Book Review: 'Kintu'

From a gruesome prologue, a descendant of Kintu, Kamu Kintu is killed by a mob in Bwaise, a suburb in Kampala on claims that he is a thief after he acquired a 5-CD changer and a Panasonic television set.

Title: Kintu
Author: Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi
Reviewed by: Solomon Asaba

From a gruesome prologue, a descendant of Kintu, Kamu Kintu is killed by a mob in Bwaise, a suburb in Kampala on claims that he is a thief after he acquired a 5-CD changer and a Panasonic television set.

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Kintu by Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi.

In ‘Kintu’, Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi, the author, shows how a curse from an ancient governor Kintu is passed on to generations until the modern day Uganda.

The story begins when Kintu and his men set off from the village Mayirika to pay homage to the new Kabaka Kyabaggu in 1750.

The group camps at different points for a rest including Lwera in Masaka. Lwera was those days known for its mysteries since several men on voyages like these rarely made it out.

It is here that Kintu commands Kalema to bring him some wine. Kalema drinks from the gourd before delivering it to Kintu. Kintu loses his cool, slaps Kalema on the head and he falls dead.

Kintu orders his men to bury him in a safe place and ensure that no revelation about Kalema’s death is made.

Unfortunately while at the palace, Kintu is haunted by Kalema’s spirit over inappropriate burial. He ensures that Kalema is buried appropriately on their way back home.

After the unraveling, Kintu’s wife Nakato is suspicious that something strange happened but Kintu has no courage to tell anyone. Ntwire, Kalema’s father is restless, and later discovers that Kintu had slapped his son to death.

Ntwire places a curse on the name ‘Kintu’, he disappears never to be seen again. In order to avert a possible danger, Kintu’s sorcerers advise him to issue an order not to slap children on their heads.

But the curse has already set in and Bbale, Nakato’s only child, dies on the eve of his wedding but his child survives in another woman’s womb to carry the bloodline. Nakato blames this on her sister and co-wife Babirye, but still believes she can find her son.

Nakato is discovered hanging on tree a few days later. As tradition demands, a pit is dug below the hanging corpse; Nakato falls in a squatting position and soil is heaped on top. Kintu disappears in quest for Nakato and he too never comes back. He dies and is buried in a cave.

Just like their patriarch, Kintu’s the bloodline is blessed with twins and generational names are passed on. Unfortunately, the misfortune of the curse carries on too.

Ssubi Nakintu cannot leave in peace with her boyfriend because her dead sister Babirye haunts her. Kanani Kintu and his wife Faisi are the awakened of the Anglican Church from Namirembe. Even their devotion does not stop an incestuous act between their twins Job and Ruth who give birth to Paul.

Out of shame, Paul Kalema is kept from the identity of his father but believes he is Rwandan.

Only Kanani’s sister Magda believes that there is a family curse and ensures that summons are issued out to all branches of the clan for a cleansing reunion.

Isaac Newton Kintu who was born out of an act of rape by a schoolteacher Mr Puti Kintu loses his wife to lupus but mistakenly blames it on HIV.

Kamu’s body is picked from Mulago Hospital and taken for burial. At the same time a swarm of bees surrounds his father’s house Miisi.

At the reunion, the curse is presumably broken after exhuming and rearranging the body’s of ancestors; Kintu, Nakato, Babirye and Bbale. But Ntwire’s spirit won’t disappear just like that. Miisi learns that his only remaining son Kamu died days ago.

Paul discovers his true father, but the Awakened Anglican Kanani dies of an attack because the cat was let out of the bag.

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