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Daudi’s Dream Steals Children’s Attention

By Vision Reporter

Added 4th October 2002 03:00 AM

SUSAN Mugizi Kajura put Uganda on the literary map of the world in 2001 by scooping the Most Promising New Children’s Writer category in the Macmillan Writer’s Prize for Africa with her first book, Daudi’s Dreams.

SUSAN Mugizi Kajura put Uganda on the literary map of the world in 2001 by scooping the Most Promising New Children’s Writer category in the Macmillan Writer’s Prize for Africa with her first book, Daudi’s Dreams.

TITLE: Daudi’s Dream
AUTHOR: Susan Mugizi Kajura
PUBLISHER: Macmillan
AVAILABILITY: All bookshops in Uganda
REVIEW: Geresom Musamali

SUSAN Mugizi Kajura put Uganda on the literary map of the world in 2001 by scooping the Most Promising New Children’s Writer category in the Macmillan Writer’s Prize for Africa with her first book, Daudi’s Dreams.
She received her prize during the Nairobi International Book Fare last weekend (September 27-29). In the 32-page book, two children, Daudi and Sara, hatch out a plan of stealing back their soda cash-cap from Evil Eye, the Seiko’s Café one-eyed barman who has, in the first instance, snatc-hed the cap from them.
True, Daudi has himself been scrambling for the bottle tops from Seiko’s tables, at least once crashing into other people’s food-and-drink trays during the swoops. However, out of the tops he has been getting, he wins a cap from a particular soda he bought with donated money –– his first soda in life.
So at the time of uncovering the win, a strange girl, Sara, appears out of the blue. Evil Eye forcefully swaps the winning cash cap for a fake, and Sara helps Daudi steal back from Evil Eye’s drawer the right cap and replaces it with the fake. Now Daudi will be able to use the sh100,000 cash prize to buy a sewing machine for his mother, Lillian, to save her from crushing rock into building stones, a business from which she was earning a living.
Lillian is originally a tailor. Her old sewing machine was confiscated by the landlord over failure to pay rent. Daudi’s more elderly friend, Majid, has encouraged him to look for a win in the caps.
Seiko allows Daudi to collect bottle tops from the café, in return for sweeping the place.
Now the impending purchase of the machine is no longer what the cassava seller in the market called just Daudi’s dream.
Last week, I asked my nine-year old son, Amos, and his friends in the neighbourhood to read Daudi’s Dream. After reading, they paused to me several highly disturbing moral questions like: “Is Mugizi right to plot a children’s story around ‘positive’ theft by children?” “Is she right to make a fictional person-with-disability (PWD), a bad character? Does it mean that lame or blind people are naturally dangerous?” (Reminds me of the cyclops in the Greek Legends or of Long John Silver in Treasure Island).
They asked: “Why does Daudi not have a father?” they also asked Why Lillian’s husband is not mentioned anywhere, yet Daudi’s little sister makes her presence felt through continual breast-feeding and crying. They asked: “Is he dead? has he simply abdicated from his responsibility of providing for the home? or is he a soldier away fighting in the Congo and in Sudan?”
And by the way, what is Mugizi telling our children about the way people make their fortunes, given that the efforts of Daudi’s hard work –– sweeping do not reward him, but the single donation from a mysterious woman pays off?
I bet Mugizi set out to write a very simplistic story for children, with no complicated plot, no rounded characters and no long and winding sentences.
Unfortunately, given my experiment, the story may prove popular for arousing too many questions in the little kids instead.
I am not sure whether or not that is what literature ought to do in children. But I am sure the author has written a story that will stick in children’s minds. And I believe that Mugizi, who first trained as a teacher but sharpened her writing skills through Adventures of Tema for the Children’s Vision, has is a talented writer. My family and I look forward to her next book. Ends

Daudi’s Dream Steals Children’s Attention

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