This anthology is a wonderful and powerful contribution to Ugandan literature.
In these stories, Beatrice Lamwaka questions the internal politics of Uganda while also raising very pertinent issues like gender, PTSD, war, the struggle for education, addiction, bullying, and sexuality – which is considered a controversial topic in our country where homosexuality is illegal.
A few of the stories are about the atrocities endured by the Acholi people during the time the Lord’s Resistance Army was terrorizing the northern part Uganda.
The stories are written in different styles but in a way, one that can best be described as both prose and poetry, and in an honest tone which is most refreshing.
Each story stands on its own merit, providing a few surprises and cliff-hangers along the way.
The titular story, Butterfly Dreams, is a short yet powerful read about Lamunu, an abductee and former child soldier that was returned home after five years. Through the narrator, Lamunu’s sibling, we learn the plight of these child soldiers, the way the war alters life itself, the psychological torment the families of the abducted children go through and the swing from desperation to hope like a pendulum.
She expected you to say something. Something that would make her believe your spirit was in that body you carried around. We wanted to know whether your tipu had been buried with your voice. We had never been taught how to unbury a tipu. We only hoped that your real tipu was not six feet under. We wanted to see you alive again.
But even as she speaks on the horrors and the plight the Acholi children suffered, Lamwaka also shows that all is not doom and gloom. She recognizes that there can be, and there is life full of opportunities and hope after the end of the war as we see Lamunu eventually going back to school to fulfil her desire to become a doctor.
This particular story won a nomination for Beatrice Lamwaka for the prestigious 2011 Caine Prize for African Writing.
I highly recommend this book, it is entertaining yes, but it also sparks conversation on a lot of issues that are otherwise swept under the rug.
This review, of Beatrice Lamwaka’s Butterflies And Other Stories, was written, for Turn The Page Africa, by Mable Amuron.
You can purchase copies of the book by following this link Butterflies And Other Stories.