Seeing Kabaka Mwanga as never before

Title: The Triangle.
Author: Nakisanze Segawa.
Publisher: Mativile Publishers.
Number of pages: 366
Year of publication: 2016
Genre: Historical fiction.
Price: Shs 30,000.
Reviewer: Christine Nabasumba
Available: Book point at Bugolobi Village mall and Aristoc Bookstore

Looking around for something unusual about Uganda, I came across The Triangle, a debut fiction novel by Ugandan writer, Nakisanze Segawa. The young author retells the history of a man who so much of what we know about, could actually be biased against him.

By exploring Kabaka Daniel Mwanga’s personality, and the circumstances around him, we get to learn much about his office and its troubles. Through Kalinda, the first character, and in whose perspective you first meet the arrogant, have-it-all pipe-smoking Mwanga, you sense Mwanga’s fear regarding the huge responsibility placed upon him as top authority of a powerful kingdom.

You also meet Nagawa; Mwanga’s other wife, who senses disdain from Kalinda, but could not figure out why a mere page treats her like crap. Like any married woman at the time, she is desperate to not only give Mwanga an heir, but to also have a child of her own.

Her co-wife, Kaddulubaale, who is also Mwanga’s first wife, already has a son with Mwanga, but the first son to the Kabaka (as Buganda’s traditional goes) can’t be heir, which gives Nagawa some hope.

However, the 1888-89 religious war leads to Mwanga’s overthrow and exile in Magu and then Nkore. While in exile, Mwanga and his wives live like paupers. The refugee life of a powerless Mwanga pushes Nagawa into the arms of the Nkore prince Barigye.

The third major character is a white missionary called Reverend Clement. Just like all missionaries, he is a watchdog for the colonialists. In the beginning of the book, he does his Christian duties, encouraging Baganda, including Mwanga’s pages, to become Christians. This doesn’t go well, especially when some of Mwanga’s servants start to disobey him and take on the Anglican priest as their superior leader.

The book also explores Mwanga’s age. And it is obvious to the reader that Mwanga was after all not the, big-eyed, big-bearded giant of a king common history portrays him to be, but, rather, a naive young man, probably a teenager, who couldn’t control his hormones.

The book explores Mwanga’s complex sexuality, his hobbies and where his passion fell. It explores him as a father, a husband, and a king. It is a great book that reflects history perfectly, but remains entertaining.

© 2016 Observer Media Ltd