Season Of Crimson Blossoms – Abubakar Adam Ibrahim

Season of Crimson Blossoms by Abubakar Adam Ibrahim

Associations. When I put the book down, a little of Oedipus Rex came to mind, a little of Romeo and Juliet, a little of A Thousand Splendid Suns. However despite all the remembrances, the book was a new shocking but captivating story that explored the associations of ethnicity, religion, politics and sexuality.

The story’s movement is always in the background of Northern Nigeria even though it is mainly centred in central Nigeria where you are brought into the intersection of the lives of Binta Zubairu and Hassan aka ‘Reza’, an uncanny association seeing as the latter is a street thug thirty years the junior of the former, a widow of fifteen years.

Abubakar Adam Ibrahim’s introduction, even while itself speaking of a puddle, introduces you into the puddle of politics, religion and love in Northern Nigeria. It’s an unfortunate history, that of the endless variance between Nigeria’s two foremost religions Christianity and Islam and this book shows you the likeness of its effects on the people who live in its hot zones – Maiduguri but most importantly, Jos.

The violence and loss that Binta and her family experience in Jos is what leads her to the fringes of Abuja- Mararaba, to be exact. There, for a while of about 15 years, she settles with her niece Fai’za and granddaughter Ummi with occasional visits from her remaining children who include, Hureira, the hot tempered and Munkaila the well to-do.

The best thing about this book to me is the synchronous growth of the characters with the history of the country and how each individual character tries to deal with all these forces placed on them.

Binta and Reza’s story are the limelight. Their relationship riding on the fact that each of them had troublesome relationships with their corresponding relations – Binta and her strained relationship with Yaro, her first son whose name tradition could not let her speak, Reza, whose mother was a prostitute working in Jeddah.

Somehow fate works to bring them together to fill the roles of the people they needed most. At the beginning when I spoke of Oedipus, it kept ringing at the back of my mind. What if the Binta just wanted her first son back? What if Reza simply wanted his mother? The circumstances that bring them together create an unusual relationship which is consummated.

Yet those are not the only things affecting these two characters. There is that Mallam Haruna fellow who because of some unusual attraction to the widow uncannily calls curtains on the whole affair. The manner that Abubakar presents Haruna makes you loathe him. You wonder what his mission in life is.

Yet he’s not the only one that affects the relationship between Binta and Reza. There is the issue of the politicians, pulling the strings, using and disposing of people as they please. Like the Senator boss. When you read this story and look at this man, you somewhat feel helpless as a normal citizen. If the works are being controlled by a few older, well connected, well sourced people, what hope is there for the younger and the poorer not connected to them?

Fai’za’s story speaks to a lot of things. The one particular thing that spoke to me was the pervasion of homegrown art and literature in Nigeria. Her crush on Nigerian star actor Ali Nuhu, her consumption of Soyayya novels which are steadily delivered by her friends showcase this and in a small way show us why Nigeria’s art is big on the continent.

The sadder part of Fai’za’s story is her “sepia dreams”. The ethnic politics of the country led to her loss of a beloved brother Munkaila, whose face, as time goes on, she forgets and is drawn into near madness. A budding artist who uses art to vent, forgetting Munkaila’s face becomes problematic.

There are noble characters in the book, such as Ustaz Nura whose approach to religion is that of a continual cleansing such that there is little room for condemnation or judgement. There is a deeply engaging part of this book as regards religion/spirituality.

At the beginning of the tale, Az Zahabi’s “The Major Sins” is a highlight on Binta’s table but her indiscretions somehow lead to a time when it’s at the bottom of a pile of books. Binta is religious but struggles deeply with this attraction to Reza. It’s unwitting that all the while even in her sin, her consciousness of sin but her helplessness to prevent it is present.

The book is quite a journey. The characters are deeply human and are deeply present with you. Doesn’t matter whether you’re in the gang controlled San Siro, or the Senator’s plush residence drinking tea just for the fun of it. You realise humanity is both wicked and desperately trying to be righteous. Questions posed are whether we become who we are because of our circumstances and this book pretty much agrees to this, for very few of the characters are driven by a pure need to be good.

There’s so much to chew on this volume. So much to say yet inexhaustible but for sure, it does give me a clearer picture of Nigeria and makes me sad about the intricacies of life and makes me wonder, that stranger you passed by today, do you even have a clue how complex their life could be, beyond that smile or that hijab or that key swinging?

It was a compelling read.

This paperback version of Season Of Crimsom Blossoms is published, in April 2017, by Cassava Republic. The image is a Google one. The title is not yet avaibale on our online bookshop, but copies of it can be ordered for by contacting us by way of e-mail (turnthepageafrica@gmail.com), or through our social media channels (@TTPAfrica).

Ndyamuhaki – Dr. Edward Kanyesigye.

Dr. Edward Kanyesigye, the author of Ndyamuhaki.

As avid readers, we know clearly how to a judge a book. Sometimes we flirt with the idea of looking at the cover or the precise memories punctuated richly therein. Many a time, we simply look out for tales through mountains and valleys that serve as a potential impetus to their storytelling.

Dr. Edward Kanyesigye (also known as Ned) is affirmative in the act of sharing such tales in Ndyamuhaki. It is closely interwoven by relations with his friends and family in his motherland, Uganda. The book is also laced with memoirs of his childhood up until this year 2017 when he recently turned a tender age of 65 years.

In his book, Ned majorly shares his life experiences in education, Uganda’s health sector and political atmosphere that feature Amin, Obote, and president-elect Museveni.
With the trained eye of a reader, is a clear sight of how Ned rides through the streets of unbridled passion. He asserts his thesis as “the rural poor had only one salvation: to read and work hard and succeed in life.” This becomes his gospel truth after gloomy mishappenings which deprive the family of their father’s presence. This was followed by an extension of life under a single parent. He gives a deep insight of his primary school-days especially highlighting Primary Four Class.

He joins the school among schools for his secondary as he describes the times there as grueling years, especially during the national exam period. He gains favour with his teachers and because impressions trump experience, he is accorded roles at school even with microscopic experience. He forms close ties at Makerere University as the reality of medical school-days dawn on him. He is also promoted through the ranks as he displays his multi-faceted skills until one fateful day when these skills serve as a double-edged sword that cost him his accounting job.

On a lighter note, he shares how true it is for unlike poles to attract. This is a tale of his lovebird Roselyn, with a sanguine temperament as compared to his industrious character. They later wed in their hometown, Mbarara district before a coup d’état motivates their move to Kabale.

Ned explores diverse opportunities in the health sector in as much as the explorations were not smooth sailing as he traverses corners of the world such as America and Australia with His family among other places. He also rubs shoulders with influential heads of state and he eventually holds the office of President in various chapters of his life after university. After 26 years of public service, Ned retires and joins AMREF before unavoidable circumstances force him to quit. Even after His cheese is moved, he is rewarded by living out a satisfying and fulfilling life.

Ned executed justice in Chapter 12 as he tells how “nothing beats friends” and invites us on a journey of this truth by evaluating close ties he established in spite of the fact that some of them have fallen and now rest in eternal peace.

This captivating memoir is summed up as Ned tells how his cup has overflowed and He cannot thank the Lord enough for His greatness hence the title of his book Ndyamuhaki inspired by a popular Rukiga hymn.

This review was written, for Turn The Page Africa, by Mugabi Patsy.

Activities In May: A Moment With Xenson, And A Home In Orangepine.

Greetings.

We are hoping that you have kept yourself well enough.

#TTPBookMeet
Our book club meetings, which you have interacted with before, especially by way of our social media networks as #TTPBookMeet, continue this May.

TTP x Kizikiza (larger)-02

A Moment With Xenson
We will be meeting on Friday, May 5, 2017, for a reading of, an interaction on, and a performance of the writing and/or poetry that makes Kizi Kiza, our common text for the month.

We will be joined by legendary artist, rapper, and writer, Samson “Xenson” Ssenkaba, the author of Kizi Kiza, who will grace us with his appearance, for a moment starting from 5:30 and ending at 7:00 PM.

In preparation for this #TTPBookMeet, you might want to read Raymond Lule’s review of Kizi Kiza.

A Home In Orangepine Reading Space
We have moved our Kampala book club meetings to Orangepine Reading Space, our new physical, brick and mortar home.

Within Orangepine Reading Space, we have set up a point of sale, for the benefit of those who live in the surburbs of Makerere, Wandegeya, Namugongo, Nalya, Kira, Kiwatule, Najera, Ntinda, Bukoto, and Kamwokya.

Orangepine Reading Space is on the 4th Floor of Singapore Business Centre, the higher orange building on Katego Road, and right opposite DAKS/Toyota and Seascallop Restaurant. It can be accessed via the route opposite the British Council or that goes up past Arcadia Suites. Do pay them a visit. They are open all day, and every day of the week.

Other Points Of Sale
Be remined and/or informed that our other physical, brick and mortar point of sale in Kampala exits in partnership with Bookpoint Uganda, which is housed in Village Mall, Bugolobi, and for the purpose of serving readers who reside in the areas of Namuwongo, Kireka, Bweyogerere, and, of course, Bugolobi.

Online Bookstore
Our online bookstore is, also, always open, and delivering, for those within Kampala, East Africa, and the rest of the world. The reviews keep coming, too.

Always remember to stay in the loop with us, and to keep reading more African Literature.

Be and stay well.