The First Woman by Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi

Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi
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Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi has a new book out; The First Woman. The 400 page literary masterpiece by the Ugandan-British writer was originally published on 13th August 2020 by Oneworld Publications.

The First Woman tells the story of Kirabo, a young Ugandan girl who grows up surrounded by powerful women namely, her grandmother, aunts, friends and cousins. And although all these women figures would love for Kirabo to conform to societal norms, she is inquisitive, headstrong and determined.

As the main character gets to teenage-hood, she starts to strongly feel the absence of a mother she has never known. The First Woman hence follows Kirabo’s journey to becoming a young woman and finding her place in the world.

The story begins in 1975, 3 years after Ugandan dictator, Idi Amin, expelled the Indian community from Uganda. Much of Kirabo’s journey is told as her country is transformed by the bloody dictatorship of this former Ugandan president.

Introducing Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi

Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi is no stranger in the African literary scene. Born in Kampala, Uganda in 1967, Makumbi currently lives in Manchester, UK, where she is a Creative Writing lecturer at the Manchester Metropolitan University. Her first novel, Kintu, was longlisted for the Etisalat Prize in 2014. In that same year, Makumbi won the Commonwealth Short Story Prize  for her short fiction, ‘Let’s Tell This Story Properly.’

In 2019, her debut short story collection, Manchester Happened, was published by Oneworld Publications, the same publishers who have just published her latest book, The First Woman. Previously in 2018, Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi had been awarded the Windham-Campbell Prize for Fiction.

Worth noting is that her latest book is inspired by her own life story which ensured that she set it in the area where her mother was born. Makumbi, in an interview with the guardian discloses that she did not meet her mother until she was about 10. All this time, she had been living with her father who unfortunately, lost his mind after being brutalised during Idi Amin’s regime. It was around 10 that she would go live with her aunt and eventually meet her mother.

And while this particular book may be sentimental, Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi has been known to explore Ugandan history in her books and the experiences of Ugandans in the diaspora, specifically England, where she is based. At the moment, she is arguably among the most easily recognizable female faces in the African Literary Scene which in recent times has welcomed many new additions.

Oneworld Publications describe The First Woman as;

“A powerful feminist rendition of Ugandan Original Tales”

The Kindle Edition of the book is available for sale on Amazon.

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