- Category: TOW 2009
Moses Isegawa was born in northern Uganda in 1963, and spent ten years in the seminary with the intention of becoming Uganda 's youngest Cardinal. However, after contravening the strict rules concerning cannabis and pornography he was expelled in 1984.
Out of sheer desperation, he took a teaching course and became a secondary school teacher. Earning $10 a month, he was easily seduced to look for greener pastures in all countries outside Africa, with the exception of Greenland. After 99 visa applications to diff erent countries, he hit gold and left for the Netherlands in 1990. His dream was to eat bread with jam every day for the next fifty years and to write one novel and one volume of poetry.
In the Netherlands he went through a series of depressions and one lacklustre suicide attempt before he managed to write his now famous novelAbyssinian Chronicles. He sent the manuscript to fifty Dutch publishers. They all returned it within a week, as in those days the Dutch only published literature written in English after it had passed the strict test of American and British critics.
One coke-snorting publisher, however, took a risk, translated the book and published it in 1998. It was a hit that went on to hit in very many countries except Greenland. The book deals with Uganda, its sordid past, its sordid present, and its shaky aspirations to provide its citizens with the chance to eat quality bread and unsalted butter whenever they feel like it.
His second book, named Snakepit also deals with sordid characters of which Uganda had quite a few in the seventies. Marshal Idi Amin Dada makes a cameo as a whisky-swilling, cigarsmoking, coke-snorting braggadocio. Like most second books it did not live up to the expectations of the critics and the public, though the author is proud that a publisher in Greenland bought the rights, translated it and published it.
With a busy schedule of festivals, book signings and public appearances, the author never got time to write poetry. He hates poetry anyway. Having achieved everything he set out to achieve in the book world, Isegawa is now jobless and depressed, dreaming of playing basketball for the Chicago Bulls.
Snakepit, Alfred Knopf, 2004
Abyssinian Chronicles, Alfred Knopf, 2000