Hey ya’ll. How are you holding up?
Been recovering from the Afrobloggers Winter challenge. Thank you for reading me and it was such an honor reading you. I feel like I’ve actually made friends. Not just blogger friends but people I can do life with.
Cheers to that.
So, this should have come sooner but here it is now.
The first time I read the title I kept wondering what the plot of the book would be. A friend actually suggested that I read Kintu first to intermingle with Makumbi better but I’m glad I read this as my first interface with her.
Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi is a Ugandan novelist and short story writer and has a PhD from Lancaster University. Manchester happened was published in 2019 by one world publications and her short story that features in this book; “Lets tell this story properly” won the Common Wealth Short story prize.
Interesting Bio right? Most say Jennifer does for Ugandan Literature what Chinua Achebe did for Nigerian writing and I don’t doubt this. You shouldn’t too. Here’s why…
Some of the pointers that one of the characters gives a ‘new arrival’ from Uganda to Manchester.
“Let me tell you about this place; you come, you do your job and you keep your head down. Carry a lot of thank you’ s, I’m sorrys and excuse mes… be careful, you fall out with one of them, you fall out with all of them, they all turn against you… don’t tell people about your degrees; play dumb, dumb protects you. Don’t tell them how rich you are back home; they won’t believe you. When they ask, do you like this country? Say its fantastic! When they ask, do you plan to stay? Say of course not! They ask would you like to become British? Say I’m proud to be Ugandan. Finally, they have this thing of being nasty very politely: learn the skill.”
The book is divided into two parts.
Part 1 is departing and part 2 is about returning.
Each section of the different parts features fascinating stories of innumerable Ugandans and their experiences in Manchester. If you’re a lover of books and are Ugandan, she makes it feel sooo much at home as you flip the pages and find Luganda phrases here and there that crack you up. I kept nodding my head and saying Ugandans are so predictable right? Even in Manchester. Hahah.
She zings this up with the style of writing she adopts. So, in Uganda, there’s this thing called ‘direct translation’. Basically refers to how someone can directly translate something from vernacular to English in a way that totally defies the rules of grammar and literature. Jennifer adopts this exceptional style of writing and its very very relatable. She laments that if Shakespeare wrote prose that Ugandans and other Africans understood even if it was alien to them, then why wouldn’t ‘they’ understand our mode of speaking?
Sweet truth right there.
What particularly cracked me up was a story of a dog that found itself in Manchester. Hahah. Now who would have thought that Makumbi would incorporate a story of a dog that goes through cultural shock in the transition from being a free-spirited dog on the streets of Uganda, to a pet in Manchester?
All the stories fused in this book of diverse experiences of Ugandans in the diaspora and the changeover that has to be made on their return will surely give you insight to expectations, in case you were thinking of traveling. I feel like it’s a 101 guide to departure and return of Ugandans to and fro the diaspora and how to make the whole cultural settlement and transition.
East or West, Home’s always best!
This is surely a must read for the Ugandan loyalists and any one else who’d love to get a feel of what a typical Ugandan family setting and life style is.
Anci and uncle B are teaching me how to leave the readers curious during book reviews and to desist from giving too many spoilers! So that’s about it.
Let me know what you think once you get round to reading it. You can check out her 2020 publications; A Girl Is A Body of Water and First Woman.