Kakwenza Rukirabashaija, a humble, humorous and ever smart author of The Greedy Barbarian, went missing on Tuesday from his home in Iganga. He is said to have been picked up by security agents, allegedly, for ‘cyber harassment.’ I have tried to understand what cyber harassment means since last evening but all I am coming down to is sedition by another name.
Hoping the Iganga DPC will say something today but rumours are that he is being held at Mbuya military barracks. If so, it means the alleged cyber harassment is nothing but his book, The Greedy Barbarian. I last interacted with Kakwenza on Easter Sunday on WhatsApp when he inquired about how I was doing — I was in the middle of finishing deadline work-from-home things.
Jimmy Spire Ssentongo, in his review of the book as printed on the back cover, says “… the novel is bound for a bang.” I get the feeling that the arrest is the figurative bang here. Not that the book is grim or harassing as alleged.
Kakwenza gifted me a copy of the book in February. After 32 pages of the 130-page fiction, I had to place it down for about a week as some kyeyo from Kigali kept me too busy to read. When I returned to it, I decided to start afresh because this guy’s choice of names are not easy. Kagurutsi, Kayibanda, Rukundakanuzire, Baryabusha… I couldn’t place the names to the characters without reading afresh.
The book, set in two fictitious neighbouring countries, is an account of Kayibanda, a boy who partly raises himself up because his mother (Bekunda) is too busy to until she meets with the boy’s step-father and their saviour Kagurutsi after fleeing their native country. Kagurutsi tries so much to straighten up the already bent twig in Kayibanda that appears to have died young. No success.
Kayibanda is mischief personified, the antagonist within a protagonist. His actions keep you wondering what more mischief he will conjure up. You want to see if he will become a good boy or die for his ways. But he somehow lives the volume of the novel that dramatically takes up political undertones when Kayibanda is forced by circumstances to become a politician and goes on to wrestle state control.
It is from this point that the personification of Kayibanda is crystalised.
The Greedy Barbarian is bold, sarcastic and, indeed, a bang! The portrayal of many native African cultural practices such as witchcraft and wizardry is quite spellbinding.
But where is Kakwenza Rukirabashaija? Writing is not a crime.
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