Abyssinian Chronicles: A Novel
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Like Salman Rushdie's Midnight's Children and Gabriel Garcia Marquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude, Moses Isegawa's Abyssinian Chronicles tells a riveting story of twentieth-century Africa that is passionate in vision and breathtaking in scope.
At the center of this unforgettable tale is Mugezi, a young man who manages to make it through the hellish reign of Idi Amin and experiences firsthand the most crushing aspects of Ugandan society: he withstands his distant father's oppression and his mother's cruelty in the name of Catholic zeal, endures the ravages of war, rape, poverty, and AIDS, and yet he is able to keep a hopeful and even occasionally amusing outlook on life. Mugezi's hard-won observations form a cri de coeur for a people shaped by untold losses.
begin with, most teachers had financial problems. They would go to the headmaster and explain their positions, and according to the need, he would decide how much to give them as a supplement to, or an advance on, their salaries. He would dole out the money and write the amount on a piece of paper. In the meantime, the deputy was writing his own pieces of paper, which ended up on the headmaster’s desk. There was such a big heap of famous pieces of paper that many got lost or confused. The only
exhausted me enough to make me sleep like a crushed log. The first time I raised my hand against the dead, I felt the freakish energy of discovery course through me. I first attacked the graves reverently, but with time I acquired the reckless pleasure of the more seasoned demolishers. As going up a mountain makes people giddy, going under the earth made me feel more grounded, like a rock. The graves opened up like sea chests split open by a pirate’s axe. The legacy degraded—curious, sad, hard
war of wills, which I always lost. My main task each morning was to wake the shitters and line them up with enough space between them to avoid fights as they shat, because I wanted all the steaming stuff in the middle of the newsprint on which they squatted. In order to avoid catching the scatological blasts full in the face, I would stand a little distance away and watch, shouting at anyone whose rectum strayed from the bull’s-eye. The strainings and explosions were not too different from
sent over to his home to deliver a message, I would tremble, waiting for him to confront me with my evil thoughts. He never did. He appeared strangely happy to see me, which confused me, although it did not change my thoughts or my feelings for Lusanani. Confronted with dictatorship, and especially with the lack of freedom of speech for the first time, I thought I was the only one suffering in silence, but the red-ink incident proved otherwise. I had somehow adapted to the blind alley that was
billowing skirt, fear ticking like a small device in my head. Serenity returned from work as usual, handbag in hand, his stiff trousers chiseling the air, a detached look on his face. As he changed and headed for the gas station, my fear was a gong in my chest. He returned with a satisfied look in his eyes, stationed himself in front of the box and began his political soliloquy. Padlock was busy crocheting, driving a long hooked needle into fat thread to produce the creased ropes she needed to