Reading has been an integral part of my life since I was five years old. It has brought me so much knowledge, entertainment and fun and turned me into a world citizen long before Vint Cerf and Bob Kahn invented the global free Internet.
“ I read books as one breathes air, to fill up and live.’’ – Anne Dallard
- I read because it is one of my key attributes.
- As a medical doctor of the 21st century where things change fast, I have to keep myself well informed about new advances in medicine, best care practices , new diseases like COVID-19, other disease outbreaks. I have to read beyond medicine to fill in the gaps in my general knowledge and logic.
- In this Information Age, where there is instant access to information: fake and true, one has to be well informed to discern the truth about the most important issues and ideas of our time.
- As an emerging writer, I have to read to expand my knowledge and unlock my critical thinking skills- all essential in honing my writing skills. I have to read across genres, time periods and cultures since there is a lot to know and understand in the world. Reading as a writer helps me to fill the gaps in my knowledge and logic and removes my biases.
As I grow older, I have noticed that I seek more to know the truth and understand the world- searching for the reality behind appearances, the deeper truth about life. The old age says, “ That you shall know the truth , and the truth shall set you free.’’
English is my second language and my main language of writing, reading makes me proficient in the English language.
This is what I have been reading lately:
THE FIRST DAUGHTER (1996) by Goretti Kyomuhendo
Goretti, one of Uganda’s leading novelist, wrote her debut novel in her early thirties. It is about Kasemiire’s journey from infancy in a remote rural area in western Uganda to working and being a mother in the big city of Kampala. As the story unfolds, it reveals the common issues of the time- children being seen but not heard, the boy child being treasured more than the girl child, arranged marriages, teenage pregnancies and bullying in schools.
Kasemiire, a bright girl in her family of six, passes highly to join the nearest government school. To the surprise of many including her mother, she is fully supported by her father. At the boarding school she struggles to fit in and with the help of a friend, Anita, she thrives and excels. Unexpectedly, youthful and naive, she falls pregnant just one term before she writes her O-level exams. She condemns herself to a life of abject poverty as she is banished by her father while the boyfriend, Steven, continues with his education,
Through numerous struggles some of which befell on her because of her beauty, she is rescued by a Catholic nun who gives her a second chance at life through education up to university level.
The past catches up with her while at Makerere university; when a mutual friend unknowingly to her, connects her to Steven.
She is so determined to break the cycle of abject poverty in her family that she finds it hard to rekindle her relationship with Steven, the father of her son. She learns of Anita’s betrayal over Steven.
Gradually she trusts herself and rebuilds her relationship with Steven. They go on to have a set of twins together, sharing the care for Kasemiire’s mother and family in a very harsh environment.
It is written brilliantly, flowing smoothly to engage the reader all the time. It reminded me of that 1989 film entitled: Consequences. A popular film about teenage pregnancy in Africa with emphasis on the need for parents to communicate with their children at all times.
The first daughter should be read by all young boys and girls to know and understand the consequences of the decisions and choices they make.
FROM JOURNEYS TO WORDS(2022)- WOBBLY TALES OF Expat Lives by Pearl Kasujja- Van De Velde and Julie Epenu- Robert
Two young Ugandan women: Pearl married to a Belgian and Julie married to a French national, born and raised in Uganda share their real life personal experiences of living as expatriate wives as they follow their husbands to their work stations for over twenty years. Starting off as wives, they become mothers and world citizens.
For Pearl, home is Uganda and Belgium and for Julie, home is Uganda and France.
Living in different countries, they start again every four years or less. Countries like Bangladesh, Zambia, South Africa, Zimbabwe, China, Lebanon, Madagascar, Guinea, France, The Comoros Islands.
They have no control over their next destination but have to make a home where thy find themselves.
They honestly share the challenges they face as they live this nomadic lifestyle.
The stress of moving across the world, fitting in , language barriers, learning new languages, lonely lives, the friendships, the food, the climate, cultures and traditions, and safety, health care, finding reliable house helpers, schools for their children , finding employment , raising children in different cultures- third culture kids, struggling to find a sense of belonging.
One constant in this changing environment is the support of the Expatriate community- keeping them together and focused.
The COVID-19 pandemic lockdown found Pearl and her family in China. Initially, they chose to ride out the storm but 3 weeks into the pandemic they went home only to return seven months later when China opened up at the peak of the pandemic in Europe.
The two ladies , their spouses and children are forced to adjust, integrate while keeping their cultural identity. They have had to let go of some things- apart from their core values and principles, so as to live their true lives
Over the years they have learned to get the best out of each place, become very flexible and thus finding it easier to adapt to any place. They are both empowered and dynamic persons having learned a lot of new things in each place.
It is a well written book; those of us who have lived away from home can relate to some of their experiences.
They carry you easily with them to each new station.
I would recommend it to anyone who wants to expand her/his horizons.
Not forgetting that: Home is where the heart is.
CHARLES- VICTIM OR VILLAIN– By Penny Junor
This book was first published in 1998 to present the true picture of the Prince of Wales after Princess Diana had published: Diana- Her True Story/ In Her Own Words(1997) by Andrew Morton.
I read it by then but I had to retrieve it from my Collection after Prince Charles became King Charles 111 on 8 September 2022 after the death of Queen Elizabeth 11.
I am rereading it to find the reality behind appearances- know the King for who he is.
A lot has happened since that book was written to change the world, the people and attitudes.
It starts off with the shocking, distressing death of Princes Diana on the 31st August 1997 and ends in eighteen chapters. In 18 chapters, it tries to explore what led to the destruction of their marriage of fifteen years. It brings out the pressures that go with position in a modern world. The Prince’s life is controlled by a system he has grown up into unlike Diana, an outsider who had to carve her own path. Diana was never guided through the system more so to understand that she had to share the Prince with his staff, family, United Kingdom and the Commonwealth.
From the onset, the media trailed her for photographs and stories to sell to the hungry public. Later it translated into losing her freedom and privacy.
When the Prince and Princess started drifting apart, the intrusive media exploited the inadequacies in their personalities. The media took sides and Diana chose to manipulate it to suit her purpose. At the end of the day, the media profited from it all while Prince Charles’ philanthropic work went unnoticed.
Family, friends and the public watched miserably as the marriage was dissolved. The children themselves also suffered as they lived under cameras and prying eyes, so did the ‘other Woman’, Camilla Parker Bowles.
Diana had the knack of playing the staff of the Palace of St. James, Buckingham Palace and the media against each other. Some marriages of her staff did not survive the storms.
The divorce left both the Prince and Princess badly hurt and her death was a terrible shock to the Prince.
The friction between the Royal family and the Spencers remained palpable.
I respected the Prince for choosing never to speak ill of Diana though she blamed him for the breakdown of their marriage. He lives history to judge both of them. It is not lost on me that the two were human beings living in a modern world.
Thankfully, Prince William and Prince Harry were supported by family and friends to grow into confident men. The two of them wish to see their father recognised for his selfless work to his Trust and want to see him happy. They have accepted Camilla in their father’s life and have moved on with their own lives.
As more books get written about King Charles and Camilla, Queen Consort, they will help us to make our own conclusions about the Royal family.
The writer asks us the readers/public about the role we play in making the royals into victim of their positions other than villains.
Last but not least, I have the best news for readers and writers of African stories; Leap Publishers of Uganda, an African –Christian publishing Hub, launched a Digital Bookstore in September 2022. The aim is to have a one stop centre where you can buy and publish your stories as you preserve the African heritage. Emerging writers can be assisted through the publishing process at an agreed cost and terms and published writers can be helped to have their work reach a global audience. We are living in the Digital-driven era where recent studies have shown that in 2021, Africa had 591 million Internet users with an estimated 800 million by 2025. Digital technology has made book publishing a huge business that will continue to grow. Currently in Africa, 53% books sold are digital, 43% printed and 0-4% Audio.
The new eBooks store is found on : AfricanBooks.com
Its publishing Platform: AfricanBooks.pub
eBooks can be bought in the Ugandan shillings using Mobile Money accounts or in USD using VISA cards.
As a writer, I have checked them out and found them solid and credible. My fiction novels : The Last Lifeline (2014) and And The Lights Came on (2015) were published on this new platform last week under my pen name : Jane Nannono.
AfricanBooks.com currently has writers from Uganda, Ghana, America, Nigeria, Australia and Kenya.
It has made sales in Kenya, Ghana, America, Sweden, Tanzania, Rwanda, Europe and Uganda. Opening an account on this platform is free. The youngest writer on the platform is a 10-year-old primary school student from the Rainbow International school, Uganda.
Now let us sharpen our pencils, dust off our laptops and turn our minds into an open playground where our imagination can run wild. The Digital Book store is on our laptops and Smart phones.
“Reading is a free discount ticket to anywhere.’’ – Mary Schmich.