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.