Short Story Review: The Swahilification of Mutembei by Abu Amirah

This story has been added to my list of the most delightfully descriptive stories I have ever laid my hands on.

Amirah’s use of words in this story had the power to pick my up from my desk in Kampala and plant me at the coast. Close enough to pick up whiffs of ocean breeze carried by the wind to tantalise me as I resist to be drawn in.

An Ocean the smell of slavery, broken promises, Portugal and Vasco Da Gama’s piss, washing away hopes and aspirations, so much so that new generations have nothing which resembles their ancestor’s footsteps to fit or surpass.

In this 3138 worded piece, Amirah allows us to eavesdrop on a conversation between two men whilst they played a popular board game called drafts. Might this drafts be the equivalent of meeting at the well – I’ll let you decide.

As Mutembei, the protagonist of the story, engages Nasoro in conversation, his mind takes on a life of it’s own. Fleeting all over the place: between grappling the importance of honey and milk to the fact that it appears, he is losing the game.

We are given a glimpse into the estrangement between Mutembei and one of his parents, as well as his consideration to take on the Swahili culture.

The view is as breathtaking and contagious as the touch of a fleeing lover, who in her routine disappearances leaves one with the anticipation that indeed tomorrow, if it ever comes, will hold better and perhaps more compelling narratives than yesterday.

Because Amirah’s writing transported me to the fictional reality that he envisaged made this story even more enjoyable for me.

It is my sincere hope that he shall expand this into a novel.

The Swahilification of Mutembei by Abu Amirah was announced as having been shortlisted for the Writivism 4th Annual Short Story Prize. It has now been published at Munyori Literary Journal head on over there to read it yourself

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