Book Title: Kintu
Author: Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi
Publisher: Oneworld Publications
Category: Historical Fiction
Pages: 432 pages
Kintu (historical fiction) is a multi-generational saga of the Baganda history that tells the story of Kintu Kidda; the Ppookino of Buddu Province,whom while in leadership, took an action that unleashed a curse upon him and his clan for generations.
The story, divided in six parts, takes us on a history between the 18th century, the beginning of the curse in the kingdom of Buganda and 21st century, the persistence of the curse upon Kintu’s descendants.
Kintu is an epic read that cuts across themes/history from African tradition, to myth & folktale, societal pressure, colonialization, birth of education, sexism, mental health, sexuality, Abrahamic religions and atheism, modernism, the Uganda–Tanzania War of 1978–79 which led to the overthrow of Idi Amin and outbreak of the Ugandan Bush War circa 1980–86.
This book is an insanely heavy masterpiece. The complexity and depth is worth it and the storytelling was beautiful and fascinating. I can’t stop giving appreciation to Makumbi for this. She was able to delivery strongly on her chosen themes.
The family tree and sorting of characters were really helpful; being this was a multiple generational read. Reminds me this was something that the novel And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini lacked and it made it not a really good read for me.
The characters in Kintu were complex; most were dynamic, and when I thought I disliked a character, I tend to find another that replaces the former one.
For Kanani Kintu and his wife, I felt like serving them a hot cup of tea from my mind (e no get were e pain them- in pidgin language).
Makumbi showed us that the Uganda history started a long time ago and she is here to tell that story, not letting them die silently. These stories showed that before colonialism, incidents and events took place long ago.
In Jennifer Makumbi’s words she said Kintu is a “masculinist” novel, and it is focusing on the fragile edifice of paternity, she emphasizes the toll that patriarchy takes on the people who happen to be men.
The last part of this book (ending) was a craft to behold. I loved how the writer was able to interconnect the characters together, giving an ending that was settling to me, and also was able to smash the patriarchy with the creation of a new history.
Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi, a Ugandan novelist and short story writer, has a PhD from Lancaster University. Her first novel, Kintu (Oneworld, 2018), won the Kwani? Manuscript Project in 2013 and was longlisted for the Etisalat Prize in 2014. She was awarded the 2014 Commonwealth Short Story Prize for her story Let’s Tell This Story Properly, and her first full story collection, Manchester Happened, published by Oneworld in 2019. Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi was awarded the prestigious Windham-Campbell Prize for Fiction 2018 to support her writing. She lives in Manchester with her husband and son, and lectures in Creative Writing at Manchester Metropolitan University.