First published in 2002, Footprints of the Outsider is set in Teboke Village in Apac district in Northern Uganda, a place where people live in superstition and utter ignorance. So backward is the village that the only brick structure in the village is the ginnery at Teboke trading centre set up by two Indians, Hippos and Ramchand.
The tale revolves around Abdul Olwit, whose mother, Alicinora is a prostitute. As he grows, Abdul suffers ridicule not only from his peers but from his mother as well. He wonders why his mother didn’t kill him at birth if he’s such an embarrassment.
Despite odds being against him, he graduates from Makerere University with a B.A Economics. But jobs being as scarce as hen’s teeth, he decides to join the teacher’s profession though he is not satisfied with this- in his village, teaching is synonymous with failure.
As drama unfolds, we are introduced to new characters like Adoli Awal the Teboke Member of Parliament . Abdul seeks assistance from him- he needs another job in Government service. But because Adwong, Abdul’s uncle is Adoli’s political enemy, the latter refuses to help:
“At least you are lucky to have a degree and a job…………………as you are still single, you can save some money to start a business…………………………you can go back to school and acquire a post graduate diploma in Education.”
Abdul eventually joins the Prison Service and is appointed Superintendent of Alaro Prison farm. He marries Saida Acola, who though she loves someone else, becomes Abdul’s wife because her mother always told her that:
“……you do not marry a man because you love him. You marry a man because he can take care of your needs………………….it does not matter if he already has a wife. ……………………………you can be the second or third wife and still dominate your husband.”
Things take a turn in Adbul’s life when Adoli gets him arrested on false premises. For some reason, Adoli is scared that Abdul has designs on his parliamentary seat. Although Abdul had no political ambitions, he decides to contest after his release to show Adoli who the real man is. The clashes that break out on one of the campaign rallies leave some people hurt and others dead. But who will be Teboke’s next MP?
That is left to the reader to decide.
Ocwinyo’s Footprints of the Outsider is not only a story with lots to enjoy but it also gives readers a description of Uganda’s important historical milestones.