Monday, October 17, 2011

Anatomy of an African Kingdom

I have a bad habit. I cannot resist a bargain books sale, and often binge on $1 paperbacks. But then... I also love libraries, so I take out piles of reading material for free.

I always have a stack of unread books waiting for me, wherever I have lived. I'll be leaving Cape Town in just about a month, so I am determined to read through the stack I've been accumulating for years...

This stack includes a book I got at the Ripon College Library Discard Sale, which happened about three years ago. Whoops!

The book is Anatomy of an African Kingdom: A History of Bunyoro-Kitara by J. W. Nyakatura.

It does depress me that I can see this book was acquired by the library in 1983, but only checked out once, in 1987. I purchased it in 2009.

Now that I've overcome my guilt about neglecting to read an already neglected book, it has been fascinating me! Oral traditions from one region of modern-day Uganda were complied in the 1930s and 1940s by Nyakatura, who was a civil servant for the imperialist British government, though he mistrusted the regime and longed for a return to the traditional system of governance.

I often wonder about what African societies looked like before European contact. This source does not offer a definitive picture, just a brief glimpse into a specific region and tradition. But it's one of the most pain-staking attempts to describe traditional African societies from exclusively African sources. Think about that.

Whenever I've enjoyed a book, I can look back and remember not just the characters, but where I was when I got wrapped up in the story. So for this read, I hope I will always remember curling up on a loveseat in the Recreational Reading corner of the UCT library, of starting a weekend off with some down time at Cocao Cha-Chi in Obz, and of long hours getting sun on the deck in Upper Greenpoint.

No comments:

Post a Comment