Moments of Mutumba's mind

By Vision Reporter

* Listening to Mutumba, it is hard to believe that this sentimental man could have held a gun

* Listening to Mutumba, it is hard to believe that this sentimental man could have held a gun Title: Moments of The Mind Author: William K. Mutumba Publisher: Able Publishing, UK Pages: 56. Year of publication: 2000 Available: Bookshops in town Reviewed by: Ayeta Anne Wangusa Moments of the Mind is a collection of poetry which would best fit in the Romanticism era of the 19th century. It could be best compared to Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass. William Mutumba, the poet, stands out in this post-modernist era, with his sentimental lines of verse. Strangely, these soft strands of words come from a man who was involved in the liberation struggle with the National Resistence Movement. Mutumba says that while he was in the bush, he had time to muse over the moments of the mind, but oddly, his book only highlights two poems that talk about the African political situation. The rest of his poems are, about love, nature and communicating with himself. 'My Village Burns' and 'Hills still Stands' are mirrors of the events in Africa. Mutumba uses images of blood, drought, tears, to depict Africa and juxtaposes this with images of grandeur when he highlights his life abroad. He has lived in Sweden for the last 15 years and there he owns an import and export company called Today All Services AB. Mutumba holds an LLB from Heartfordshire, St Albans, UK. Apart from business, he also teaches English and Swahili at Folk University in Sweden. Mutumba says, "I was inspired to write 'My Village Burns' by the troubles in Rwanda and Burundi. In the poem, Mutumba borrows images of Nalubaale, Kabaleega and Mwanga - all Ugandan images. The urge to write only strikes Mutumba after the Rwanda genocide. There is a silence about his bush experience. Well, one can never tell when the muse visits a poet. Listening to Mutumba, it is hard to believe that this sentimental man could have held a gun, and gone to the bush. But he says atrocities committed against his family forced him into the struggle. Though he was inspired into writing poetry by reading Okot p'Bitek, Mutumba does not carry along the African idioms of his culture to his poetry. In fact, his poetry could be mistaken for having been written by a Whiteman. He repeatedly alludes to seasons like winter, spring, summer and autumn, to relate to his changing feelings towards a loved one. This cuts off his African audience. In other instances he uses images like cherry lips, a green star in the eyes, which are vague to the African audience. The reader wonders as to which audience he is talking to. Mutumba has some sublime lines of verse that romanticise nature the way Walt Whitman would. In his poem 'Battle in the Skies', Mutumba uses imagery, which could be universally understood: "The clouds woke this morning/With fury not known/Grey dark they pressed us down/Winds too cold to move/Birds struggle to air/Gasping as they rose... One of his best poems is 'The Old Lady', whose images are simple but sharply accurate. The poem has words that leave a mark, when you have laid down the book. "Are those lines of wisdom/On your face/ Or lines of pain/ Valleys of sorrow/Or moments painted in joy/Scares of your labour or caves of your secrets..." He has some poems that sound clumsy. The use of inverted syntax does not come out naturally in 'Neighbour.' "Be not afraid of your dislike/Though the neighbour won't agree/That I love honey is not pleasure to the bee." The word dislike sounds like it needed a replacement. It sounds more like a first language interference hiccup. Yet the power of poetry is the oral word and how that word is able to communicate to our emotions. Mutumba comes out as man who enjoys his voice, and you can feel it when he is reciting his poetry. His voice, full of emotion, makes his poetry sweet to the ear, and mellow to the romantic who lives in us. Ends.

Moments of Mutumba's mind