s Valentine’s special, somebody took it upon themselves to find out how much Abaasa pays me. Like really??? Really??? I’ve never even met the man. (but I will. Sunday 7pm. Yasigi Beer Gardens Kololo. Be there.)

Case 5: Deborah recently cut her hair. The barber recommended she use Movit shampoo. She told me about it. “Like seriously, who uses Movit?” I told her Movit has won more awards for its quality than any other company I know. “But still, it’s Ugandan…” she whined.

Case 6: My reading list just recently got updated with African literature. Like 4 months ago actually.

Case 7: If you saw the books I read in 2015, most of them were business related and that’s because Allure Clothing, the company I run with the professor had just started. We are well into the second year, and trying to make it beyond the five year try-outs for start-ups. We woke up one day and decided the fashion industry in Uganda is not where it should be. Ugandan designers need more of the Ugandan market. And so we gambled hostel fees as capital. We enjoyed the first few months you know, with everyone being so supportive. Then it hit us real hard. It’s a Ugandan company. Most people are more willing to buy clothes(available in all sizes and colors) from Mr.Price than do a personalized tee at half the price with us. More willing to buy a struggling semblance of a Louis Vuitton than a nice looking African designed bag. More willing to Google designers anywhere in the world but Uganda. It hit us real hard bro.

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If you’re insightful, you’ve caught my drift. Who bewitched you foolish Ugandans? Who bewitched us??? Why are we so willing to go out on a limb for anyone but our kinsmen? Why do we find everything so fascinating but that which is created by our country men? Who bewitched you foolish Ugandans? Who?

Maybe I’m coming on too strong, let’s start over shall we?

“You can’t hate the roots of a tree and not hate the tree. You can’t hate Africa and not hate yourself.” –@affricanfacts bio on Twitter.

Being AfricanMaybe hate is too strong a word, but let’s just say it works in place of whatever it is we feel towards ourselves quite perfectly. It could be ‘post-colonialism’ like they say. I don’t know. But here’s what I know: We are responsible for the way we think. We are responsible for the way things are. We have believed in a lie. Consciously or unconsciously. And it is holding us back. Not just as a country, but as a continent. We don’t have to be paid to support our own blood. It shouldn’t be that way. Because when they flourish, we do too. It doesn’t help us to be constantly bad mouthing and trying to tear each other down. We can do this together. We can stop being the continent that’s only rich in resources but never utilizes them. We can. But only if we start supporting those trying to do something for themselves. I probably don’t even understand what I’m talking about so well, I just believe it. That’s all.

In case you missed my point or jumped straight to the end(like I do sometimes) go back and read all of it, don’t be a foolish Ugandan. And this is your take home:

Phuck books education. Create jobs for graduates.(and don’t use offensive language)

Check out tracenode.com. Those guys are doing amazing work.

Follow @allure_ug on Twitter and place an order πŸ™‚

Kidding, support the creatives of Africa.

Where is your patriotism???