The Beggar’s Mansion – Paul Kasami.

The Beggar’s Mansion is a poetry anthology by a Ugandan poet, Paul Kasami. The poetry traverses contemporary African issues, especially in Uganda. The book is divided into eight distinct parts, which will make you feel like you have read eight different books, each with a different mood and tone.

The poet uses a lot of strong imagery, so that reading the poem really does feel like traveling to different places. From the slum to the street, to the mountains to trek gorillas, and to the corridors of power, the anthology is quite the ride. He paints the setting effortlessly, and it is refreshing to see Kampala and all the different issues we face in the expertly crafted works. You will likely find most poems relatable because he writes about everyday life. He describes war, despair and broken promises as aptly as he does for love, hope, and lust.

The book starts with harrowing descriptions of suffering, poverty and war, but later eases into life advice, relationships, and love. He tackles political issues like leaders who stay too long in power, neo-colonialism, and inequality with all the wit of a good satirist. He writes love poems (including a delightful sonnet) that tug at the heart. He describes nature with wonder and tackles climate change with passion. He celebrates Africanness in a way reminiscent of the legendary Okot p’Bitek. He moans despair, heartbreak and mortality with typical poet-like cynicism. This book will likely make you chuckle, smile, and then shake your head in despair.

I enjoyed reading the poems immensely, especially the poems that bore the biting satire of a cartoonist. Paul Kasami is a satirist to be proud of with this set of thought provoking but cheeky poems.

This review, of Paul Kasami’s The Beggar’s Mansion, was written, for Turn The Page Africa, by Hazel Birungi.

Homegoing – Yaa Gyasi.

The cover image of Yaa Gyasi’s Homegoing.

Yaa Gyasi writes Homegoing from her heart. She tackles the tough topic of slavery in the Gold Coast with a finesse that the reader has to admire. Her descriptions are superb making the reading experience pleasurable. Take for example this depiction of an old woman who was considered a witch in one of the Gold Coast villages;

‘She was missing all but her four front teeth, evenly spaced, as though they had chased all of the other teeth out of her mouth and then joined together in the middle, triumphant’.

Homegoing is a fitting tribute to West Africa’s men, women and children whose lives were upended both in Africa and abroad by the horror that was slave trade. This tribute is particularly special because Yaa Gyasi endeavours to tell their story with a positive tone, depicting them as survivors instead of victims.

This review, of Yaa Gyasi’s Homegoing, was written for Turn The Page Africa, by Lynn Gitu Turyatemba.

You can order for your own copy of the book by visiting our online bookshop ttpafrica.com.

The Joys Of Motherhood – Buchi Emecheta.

The cover image of Buchi Emecheta’s The Joys Of Motherhood.

All Nnu Ego (pronounced new ego) ever wanted was to make her father proud by birthing many sons to her husband to whom she was married off in the most lavish wedding ceremony Ibuza had ever seen. She was a lovechild- a result of her mother and father’s unconventional relationship. Nnu Ego’s mother, Ona, had refused to marry Chief Agbadi despite his obsessive love for her.

Unfortunately, for Nnu Ego, her deepest desire is not met and after about a year being married to Amatokwu and not getting pregnant, a new wife is brought home. By and by, Nnu Ego, is disgracefully sent back to her father’s home. She is eventually married off again to Nnaife Owulum- who lives and works in Lagos as a ‘washerman’ for a white couple. To her utmost joy, she goes on to give birth to nine children with him.

The Joys of Motherhood is poignant. A 20th Century book whose themes still hold true in the 21st Century. Buchi Emecheta handles the issues of patriarchy, polygamy and the disadvantaged lot of the African woman without fear or favour. To her credit, she manages to balance her portrayal of the African mother as strong, all-weather, even willing to give up everything including her very own life for her children, yet, vulnerable.

This review, of Buchi Emecheta’s The Joys Of Motherhood, was written by Lynn Gitu Turyatemba, for Turn The Page Africa.

You can order for your copy of the book by ordering from our online bookshop ttpafrica.com.

The Frank Bushuyu Mutaremwa Books

Young and Rich.

The cover image of Mutaremwa Frank Bushuyu’s The Young And The Rich.

The first time I saw this book I thought, oh great, another cliché self-help book.

But while reading it, I was pleasantly surprised. It’s a book written by an African, for Africans.

In Young and Rich, Bushuyu portrays discontent with the education system of the country, a sentiment shared by lots of people and also disappointment in those who stay in or work jobs they have no interest in because they have been pushed into it by status quo and/or parents that don’t know better. Essentially ignoring their talents.

This book is for the student, the educator, the parent, the employee, the employer, the business person. It is for everyone, really.

Young And Rich is filled with quotable phrases and deep truths brought forward in a very simple style of writing, and in 83 pages only.

The book encourages self-discovery and is highly educational.

I enjoyed Young And Rich so much that I learnt so much from it so I highly recommend it.  It will motivate you to chase your dreams as it did me.

Forbid Not Speaking In Tongues.

The cover image of Mutaremwa Frank Bushuyu’s Forbid not Speaking In Tongues.

The subject of speaking in tongues has for long been a polarizing and controversial topic in the Christian world today. However, Pastor Frank Bushuyu, in his very simple delivery, conveys powerful truths about this topic while also answering the common misconceptions and objections raised concerning this subject.

With scriptural backing, Pastor Frank points out the need for speaking in tongues and as well as the benefits to a believer. The book is for tongue speaking Christians, it will encourage you to speak more tongues and also help you realize the importance of speaking in tongues.

It is also for those do not speak in tongues and desire to, this book will give you a practical way to receive the gift. And, finally, for the skeptic as well.

Forbid Not Speaking In Tongues is essential for today’s Christian.

Love Most Excellent.

The cover image of Mutarewa Frank Bushuyu’s Love Most Excellent.

Let us talk about love! It is all about love. Over these three books, I have come to enjoy and appreciate Frank Bushuyu’s very simple way of revealing profound truths.

Love Most Excellent is extremely quotable as it talks about a theme that’s very vital in the church, love. It has even been called the greatest commandment.

The love talked about in this book is not human affection, not erotic love, but love most excellent. Pastor Frank takes various scripture and delves deeper into them.

With a deep understanding of the examples of scripture he uses, Pastor Frank illustrates that love is not just love, but rather it is God.

It’s a book that’s relevant for today’s Christian.

All three Mutaremwa Frank Bushuyu’s books, The Young And The Rich, Forbid Not Speaking In Tingues, and Love Most Excellent, were reviewed by Mable Amuron, for Turn The Page Africa.

They are available on our online bookshop for local and global distribution.

Kingdom Of Gravity – Nick Makoha

Nick Makoha’s Kingdom Of Gravity.

Kingdom of Gravity is written by Nick Makoha, a poet born in Uganda whose other works include Resurrection Man, The Second Republic and Lost Collection of Invisible Man.

Thefirst time I read Kingdom of Gravity, I didn’t get what I was looking for.

I had heard a lot about the poet that I sought a deeper hidden meaning of the poems that I was reading. It took a second unbiased reading that I was able to appreciate the story and message that Nick ably portrays in the anthology.

The poetry is centered on the time during the tyranny of Idi Amin in Uganda and the fight for liberation from his rule.

The cover of the book is intriguing. At first sight, it will draw your wondering mind,  preparing you for the story being narrated throughout the anthology.

The poems that precede the sections in the book show that the writer penned down the poems either at an airport lounge or on a plane.

The writer vividly describes the after math of war, the plight of those that were persecuted, turmoil, the fear, assault and violation of rights during Idi Amin’s time.

The mood is somber, filled with caution, pain, and a reminder that history has taught us nothing. The sarcasm employed by the writer whilst he illustrates corruption and bribery as business as usual is a reminder of the sad reality that is contemporary Uganda.

The history told through the poems is eye opening and an echo of voices seldomly heard. A good and must read for everyone who seeks to know the history of Uganda.

This review, of Nick Makoha’s Kingdom Of Gravity, was written, for Turn The Page Africa, by Hazel Birungi.

You can get yourself a copy by purchasing it from our online bookshop, which is accessible via ttpafrica.com

Kamwe Kamwe Nigwo Muganda – Rita Kenkwanzi.

The cover image of Rita Kenkwanzi’s Kamwe Kamwe Nigwo Muganda And Other Lessons From My Father.

I carried Rita Kenkwanzi’s Kamwe Kamwe Nigwo Muganda And Other Lessons From My Father to work many times. Each time someone saw it at my desk, they asked incredulously: “You are reading a whole book in Runyankore?” I was quite amused each time because I do read Runyankore very easily thanks to my mother’s lessons and the book is not entirely in Runyankore/Rukiga. That made me wonder though, about why it is so unbelievable that an educated person of a certain heritage can read their mother tongue. Many people I know can read English easily but stumble through texts in their own languages. So I enjoyed this book partly because of the way Rita weaves Rukiga proverbs into the fabric of her and her father’s life.

 

Of course, it is common for us to write eulogies when our loved ones pass. How often do we celebrate people while they are alive? How many times do you tell your parents, friends, siblings, that they are wonderful and you appreciate them? I thought it was extremely heartwarming that Miss Kenkwanzi chose to write about her dad while he is here. I hope reading this book will encourage you to tell your people more often that you value them. The comments from family and friends was a nice touch. It really brought Chris Kataama the man to life! I am convinced I would be tempted to run up to him and say hello if I met him.

 

I enjoyed her simple but poignant conversational style of writing. The use of old adages and proverbs along with their lessons lent the book authenticity because we all know how our elders often express themselves in the mother tongue. I definitely recommend this book, though I must warn you that the picture she paints of her family is so vivid and so beautiful, that one may turn green with envy!

This review, of Rita Kenkwanzi’s Kamwe Kamwe Nigwo Muganda And Other Lessons From My Father, a 2017 publication, was written, for Turn The Page Africa, by Ophelia Kemigisha.

Copies of the book are available for you to purchase.

The Extinction Of Menai – Chuma Nwokolo

 

Godmenai! Amis andgus. Rubiesu… Aiyegun Yesi Yemanagu…

 

I find myself mumbling a language I cannot understand as I drift in and out of the pages towards the end of Chuma’s riveting epic – The Extinction of Menai.

 

I am not sure I can say this is a feat for Chuma especially because of his storytelling history – The Ghost of Sani Abacha, How to Spell Naija, and Diaries of a Dead African; also, because the poetry and stories I follow on his social media as well as blog but more still because of his profession as a lawyer.

 

Chuma’s dance with language is enviable. And this is not because of the sometimes very sophisticated words but the easier ones, how they arranged and make sense.

 

And perhaps it is this respect for and knowledge of and experience with -language- that informs this book.

 

It opens with the “Universal Declaration of Linguistic Rights (Article 10.1) All language communities have equal rights” then a dedication to the less-equal half of the world’s 6000-odd languages, which will be extinct in another hundred years.

 

Clearly, Chuma has an almost spiritual relationship with language –  and what it means in terms of identity, culture, dignity for those speaking these languages. His is an exposition of the connections that language holds, not to just people but to histories.

 

However, enough of my fascination with the author’s fascination with language. Let’s talk about the book without trying to give away much.

 

The Menai are dying. They are running out of time. This is the idea we are brought to deal with as the book starts. How it plays out is the journey that Chuma expertly takes us on, him – an  omniscient narrator, giving us magnifying glass views as well birds’ eye views of the process of the extinction.

 

However, this is not a journalistic narration. The writer was akin to an angel taking one through visions, through pasts and futures, a back and forth giving context and reason and then painting a bigger picture. This was done exemplarily well through an expertly crafted cast of characters who seem thrown over different parts of the world but are connected by events that at first glance seem not at all connected.

 

A half-naked procession of mourners. Unexplained deaths. Failed coup attempts. A doctor and his wife’s designer drugs. A mock burial. An author’s messianic book deal go wrong and more…

 

The events are primarily set in Kreektown and Sontik State in Nigeria; however, the journeys take us to Scotland, England, Cote D’Ivoire, Sudan even China if not to prove a certain point about roots and connections.

 

In as much as the few chapters that detail the thoughts and experiences of Chief (Dr.) Ehi A. Fowaka give an introduction and thought about the Menai people and their perceived absurdity and strange customs but more generally a look down on cultures that are getting extinct- it is the chapters that have the stories of Zanda, Badu, Humphrey Chow, Tobi Rani, David Balsam, Amana, Penaka Lee, and Mata Nimito that give this story its heart and soul and take you on a journey of discovery of what the Extinction of Menai really means – why and how all language communities have equal rights.

 

There are love stories, international-level political plots, terrorist attempts, mystic occurrences, scientific explanations that all connect together in what seems the dying of the Menai.

 

It was masterful how Chuma took on top-level happenings while at the same time giving eye to individual, interpersonal happenings and exposing many of society’s inconsistencies, conflicts, sins while at it.

 

It is in questioning strong topics like sexism, corruption, greed, capitalism,  with great use of language.

 

“Women and children, always women and children! As if men that died there are donkeys!”

 

““Bastard! Were. Aje! You take one million US dollars and give me a hundred thousand naira!” I was angry myself, “What did you bring? Was it not ordinary photocopy form? Hundred thousand for a fifty naira paper, was that not enough?”

 

“‘Goodbye, Humphrey,’ and her voice was as cold as the kiss had been warm.”

 

“‘We’re burying a nation, David…Not just a man…’”

 

“After all, eyeswater is not for drinking.”

 

It is hard to tell after a while when reading the book whether this is fiction or a true story. You want to look up places and see whether they exist, companies like Trevi Biotics, IMX; names of famous people – Malcom Frisbee, Phil Begg,  because for a while inside Chuma’s tale, everything is alive, as big as it is small, as compelling as it is hard to believe. And moreso because he has overlapped worlds. More than overlap, it seems like a perfect amalgamation.

 

And when you do get to the end, you realise why Chuma goes to the lengths and depths. He is making a plea for language but not just language, cultures on the brink of extinction and he is also asking us how well we know who we are. He asks for introspection, asks for an inquiry into our religion, our sociology, our financial systems.

 

His main characters seem to be living on different sides of the world but are connected. We are as some would put it, living in a world of six degrees of separation.

 

It is written very much like an Ousmane Sembene God’s Bits of Wood book but with a wider plane of influence. It is a modern day epic that is intriguing as it is teaching. It’s epic scale is in no way confusing for those with the patience to follow through to the end, to the extinction of the Menai to wonder whether the race, the language, the customs, the wisdom, the songs, have come to an end or maybe could be saved.

 

On reaching the end of the book, and reconciling his first words, you realise you have just read one of Africa’s best writers. His ability to create the world that is “The Extinction of Menai” was ambitious because of the seeming scale but  Godmenai it was enjoyable and unforgettable.

 

Perhaps because of what language means to him, he went to the lengths of an epic to relay a message that a story can better tell than a declaration, and while declarations have their space, the story should awaken us to a deeper appreciation of our roots and identity as African regardless what shade we are. And that we are human no matter what language we speak.

 

An epic that doesn’t shy away from the cultural, spiritual, financial, political and sociological influences on people, this is my best read this year of our Lord, 2017.

 

P.s As a writer, there was a lot to take from the chapters that had Lynn Christie, Grace, Humphrey Chow, and Malcom Frisbee in terms of writing. Especially the Malcom Frisbee and Chow lunch. So much. Every writer, every emerging writer should read it.

This review, of Chuma Nwokolo’s The Extinction Of Menai, a 2017 publication, was written, for Turn The Page Africa, by Joel Benjamin Nevender.

You can order for a copy of the book by contacting us. We will be delighted to deliver to you wherever in the world that you are.

A Conspiracy Of Ravens – Othuke Ominiabohs.

Othuke Ominiabohs’s A Conspiracy Of Ravens.

The politics of Nigeria’s oil industry has always been as fascinating as it heartbreaking. The intrigue, corruption, and betrayal that is oft reported, to be afoot, in the media and elsewhere, is expertly articulated in Othuke’s ‘A conspiracy of Ravens’.

The book is written in a fast-paced and humorous way making it quite the joy to read. Also, Othuke is not afraid to slot in a ‘complicated’ word or two every so often throughout the story which lends a certain sophistication to the novel.

This is a book that will keep you glued to its pages until you either must absolutely put it down to attend to an emergency or you have finished reading it.

This review, of Othuke Ominiabohs’s A Conspiracy Of Ravens, was written, for Turn The Page Africa, by Lynn Gitu Turyatemba.

You can purchase a copy or more of the tile from our online bookshop by following this link A Conspiracy Of Ravens.

Questions For Ada – Ijeoma Umebinyuo

Ijeoma Umebinyuo’s Questions For Ada.

Questions for Ada is a collection of poems, but, mostly, it reads like a manual for your healing.

 

Reading the book, it is obvious that Ijeoma Umebinyuo has the uncanny ability to weave magic from her pain and the pain of others. I first saw her poems in those inspirational quotes online, and so I followed her on Twitter. By the time I got a copy of the book, I was head over heels with her personality and her sass. The book, thankfully, did not disappoint.

 

She tackles femininity, masculinity, the lives of women, mental health, colonialism, identity, and so many other important issues in a way that is both brave and compassionate. Many poems are short and poignant, suited to be daily mantras. Others are long and elaborate, especially when she wants to tell a story. Her poems are reminiscent of folklore in some parts, reflecting her commitment to authenticity and preserving our culture.

 

I like to read fast, and then come back and linger over books this good. Yet, for this book, I had to read slowly, savoring it like a good meal.

 

As a woman, reading the poems in “Questions for Ada” was an especially spiritual experience. She chided me for shrinking myself, more than once. She reminded me of my beauty, my grace, my strength, my poise. She knows so intimately the demons that black girls fight: a painful lack of self-esteem, hurt and disappointment from abusive relationships, the pain of heartbreak, the fear of love, the lack of self-love. She is the big sister and the best friend: showing you she gets it, telling you how to get past it.

 

Yet, keeping with the (in) famous feminist cry “The personal is political”, she shows how politics affects individual lives with the way she critiques colonialism and institutionalized sexism. Reading the book, it is obvious that the author is committed to speaking out about all the things that would destroy us as she so aptly described in her TED talk. This is a book I will read until the pages are frayed. A true gem.

This review, of Ijeoma Umebinyuo’s Questions For Ada, was written, for Turn The Page Africa, by Ophelia Kemigisha.

You can order for copies of more of it from our online bookshop by following this link Questions For Ada.

 

Cassandra – Violet Barungi

The cover image for Violet Barungi’s Cassandra.

Set in the Kampala of the late 1980s, and the early 1990s, the story of Cassandra, a beautiful, opinionated, somewhat sensible young woman, is predictable.

Cassandra is entangled in a sort of love triangle with two brothers – one, a famed Casanova, and the other, a stoic and moody Darcy. She chooses the Casanova, Raymond, who is estranged from his wife, has a son but treats her like a queen. Bevis, Raymond’s brother, admires Cassandra from afar and secretly believes his brother does not deserve her at all. He is, however, too gentlemanly to make any moves on her now that she has chosen his brother.

As it turns out, Cassandra’s choice of the Casanova brother is not as favourable as she hoped as she deals with one incident of drama after another. By the time the novel closes, though, Bevis and Cassandra are together and Cassandra is at the top of her career game. It can, thus, be said that all’s well that ends well.

The novel’s author, Violet Barungi, is evidently talented, weaving her words together nicely to form the story. She, also, skillfully tackles the difficult issues of that time in Uganda including the AIDS scourge and civil war making her story relatable. However, she is let down by attempting to pursue multiple storylines that she has difficulty linking effectively to each other. The reader is, thus, left with the task of trying to keep track of which character is which and how they connect to which storyline.

This review, of Cassandra, was written, for Turn The Page Africa, by Lynn Gitu Turyatemba.

You can purchase the book from our online bookshop by following this link Cassandra.