Book Title: A Fledgling Abiba
Author: Dilman Dila
ISBN-13 : 978-1911486527
Book Blurb: An orphaned teenage girl tries to survive on her own and understand her magical powers while a sorcerous plague sweeps the country. She may hold the key to its cure, but what she really wants is somewhere she can call home and family.
In this book, and in a lot of his short stories, Dilman Dila imagines Africa that was never colonized by the British and how that would have been like. The politics, the tribalism, the trade. He also examines the human condition. That fear of the unknown, the piousness of humans and the search for belonging and family.
What Dilman excels at in all his fantastical stories is the world building. His stories are not so long but that they are so rich. The world he weaves in this book is very vivid that the I felt that it actually exists just beyond my village. And this is just a novella.
The main character is the child of an Abiba and a Muchwezi. For those not in the know, Bachwezi were a dynasty that existed in about 1000AD and established the Kitara Empire that stretched to present day Zambia, Malawi and Tanzania. The Bachwezi mysteriously disappeared and left behind their empire that gave birth to the Buganda and the Bunyoro Kitara Kingdom. I’m a little rusty on that front but I believe that is what happened.
Kuri, the protagonist is a young abiba who is struggling to understand her own power and find her place in the world. We follow her along her journey to find herself and belonging. An Abiba is what the western people would call a witch doctor. The most unique feature about them is that they fart flames.
Dilman pulls from stories and myths from different parts of Uganda to weave a story of discovery of self and power. Many Ugandans will recognize the different mythological things like Musezi, Mulogo, Kifaro, and Lakwopo. Bukuku, the gatekeeper, from stories from Western Uganda also makes an appearance.
There’s also a sexually transmitted disease in this story called kawuka whose equivalent is AIDS except it literally means a maggot in the eye.
I enjoyed this book, it was a quick read and it has a really awesome cover, (yes, I judged the book by the cover). I think the point he was trying to put across was that good and evil are not white and black. I wish, though, that it was bigger and more in-depth. The There are a lot of things left up in the air. A lot of unresolved threads and I am hoping for a part 2.
If you want to buy this book and support the author, I am including the links.