Book: Butterfly Dreams and Other Stories
Author: Beatrice Lamwaka
Genre: General Fiction
This anthology an intense and powerful contribution to Ugandan literature.
In these stories, Beatrice Lamwaka questions the internal politics of Uganda while also raising very pertinent issues like gender, PTSD, war the struggle for education, addiction, bullying, sexuality which is considered a controversial topic in our country where homosexuality is illegal.
A few of the stories are about the atrocities endured by the Acholi people during the time the Lord’s Resistance Army was terrorising the northern part Uganda.
The stories are written in different styles but in a way that can best be described as prose poetry and in an honest tone that is most refreshing. Each story stands on its own merit, providing a few surprises and cliff-hangers along the way.
The titular story, Butterfly Dreams, is a short yet powerful read about Lamunu, an abductee and former child soldier that was returned home after five years. Through the narrator, Lamunu’s sibling, we learn the plight of these child soldiers, the way the war alters life itself, the psychological torment the families of the abducted children go through and the swing from desperation to hope like a pendulum.
She expected you to say something. Something that would make her believe your spirit was in that body you carried around. We wanted to know whether your tipu had been buried with your voice.
We had never been taught how to unbury a tipu. We only hoped that your real tipu was not six feet under. We wanted to see you alive again.
But even as she speaks on the horrors and the plight the Acholi children suffered, Lamwaka also shows that that all is not doom and gloom. She recognizes that there can be, and there is life, full of opportunities and hope after the end of the war as we see Lamunu eventually going back to school to fulfill her desire to become a doctor.
This story won a nomination for Beatrice Lamwaka for the prestigious 2011 Caine Prize for African Writing.
I highly recommend this book, it’s entertaining yes, but it also sparks conversation on a lot of issues that are otherwise swept under the rug.