REVIEW: “NEVER THE SAME AGAIN” AT THE LAUNCH, SEPT 18, 2019, AT THE HUMAN RIGHTS HOUSE, FOUNDATION FOR HUMAN RIGHTS INITIATIVE (FHRI), KAMPALA – UGANDA.
By: Justice James Ogoola (Former Deputy Chief Justice of Uganda)
Sam Aisu is an accomplished author of diverse literary callings: playwright, poet and with the new book, a novelist of good reckoning.
In his Dedication of the book, Sam remembers, among others, Benedicto Kiwanuka, Byron Kawadwa and many others who perished at the hands of political persecution, intrigue and abhorrence of their differing political opinion.
How very prophetic and how apt that only two days from today’s launch of Aisu’s book, the Judicial Bench of Uganda is going to showcase a public lecture in honour of that judicial martyr, lawyer and Chief Justice. Benedicto Kiwanuka, perished close to half a century ago, in unwavering pursuit of justice and the rule of law; and whether coincidence or no coincidence or convergence of fate, Sam Aisu harvests handsomely from the inspiration of the giants of our discordant history.
And then on the Acknowledgements page of the novel, Sam honours, among many others, Okot p’Bitek; Again Sam Aisu is in good company – drawing literary inspiration from yet another one of our history’s titanic: Okot p’Bitek, whose reputation and accolades over the two songs – of Lawino and Ocol, are the literary granary of our chronicles.
All which reminds one of the Golden Age of Uganda’s awakening: the verdant age of the early to mid 1960s, when Makerere boasted of a sleuth of essayists, poets, playwrights, intellectuals and all: the likes of Neogy, Rubadidri, Mazrui, Okello Oculi, Okot p’Bitek himself. Those in their time painted a shining rainbow of literary colours of the skies of this island.
Then suddenly there came darkness of the dusk on the horizon, enveloping and swallowing, pharaoh like, the clear light of the promising dawn, and ending in the wilderness of political oppression, suffocating all literary creativity and ultimately leading to literary impotence.
Today, I am thrilled to say that the times for a second literary awakening are in the air. Sam Aisu and others around this island are busy fanning the embers of our literary fireplace.
Sam Aisu’s work, which we launch today, is refreshing. It ushers in a lovely breeze and air, in an otherwise stale literary environment. This work is steeped in the horrific tyranny of the awful military dictatorship of yesteryear, and in the hideous cancer of larceny (whose Christian name is corruption) yet the Novel gives freshness and a hope unmatched in most of our literary works of this genre. This unique characteristic of the novel makes for an exciting and insightful reading.
Sam Aisu tells the story of the deterioration of a political leadership that systematically shrinks from the vibrant, noble, idealistic phase of genesis, to the revelation of the final unabashed corruption in all its stinking manifestations.
Aisu tells the tale in a style that is comfortable, accommodating and even friendly. He is not the confrontational and antagonistic radicalism of political activist, not to spread hate rhetoric. He is not the demagoguery student of exposition of opposition. He is not the belligerent assault on the perceived oppression and injustice chocking the populace of the island. He is rather the gentle finger of satire, urging a diplomatic discourse, in which the writer story teller gives room to the reader’s own fertile imagination of what the story is telling and where the story is leading.
In this Aisu succeeds enormously in carrying his readers with him on a lovely flight of fancy; on his journey of an exciting tale.
From the palm of a skilled literary hand pours forth every chapter (all the 40 chapters of it), a captivating milestone on this exhilarating journey of incredible imagination, through to Orwellian Island Farm – an island saturated in a history of discord and violence, an island of bloodshed and bloodletting; an island of insurrection and resurrection – all in equal measure. An island, which despite its magnanimous nickname (the pearl of Africa) has for the last 5o years of her life, been famous more for the wickedness in her misdeeds, than for the lusture in her pearl. An island which for the first jubilee of her sovereign life, been struggling for freedom and justice; and for liberty and sanity – in a bid for peace, a wholesome peace that has proved but elusive and illusionary.
Thank you Sam Aisu. Thank you for scratching our ears. Thank you for titillating the heart and the soul of our island.
“It is a master piece…….. It should be a literature set book”
- Dr. Livingstone Sewanyana, United Nations Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order
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