Essays, poems and Stories of an African-American

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Pearl By The Nile; a fiction Novel

The Fiction book Pearl By The Nile is a carefully researched story of pre-colonial, colonial and post colonial Africa. In the book we read about Buganda Kingdom Kings, Chieftains and organized communities of the great lakes regions in Central Africa. In the book we also read about what was prevailing between 50 AD to 2013. Events in the stories may have been true but have been rendered in fiction.

Tom Mukasa, the author draws us to aspects of the lives of people who played important roles in what is also known as the Pearl of Africa. The Queen Mother Muganzirwazza, King Muteesa (I), King Mwanga (II), the Kings in next door kingdoms with Buganda are key players as shown in the book. The Queen Mother led teams to build and maintain large palaces all over Buganda while the husband/King was away in boarder consolidation campaigns that took long periods. King Muteesa (I) was born to the adoring Queen Mother. He was raised under the patronage-grooming system in Buganda. This helped him, like all other children of his age, to be initiated into the Buganda Kingdom cultures of self sustenance, good conduct and prepared him for leadership.

Pre-colonial Central Africa was a series of organized chieftains and kingdoms. It is through this system that people were able to self identify, live, feed and believe without question their leaders. The Kingdoms or Chieftains traded with each other as well as with other traders who came from across the oceans. Later, much later do we see these re-arranged into states after the early 1880s' Berlin Conferences. These partition plans made in Europe were not shared with reigning rulers in Africa. The partitioning spelt formal colonization. Nor was this known to the rulers. So, when the colonizers came to claim from Africans what was theirs according to the Berlin Conference whether subtly or by force it is no surprise they met with resistance. New trends such as skin colour, Judeo-Christain Religion, Islam, Hinduism, reading, writing, re-orientation and rediscovery of all concerned led to deeper reflections and many questions. This kind of questioning posed discomfiture or at the same time brought break through initiatives. Buganda Kingdom set-up faced a forceful shake up and the pieces never fell in their previous places. King Muteesa (I) had a desire to improve on the standards of living of his subjects and status of his Kingdom. He invited the white people to come spread their kind of light, heal the people with their medicines and also help improve the standard of living. The Arabs were present in Buganda Kingdom in the first half of the 19th Century. King Muteesa (I) like his father detested their slave trade but he however allowed them to contribute to the Kingdom. King Muteesa (I) encouraged other forms of trade the Arabs engaged in and made sure he supported them. It was an occasional instance in which he rounded up dissenters within Buganda Kingdom and had them sold in Slavery. With an inheritance and rich legacy handed down by previous kings, Buganda Kingdom was one kingdom its neighbours traded with and had diplomatic relations. All this was modified as a result of colonization.

The Pearl By The Nile brings us through the times when Africa was interacting with what was known as the western world then. In the book, Tom Mukasa takes us through the changes that upset a previous status quo and what would eventually become Uganda.
World Affairs then had an impact on interior Africa: from finding Dr. David Livingstone; finding where the Pearl of Africa was; finding the source of the Nile; the spice trade routes; Indian sub-continent famine; both World Wars I & II; to exporting American made cotton cloth materials to Africa and other parts of the world from Massachusetts. Fashion and the 'American material' cloth influenced the thinking of the people of interior Africa.
The indigenous network building around early 1900s, skills building and realization that Africans were able to negotiate key roles as players in the own destiny were turning points. A re-birth was initiated and this set the stage for independence.

The book raises one question whether or not Africa has positioned itself to address newer forces such as: governance, democratization, urbanization, environment sustenance, rights, poverty, child neglect, HIV, technological skills and the potential of Diasporas.
 Tom Mukasa

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