Review of Kintu by Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi
Photo credits: bookish Abena (IG)
Kintu is a novel set in Uganda. It follows the story of 3 generations of an ancient Ugandan family.
Kintu who happened to be their great ancestor was the Ppookino of his village. It was the office of the village head and warrior at the time.
Fate dealt Kintu a wicked blow when an unfortunate incident occurred during one of their sojourns. This resulted to a curse from a foreigner; who wasn’t taken too seriously at first.
It wasn’t until a series of misfortunes began to afflict the Kintu clan and persevered till several generations later that solution was sought.
Kintu is a beautiful novel and the story rooted deeply into the Ugandan history and culture. It carried us through Pre- and post-colonial times and the intrigues of politics of the 18th century to the trials an extended family faced. United by a curse, that may or may not be real, you will find yourself holding on and sighing, propped at the edge of seat, tongue in cheek with every story and the drama that unfolds. You will feel the agony Suubi faced, the blistering frustrations that raked Isaac’s life, the incredulous extremities that plighted the Kanani’s and the turmoils of the descendants highest intellectual, Dr. Miisi.
I think the politics of the time was portrayed vividly so much so that if felt like th author was there when it happened. There were lots of sub themes and touchy issues that need to be discussed such as “The effects if colonization on the strong pillars of the African tradition”.
Although I struggled to pronounce the names (in my head) at first but i soon caught on. I liked that Jennifer Nansumbuga maintained the use of indigenous language in some part as this made it authentic and African indeed.
Kintu is a masterpiece and deserves all the awards I learned it accrued. I couldn’t help but develop respect for the writer and can boldly say she’s been added to the list of my top favorite African writers.
I mean, it’s not every day you read a book that magnifies the littlest details of everyday actions, weaving them into pictures that you could relate to and hence validating the significance of an action or reaction.
For example, I loved how she painted Isaac Kintu’s childhood. You become a part of his misery when you read how he’d Pee’d and poo ‘ed on himself because he couldn’t walk for a long time and how the stinking old urine on the rags and mattresses, he slept on became the bliss that drifted him off to sleep every night.
Kintu came highly recommended and I must say, the hype is worth it. I’m giving it a solid 4 out of 4 stars and recommending it to just about anyone who’s seeking a book that’d keep them spellbound in history, African culture and family drama.