Of Kintu: A Review

Book Review

Kintu By Jennifer Mukumbi

Kintu by Jennifer Makumbi

Kintu is a novel by Ugandan author Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi. First published by Kwani Trust, Nairobi Kenya in 2014 after winning The Kwani Manuscript Project in 2013 then published by Transit Books in 2017; then in March 2018 awarded (alongside seven others) for the Windham-Campbell Prize for how Kintu:  “opens up a bold and innovatory vista in African letters, encompassing ancient wounds that disquiet the present, and offering the restitution to be found in memory and ritual

“This prize for me is like having been working without pay for a long time and then someone comes a long and says, ‘Will a salary for the past ten years do?‘ Then you’re left speechless.”

~JENNIFER NANSUBUGA MAKUMBI

Kintu by Jennifer Makumbi

The name Kintu (pronounced with a soft ch sound as in chin; ChinTu) might come from the legend of the first man to walk in Buganda just like Adam in the garden of Eden yet it passes down to the fictional central character in the book, Kintu and lives on in various forms, as we follow several generations of his progeny from precolonial times to the modern day.

Kintu is a fictional novel but the history, culture and traditions portrayed are as real as any tale a grandparent has told, around a warm fire in the cold night; tales of our ancestry, tales never forgotten, because to forget is to lose your roots…..

The book is unapologetically Ugandan, written in context for Uganda and reading it one gets offered, a rare perspective, of how the past, becomes the present, real and imagined.

If you are not Ugandan, this is book won’t be an easy read. There are phrases whose meaning you won’t quite understand, you will get names wrong and trying to navigate this epic multi-character African story; where siblings can be cousins and parents not parents; through several generations of lineage, in which some of the same names keep coming back and others have more than one name….. (I would suspect even if you are Ugandan  keeping track of the storyline) is quite a chore but in the end, it’s a worthwhile journey, you finish the book with a rich understanding of Uganda and by extension Africa’s complicated journey.

Reading this book reminded me somewhat of reading Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell the way souls are linked across time and space.

Though Jennifer Makumbi says her book is not a feminist work, her book delves into aspects of patriarchy and paternity; showing up its fragility, illusion of control, and the roles society imprisons itself.

The book also explores mental health, characters battle depression, schizophrenia, and psychosis. If mental health problems were caused by the supernatural, then in this book mental illness seems to travel along Kintu’s kin like its a blood curse…..

…badly wired, short-circuited, fuse-blowing mental kind of madness….

Kintu is a story about how far you will go to find your roots and sometimes your roots find you no matter where you travel.

From the Kintu Introduction by Aaron Brady:

History as it’s written down in books is one thing, but history as it’s lived is another.
how the past recedes into the background as we race irrevocably forward….

This is Kintu: the story of how the old pasts are forgotten so that new pasts, new families, and new nations can be remembered into existence…..

Kintu was written, then, for people for whom the name Kintu means something. Now you are one of those people.
Good travels. Kulika o Lwera.
-Aaron Bady

~B

PhotoCredit: Brittle Paper

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Of The Gender Equation

Confession I do not understand feminism.

Now that I have got that declaration out of the way, this me trying to make sense of it. If you are reading this and see where I get lost please feel free to jump in and explain.

I have read about it and let me say I have had it (feminism) explained to me a couple of times it makes sense at the time (sometimes) and then I see someone else who says they are no longer one (they used to be but not anymore) and explain their standing usually and that also makes sense and I have seen those who have never subscribed  to this and perfectly comfortable in their status quo roles, what they have to say also makes sense; Then you see someone whose hard line stance seems to imply all men must fall and everything you(as men) say will be used against you… so I listen and I don’t understand and I cant ask because I am a male our male privilege makes us the problem….. I stay silent, afraid to say the wrong thing.

I understand the need to address gender imbalance especially in the working world where women are less likely to gain positions of power not for lack of skill or knowledge but simply that they are women, whose place should be in kitchen. Traditionally we have had instances where a girl child was withdrawn from school so that her brother could get an education because why go school if she is just going to get married and have babies.

Our society has been largely patriarchal traditionally and culturally, there is always resistance to change especially to new ways of thinking but minds are slowly opening it’s a process that wont happen overnight, equal rights equal opportunities, empowerment…..

But fundamentally we are not the same male and female, we are different, our genetic makeup is different, the hormones that course through our endocrine system are different and so how we feel and even think is different …..

NoTe I am not saying one sex is superior to the other I am simply saying different, difference is not a bad thing. Can we accept our differences, correct what needs fixing  and still find ways to get along?

Who is a feminist?

I found to this flow chart By Rebecca Searles for The Huffington Post which simplifies it to this

are you a feminist

are you a feminist?

Maybe it oversimplifies the definition here is another by Emer O’Toole for The Guardian who has this flow chart

Are you a feminist

Can a guy be a feminist? The verdict is still out on that one, some say its possible, some vehemently say no, some say men can only be allies…..

And then there is another brand of feminists with rather radical views that you find them up in arms even with fellow feminists, words are redefined and meanings changed and definitions are lost and on the internet it just becomes a messy affair…..

This image is a crude representation of what everything devolves to

opinions

 

This is such an awkward post for me because to be honest I am a little afraid of the way the internet reacts to any perceived wrong not by correcting the fault but by bullying.

We need to be better human beings

~B

ps waits  for the storm to start

day 27 blog everyday challenge