Kintu is unlike anything you have ever read before. From Ugandan writer Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi, Kintu is a tale of generations of a clan. The story begins in 1750 with Kintu Kidda on a journey to pledge allegiance to the new Buganda King. On his way, a curse that befalls him The curse follows Kintu's descendants throughout the ages: to suubi Nnakintu, Kanani Kintu, Isaac Newton Kintu & Miisi Kintu.
Kintu is a mythological character of the Buganda kingdom who was the first man on earth. Makumbi does not address this creation story, but the mythical figure of Kintu looms large. I have to copy a passage from the introduction by Aaron Bady, because it effortlessly captures the essence of Kintu:
Kintu rings with this sense of deep history, grounded in place while effortlessly leaping from past to present and to the past-in-the-present. It carries us from the courtly intrigues and sexual politics of the late 18th century to the trials and tribulations of an extended family today, to the many trials and tribulations of the extended today, to the many scattered descendants of the Kintu clan, united by a curse that may or may not be real and by the ghosts, stories, and memories that link them all together. Most of all, they are united by the place they all live in, the land that makes them all Ugandans, and the home to which they all strive to arrive. (VII)
Long passage, BUT the what you should takeaway is that Makumbi crafted a beautiful saga not just of the Kintu clan, but of the history of a nation. The Kintu clan became a lens for Makumbi to write about the legends, stories and histories that weave together.
Kintu is composed of six sections, the first being the origin story and the last being the reunion of all the decedents. The novel is not for the faint-hearted: clocking in at 443 pages, it is an ambitious, bold story. But not one to be missed.