BOOKS THEY READ: Peter Kagayi - Teacher

Saturday April 28 2012

I appreciate fiction which is has fabricated stories;

 

By Beatrice Lamwaka

Alawyer and poet, the reader is attached to the Lantern Meet of Poets. He is also a teacher of Literature at Nabisunsa Girls School. Beatrice Lamwaka sounded him out.
Why do you like fiction?

I appreciate fiction which is has fabricated stories; tells of man’s futile attempt to reconcile harmony and chaos in him, and understanding when in life doing evil can bring him good, and when doing good can bring nothing short of evil, all this balanced in his pursuit of happiness. Now that would be good fiction.

If you were a character, which writer would you like to write your life story?
If in my life I did nothing but wrong and I wanted the world to understand what I did and, even empathise and eventually, forgive me and have my character canonised, Shakespeare would be the man. If I wanted a story about my early school life Barbra Kimenye would do it best. But, if I wanted a story about my life, with of everyday’s life’s inspirations and emotional strife and the power of a simple life, Leo Tolstoy, because he would make my life venerable.

Which character do you relate with?
There is no character I have met who I can relate with to the level of individualism; however there are those whose own relations with other characters has also influenced how I began to interact with my own world and its subject matter. Nicholas Salmanovich Rubashov from Arthur Koestler’s Darkness at Noon taught me the value of thought even at most life-threatening torture the body can endure; then there are two lawyer-characters who greatly influenced my decision to become one of them; Atticus Finch from To Kill a Mocking Bird by Harper Lee, honourable, principled, admirable and what a battle he fought! Then there is his exact shadow the crafty Thomas Cromwell from Robert Bolt’s infectious play A Man for all Seasons, pragmatic, and motivated more by an evil nature, he brings the state sanity when he brings Sir Thomas More’s life to an end. Both were good lawyers, and both understood their cause: to change the times. And change they did. I learnt that what makes a good lawyer is not his knowledge of the law but his character. No one teaches you that.

Which books do you wish you had written?
Animal Farm by George Orwell; no matter how much you wrote, said, or even dreamt about the betrayal of human effort in a political effort, you would never do it better than George Orwell. I would have added one animal-character though; a monkey.

Which book stole your heart away?
The Concubine by Elechi Amadi; the ending is so cruel that at the point of Ekwe’s death I literary roll on the ground with Ihouma’s grief in equal measure. Every time I think of the last line of that novel, my heart races to the village of Omokachi into coffin there with Ekwueme, and oft I must pause till it comes back to me.

Which books have influenced your life?
The Bible, with no doubt; it is the foundation of all wisdom. It not only affords you the self-confidence but also the conscientiousness, humility to accept when you are in the wrong and most importantly compassion for life, and death. And, Confessions of a Sinner by St. Augustine of Hippo. The philosopher share his life’s struggles and poses many questions which challenge the frailty of human emotion at all stages of life, from infancy to old age.

Which is the most memorable book you have read?
There many, but Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez touches my heart with optimism that love will change the world. Our lives, one often feels, are not what we deserve. There are in many ways inadequate. But books make up for our temporary losses and teach us what life is and bring perfection of the happiness of triumph closer to us. Fermina Daza and Florentino Ariza show us that with faith, hope and patience one can achieve love regardless of the age.

Which books are you reading?
The Age of Reason by Jean-Paul Sartre; it’s about a moment in the life of a teacher who tries to secure an abortion for his lover and walks through Paris looking for the money. Sophocles’ Antigone is up next after that. I’m also reading a lot of Ugandan contemporary poetry and considering compiling a personal anthology.

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