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One manuscript’s 23-year journey

Regina Amollo’s book, A Season of Mirth, was published in 1976, before the students who are reading it as part of their requirements for the Literature in English syllabus were born. The book, added to Uganda’s Literature in English syllabus in 2008 has gone through interesting times, including the 1981-1986 liberation war.
A Season of Mirth started its journey in Iganga where the writer, working as an intern at Iganga Hospital, conceived it. When she transferred to Mulago, the manuscript, in its raw form, was promptly kept in a suitcase.
However, in 1980, a lecturer at Makerere University, Austin Ejiet, perused through it, thought it good and asked Amollo to complete it. But, she had to type it; no publisher was going to accept it in handwriting.   
When she completed it, it still returned to the suitcase where it stayed for another 19 years until it was published by FEMRITE in 1999.
The book has since hit a number of milestones; the BBC’s World Book Club reviewed it in 2004 and it’s required reading for students in S. 1 and S. 2.
Amollo was introduced to books while at St. Mary’s Primary School Lwala in Kaberamaido. Once, while idling the hours away, a nun found her and after beating her, told her to get to the library.
Amollo found a treasure here; she lost herself in such books as Jack and the Beanstalk and several Ladybird books. She became an ardent reader but, unfortunately, her appetite for books could not be satiated while in Iganga because she could not visit a public library.

That was when it occurred to her: why don’t you write your own book? “The book was written in my head,” she says.
Amollo has since authored When Mother Leaves Home, The Pain of Borrowing and Those Days in Iganga. Those Days in Iganga is an anthology of stories she authored with other female writers. She has also published two books in the Kumam language: Pwonyo Isoma Itabu Me Agege and Pwonyo Isoma Me Are, meant to help pupils learn to read.
One of her fervent wishes is to see Ugandans read more. She says, for instance, that a student who reads novels will not have to read many academic books because books introduce concepts which are also taught in class.
Besides writing books, Amollo runs a clinic in Kaberamaido where she does not only treat patients, but also teaches the community about proper feeding and the importance of physical exercise and hygiene.

To contact Amollo for any of her books, one may call 0775292873 or email
amolloreg@yahoo.com.

dnabiruma@observer.ug

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