waiting by Goretti Kyomuhendo

Waiting by Goretti Kyomuhendo

Ugandan fiction

Source – personal copy

It has been a while since I add a new country to the list of place I have read from you get to a point where the countries become harder to find I have always had a couple put to one side for an emergency and still have three other countries on my shelves to read but this has been on my list to read for a while it was highlighted on a post for the best books from Africa this one jumped out at me as I hadn’t read a title from Uganda. Goretti Kyomuhendo has written a number of novels and a couple of children’s books. But uin recent years she has been involved with the African writer’s trust and has published a handbook on how to be a creative African writer. This was the last novel she has published in 2007.

We had learned about the details of the war a month before, when Father returned from thje city where he had worked at the Main Post Office as a clerk. He told us that President Idi Amin was about to be overthrown by a combined force of Ugandans who lived in exile and the Tanzanian soldiers who were assisting them. The soldiers were advancoing quickly, heading for Kampala from the southwestern border that Uganda shared with Tanzania. The districts along that route were already in the hands of the Liberators.

Alin’s soldiers were looting shops, hospitals, banks and private homes in the city. They wanted to seize as much as they could before the Liberators arrived, Some were fleeing towards the West Nile and Notrthern Ugandan regions, their home areas. People had vacuated the city in fear of both the advancing liberators and the fleeing soldiers. No one knew what each group was likely to do to civilians

THe first details hit the village from her father.

This follows the wars that raged in the seventies in Uganda that tore the country apart. Where the Liberators are trying to unseat the tyrant Idi Amin or as he was calling himself at the time the Last King of Scotland as his troops go through the country trying to kill all the rebels and those that had helped them. This is all seen through the eyes of a young teen Alinda who because her mother is drawn-out labour has become the main mother figure for the family that is in the village extend family as they all try to avoid the Amin troops. One brother is set on to draw the liberators her mother is trying to give birth but is panicking about getting caught. We are also told how things got so bad the background to the Indians getting sent away from the country. An uncle he then takes on four wives. When he converts to Islam this was due to them getting those businesses that had been left by the Indians when they left all this after he had spent time before that selling black market items to get by. We also see the beliefs and superstitions that drift through the locals as they try their best to avoid the looting and violence that follows Amin troops. Will they get through is there hope outside Uganda.

Mother was gasping, and calling out softly for help. I saw a cushion of blood, and heard a baby crying. Mother told me to find a small bundle under her pillow, which contained a razor blade and some cotton, wool and gauze.

“Cut,” she commanded, when I told her I’d found it

“Cut what?”

“The umbilical cord.”

My hand trembled, and I could not hold the razor blade steady. I could not see the cord. I feared to look at the jellied blood next to the baby. I thought I might vomit and tried hard to contain myself. Then I saw something like a felshy string coiling out of the bloody mess and winding its way to the baby’s stomach

She helps give birth to her baby brother as the war rages outside the village.

Powerful is the word for this book we get to see the last embers of the war as Amin troops try and control the local road. Alina and her family are trying to get by her mother struggling to give birth with all this going on all around. Alinda voice comes through so well in this book as the does the village life the comes and going of the extended family as they all try to keep away from the war but also the spirit of a world that is maybe gone with the use of herbs and nature maybe helping the villagers get through. I have been a fan of books set in Villages as they always show how similar we can be the uncle is a typical figure a black market man that when he sees the chance to get an Indian business comes his way by changing his religion he seizes it with two hands. Will they all survive will they find a way out?

April 2021
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