This book by the Ugandan writer Nakisanze Segawa takes us back to 1880’s in the kingdom of Buganda. So we have no need to discuss colonial or post-colonial literature, for we have entered the days of the kingdoms in the present-day Uganda. This period has not been chosen at random, for in this period there were a significant upheavals in the kingdom. There were several Kabaka (ruler / king) in this period. An important Kabaka was Mutesa. He had invited missionaries form the Church Missionary Society. These missionaries arrived in 1877 and started work in the vincinity of the Kabaka. Things got complicated when also French missionaries arrived in the kingdom. This complication was further deepened by the older presence of islamic Arab traders from the East African coast and Zanzibar. Buganda tried in this way to strengthen its position vis-a-vis other neigbouring kingdoms. In 1884 Mutesa was succeeded by his son Mwanga.
In her novel Segawa takes us to this complicated period and shows how the different forces in the kingdom collided and fought with one another. At the background another force is looming, this force was the Imperial British East Africa Company (IBEAC). In 1990 this company (with the backing of the imperial power) send captain Lugard to Buganda to bring this kingdom within the sphere of the British power.
Segawa shows the developing (hi)story from different viewpoints. From the perspectives of Nagawa, one of the wives of Mwanga. Kalinda, one of the men working at the court. Father Clement, one of the British CMS missionaries and other people. In this way she can weave the story with different perspectives showing the position of the different stakeholders in this unfolding story.
The title “The Triangle” refers to the triangle of wars that were going on between the different parties in this complicated part of Bugandan history.
Segawa did a fair bit of research into this part of history. The sources she has used are mentioned at the end of the book. With this book she shows us a new perspective on the history in which she is rooted. As far as I know the period before the rise of colonialism is not fully explored in literature eventhough sources are available. Segawa has done a good job in writing this novel.
Nakisanze Segawa – The Triangle – 2016