Book Review: The beauty of kindness

Book title: Ineza Marries The Princess Author: Stephen Mugisha Reviewed by: Emmanuel Ngabire Publisher: Excel Education Partners Stephen Mugisha's "Ineza Marries the Princess" is another in the series of readers that seeks to convey moral lessons through the medium of story.

Book title: Ineza Marries The Princess 

Author: Stephen Mugisha
Reviewed by: Emmanuel Ngabire
Publisher: Excel Education Partners

Stephen Mugisha’s “Ineza Marries the Princess” is another in the series of readers that seeks to convey moral lessons through the medium of story.

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The book illustrates why we should strive to share what we have with others. (Emmanuel Ngabire)

It is the story of Ineza, the young son of Giraneza, a rich man who is famed for his kindness. The king soon hears of Giraneza’s extraordinary kindness and invites him to his palace, where his little son, Ineza, is betrothed to the king’s daughter. The boy is left at the palace, where he grows up together with the King and his future bride.

Some years later, Ineza’s dying father summons him and leaves him his will. In death, as in life, he is kind to the needy and generous to all. He makes his son promise to give a quarter of his wealth to the poor, another quarter to the sick, a third quarter to the elderly. The remaining part is to be the young man’s inheritance.

On his father’s death, Ineza, an obedient son, fulfils his last wishes to the letter, against the advice of all.

His share of the inheritance, though sizeable by normal proportions, is too small for one who would aspire to marry a princess.

The king, no longer wants him for a son-in-law, and attempts to keep Ineza away from the palace.

However, as the princess who loves him deeply, keeps demanding for him, the king is finally forced to allow Ineza back but he has a plan up his sleeve.

Before he can marry his daughter, the King gives Ineza three impossible tasks, failure to execute which will see him forfeit his claim to the princess’ hand in marriage.

But, as Ineza will soon find out, no good turn goes unrewarded. As he stands perplexed about how to accomplish these tasks, a number of animals that were once helped by his father come up to help him — a fish, a fly, a snake, an ant-eater, a fly, etc. Even the thunder helps him with a task. In the end, Ineza gets the girl, and they live happily ever after.

What is unique about the story is that, as a retelling of a traditional Rwandese story, it reflects the cultural Rwandan belief of the harmony that should exist between man and nature. It might be common knowledge that if we are kind to fellow human beings they will return that kindness. But few know the value of kindness to animals, plants, or the environment in general.

What this story teaches is that the care for the environment is not a recent development in our society, imported from the West — it is thoroughly Rwandan. Our duty towards the environment is one that we should teach all our children from the earliest ages, and Stephen Mugisha does that perfectly in this book.

I recommend this book for beginning readers, or those interested in a common motif of African folklore.