Wasike Muwanguzi reveals a life of braving contradictions

Book Reviews
Wasike Muwanguzi reveals a life of braving contradictions
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BOOKS | Have you ever watched a classic Hollywood movie packed with suspense and irony that kept you glued onto the screen from the beginning to the end?

In many ways than one Irene Wasike Muwanguzi’s “A Life of Braving Contradictions” autobiography has a hallmark of a classic Hollywood movie. Every chapter of the book is packed with every known literary feature, from suspense, allegory, irony, imagery to metaphors.

Although the book is similar to a Hollywood movie there is a big difference between the two. While Hollywood movies are fiction, Wasike Muwanguzi’s book is not. It is about her real life experience.

The book begins with an event in New York where she basks in the glory of a first world audience. She wished her mother who nurtured her in the rural life of Manafwa District was there to witness that glorious moment when she addressed and rubbed shoulders with the big names not only in America but also Uganda’s Vice-President Dr Speciosa Wandira Kazibwe, who attended the event.

The author’s narrative of her school and university days raises no eyebrows. Neither does her aggressive character which enables her to find job after job in a country where university women graduates are vending foodstuffs in markets while the men are boda boda riders.

Her catching the eyes of a medical student who later marries her also looks normal. After all she is an endowed woman and Paul Muwanguzi must have counted himself among the luckiest to have caught the eye of a partner with all the qualities of an ideal spouse – beautiful by every known standard, educated, God-fearing, hardworking and adventurous.

It is hard to find such a woman in today’s Ugandan society driven by corrupted ways of life dominated by consumerism, sedentary lifestyle and the worship of life of opulence and ostentation.

As the reader gets prepared to read about the couple’s arrival to the gates of happiness he or she is catapulted into reading chapter after chapter of the author’s narrative of pain and torment.

The first test was their failure to get a child three years after marriage without any known reason. Although Wasike Muwanguzi was strong in her faith in God, there is no doubt that the prospect of a childless marriage was haunting her and her husband.

But like everything else in her eventful life, a miracle happens when she conceives and delivers triplets. But as they celebrate God’s boundless magnanimity, a litany of trials and tribulations set in beginning with her husband getting afflicted by a rare cancer usually a problem for 90-year-olds.

The diagnosis left doctors in Mulago Hospital, the national referral medical facility in awe and scrambling for an explanation.

Her husband, Paul, undergoes a costly bone marrow transplant in India, a process that usually ends with a few survivors, after a torturous search for funds. Although the process was successful, it leaves her husband in a dire medical condition.

Although the Indian doctors want the patient to continue being nursed in an Indian hospital, the lack of funds does not allow that and the author had to risk bringing her husband back even after she was warned that he would die on the way.

Fortunately he did not die on the way. Haggard and looking like a 90 -year- old, her husband eventually recovers. But as he mulls over the ferocity of cancer his miraculous recovery, he is afflicted by Covid-19.

He demonstrates his survival instinct when he sees off Covid19 as well.

During her husband’s illness, his wife was deeply tormented. She describes how she juggled nursing her ailing husband, looking after the triplets and a demanding job.

Which mother would travel for a conference abroad leaving behind breastfeeding triplets? Did she love her job more than her children? It was the difficulty in coming to terms with the challenges in her life that drove her into seclusion to weep while in a conference in Ghana.

As if the trials and tribulations she is going through are not enough, and in spite of sacrificing her family happiness to fulfill her office duties, the author is hounded at work by colleagues jealous of her innovation, hard work and commitment to achieving the organisations’ goals.

She steels through all that trauma and torment believing that she is investing in future happiness for herself and family. She soldiers through all those challenges with the hope that she is to reap from her sweat.

Instead jealousy, envy and intrigue from her workmates lead to her losing job after job.

Fortunately for her, every time one window closes, another opens but sometimes after a long spell. She has God’s favour of the biblical Esther.

When she takes on a job with a parastatal organization she hopes for calm waters there. Instead she gets a rude welcome. Her short stint there enables the author to learn about the rot in government institutions.

She realizes that issues of trust, integrity and patriotism exist only in words.

After her husband overcomes life threatening illness, there is optimism about a future of happiness for the family when the unthinkable happens: her husband perishes in a car accident.

The whole family was in the car driven on a murram rural road when it crashed for no discernible reason. It was a mysterious accident that in Africa would lend credence to believers in witchcraft and jjujju.

Her husband Paul is the only one to perish. None of the rest of the people in the car suffers serious injuries. In fact the author hardly got a scratch on her body. It is a mystery how Paul sustained multiple internal organs damage.

In her attempt to find answers the author leans on God not because she had no choice but by choice. She does not lose faith in Him amidst the extreme pain she suffers.

Wasike Muwanguzi’s autobiography is packed with lessons on the meaning of life regardless of our faith. The book gives every reader opportunity to learn her or his own lessons. You too, will no doubt, learn from her life experience.

Reviewed by Epajjar Ojulu

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