The Story Of Maha, And Maha Ever After – Sumayya Lee.

These may be the best books I have read in a long time. If you are wondering why they are being reviewed together, it is because they are, to say, similar, and have the same characters. The second book is simply a continuation of the first, giving closure for all the questions you may have after reading the first. I think they should be mandatory reading for every girl.

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The cover image of The Story Of Maha.

The Story of Maha introduces us to Maha, starting with her dramatic birth, reading like something out of a movie. The rest of the story is anything but idealistic, but rather real and relatable. The story is set in apartheid South Africa, and reads like a combination of well paragraphed diary entries. Maha’s father is a coloured while her mother is an Indian from suburbia Durban. Following the tragic death of her parents, the grandparents take her to the Maal Mahal where she finds a new often delightful, but also much more restrictive home. Reading the story, you get to experience Maha’s joys from good friendships and the thrill of learning, her frustrations when she is prevented from going further in school to find a Suitable Boy and make a good wife. It often feels like you are enjoying her cooking, as uncertain about the future as she is, and experiencing the highs and lows of adolescence.

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The cover image of Maha Ever After.

In Maha Ever After, you will share in Maha’s new life at her husband’s home which is eerily similar to the Maal Mahal, so that her marriage is a different kind of bondage. The books are a love story, but not the usual boy meets girl. Rather, they are a lesson in self-love and self-discovery. Maha loves herself so much that you cannot help but love her, and love yourself too.

Sumayya Lee, the author, of both, uses a delightful combination of English, Gujarati, and Xhosa, making little attempt to translate the words but rather letting you deduce the meaning from context instead of breaking the narrative to loop you in. After the first few chapters, words like roti, siyabonga will start to make perfect sense. The books are also full of colourful cursing, especially by female characters which is a refreshing change from the prim and proper heroines in front of whom such words are not supposed to be used. The author skilfully highlights serious issues of apartheid, racism, and sexism without moving away from what appears to be the privileged life of Maha.

I loved both books for their simple alluring style, and the characters Maha loved, I loved as fiercely. These were books worth every (sometimes new) word and I would recommend them highly.

The Story Of Maha, and Maha Ever After are both written by Sumayya Lee. They were pubished in 2007, and 2009, respectively, by Kwela Books. They reviewed for Turn The Page by Ophelia Kemigisha.

 

#TTPBookMeet Continues In March With Othuke’s Odufa.

Greetings.

Turn The Page Africa extends an invitation to you, and your friends, to the next #TTPBookMeet, which will take place on Friday, March 10, 2017, in Hive Colab, Kanjokya House, Kanjokya Street, Kampala, Uganda, starting from 17:30.

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We will be having a retrospective conversation about Othuke Ominiabohs’s Odufa: A Lover’s Tale, our common text for the month of March, 2017.

Odufa A Lover's Tale

Ominiabohs, in his debut novel, graphically chronicles the entire the entire gamut of emotional experiences of a tumultuous affair of young lovers. Laying bare each nerve strand in its raw sensitiveness, and cutting open each delicate naked vein bleeding with life, Ominiabohs unfolds with startling, and moving candour, the joy and pains, hopes and longings, sorrow and despair of a fragile love which, against a sea of overwhelming odds, fights for its survival and salvation.

Ominiabohs visited Kampala, Uganda, when his East African tour brought him to these parts of the world. While here, he held a reading, and signing at the Alliance Francaise de Kampala, both events held in proud association with Turn The Page.

Turn The Page has previously reviewed this very title, for the benefit of illustrating, briefly, its concerns of interest. The review, penned by Lynn Turyatemba, can be read here.

Copies of Odufa are available, for purchase, on Turn The Page’s online bookshop, which is currently accessible via books.alextwino.com.

We will be delighted to share your, and your friend’s, ever wonderful company.

Daniel Omara: Writing And Performing Luoetry.

Daniel Omara is one of the new poets worth note in Uganda. He has ably mastered the art of documenting, by writing, and performing what he calls Luoetry. Omara will be performing his one man show, Luoetry, on Tuesday, February 28, 2017, at the National Theater’s Cultural Village, in Kampala, Uganda. He is interviewed for Turn The Page, by The Poetry Shrine’s Peter Kagayi.

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Daniel Omara.

TPS: Briefly tell us about your time at SMACK (St. Mary’s College Kisubi)
Omara: At SMACK, I was the Minister of Information, Culture and Entertainment, the Deputy Editor in Chief of Eagle Magazine 2016, and the founder and first President of the Eagles Poetry Club.

TPS: What does it mean to you to write/perform such poetry in our society today?
Omara: Writing Luoems and performing them ignites and sustains the reality of originality which is paramount. Luoetry minimizes tendencies to alienate poetry that should be speaking to our people and the day-to-day situations in our society.
It is important to respect the conventional poetic devices beforehand, but it’s progressive to apply these devices only to enhance the literary blessings of our indigenous societies; our proverbs, riddles, legends, norms, taboos. In them lie great poetic stories to tell. Luoetry tells the stories of the Luo.

TPS: How different is Luoetry from other kinds of poetry?
Omara: Luoetry prioritizes the need to explore our indigenous literary heritage while other forms of poetry tend to stereotype poetic concepts from foreign communities leaving our own heritage either alienated or neglected altogether.

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Daniel Omara will be performing his one man show, Luoetry, at the National Theater’s Cultural Village, in Kampala, on Tuesday, February 28, 2017.

TPS: You have been performing poetry for a while now. How significant is this particular show to you?
Omara: Luoetry is a milestone of self-discovery to me. It is the first of my personal efforts to recognize that cultural heritage ought to be celebrated.
Luoetry is a statement to poets that understanding one’s culture inspires a sense of belonging which is a foundation for all forms of literary expression.
“Know thyself that you may know you walk among the greats.”
The audience should expect to appreciate the application of contemporary poetic devices to explore and harness Luorature. As a Luoet, the Luoems that will be shared at the show will challenge you to ask how much you know about your people’s literary heritage.
When all is spoken and heard, the audience will expect to say Amen in Luo.

Odufa: A Lover’s Tale – Othuke Ominiabohs

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The cover image of Odufa: A Lover’s Tale, a novel by Othuke Ominiabohs.

The writer of the Song of Songs book of the Bible makes a profound statement in the sixth verse of the books eighth chapter. He says, “… love is as strong as death; jealousy is cruel as the grave: the coals thereof are coals of fire, which hath a most vehement flame.” Love, and jealousy, are the two central themes of Othuke Ominiabohs’ book titled Odufa: A Lover’s Tale.

Tony, the protagonist, is a closet romantic who after having plenty plenty flings with girls in school because of a heartbreak, falls head over heels in love with a girl a couple of years older than him. The girl, Odufa, gives his romantic nature such expression that he willingly endures ridicule and disapproval of her by his friends and family. Although she is undoubtedly beautiful, reasons such as the reputation of women from her tribe and her being older and more worldly wise than him, are given for their disapproval of her.

Tony is undeterred by his people’s disapproval and vows to love and protect Odufa forever. He writes her poems and oft reads them aloud to her on the phone and in person, holding her in his arms. I the early days of their romance, Odufa, receives the poems with the requisite oohs and aahs saying how lucky she is to be loved by him.

However, as their relationship gets deeper and more intimate, Tony discovers a dark and violent side of Odufa borne of jealousy which consequently also ignites violence from him that he did not know he was capable of. In fact, Odufa gets so angry at one time that she sets on fire a book of poems Tony had compiled for her. This particular action serves to drive a serious rift between the lovers as Tony believes this means that Odufa does not truly know, understand and love him as she constantly claims.

Like any average girl, every once in a while I like to read a good love story with a happy ending. I was, thus, somewhat disappointed, as far as that is concerned, by Odufa: A Lover’s Tale. Othuke’s writing of this love story is poignant and much too close to the realities of relationships and therefore belies the novel’s title.

Nonetheless, in this his first published novel, Othuke exhibits his applaudable gifts of imagination and expression as he takes the reader on a bumpy journey, quite like one on any of Africa’s numerous untarred roads, through Tony and Odufa’s love life.

In all, then, this novel gets two stars ? ? on the Edward O’Brien scale from me. Bravo Othuke!

Odufa: A Lover’s Tale is a novel, written by Othuke Ominiabohs and published, in 2015, by Nigeria’s TND Press.

This review, of Odufa: A Lover’s Tale, was written by Lynn Turyatemba.

Copies of this book, and other books are available for purchase through Turn The Page’s online bookshop. Visit us at books.alextwino.com

#TTPBookMeet Resumes With Homegrown Love

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The cover image of Evelyn Karungi and Elma Asio’s Homegrown Love, #TTPBookMeet’s common text for the month of February.

While we are invested in making books available to readers though our bookshop, we, also, strongly believe that it is necessary to have conversations around and/or about books and more.

Please do join #TTPBookMeet, on Friday, February 10, 2017, as we resume our book club meetings for the year.
We will be joined by Elma Asio and Evelyn Karungi, the authors of Homegrown Love, a recently launched title for an interactive conversation.

We will meet in Hive Colab, which is on the fourth floor of Kanjokya House, and on Kanjokya Street, starting from 17:30.

For better preparation, please buy yourself a copy in anticipation of the meet.

Schedule Of Common Texts For 2017

Greetings.

We hope your holidays went well, and that 2017 has not any pathetic yet.

We, at Turn The Page, are delighted to inform you that the ever so engaging #TTPBookMeet resumes, as hereby scheduled, on Friday, February 10, 2017.

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Some of the titles, from past and forthcoming #TTPBookMeet

For 2017, we have taken advice from some of our members, thought, and planned to proceed as follows;

We will meet once a month, on the second Friday of every month, for a retrospective reflection on the common text for that month. A guest(s), whenever possible, will join us to contribute to and engage us in conversation.

To increase on the number of books that we will have covered and/or read throughout the year, it is worth noting that, beyond the common text for the month, we will couple it with either our own recommendation or the visitor’s or member’s own selection as long as its themes or topics of concern are relatable to the common text of the month and/or the conversation.

The schedule of common texts for the first half of the year is as follows

Date Time Title Author Theme(s) / Genre(s) Coupling Venue
Feb 10 17:30 Homegrown Love Evelyn Karungi & Elma Asio “Immigrant Literature” Gambit, The Thing Around Your Neck Hive Colab
March 10 17:30 Odufa: A Lover’s Tale Othuke Ominiabohs Love The Love Potion Hive Colab
April 14 17:30 The Triangle Nakisanze Segawa DocuFiction Kintu Hive Colab
May 12 17:30 Kizi Kiza Samson “Xenson” Ssenkaba Poetry A Poetic Duet, Poetry In Motion, A Nation In Labour, The Headline That Morning Hive Colab

 

For better preparations, copies of these and more titles are available (for your order, and our delivery of them) on our online bookshop.

If you have not done so yet, please remember to follow our social media accounts, @TTPAfrica, for Twitter and Facebook and @africanpages on Instagram, and, even better, to subscribe to our newsletter for any and all further information and the previews, reviews, and interviews that we will be churning out.

We wish you all the best during the year, a year in which we will continue serving you.

A Dreaming Child – Dieudonne Gakire.

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The cover image of Dieudonne Gakire’s A Dreaming Child.

Monsieur Gakire’s A Dreaming Child was a difficult book to read. As a mother, reading about horrific atrocities meted out on innocent children during the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda, quite simply, broke my heart. As an English speaker, reading a book conceived by a French speaker meant I had to constantly let go of my innate reflex to fix the grammar.

Despite these ‘difficulties’, I was inspired by the stories documented in the book of young people that endured hell on earth and survived. I was amazed by the courage exhibited by the writer in approaching some of the perpetrators of the genocide in order to listen to and document their side of the story. I was struck by the rawness of the accounts of the author and the other contributors of life before, during and after the genocide. I shed tears quite a bit in the course of my reading as I acknowledged how the suffering described could easily have been in any other African country.

This is an important book. It needed to be written to present the Rwanda genocide story from the perspective of the young people who lived through such a terrible experience as children. The core message of the book, which I agree with completely, is that this kind of thing should never happen again in Rwanda. The book calls for unity and for the young generation of Rwandans to reject the divisionism and hatred between the two main tribes of the country that largely led to the break out of the genocide.

The stories in this book should be read by young people across the continent so that they can, hopefully, be part of making the commitment that Africans must stop killing each other on the basis of such a banal reason as tribal difference.

This book obviously invokes feelings of deep sadness but it also inspires hope that if young people can choose to walk the path of light, the darkness of genocide and all manner of war will be overcome.

This review was written, for Turn The Page, by Lynn Turyatemba.
Copies of this title are available on Turn The Page’s online bookshop, which can be accessed here.

A Conspiracy Of Ravens – Othuke Ominiabohs.

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The cover image of Othuke Ominiabohs’ A Conspiracy Of Ravens.

Read the book so we can discuss it without risk of spoilers. I have nothing against spoilers but my siblings would disown me for sure.  Read the book. Have I said that already? Then I say again, read the book.

If you enjoy fast paced action stories in their dispense of reality, multiple characters acting, reacting, building this magnificent tension bubble that explodes in predictable melodrama, you will love this book.

If you enjoy reading for the love of words (duh!), you will love Ominiaboh’s description of Nigeria. Its geography, cities, roads, and people. Nigeria is a formidable character that eclipses the central character (from the blurb) in every way. It moves and suffocates in the swamps, is still and endless at sea, furtive and menacing along winding dirt roads, loud and bossy in the city. It is assertive, determined and will not be ignored.

Once you’re done with the ambushes, machine guns blaring, conspiracies unraveling, the true gem in this story shines through. The villains and heroes in this Nigerian tragedy are Nigerians. He, Ominiabohs, does try to include philosophical discussions on tragedies of the Nigerian state but thankfully the story doesn’t suffer from it.

And it’s all written in English. In well translated English (obviously not everyone speaks English). Ominiabohs had the decency to assume that the narrator of the story understood all languages excellently and was able to translate to English perfectly. None of that ‘notable’ African writing that insists on stilted writing in English to emphasize the use of another tongue. As a result his story rolls comfortably forward keeping up with all the action!

However, to truly enjoy the book, I had to do two things.

First; ignore the blurb. It was misleading. I went in expecting Alex Randa to do some major detecting and bum kicking. Well…

Secondly, bear with disappointing female characters as a whole. They came across as malformed, including Alex. However, this is a struggle I have with many, many books. It did not stop me from enjoying the story.

A definite 7.5/10. Those female characters stole the 2.5.

This review was written, for Turn The Page, by Rachel Kunihira.

Copies of the title are available for sale on the online bookstore.

 

Homegrown Love – Evelyn Karungi and Elma Asio.

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The cover image of Evelyn Karungi and Elma Asio’s co-written book; Homegrown Love.

I have read Homegrown Love a little bit more than once or twice or thrice. And that’s not because you can get through it in under an hour, but because it is the kind of book that is so brutally soft it reads like a journal.

I was curious about the choice of the title and how a book that is co-authored reads. If I am not over assuming, Elma and Evelyn(the authors) are sisters so even before I started I was ‘aww-ing’ and ‘ah-ing’. Forgive my very uncreative vocabulary. Were they going to talk about some kind of love that was nurtured at home? Surprisingly, my answer to that would be yes. Read acknowledgements to catch my drift. (I’m I the only one who reads acknowledgements, ngu preface what what in books? Very well then.), and I say surprisingly because there is nothing whatsoever about love from home. Again, I am over assuming.

Still on reading every word in the book, Evelyn and Elma put the usual disclaimer that it is a fictionalised biography but still go on to say it is up to the reader to realise what is what and who is who. Ahem *sips tea*. In my trivial little mind, I decided the stories were real(I mean like real real) and oh, how very authentic. Apart from the fact that words move me to tears more easily than chapambalasi(we all know this, yes?), I have nothing against this book. But what I have against it is that my poor little tear ducts were harrowed dry.

In the first part of the book, authored by Evelyn, is an epistemology of one heartbreak after another. Different accounts of dealing with this heartbreak in whatever form. At some point, I needed to take a break myself. Like woah, okay okayokay. Deep breath. And this is because it does the job of dusting your memory shelves like an old broom (You know, old brooms know all the corners kinda thing? You dodged English class, didn’t you?).

The second part of the book, authored by Elma, is a collection of such emotionally intense stories. I particularly liked Lacerations- Where Did My Love Go? Where she tells the story of a mother who is just not handling the whole parenthood experience the way she’s ‘supposed’ to. I was thinking how relevant! How many new parents go through this but can’t talk about it? It’s just painfully beautiful.

Overall, Homegrown Love is the book you should read with a bowl of ice cream and all sorts of sugars to keep your emotions in check.

This review was written, for Turn The Page, by Esther Mirembe.

A Killing In The Sun – Dilman Dila.

By Hannah Onoguwe

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The cover image of Dilman Dila’s A Killing In The Sun.

I haven’t read a whole lot of speculative fiction in recent years, so there won’t be any comparisons to other work here. Just thought I should get that out of the way first off. After getting one of my short stories accepted and published in Lawino, I spent a lot of time enjoying Dila’s blog entries and the insight he shares in his writing. And then I met him in Abeokuta at the Ake Arts and Book Festival in 2015 and took a couple of unclear selfies with him. Besides all this, another reason I was eager to read this book was because of the easy digestion short stories proffer. And as I read story after story, many times miserly-like, I kept being grateful that I hadn’t put it off any longer. It surpassed my expectations. Somewhere near the middle of this collection of short speculative fiction, we come across an old man whose advice to his protégée was that “the artist should be fluid like the wind…Go anywhere you like, even to Hell, or else your imagination will never fly” (p.93). These words might well describe Dilman Dila’s thought processes in writing A Killing in the Sun. We go from the expected: an empty car that runs amok and kills someone, or a fourteen-year-old girl who turns into a parrot at will, to the surprise of the unexpected: an artist who can create pictures which are not static, in which a demon leaps out of the water to snatch an angel from a mango tree. In other scenarios things are often turned on their head from what we know presently so that, for instance, lighter-skinned girls paint their skin with soot to have the more desirable coffee brown skin, an absence of which can mean death.

In these stories, technological advances are as important as traditional beliefs, many times with the latter eclipsing the former. Generally, both are so intertwined that you couldn’t separate the two if you tried, much like it is in real life Africa today. So you have charges by a mzungu, a white man, that a ghost is “something that can be explained scientifically” (p.73) not far from the story of a shaman who, having converted to Christianity, sets his shrine on fire and “the moment it started to burn, human-like creatures the size of small rats jumped out of the flames, killed them both, and ran amok in the village, razing several homes before vanishing into the forest” (p.78).

I am not from Uganda, Kenya, or any of other settings of the stories but besides some names and terms which were unfamiliar, I dare say any reader will enjoy them no matter the continent you’re from. Each story stands alone, but certain terms are repeated in more than one. Terms like afande, bruka, ornithopter, abasura, these spawned from Dila’s imagination so that I suspect I haven’t seen the last of them in his writing. The bruka caught my fancy the most: think bird crossed with Boeing 747 scaled down to the size of, well, maybe a small car, then you might come close to what I imagine it looks like. I hope a patent for its design is in the works somewhere because I want one.

In the first story we meet Japia, a traditional healer who, at the age of ten, inherited the healing spirits on his father’s death. Currently, however, Japia is preoccupied with evading Miss Doe, who sounds placid enough so that you think her to be an overly-amorous woman who won’t take no for an answer. In reality, Miss Doe is a modified species of the anopheles mosquito originally absent of the malaria parasites who has mutated into an intelligent predator that drains the blood of humans in seconds. The story basically explores how science messes with nature, often with disastrous results.

In the title story, A Killing In The Sun, shortlisted for the Commonwealth Short Story Prize 2013, people wait impatiently for the eradication of a ‘bad soldier’ by firing squad. Mercy for the condemned man can only be found in the lap of luck. If the doctor arrives after the spectators get fed up and leave, then the man’s life will be spared as the President has decreed that an execution cannot hold unless there is an audience. The story seems to highlight the roles the military have played in Africa, not all positive obviously, with some of the absurdity they can acquire thrown in for good measure. The sobriety is lightened by pockets of humour evidenced by a prosecutor who “crumbled to the ground like a tree felled by an axe, he lay in the sand, facing the sky, fanning himself with his cap” (p.57). Or, the antimilitary picture of the firing squad who “lay underneath these vehicles to escape the sun” (pp.57-58).

In the last story of the collection, the protagonist exists long before technology begins to wow us with her wonders. Mozze, an assassin, roasts a rat while daydreaming about winning the Elephant Festival with his new song at the next full moon, which appears to be a throwback of Project Fame. However, his son, ashamed of his father’s musical bent, does everything to disassociate himself from such an unmanly pursuit, even though Mozze tells him that is the only way the family can be accepted back into society. This story takes a poignant twist on teenage angst and a father’s dreams for his family.

For many characters, you are given a glimpse into what constitutes daily life. For Benge in The Healer, a shaman and a former slave, the highlight of his day is the nightly visit from his wife – his dead wife – who tells him jokes, to which he reciprocates by singing songs and reciting poems. For Kopet, living in the Pyramid which consists of future skyscraper versions of African peasant huts, a typical day consists of waking up to the “crowing of electronic roosters, the flapping of ornithopter wings, the blaring of angry horns” (p.107). The plots are varied and run through a spectrum of themes such as friendship and loyalty, colonialism and religion, slavery and freedom, as well as race and ethnicity. One of my favourite passages reads:

“The most famous [myth] was in the Book of Life, in the tale of Mojech who led the people of Jok out of slavery from a land called Hamerikah. The Book never talked of who enslaved them, but people interpreted it to be white creatures that were half human and half bird. Their king, Wasiton, raided Jokland and took slaves in great ships. They worked for him for a thousand years until Jok sent Mojech to free them. King Wasiton refused to release them, so Jok struck Hamerikah with a hundred plagues until he succumbed. Unable to sail the ships, Mojech parted the waters of the sea with his magic staff and the slaves walked back home. It took them forty years.” (pp.91-92).

This mash-up of religions makes for delightful reading, but the humour does not detract from the grave influences of religion and colonialism on Africa’s countries and her history. The opposite however, an extreme society devoid of the white man, does not seem to bode well for the future, either. In A Wife And A Slave, white people are now the slaves, and everything ‘white’ has been banned. Books, music, painting, clothes, so that Kopet, formerly known as Mike, can no longer read Stephen King or Margaret Atwood or even listen to Bob Marley because “the Emperor claimed such musicians promoted African inferiority because they used white musical instruments and the white language” (p.115).

On the flip side, African customs are accentuated to a point bordering on the ridiculous where forks are banned in favour of using bare hands to eat and the results of decolonisation are not only that a wife “should obey her husband, but also…a true African man is not supposed to wash his own hands after a meal; his wife must do that for him” (p.122). In addition, a man’s wife must also bathe him. I could almost hear Dila’s chortle in the background as I read those words because exaggerations they might be, but knowing the heart longings of any ‘true’ African man, they are not only possible but, in fact, desired. It might not have been stated in that story, but I suspect that a wife was also expected to wipe up her husband’s behind after he finished with the loo. No, sorry, African bowel-expelling device!

Romance is given a bit of a mention as the reader meets Obil, a diver who, for three months, saves to buy jeans and a shirt he will wear on Christmas Day when he plans to propose to the girl he loves. “It would be tragic if he died before using them,” he muses before leaving to search, along with other divers, “for what was in the river” and “made it stand so still” (p.41). No, you Mami Wata loving readers, it’s not Mami Wata. For something a little more sizzling we meet Kopet whose “fingers ran over her skin, causing desire to rush through his veins like the rapids of the Nile, but he quickly withdrew his hands to stifle the temptation he felt rising in him. He did not want another three days of hard labor.” (p.107). Yes, there lies the punishment for going against an Emperor who has decreed that “sex for pleasure was not African, that it was the rotten culture of white people, and that it had led to the once incurable disaster, AIDS” (p.115). Unfortunately for Kopet, it has been five years “since he shuddered inside a woman” (p.117). At this point, he is at the height of horniness so that when a white slave lands by his shop, he can think of little else but “what they used to say about white women, that they slept with any man who showed interest” (p.113). For the number of words I have expended on this story, it just might be my favourite.

Many of these stories root themselves in stereotypes and superstition. The eviction of the white man is not a cure-all for Africa’s issues; it serves to breed new ways of enslavement, the dictator being ‘The Emperor’ in some stories or ‘The President’ in others. Genocide takes a different shade as “Africans involved in inter-racial relationships were shot dead for betraying their race” (p.120). The underlying truth Dila seems to attempt to bring out is that human beings are always motivated by any number of things: fear, love, altruism. He also illuminates how good intentions, or the appearance thereof, can evolve into dictatorship. Not everything can be blamed on the white man. The problem is, and always has been, greed.

Much as I loved reading this book, I couldn’t help noticing the dearth of female characters who did little besides complement the men. I would have also welcomed a peek into these women’s thoughts, although one excuse for that might be that the reader is afforded only the point of view of the protagonist of the story. And speaking of characters, I could empathize with a father’s near-desperation as he made efforts to reconnect with his daughter: “Kimi had to experience the magic. He could think of no other way to make her love him again…He tried to tell her to admire the beauty, but the words stuck to his throat like a lump of frozen fat” (pp.88-89).

In contrast I found Dunningham an unsavoury protagonist. I guess you’ll have to read the book to find out why, besides the fact that when given subsequent opportunities to do wrong, he dove right in. But as anyone could point out, real life is flooded with his very type. Generally, though, I could relate with the characters regarding their very human pursuits for meaning or purpose, for love or safety, their desire to right their wrongs, their efforts to heal after heartbreak. The way security personnel could strike fear even in an innocent person’s heart struck a chord. Take it from someone who has been hauled into a police station for sitting quietly in a car and not hurting anyone. Offence? Parking in ‘a dark zone’. Yes, I was with someone but that’s obviously a story for another day. But the bleakness of daily life in Africa goes on. Even with poor leadership, people must still make a living, eat, love, and work. The only thing missing in this collection is hardcore scifi— no loss to this reader— but it seems to possess just about every bit of other speculative fiction subgenres. And if, perchance, you’re a reader who is stubbornly fixated on another genre entirely, if you’re still reading to this point, read A Killing in the Sun anyway. You’ll be pleasantly surprised.

 

A Killing In The Sun is a book by Ugandan author Dilman Dila. It was published, in 2014, by Black Letter Media, a South African publishing house, and is 194 pages. Copies of the book are available on Turn The Page’s online book shop.

 

Hannah Onoguwe’s work has appeared in Adanna and BLACKBERRY: a magazine, as well as online in Litro, The Missing Slate, Cassava Republic, African Writer, The Kalahari Review, Lawino, The Stockholm Review and Brittle Paper. She is a contributing author to the speculative fiction anthology, Imagine Africa 500 and has been shortlisted and longlisted for the Awele Creative Trust Award and Saraba Manuscript Prize respectively. A collection of her short stories are slated to be published as an ebook by Bahati Books. She lives in Bayelsa where, in between being ruled by the internet and her toddler, she bakes banana bread and other stuff. She’s on Twitter and Instagram as @HannahOnoguwe.