Set around Mount Elgon in eastern Uganda, Upon This Mountain by Timothy Wangusa was published in 1989 by Heinemann International.
It portrays African life in the post colonial era, a time when communities were drawn together through special religious and cultural occasions like baptism and circumcision.
Growing up, Mwambu is fascinated by the presence of the ever towering Mount Elgon. To him reaching the top of the mountain means touching heaven and that marks the end of the world.
As in most African communities, evenings in Mwambu’s household are spent around the fire place, where Mwambu and his sister Khalayi sit to listen to stories from their mother.
Mwambu’s father, Masaaba, is known to be a very kind and humorous man. He is, however, also greatly feared for his arrogance and bad temper. As such, Mwambu, Khalayi and their mother live in fear of being smacked for even the slightest of mistakes.
One time, Masaaba beats Wabwire, Mwambu’s friend and Wopata’s son. The two grown-ups, Masaaba and Wopata, stop talking as a result.
At some point in the story, when the time comes for circumcision, Wabwire balks at facing the knife. According to the local traditions, a man who fears circumcision is a woman. From then on, Wabwire’s name is changed to Nabwire, and he is forced to dress up like a woman.
At school Mwambu is fond of one girl called Nambozo. He is so disappointed when he finds reverend Graves, their school chaplain in the chapel together with Nambozo red handed having sex on the floor upon the holy table cloth in the season of lent. He develops a great hatred towards the two and looks for a way to devour them. He tries to report to the head teacher and other staff but they all refuse to believe him, and instead accuse him of being possessed of a demonic imagination.
In another twist, Mwambu sleeps with Mayuba, the wife of his cousin, Kuloba, when the latter is taken to participate in the Second World War. Mayuba gives birth to a baby who is said to resemble Mwambu.
Kuloba tries to get back at Mwambu for having slept with his wife. Together with this friends, Kuloba hatches plans to forcefully circumcise Mwambu. Their plan backfires when they find that Mwambu is already circumcised.
Throughout the book, Wangusa uses humor to exposed the contradictions in the church, and in society as a whole.
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