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Chapter 1Introduction  of Adyeri’s family

Daddy comes back home very drunk, wet and dirty and the whole atmosphere changes. He orders his food and as Abooki carries it to him, Atwoki unfortunately crashes into her, sending the meal down. It was a hell of a mistake. Daddy laments and fumes. Both Atwoki and Abooki are frustrated and frightened because they know a cane will soon follow. He calls Atwoki twice and gives him a classic slap in the face. Amoti appears from Virika hospital where she had gone to fetch water. She attacks Adyeri for beating her son a man-sized beating. She regrets for marrying him and calls him a pig. Amoti was good at a war of words since she believed they hurt her husband deeply.
Adyeri gives her a sound beating. Atwoki goes to help her but he receives a furious kick in the stomach. At last Adyeri leaves the house not to come back that night.

Chapter 2Vicky comes with a fiancé.

Vicky who had gone to Kitangwenda several months ago, comes back with a stranger (Munyamahanga). Vicky was a daughter of Adyeri’s late sister. She was forced to move from home due to harsh treatment from both her uncle and aunt –Amoti. She met a rich man who owned a garage at Kamwenge and wanted to marry her. He was called Akena. They receive a cold welcome from Amoti who reports their arrival to Adyeri. Adyeri doesn’t react rudely, instead he welcomes Vicky politely. On hearing that Akena owns a garage Amoti becomes jealous and complicates the matter that Vicky cannot marry a Munyamahanga. For Adyeri, as long as the bride price is settled it doesn’t matter who/what marries Vicky whether it is a person, a cow or a donkey. He meets with his drinking pals and they put a proper breakdown on the bride price as follows.
15 heads of cattle. 8 goats
50,000/= shillings for buying back cloth.
15,000/= shillings for buying Daddy’s walking stick and
2 jerry cans of beer.
At the end, the meeting ends without a consensus between the two parties. (Adyeri’s side and Akena’s side)

Chapter 3Uncle Araali pays the visit.

We are told of Atwoki who is very intelligent and good footballer when young, which suggests that he would be a good footballer in the future. He makes prophesies with his fellow children about their future. We are also told of Abooki (Atwoki’s sister who is in the same class with him). One day their uncle (Araali) comes to visit them and brings them sweets and biscuits. He finds the children very hungry and they have no firewood in the house. He gives them money to buy all the needs in the kitchen. Then Daddy comes staggering and singing his favourite song. He is told that uncle Araali has come and is the one who bought the domestic needs. He feels ashamed to see the visitor footing the food bills in his house.

Chapter 4Vicky is introduced to a bad company.

Vicky is back from Bundibugyo where she went to pluck tea in a neighbour’s plantation. She is now chatting with Tusiime and Kunihira (Lacking any comfort and guidance at home, she had increasingly felt drawn closer to the 16). They advice Vicky a lot of things including running away with Akena or getting involved in commercial sex because they are doing it. These two friends of hers were both the worst by-products of Fort Portal education system. Tusiime led others in the burning of the mattresses at Maria Goretti Secondary School and was discontinued. Kunihira was expelled in the third year from Kyebambe Girls Secondary School. She spends a lot of time with them and takes many of her meals at their place. Vicky changes and becomes a polished lady and men begin chasing her. She begins footing the food bills and brings drinks (beer) for her uncle. That silenced both Amoti and Adyeri. She then elopes with a man from Kasese and leaves the house. 

Chapter 5Adyeri’s background. (flashback)

One day Adyeri was invited at Kinyamasika Primary School as one of the pioneer teachers of the school. The children of class five sang the song that struck deep in his heart strumming painful memories of his whole life. It is this song that bears the title of the book. It needs people to reflect on their lives when they are still alive and think of what will be left behind when they are gone, lest they pass like a shadow. Adyeri decides to rise and go back home.
We are told of the story of Adyeri’s concubine (Birungi) who was his secretary and how he squandered the school funds to build her a house at Burungu. He then moved to live with Birungi after being fired from his job. He sold his land and financed a shop she had opened at Mugusu Trading Centre. He began to deteriorate and was admitted for having HIV/ AIDS and wondered who might have infected him with the disease since he had many concubines (He was a maniac). After the TB treatment he goes to shelter himself at Birungi’s house but she chases him away. 

Chapter 6Atwoki becomes famous and successful.

Atwoki becomes famous and successful. He scores two goals that send his team to the African Cup of Nations. He becomes famous all over Uganda. He is Nicknamed “Fort Portal Bullet”. He receives gifts and money from his fans and the President offers him a brand new car plus fully paid holiday trip to the Queen Elizabeth National Park in Kasese. Adyeri lives miserably but has categorically stated that he will not kneel and ask any financial assistance from Atwoki. Amoti is happy because of the tragedy that has befallen her husband and says let him learn. An old woman comes to beg her to forgive him but she refuses. Then the football fans of Atwoki bring Adyeri in a stretcher. One man speaks for the group and begs Atwoki to forgive his father.

Chapter 7Atwoki’s life in Kampala.

Atwoki has been invited by his friend David in Kampala. Before going home they go to a restaurant where David influences Atwoki to have a girlfriend. Atwoki refuses since he has never slept with a girl in all his 22 years of age. David even tells a girl named Edda to kiss him. Reaching home, Atwoki receives a warm welcome. After lunch they gather to watch a film that is full of sexual scenes. Then Atwoki is given a room in the visitors’ quarters full of pornographic magazines and pictures of half naked women. David tells Atwoki ‘if you cannot change the world allow the world to change you’. pg 33. He is given another offer at the Sheraton but before going they watch a TV programme on AIDS. The victim narrates his state how AIDS has affected him. He also says how he suffers from stigma from his friends and relatives. As the announcer educates on the ways HIV spread from infected person to another, David’s father ignores him calling him old-fashioned. They go at the Sheraton and David’s father picks girls at their presence. We are told that David is a Makerere University reject, he influences Atwoki to take beer and he fees nice. From that point he begins reflecting on Edda. At the end Edda gets hold of Atwoki.

Chapter 8Vicky and Aliganyira Visits the witchdoctor.

Aliganyira and Vicky are eating supper when her husband suggests that they should go to visit the witch doctor in Kihina to find out why they don’t get a child 10 years since they got married. At first she refuses, but due to the pressure from her husband she agrees. The pressure was coming from his folks especially his mother that if Vicky is unproductive he should throw her out and bring in a replacement. They leave in the midnight. Finally they reach the witchdoctors house. They find six sick people laid down on the floor. Two were very thin and had lashes. When their turn comes Aliganyira and Vicky are asked whether they want a boy or a girl. They prefer a boy. He tells them that to make one boy costs 1 million or else they go home. The witchdoctor uses a small sharp knife to prick Vicky’s stomach and tattoo it with his wizardly doze. Vicky remembers the TV programme she had watched on AIDS which warned on the danger of sharing sharp instruments. Vicky was desperate and in need of a baby but now she was receiving something else.

Chapter 9.The death of Adyeri and Sickness of Amoti.

Adyeri has passed away. His drinking mates say a lot about him. They even have a discussion on whether the bazungu (whitemen) are also dying of HIV/AIDS. They talk about the origin of AIDS. Some say it originated from Zaire through green monkeys, some say it was brought by bakombozi soldiers from Tanzania during the Idd Amin war. One said that the virus was manufactured in the genetic laboratory in California. They concluded that the problem with AIDS is not where it came from but rather where it is going. That is to say “it is going to finish Uganda”

Back in Katumba Abooki is alone nursing her sick mother. He has sent several messages to Atwoki but he is tied up to Edda and is rarely seen. She decides to go to Kasese to seek financial assistance from Vicky only to find her as sick as her dying mother. Nevertheless, Vicky advices her not to go for money because it will kill her. Then Vicky gives her enough money to help her. Then a man named John becomes her best friend in need who helps her in taking care of the sick mother. One day he invites her to his house. He offers her a coke and when she goes out for a short call he drops a valium tablet in her glass of coke. She becomes drunk and wakes up in the morning and finds herself naked on John’s bed.

Chapter 10Abooki’s frustration sends her for test.

Abooki is frustrated and confused. She thinks of having got HIV or unwanted pregnancy. She gets thinner and thinner until her mother is shocked. One night she gets the idea of going to Virika hospital for blood test. She meets Dr. Jonathan who counsels her on the precautions to take when contacting the victims. She narrates the story of why she suspects to have acquired the virus. Then he takes her blood sample and asks her to come for results after two weeks. The results are good and she takes a pregnancy test which also proves nil.  She is happy for that then Jonathan gives her a post-test counselling. In the process the two fall in love for each other.
Atwoki comes back suddenly and finds that his mother has already died. He is sick. His friend David, David’s mother and their house girl are also sick. David’s father has perished already. Vicky and Atwoki go to visit uncle Araali at Kitangwenda, Ilunga village. Uncle welcomes them warmly and tells Atwoki, “My son… my dear son… welcome home, East or West, home is best…”


Title of the Book

Passed like a shadow” is a symbolic title. It represents most of the events that take place in the novel. It can be viewed in the following light.
(i)           It is a representation of human life capitalizing the need to do good things that will be left behind as a beautiful memory of you when you are gone. Living a worthless life on earth that leaves no any memorable mark is to Bernard Mapalala the same as having passed on this earth like a shadow. It is like you never existed because no one will remember you. You become like a shadow that vanishes away when the sun disappears in the clouds. Look at the following song sung by pupils of Kinyamasika Primary school on parents’ day; pg 22
What have I done in this world?
What memories shall I live when I’m gone?
If memories I shall leave are only those…
Of having eaten and drunk;
I shall be ashamed; there is no honour in that;
And remembering you for the debts you leave behind;
It is curses which precede you on your journey;
Many people who die in anonymity;
They die in anonymity because the glorious thing they did were eating, drinking and sleeping.
Then they crown their glory with death, a deed which is not hard even for the young on a breast.
That is having passed on this earth like a shadow….
(ii)            It also presents Adyeri’s family that suffered a tragedy of AIDS pandemic and passed from the scene of life like a shadow leaving behind only one family member (Abooki) who is HIV free.
(iii)          It also represents the fact that AIDS pandemic has invaded the whole of Uganda and washes people away in large numbers and within a very short time. This is compared to the shadow that disappears quickly when the sun disappears in the clouds. Refer to how the following people pass away in a short time; Adyeri’s family, David’s family, Aliganyira’s family, Birungi etc.
(iv)          Apart from these families the whole society in Uganda and Tanzania AIDS is killing people so quickly. Most people have acquired the disease unawares and ignorantly spread it unknowingly. The whole community is passing away like a shadow.
Ø  He is the father of Abooki and Atwoki and a husband to Amoti and caregiver to Vicky.
Ø  He is an ex-headmaster of St. Leos High school
Ø  He is a heavy drunkard and greedy.  He becomes a hopeless heavy drunkard after losing the job. He also sets high bride price that makes Vicky’s marriage to Akena impossible
Ø  He is hot tempered. He is extremely hot-tempered and treats his family in as a dictator. He beats his wife and children often over just slight mistakes.
Ø  He is an irresponsible father. He fails to provide for the family. Due to his drinking habit he fails to foot the food bills in the house. That’s why uncle Araali comes and finds children with no food and foots the food bills.
Ø  He is a reputed womanizer and a distinguished sex-maniac. He engages in extramarital affairs with his concubines who eventually make him acquire the dreadful AIDS pandemic. He is deserted by his family and goes to get shelter to Birungi’s home but she throws him away.
Ø  He is a victim of HIV/AIDS. He remains hopeless and dies miserably of the disease passing like a shadow.
Ø  He is not worthy being emulated.
Ø  The wife of Adyeri and a mother of Abooki and Atwoki.
Ø  She is a responsible and caring mother. Despite Adyeri being a heavy drunkard and a womanizer, she remains stable and takes care of the children. Despite all her weaknesses, Amoti has a positive side. She manages to take a good care of her children even after family separation. We are told that until they reach High school, Atwoki and Abooki have never engaged in sexual affairs.
Ø  She is jealous. We are told that Amoti does not want Vicky to marry Akena because of jealousy. As a result she puts an obstacle that Akena is a Munyamahanga (a man from another tribe). Also she is jealous of the wife of the rich shopkeeper.
Ø  She is a tribalist. She denies Vicky to marry a man from another tribe calling him a Munyamahanga.
Ø  She is revengeful and unforgiving. She turns away from her husband at a time of disaster. Even when she is pleaded to forgive him she is so reluctant and believes that it should be a lesson to him.
Ø  She’s suspected to be unfaithful in her marriage. We are told that she loves going to Kinyamasika in the mornings possibly she has an extramarital affair. Pg 18
Ø  She is superstitious. Amoti believes that the sickness of her husband is due to witchcraft. She says that her husband has been bewitched by Birungi.
Ø  She is a gossiper. Amoti and Abwoli are seen gossiping against the wife of a rich shopkeeper. In page 3 the author says,
Of course, she had spent more than one hour just gossiping against the wife of the rich shopkeeper whom she intensively hated and was jealous of. They had laughed and laughed with Abwoli, who was her best friend.”
Ø  She is a victim of HIV/AIDS. She is also wiped away from the scene by the pandemic which she contracted from her husband and passes away like a shadow.
Ø  In some cases she is not worthy being emulated but in others, yes.
Ø  The son of Adyeri who suffers poor upbringing from his heavily drinking father.
Ø   He is a handsome and famous football star. He is nicknamed “Fort Portal Bullet” when he is in high school. He plays for the national team and scores a goal which makes the president reward him.
Ø  He builds his mother a house. He makes a lot of money and manages to build a house for his mother at Katumba near Kachwamba. Pg 25
Ø  He is easily forgiving unlike his mother. He forgives his father when he is brought home by his fans at a time when Adyeri was seriously sick.
Ø  He is a victim of peer pressure. He is influenced by his friend David in Kampala and begins chasing girls. Following his behaviour he gets HIV from his girlfriend {Edda} and is soon to die of AIDS.
Ø  He has a changing behaviour. At first we are told he is so disciplined and faithful. But later he changes and becomes a reputed womanizer like his daddy.
Ø  He is a betrayer/traitor. He betrays his sister and his mother. When his mother is sick he does not provide  any financial help to the extent that Abooki has to go to Vicky for financial support and relies on the support given by John which later turn out to be a trap
Ø  She is a daughter of Adyeri and Amoti
Ø  She is a good adviser. She advises Atwoki to be careful when in Kampala lest he dies.
Ø  She is a faithful and disciplined girl. she managed to remain virgin until she reached high school.
Ø  She unexpectedly falls into a trap of a hypocrite known as John who tricks her and sleeps with her out of her consent.
Ø  She is caring and loving. She takes care of her sick mother and brother. Although Atwoki deserted her when he was in the hall of fame, she never revenged when he needed her help.
Ø  She falls in love with Dr. Jonathan. After confirming that she is HIV and pregnancy free, the two fall in love and start honourable relationship.
Ø  She is forgiving. She easily forgives her brother Atwoki when he comes back from Kampala despite neglecting her in his better days.
Ø  She is an Orphan and Adyeri’s niece who lives with him after her mother’s death. She is not given good parental care.
Ø  She exiles herself from home and meets Akena who wants to marry her. But the issue is complicated by her uncle who demands high bride price.
Ø  She is exploited by Adyeri’s family. We are told she went to Bundibugyo to pick tea in the plantation but the money was prepaid to Amoti who used it to pay the school fees for her children and Vicky got nothing from her seat.
Ø  She becomes a prostitute temporarily. She decides to go for commercial sex as a result of the influence from her friends Tusiime and Kunihira.
Ø  She marries Aliganyira but they are not blessed with a child. Her husband pressurizes her to go to the witchdoctor where she gets HIV/AIDS. She becomes a victim and dies of the same.
Ø  She has no stand. She leaves Akena because of the complications made by her caretakers, she engages in prostitution following the advice from her friends and she agrees to go to the witchdoctor despite her knowledge of the potential dangers involved.
Ø  She is a good advisor. She advises Abooki not to go for money. It’s better she gets married to a beggar provided they love each other.
Ø  He’s a son of a rich and important man both in government and Kabaka’s Council in Kampala.
Ø  He is Atwoki’s friend and a university dropout (reject). He is the one who invites Atwoki to Kampala and influences him negatively.
Ø  He is a womanizer like his father. The author says he was his father’s perfect replica. He influences Atwoki to start hunting for girls.
Ø  He gets HIV/AIDS and spreads it intentionally.
Ø  He is a bad advisor. He advises Atwoki by misleading him. He says for instance “Look Atwoki, if you can’t change the world, allow the world to change you” pg 33.
Ø  He dresses expensively and his greatest hobby is to chat with girls.
Ø  He is not worthy being emulated.
Ø  She’s Adyeri’s concubine who lives in Burungu.
Ø  She is very beautiful with attractive hair. She manages to get hold of Adyeri despite all the defences he put.
Ø  She is a prostitute and exploiter of men. She exploits Adyeri who steals the school funds to build her a house and sells his  plot of land to finance her shop.
Ø  She is a former secretary of Adyeri when he was the headmaster of St. Leos High school.
Ø   She is ignorant of the disease called slim/AIDS and spreads it unawares.
Ø  She is a betrayer. She betrays Adyeri by throwing him out when he needed her help while they spent good time together. She takes another boyfriend just the second day who takes over Adyeri’s place
The setting of the book is specifically Uganda though in a broader and general sense it represents the whole of Africa. Furthermore down the line the setting can be subdivided into Urban and rural settings.
Rural Setting.
The rural setting occupies the most part of the book and is evident in the following ways/scenarios:
i.              Witchdoctors in Kahina- this is common in rural areas.
ii.            Spouse beating- this is also common in rural than in urban areas. Eg Adyeri beating Amoti.
iii.          Uncle Araali is living in the village (Ihunga) where they are using bicycles as means of transport.
iv.          Names of Villages like Karambi, Bundibugyo, Kalimba, Burungu etc also sum up the rural setting.
Urban setting
i.              People like Akena own a garage. This is common in town.
ii.            The mentioning of urban centres like Kampala city, towns like Kamwenge, Pallisa, Kachwamba, Kasese etc.
iii.          Presence of restaurants, bars are common in town.
iv.          Prostitution (commercial sex) is also a feature of urban setting.
Other settings
Ø  There are also school setting which is not clear whether in town or village. Eg St. Leos High School, St. Maria Goretti, Kyebambe Girls Sec School, Kinyamasika Primary school etc
Ø  Hospital setting where Abooki goes for test.

The novel is very rich in its style.
a.       Point of view. The writer has used all the three persons. However 3rd person is the dominant one. This is to say the author narrates the story.
b.      There is also frequent use of dialogue among characters. Eg the conversation between Adyeri and Amoti when Vicky comes with Akena.
I have told you that Vicky has come with a visitor”
“A visitor”
“Yes a visitor”
“Is the visitor tall or short?” Asked Adyeri….
c.       Also there is the use of monologue / soliloquyA speech in a play or movie in which a character who is alone speaks his thoughts aloud.
Look at Adyeri in pg 15 “this visitor has really caught us when we are dead broke” he lamented to himself. “What a pity”… I wish I was a rich man or millionaire…”
d.      There is the use of songs as in pg 15. Adyeri sings when drunk;
God bless Uganda Ohoo
Forward Uganda forward
Bravery, honesty, peace …”
Another song is sung by Kinyamasika Primary Pupils on parents’ day. Pg 22
e.       The novel has also used a flashback style. Pg 22 Adyeri’s background. “The story was that he had this lady called Birungi …..” the narrator tells the story of why Adyeri was sacked in from his job as a Headmaster and eventually became a heavy drunkard. Then in pg 24 Adyeri reflects his past “A film rewinded Adyeri’s mind about the other partners he had had at the local drinking club. He had become some sort of a maniac and was picking women at random whenever he was drunk…”
The language used is simple, straightforward and easy to understand. Moreover the novelist has employed many idioms, sayings and literary devices as we are going to look very closely.
Ø  The man will die like a dog. Pg 27
Ø  But don’t worry, Vicky men are like buses you miss one today another comes tomorrow. Pg 16
Ø  She walked to him as fearless as a lioness. Pg 3.
Ø  The new disease was spreading like bush fire in the whole of Uganda. Pg 24
Ø  Uwi-uwi– the sound of crying. Pg 4
Ø  Ha ha ah! – Sound of laughing. Pg 7
Reiteration. To repeat something that you have already said usually to emphasize.
Ø  I really regret… I really regret I have married a pig. A pig. A pig I have married a pig mawe! Pg 3
Ø  Uncle Araali, Uncle Araali has come pg 14
Ø  Knock, knock, knock, knock. Pg 27
Ø  Hurry, hurry, pg 14.
Ø  I have married a pig. Pg 3
Ø  For them marriage is just business. Pg 17
Ø  Money will kill you. pg 42
Understatement– a statement that makes something seem less important.
Ø  You must be the most poorly dressed girl in Fort Portal’. Pg 18
Barbarism – using more than one languages.
Ø  The novelist has used a lot of words from other languages other than English. E.g., bazungu/muzungu, bakombozi, munyamahanga, matoke, waragi, oburo
Ø  Pig = a useless man
Ø  Slim= AIDS
Sayings and Idioms
Ø  Like father like son” pg 39.
Ø  “East or West home is Best” 49
Ø  “In fact marriage is an institution for blind” pg 17.
Ø  “Building castles in the air” pg 19
Ø  “To hook a big fish” pg 19
Ø  “To add salt to the wound…” pg 23
Ø  “Exchanging hot potatoes with Adyeri” pg 23
The main theme in this book seems to be AIDS pandemic nicknamed ‘slim’. Most of all other themes seem to be revolving around building up the main theme.
Ø  AIDS pandemic is a disease that has invaded the society and spreads like a bush fire, sweeping people in large numbers. However, the author shows that it spreads rapidly because of people’s ignorance and superstitious beliefs that the traditional society is caught up with. Even the title of the book itself seems to suggest that a lot of people; young and old, children and parents, women and men, poor and rich perish miserably and within a very short span of time.
Ø  A lot of people/characters have fallen victims of the pandemic. These include; Adyeri, Amoti, Atwoki, Vicky, Aliganyira, Birungi, David, His father, mother and their house girl. The author reveals some of the incidents that expose them to the pandemic.
Ø  Moreover, the author gives education on HIV/AIDS: on transmission he uses the TV announcer to educate the society that; AIDS is transmitted from one infected person to another through exchange of certain body fluids (semen, blood, vaginal secretions). This exchange stems from immoral activities such as fornication, sodomy, intravenous drug abuse etc. On prevention he uses Dr. Jonathan to educate the society that the 100% guaranteed protection against AIDS is abstinence for unmarried people, mutual love and loyalty among the married couples, premarital and extramarital sex should be discouraged at all costs. 
Promiscuity is a situation of someone having many sexual partners who are not legally married to him/her. Infidelity is a situation of having other partners than your wife. This is a situation that Adyeri found himself included in. He has a concubine called Birungi beside his own wife. He also sleeps with a lot of women that he picks in the streets. He couldn’t even identify whoever might have infected him with the disease.
“A film rewinded Adyeri’s mind about the other partners he had had at the local drinking club. He had become some sort of a maniac and was picking women at random whenever he was drunk…”
Then he infects his wife and they both die of the disease. Apart from Adyeri other characters who are infidel or promiscuous include the following;
Ø  David is promiscuous; he picks girls at random and gets the disease as a result of this behaviour.
Ø  David’s father is both infidel and promiscuous; he’s married but he picks girls at the bar and in the streets and even his own house-girl. 
Ø  Birungi is promiscuous as we are told that she had other men apart from Adyeri.
Ø  Muzungu (Tusiime’s boyfriend) is infidel and we are told that he is married but visits Tusiime secretly. Pg 19
Ø  Aliganyira is also sex maniac because we are told he had married and divorced 2 wives and now has got married to Vicky. Pg 35
Ø  All big people who could help Abooki demanded body pleasure before they could do anything. This is a sign of promosquity.
Ø  John also is promiscuous because he drugged Abooki and slept with her without her consent.
ü  This is a situation of doing sex for sale or in other words it is a commercial sex. We are told that one of the chief reasons for this behaviour seems to be poverty. The young girls who involve in this dangerous behaviour are motivated by the fact that they want to meet their basic needs and cope up with their peers.
ü  Tusiime and Kunihira are a case in point. As they get involved in this and are capable of handling their lives they don’t care about the dangers associated with it. This makes them capable of influencing Vicky who comes from a disadvantaged background/ family. Vicky also becomes a prostitute and foots the bills in Adyeri’s family. This activity is also dangerous as it may expose the person to AIDS pandemic.
ü  Birungi is also a prostitute as she exploits Adyeri the throws him out and takes another boyfriend just the next day
ü  Edda is also a prostitute as she exploits Atwoki and makes his loose his control in life.
Peer pressure implies the influence one gets from his/her friends, age mates, colleagues, or family folks on different decisions. In the novel the following people have fallen victims of the peer pressure.
Ø  Adyeri falls a prey to Birungi seductive approaches. He squandered the school funds to build a house for her in Burungu. This results to his dismissal from his job.
Ø  Vicky also becomes a victim of the peer pressure from her friends Tusiime and Kunihira and begins to engage in prostitution. They say to her “you must be the most poorly dressed girl in Fort Portal” pg 18
Ø  Atwoki is influenced by David, when in Kampala. He introduces Atwoki to beer drinking and girls and even finances their affairs. This makes Atwoki to become bold with girls and leads him to get HIV/AIDS.
Ø  The pressure from Aliganyira’s relatives exposes both Vicky and Aliganyira to the disease. They go to the witch doctor in search for a baby but as the witch doctor makes small cuts on Vicky’s skin he infects her with HIV. The author says; in pg 36
So much pressure had been mounting from his folks, especially from his mother. They said that if she is unproductive, then he should throw her out and bring in a replacement”
Ø  Most people in this novel seem to be ignorant. They are not only ignorant about the disease but also don’t know the ways the disease spreads. In pg 27 the author says something about Amoti;
“All in all, she was ignorant about the real disease her husband was suffering from, neither was she aware that herself was already infected with the same virus, healthy though she was.”
·         In the same page he shows the Amoti associated her husband’s illness with witchcraft. “Whatever it is, your father has been bewitched”
Ø  Vicky’s husband takes her to the witch doctor in order to get a baby, instead she gets HIV.
Ø  The victims of slim are taken to witchdoctors with a belief that they have been bewitched.
Because most people are unable to afford basic needs, they use any other possible means to meet their needs. Some of these methods are not good because they are likely to expose someone to the possibility of getting HIV. Poverty is portrayed in the following scenarios.
Ø  Vicky, Tusiime and Kunihira are forced to engage in prostitution in order to meet their basic needs including food and clothing.
Ø  Abooki falls prey to John’s trap because of her poor condition at home and John offers financial support. She responds to his invitation knowing that if she refuses she might as well lose the financial support. This makes her lose her virginity.
Ø  Due to poor condition at home, Atwoki is forced to move from home to Kampala. He goes to live with his friend David who comes from a rich family where he is influenced to city life and eventually gets HIV.
Ø  Adyeri’s family is so poor to the extent that sometimes the visitor (uncle Araali) foots the food bills in the house.
Ø  Poverty is also evident among the government officers. Aliganyira laments in pg 36.
These hungry government officers…they are simply professional beggars. I wonder why they think I can finance them all the time…”
Ø  Poverty also makes people trust that witch doctors can make them rich; as thus they go to witchdoctors in search for richness as Aliganyira tells Vicky. Pg  37
“This man is very powerful…he has very powerful juju. His charms have made people rich”
Family conflicts also play a major and significant role in exposing both parents and children to the chances of getting infected with disease. Let’s look at the following family conflicts.
Ø  The conflict between Adyeri and Amoti makes them separated. This forces Adyeri to remain with his concubines where he acquires the infection.
Ø  Atwoki is forced to move from home due to constant conflicts with Daddy and poor upbringing. He acquires the disease in exile.
Ø  A conflict between Vicky and her husband’s relatives forces her to visit the witchdoctor in search for a baby, instead she gets HIV. Talking about Vicky the author says:
“She felt very much threatened by his relatives who were always eyeing his great wealth.”
Ø  Abooki suffers intrapersonal conflict after being raped by John. She wonders whether she has contacted HIV or Pregnancy. As a solution she goes for blood test which confirms that she is HIV and Pregnancy free.
Ø  Vicky also suffers intrapersonal conflict first when living with her uncle who mistreats her. She runs away from home to get comfort somewhere else. Also she suffers intrapersonal conflict when she marries Aliganyira and fails to get a child. She is worried if her husband will throw her out and bring in a replacement. As a result she goes to the witchdoctor in search for a baby but she gets HIV.
It is generally said “Like father like son”. Parents play a big role in the future behaviour of their children. Parents ought to be good role models to their children or else they will become bad models. If it happens that they shape their children in a negative way, it may increase their chance of getting HIV as in the following cases from the novel.
Ø  David’s father influenced David negatively by giving him too much freedom. He also goes to the bars with his father, drinks beer and picks girls without any reprimand from the parent.
Ø  Atwoki also experiences poor upbringing from his heavily drinking and sex maniac father. He eventually picks up his father’s behaviour and exposes himself to HIV.
Ø  The jealousy of Amoti influences Vicky to engage in prostitution and later finds a husband as a way of getting her basic needs. This makes Vicky acquire the disease.
Ø  However, Amoti’s influence on Abooki is a positive one. She takes good care of her and we are told that Abooki was a much disciplined girl.


Women occupy different positions in different societies. Some authors portray women in a positive way while others portray their negative aspects or both. In this novel, women occupy the following positions;
a.    Women as portrayed as tools for pleasure by men.
Most men use women just to satisfy their sexual desires. The following examples illustrate the point. Abooki by John, Edda by Atwoki, Birungi by Adyeri, David with his father were using a lot of women and girls for the same reason. This increases their chance of getting HIV.
b.    Women are portrayed as prostitutes.
In the novel we see some women/girls engaging in commercial sex as a solution to poverty. These include; Vicky, Kunihira and Tusiime.
c.    Women are portrayed as weak and have no say.
A woman is shown as a weak vessel that men can manipulate the way they wish. Amoti receives constant beating from her husband. Also Vicky is denied the chance of marrying Akena by her uncle because of bride price which she has no say about.
d.    Women are portrayed as superstitious.
Women also believe in witchcraft. Amoti believes that the sickness of her husband is due to witchcraft. She says that her husband has been bewitched by Birungi.
e.    A woman is portrayed a jealous person.
We are told that Amoti does not want Vicky to marry Akena because of jealousy. As a result she puts an obstacle that Akena is a Munyamahanga (a man from another tribe). Also she is jealous of the wife of the rich shopkeeper.
f.     Women are portrayed as gossipers.
Amoti and Abwoli are seen gossiping against the wife of a rich shopkeeper. In page 3 the author says,
Of course, she had spent more than one hour just gossiping against the wife of the rich shopkeeper whom she intensively hated and was jealous of. They had laughed and laughed with Abwoli, who was her best friend.”
g.    Women are portrayed as parents and caretakers.
Despite all her weaknesses, Amoti has a positive side. She manages to take a good care of her children even after family separation. We are told that until they reach High school, Atwoki and Abooki have never engaged in sexual affairs.
h.    A woman is portrayed as a betrayer.
We are told that Adyeri loses his job because of the financial scandal that he squandered the school funds to build Birungi a house and sells his plot of land to open a shop for her. Yet when he is sick she throws him away.
i.     As a good advisor. Vicky advised Abooki not to go after money it will kill her, Abooki advised Atwoki to be careful when he was going to Kampala.
j.     As a responsible person. Amoti takes all the family responsibilities while Adyeri is enjoying life with his concubines. Abooki also takes care of her sick mother while Atwoki is enjoying the city life with girls.
Sometimes the position one has in the society or his financial status may influence or expose him to the risk of getting HIV/AIDS. The following examples from the novel are cases in point.
Ø  Adyeri (The headmaster) is trapped by Birungi (his secretary) because of her seductive approaches.
Ø  Atwoki falls under Edda’s control because he is a famous football star and many girls are hunting him.
Ø  David’s father uses his money and position to trap girls.
Ø  David also uses his Daddy’s money and wealth to win girls’ love and exposes himself to HIV infection.
Ø  John uses his money to finance Abooki and uses that loophole to rape her.
Ø  Aliganyira marries and divorces two wives and forces Vicky to visit the witch doctor since he is rich and Vicky agrees simply because refusing could mean divorce and go back to hand-to-mouth kind of life she had before she hooked him.
Other themes include;


Ø Irresponsibility,
Adyeri is an irresponsible father and leader. As a leader he failed to do anything for which to be remembered for. As a father he fails to provide for the family basic needs. Due to his drinking habit he fails to foot the food bills in the house. That’s why uncle Araali comes and finds children with no food and foots the food bills. He also fails to take good care of his niece and leaves her to get engaged in prostitutions and he doesn’t care.
Ø Tribalism,
Amoti has a spirit of tribalism. She denies Vicky to marry Akena saying he’s a man from another tribe calling him a Munyamahanga.
Ø Bride price,
Bride price is a stumbling block for African youths to get married to their loved ones. Parents and caregivers usually complicate the matter by setting high bride price beyond the youths’ financial ability. For Adyeri, as long as the bride price is settled it doesn’t matter who/what marries Vicky whether it is a person, cow or a donkey. The greed of parents has led to loss of humanity.
15 heads of cattle. 8 goats
50,000/= shillings for buying back cloth.
15,000/= shillings for buying Daddy’s walking stick and
2 jerry cans of beer. At the end, the meeting ends without a consensus between the two parties. (Adyeri’s side and Akena’s side)
Ø Wife battering/spouse beating.
Adyeri is a hot tempered husband who beats his wife just for a slight mistake. This is not good as it may lead to family conflict and hatred among the married couples. As a result it leads to family separations as in Adyeri’s family. This is a bad custom but it is common among African societies.
Ø  Stigmatization.
ü  This is the act of treating somebody in a way that makes them feel that they are very bad or unimportant because of some circumstances like disability, diseases etc.
ü  An AIDS victim narrates on the TV how his friends have run away from him, even his relatives detest him.
ü  But also Adyeri is stigmatized when he attends a parents’ day at Kinyamasika Primary. Nobody chats with him. Amoti also treats her husband with stigma not knowing that she is also suffering from the same tragedy.
ü  It is not good to stigmatize people with HIV but we can interact with them while taking the necessary precautions.
Ø  The influence of the mass media,
Like fire, the mass media can be a good servant or a bad master depending on how they are used. The mass media have a great influence on people’s behaviour. David’s family seems to be affected by improper use of the media. They watch television film which is a romantic tale full of sexual scenes and enjoy. Atwoki is given a room in the visitors’ quarters which is full of pictures of half-naked women and pornographic magazines. This in part contributed to moral pollution that Atwoki became in the future.
Ø  Betrayal
Birungi betrays Adyeri but throwing him out at the time when he needed her help. We are told that Adyeri loses his job because of the financial scandal that he squandered the school finds to build Birungi a house and sold his plot of land to open a shop for her at Mugusu Trading Centre. Yet when he is sick she throws him away.
Atwoki betrays his sister Abooki and his uncle Araali for neglecting them when he was in the hall of fame.
a)      It is important to spread HIV/AIDS education to people about its infection, transmission, prevention and treatment. Many people seem to get the disease unawares and spread it unknowingly.
b)      Multiple sexual partners increase the chance of getting HIV/AIDS.
c)      People should be careful in choosing friends and selecting the advice from friends. Peer pressure seems to have a strong influence in personal transformation.
d)      Family conflicts and poor upbringing create a detrimental future for the children.
e)      Spouse beating is an outdated culture as it may lead to family separation.
f)       People should do good things when still alive so that they can be remembered for good when they are gone lest they pass like a shadow.
g)      We should use the mass media fruitfully for getting valuable information and education.
h)      It is not good to treat HIV victims with social stigma.
Ø The book is relevant in any African society as it clearly depicts some common issues that are prevalent in African context. Issues like; AIDS pandemic, Superstition, Ignorance, Infidelity, Family conflicts.
Ø The influence of peer pressure especially among the youngsters is also common.
Ø Bride price and the related complications are common in African societies.
Ø Stigmatisation of HIV/AIDS victims, Irresponsibility and Betrayal among members of the society are common phenomena in Africa.

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