This has always been my name. It lost vowels and consonants and got rearranged into “Kay” by my Grade Three teacher. “Easier to pronounce,” she said. Aunty Mercy’s response was to accept. “After all, muwala wange, we are in this country, and ours is not to stand out but to survive.”
“Survive” sounds lifeless, inanimate, not like the survive of Aunty Mercy’s stories of growing up in Uganda. There, survival was active, done daily. In South Africa, the word had taken on a new meaning. No longer doing, but hiding to make existence easier. Gradually becoming chameleons. I learnt to lurk in the shadows. Drawing just enough attention, not too much. No sudden movements, everything calculated and measured.”
Upon giving birth to twin girls in rural Uganda, Nyakale’s mother decides to send one away to her sister in South Africa for a shot at a better life. In the heart of this beautifully woven coming of age story, is the story of twins growing up in two different worlds one in rural Uganda and the other in South Africa. The novel follows theirs lives and journeys of navigating the politics of their respective worlds.
Nyakale and Achen grew up despising each other for what they imagine the other to have because of their mother’s drastic decision. When they finally meet , how mirrored will they feel by the other?