A young man raised from the countryside by pastoralist parents ventures out, like any other child, to learn more about life. The beauty of childhood is that the world is made complete by the waking and going to bed in the presence of one’s parents. Kayibanda is not any different. He is a child of his mother and a darling of his foster father Kagurutsi. Kayibanda grows up from being just a young beloved son of a home to a problem child fighting off other boys in the village and parading girls in the corners.
Told with an omniscient point of view, Kayibanda’s life mirrors many a boy’s life growing up in the rural Uganda. Many children especially boys were sent off to faraway places to study. In Kayibanda’s case, he had to go all the way to Mpara to attain an education. With education also comes the other factors. He gets exposed to the problems of educated people arguing about philosophies and trying to cut an edge in the affairs of nation building.
Whereas Kayibanda does not, in his growing up, look to be a lovable character, he is one who knows his weaknesses but also always quick to negotiate his way through. He has a vibrant personal drive that he requires not external motivation to be pushed. It is one of the traits that the author sustains throughout the book tracing it back to four generations of Kayibanda. All his past generations, just like himself, are marred with a struggle for life. His great-grandfather Rwabutwiigi and grandfather Rukundakanuzire both had to go to the extreme to make ends meet. One could argue that given Kayibanda had such a strong matriarch in Ingabire and Bekunda and later in life Kembaga, their influence was passed on to him to turn out the hard worker that he did. His deeds are mainly a product of this kind of blood that run in him.
As one reads this novel, one thing they cannot fail to appreciate is the setting of time with the author plays about very carefully. The novel in its own nature is historic yet in the narrative it cuts across telling yester events today. The novel earns its place in the literary pieces here reviewed as an intersection between Prof Arthur Gakwandi’s Kosia Kiffefe and Racheeal Mutabingwa’s Adavera. Where Kosia Kiffefe is purely a fictional historical literary work, Adavera is also fictional but futuristic. The Greedy Barbarian is the in-between. This is a good point to note because it helps with bridging today’s events and the assumptions of the future all of which are premised on the great wealth of the past.
The writing of The Greedy Barbarian is a story that is so closer home and can easily have multiple interpretations depending on the reader’s interest. The narrative of politics has been a central theme in many a works of literature especially in the post-colonial era. It all goes back to a number of factors one among which is the increased number of dissatisfied educated elite. When people are exposed to information, they always want to try out whether it works or not. Kayibanda’s greed for money and power is driven by the after taste of both. Getting what he did not have and fearing to lose it. Man has always struggled with the idea of having to let go and worse knowing when to let go. To see that a time comes when Kayibanda cannot hold anymore, to see that the very people that screamed before him in excitement are the very ones screaming in jubilation upon his demise is in itself a tale of the smallness and shortness of a man’s ability. There comes a time in every man’s life when the centre holds no more. You only live it to chance that Kibaate becomes a better successor.
AUTHOR: Kakwenza Rukirabashaija
TITLE: The Greedy Barbarian