By Titus Kakembo
Silence engulfed the National Theatre, June 18, as author Jennifer Makumbi read an extract from her novel Kintu.
Spines were chilled as she painted a verbal picture of Bwaise where a mob sieged Kamu and hurled insults, rained blows and stones on him until he bled to death.
MC Nambozo displays, the Kintu book during its the launch. PHOTO/ Titus Kakembo
“Come to think about this symbolically,” said Makumbi. “His fate shows you that society is fed up with thieves. He is the reason there are poor social services, delayed salaries and bad roads. Unfortunately, they vented their anger on him without bothering to find out whether he was guilty or not.”
“How many thieves out there walking free? It is them who deserve Kamu’s fate,” summed up Makumbi.
“Worse still, Kamu left behind a spouse who was anticipating him to marry her. He had parents, friends and peers.”
Makumbi’s book compares Uganda of past centuries by to the present one by photographically painting mental pictures in the reader’s mind.
She writes assertively about Bwaise, having been the place of last resort for the less endowed during the colonial times.
“When we got independence, the learned Ugandans took over the status of the colonial administrator and folks migrating from villages took over Bwaise,” said Makumbi.
Jennifer Makumbi addressing the audience. PHOTO Titus Kakembo
“Writing makes me feel like a god of sorts. I can create such lovely characters and kill them when I feel like.”
This was during a Writivism Week at the National Theatre where various books and anthologies were exhibited.
The director Africa Writers Trust (AWT), Gorreti Kyomuhendo said creative writing is very fertile and the publishing industry in Uganda is vibrant.
“When Femwrite was started, you could hardly get ten people during a book launch like this of Kintu,” said Kyomuhendo.
“But today we have people of different profiles here. They are hungry for the printed word. The bookshops on every mall, down town, are evidence that the future is brilliant.”
Some of the guests during Writivism Week at the National Theatre. PHOTO/Titus Kakembo
The managing editor of Kwani, Billy Kahora said Makumbi’s victory is no mean achievement.
“We had 280 entries and hers emerged the winner because of how she immaculately stitched the past and the present,” said Kahora.
“Literature is our heritage. We owe it to future generations.”
The audience indicated that Ugandans are interested in books. One Caroline Ariba said she normally moves with a novel in her bag.
“Reading takes me to places I will never go to physically and I meet characters that have real life experiences,” said Ariba. “ It is a good way of spending my leisure time.”
The Uganda National Theatre. PHOTO/ Titus Kakembo