Kintu - Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi
Release Date: 2014
Genre: Historical Fiction
My Rating: 5 Stars!
Uganda’s history reimagined through the cursed bloodline of the Kintu clan in an award-winning debut.
In 1750, Kintu Kidda unleashes a curse that will plague his family for generations. In this ambitious tale of a clan and of a nation, Makumbi weaves together the stories of Kintu’s descendants as they seek to break from the burden of their shared past and reconcile the inheritance of tradition and the modern world that is their future. (Source: Goodreads).
It’s the year 1754, Kintu Kidda, the governor (Ppookino) of Buddu Province and his men set off on a journey to the capital to pay homage to the new Kabaka. The journey is a long and difficult one. On the way, in a momentary fit of anger, Kintu’s actions unleash a curse that will plague his family for generations. Over the years, the nation of Uganda is born and through colonial times and the tribulations of the early independence years, Kintu’s descendants are scattered across the new Uganda; however, the story of their ancestor and his twin wives Nnakato and Babirye lives on and so too does the curse.
The books begins with the violent murder of Kamu Kintu in 2004 in Kampala and takes us back to 1754, to the origins of the curse. It then follows the misfortunes of the Kintu clan spanning across 3 centuries and multiple generations. In the present day, Kintu’s descendants seek to break the curse and to reconcile the inheritance of tradition and the modern world. The novel explores the power of a curse in African society and the myth and power that surrounds twins.
I loved this book for a number of reasons; 1) It felt very relatable and so close to home. I finally understand how Nigerians feel when they read their own literature, 2) It completely dispelled the myth that Africans were ungoverned or ungovernable before colonial occupation. I was actually extremely impressed at how sophisticated the Buganda Kingdom was, 3) This is one fully home grown book, written for a primarily African audience and not an American/Eurpoean as is the case with most African literature; and 4) The amount of research that went into writing this book is simply mind blowing! I later found out this was her doctoral novel so that explains the research.
I mentioned when I started the book that it gave me Homegoing typa feels and this still rings true, I had to keep referring to the family tree to remind myself which descendant I was on.
This is an EPIC novel. An IMPORTANT book, a MASTERPIECE and should be a COMPULSORY read.