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Analysis of The Novel: 'Passed Like a Shadow'

Passed Like a Shadow is a narration of the events which led to the pandemic sexually transmitted disease, AIDS, slithing its way into Adyeri's and David's families.

The novel is centered on Adyeri, a husband and father, whose dictatorial style of leadership in his family, drunkenness and extra-marital affair led his family into severe poverty, disintegration of the family, and culminated in AIDS claiming some members of the family (including himself).

The families recounted in the novel are a representation of families that were affected by the invasion of HIV/AIDS in their families as a result of behaviours and/or attitudes of certain family members.

The novel is written by Bernard Mapalala, a Tanzanian author of both English and Kiswahili novels. It was published in 2006 by Dar es Salaam University Press. It's first reprinted in 2008 and later in 2009.



The Significance of the Title of the Novel

The title of the novel, Passed Like a Shadow, when broken down, brings out a phrasal verb, Passed away, and the noun, Shadow.

Passed away is an euphemism word for 'died.' A shadow is a dark figure cast on the ground or an object when something intercepts the rays of sun from passing through.

One characteristic of a Shadow is that it doesn't exist for a lengthy time. It only lasts for some time before it evaporates into nothingness.

Thereby, in relation to the content of the novel, the title of the novel narrates the lives of individuals who died at a younger age or didn't accomplish anything (or much) in their lives. The second aspect of the definition is reiterated in a poetic-song performed by class five pupils of Kinyamasika Primary School during Parents' Day celebration. They sung,

What have I done in this world?

What memories shall I leave when I'm gone?

If memories I shall have 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 things 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...

The Structure of the Novel


A sickly man boards a Daladala minibus at Kinondoni in Dar-es-Salaam. He alights from the vehicle at the Market, and heads to another one which will take him to the Referral Hospital. He struggles to walk; feeling very weak.

His friend, a laboratory technician at the hospital, is lost in thoughts; contemplating how he'll break the news he's infected with HIV. Feeling sad for his friend who had recently married, and had built a lavish house, the lab technician reflects on the words he'd been told by his uncle concerning the sexual transmitted disease, AIDS.

Chapter 1

Atwoki who had squatted to enjoy his matoke loses his appetite when he smells the tobacco smoke from his father's pipe, and notices him staggering while yelling at his sister, Abooki.

Fear gripping his heart, he makes a run to take cover under his bed. In the process of fleeing from his father, he bumps into his sister who was holding a tray containing their father's meal.

The children look fearfully at their father as he bubbles out words in anger. Taking pleasure at the display of fear visible on their faces, he lits up his pipe, and then calls Atwoki.

Atwoki doesn't understand what his father means by calling him, "You!" He calls him again before he asks him how many times he's to call him.

Adyeri slaps him in the face which sends the boy to the floor after hitting the over-cracked wall.

Amoti arrives to find his son on the floor. She confronts him but he is irked at the intensity of her lecturing him. He pounces on her before he lits his pipe, and leaves the house; banging the door.

Chapter 2

Atwoki who is standing outside their house on a Saturday morning, sees his cousin, Vicky, with another man coming towards their home. Filled with joy at the sight of his cousin, he runs to her.

He welcomes her joyfully as they enter the house. Amoti who is doing something in the corridor welcomes them coldly, and Vicky eyeing her, replies sarcastically she's glad to be back home.

Amoti doesn't see them off to the sitting room. Instead, she heads to the master bedroom to report Vicky's comeback with a male visitor. Adyeri, lying on the bed, is reading a cartoon booklet.

Vicky is called to the bedroom by Atwoki who had been sent by her mother at the order of Adyeri. He probes her about the male visitor. A dispute arises betweem Vicky and Amoti but Adyeri silences them. He tells Vicky to tell his fiancé, Akena, to come at a set date with his party to introduce himself, and negotiate the dowry.

At the set date, both parties - Akena's and Adyeri's - meet at Adyeri's place. They don't agree on the bride price. Vicky's anticipation of getting married to the rich man is turned down.

Chapter 3

Atwoki and Abooki are in the same class, standard three, in a local primary schoolat the Fort Portal. They are usually among the last pupils to leave the school since Abooki has to wait for her brother, a football fanatic, to be done playing with his playmates.

On one particular day, their uncle, Araali, visits them. The parents have not yet come back. He has brought biscuits and sweets for them. Also, he gives Abooki money to buy firewood and whatever she needs in the kitchen. He has also brought matoke, fish, white ants and small mushrooms.

Adyeri enters his compound staggering while singing the Uganda's national anthem. At the kitchen, he stops. He asks Abooki whether she's cooking fish, and enquires where she got them.

Trying to walk erect, and in a sober state, he walks towards the sitting room to meet the visitor, a distant cousin of his, while singing the national anthem.

Chapter 4

Vicky has returned to Fort Portal after having been sent to Bundibugyo to work as tea plucker for three months. She hadn't received any wage as they were sent to Amoti to pay for her children's fees.

Over the coming days, she has felt drawn closer to her Fort Portal's friends, Tusiime and Kunihira since at home she lacks comfort and guidance.

On one particular day, her friends advise her to get herself a rich man if she wants to live a 'satisfying' life. She was unable to sleep that night as she reflected on what her friends had advised her.

Soon, rich men come to pick her up at her uncle's place. Amoti complains but to no avail. In turn, she becomes the breadwinner of the family, and silences her uncle from questioning her behaviour by buying him strong drinks and crates of beers.

One day, Adyeri, under the influence of alcohol, physically attacks a sugar daddy who had come to look for Vicky. Two weeks later, Vicky leaves Adyeri's house with all her belongings.

Chapter 5

Abooki and Atwoki have completed their primary school education.

Adyeri has been invited to Kinyamasika Primary School to attend Parents’ Day occasion. He had been one of the pioneer teachers at the school thus he was invited on merit. He doesn’t wait till the occasion comes to a close. He goes back to his deserted home in Kachwamba. Herein, we learn why his home was void of his wife and children, why he was dismissed of his duties as a headmaster at St. Leo's High School, and how he became infected with HIV.

Adyeri, a former headmaster at St. Leon’s High School couldn’t hold back from having extra-marital affair with the school’s secretary, Birungi. When Adyeri hadn’t turned up at his family’s home at Kachwamba for a month, Amoti headed to the school where her husband worked to enquire why he had been absent for a month. She stormed in the staffroom despite the fact the staff were in a meeting. Birungi, fearing for her life, slided away from her office and ran out of school to save herself from the wrath of Amoti. Soon after, the old bishop who was overseeing the school fired Adyeri from his job at the school.

He was successful in being employed by the local schools as a part-time teacher but each school became tired of his never-ending alcoholic behaviour. In no time, no school in Fort Portal wanted to employ him. Having no job, Adyeri sold half of his inherited land. Amoti objected to it but Adyeri silenced her by telling her if she thought he had no decision to make on his land she should pack and leave.

After selling a piece of his land, he moved from his home to stay with Birungi in Burungu. Whenever he was late from leaving the bar he frequented and there was no transport to take him to Burungu, he would go to sleep at his family’s home in Kachwamba.

Before long, Adyeri was admitted at Virika Hospital for tuberculosis treatment. Adyeri learned at the hospital he was infected with HIV/AIDS known as slim by the local people.

When he was released from the hospital, he went back to Burungu because Amoti and the children had deserted their home at kachwamba and he was too weak to look after himself. He never expected to receive a cold reception from Birungi who was angry at him. She was also infected with the slim disease. All his clothes were bundled in an old bag and thrown at him. He remaines outside the door for several hours, not knowing where to go or do, before policemen came to take him to his abandoned home in Kachwamba.

Chapter 6

Atwoki, a gifted footballer known as 'Fort Port Bullet' drove the national team of Uganda into victory against Egypt in the final African Cup of Nations by scoring two goals. He had gained fame as an incredible footballer while still a high school student at St. Leo’s Secondary School.

Back at their new home in Katumba Village near Kachwamba, Atwoki is chatting with his sister and mother. Thanks to Atwoki’s involvement in the Uganda national football team, he has managed to build a new home for his mother and sister.

They hear a knock at the door. An elderly woman rushes in to beg Amoti to take in her husband who’s suffering from AIDS. As the elderly woman is pleading, they hear a car breaking outside followed by shouts.

Adyeri is brought out of the car on a stretcher. Atwoki is asked by men who are carrying his ailing father on a stretcher where they should put him. He directs the men to take him to a room at the end of the house. Atwoki and Abooki weep at the miserable sight of their father. Amoti has hard feelings for her husband. She considers her husband a burden to take care of.

Chapter 7

David, Atwoki’s new friend from Kampala invites him to visit him in Kampala. They had met in a football training camp in Kampala. Atwoki had already completed his high school education.

David is living in his father’s posh home in Makindye. A Makerere university reject (after repeating several exams and failing) he convinces Atwoki to enjoy life - sleeping with girls. One particular girl approaches him as he’s chatting with David in a restaurant. David convinces Atwoki to get in touch with her and before he leaves Kampala to travel back home, he has slept with the girl, Edda several times at David's father's visitors' quarters.

Chapter 8

Vicky had hooked up with a rich businessman, Aliganyira who owned a fleet of long distance trucks.

For the past ten years they had been together, Vicky has never conceived a child. With pressure mounting from her husband’s relatives to ditch Vicky if she doesn’t bear him a child, her husband comes with a plan to visit a local witch doctor.

They leave their home a few minutes after midnight. Before the procession goes on at the witch-doctor’s ward, Aliganyira has to cough out a million shillings.

The witch doctor orders Vicky to take off her clothes. He caresses Vicky’s stomach before piercing her stomach with a small sharp knife. Desperate for a baby and frightened at the thought of being infected with HIV, she bears the pain as the witch doctor draws tattoos on her stomach.

Chapter 9

Amoti is succumbing to the virus disease. Adyeri had passed a few months earlier.

Abooki is left with the task of nursing her dying mother. Atwoki had gone to Kampala after the burial of his father. He had only sent money once which wasn’t enough. He has never communicated with his sister back at home or visited his sister and mother for the three months he has been in Kampala. Abooki requests Atwoki’s fans who frequent Kampala to tell her brother to go back home because their mother is sick and there’s no money. The fans come back home with the news Atwoki is living with a lady thus it was difficult for them to meet him.

One day Abooki visits her cousin, Vicky to ask for financial help. She leaves her mother in the care of her neighbours. She is astonished to find Vicky living in a depressing state – she and her husband are infected with the virus disease.

They talk until late at night. Vicky gives Abooki a good amount of money and advices her not to go after money; she’s better off being married to a beggar than a rich man.

Abooki has a male friend, John whose parents are rich. John would give Abooki some money and presents which assisted her in running the home.

One day she’s invited by John at his home. She accepts the invitation because she doesn’t want to disappoint him. This coupled with his gentleness and honesty, Abooki believes John can’t do anything evil against her. She takes precaution not to engage in any action that may put her at risk of getting the disease or pregnant. She declines the offer of beer preferring soda. Despite her vigilance she finds herself naked in John’s bed the following morning.

Chapter 10

Abooki becomes joyful after her blood test results turn negative. Furthermore, she is not pregnant. However, for his brother it is a different story. He is HIV positive. He wasn’t even available at Katumba Village to bury his mother. David, his parents and the housemaid were also infected with the disease. David’s father had succumbed to the virus disease.

Abooki welcomes her brother. She doesn’t condemn him and asks him whether they could pay their uncle a visit. Atwoki feels guilty knowing he hadn’t helped their uncle despite the fact he had catered for their educational needs. His sister comforts him that Uncle Araali won’t condemn him. Uncle Araali who lives in Kitagwenda on top of a hill is joyous to see Atwoki.


The following are the subject matters that have been highlighted by the author in the novel:

1. Autocratic Rule/Dictatorship

Adyeri ruled his family with an iron-fist hand. His children had developed an inbuilt fear of him. When Atwoki heard his father quarreling with his sister, the fear of his father gripped his heart. To escape his father’s rage, he thought being under the cover of his bed would be a safe haven from his father's rage. In an attempt to run to his room and take cover under his bed, he bumped into Abooki who was carrying daddy’s meal resulting in it splattering on the floor. Even though it was an accident, Adyeri believed the children did it because they were siding with their mother to make his life miserable.

The children were aware what would happen next - the cane. They were accustomed to such a phenomenon of their father resorting to using a specially preserved cane even for the slightest mistake.

Adyeri took pleasure at the fearful expression on the faces of their children. “Daddy stood poisedly, his hands in his pocket. He enjoyed the sudden silence which had spread all over the place. He enjoyed knowing that his children feared him like hell. It gave him a sense of self satisfaction, a sense of royalty and aristocracy. He felt himself a complete master.”

Amoti, the children’s mother and Adyeri’s wife, arrived on time to find her son lying on the floor. Amoti confronted her husband, “Do you want to kill the boy… What type of man are you? Do you think that this child is of your equal? Why do you give him such man-sized beatings? Do you think he will love you when he grows up? Why don’t you fight with people of your age if you are really such a fighter?”

Amoti wasn’t lucky too as Adyeri jumped on her and beat her. Before Adyeri beat her, she told him, “Dare you touch me. Dare you lay a finger on me and you’ll regret, I tell you. What type of man are you, who always want to fight with a woman? Shame on you, Adyeri. Shame on you.” For a man to beat his wife, it insinuates that the man thinks he’s power or influence over the woman. It portrays the dominance of a man’s ego.

In another scenario, Amoti was against Vicky being married to a man outside their tribe. Vicky persisted he wanted to get married to the man. Nevertheless, Adyeri retorted, “I’m the only person who puts on trousers in the room. I’m the one to make a decision.” This clearly paints a picture that Amoti didn't have a say in contributing to decisions that concerned the family. It’s Adyeri who made the final decision which spells out his autocratic rule in the family.

2. Sexually Transmitted Disease, HIV/AIDS

This is the major theme in the novel. The novel starts with a prologue of a man who heads to the referral hospital in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania to meet his friend who works there. The man struggles to walk. He is feeling very weak. His friend who works as a laboratory technician in the hospital is nervous, not knowing how to deliver the sad message to him once he arrives at the hospital that he is infected with the virus. Ironically, the disease unites both Tanzania and Uganda which had failed to unite at political and economic level. The lab technician remembers what his uncle told him as he waits for his sick friend to arrive: “My son, our countries have failed to unite. But this time death will do the job. The disease will kill all the people in Uganda and Tanzania. No one is going to be spared...even the borders shall be wiped away by the suffering because people will cross this or that way to burry or just to die on the other side.”

Adyeri’s family is also infected and affected by the intrusion of the disease. Adyeri becomes the first one to be infected. A womanizer and a drunkard; he is infected with the disease by a toothless woman. In turn, he infects his wife and his mistress, unknowingly. Atwoki too becomes infected in Kampala by a woman whom he barely knows.

David’s family has also been infected by the disease. His father became the first to die from the disease in the family. The rest - David, his mother and househelp - are exhibiting symptoms related to AIDS. David takes upon himself to avenge what has befallen his family by infecting unsuspecting girls.

Lastly, Vicky, an unfortunate girl who had undergone harsh times under the care of her uncle and his wife, is also infected with the disease including her husband. When Abooki visits her to request for financial aid, she tells her, “I am going to die...I am an AIDS victim. I don’t know how I acquired it, but I have got it.”

3. Revenge

David having learned that he is infected with the virus disease takes upon himself to revenge by infecting as many unsuspecting girls as he could. Feeling angry at being infected, he vows to himself that he will drive others to the grave by infecting them with the disease through sexual intercourse. "As for David, things were just as bad because his flamboyant dad had perished and now his mother and the attractive house-girl were on their death beds. People murmured that it was the house-girl who had caused it all. David was so enraged by the catastrophe that had befallen him that he did his best to spread the infection to as many unsuspecting girls as he could catch."

4. Prostitution

Vicky’s friends at Fort Portal convince her to hook up with a 'big fish' - rich man - so to improve her standard of living.

Despite her objections she doesn’t want to get pregnant and wants to protect her reputation, the girls laugh her off. Annoyed by Vicky's statement, Kunihira confronts her, “Reputation? Now what is your reputation? Is being a virgin a reputation? If you would be a minister, or a landlady, or a tea factory owner, I would call that reputation. You say reputation? Is your reputation now feeding you? Look how your dress is, you must be the most poorly dressed girl in Fort Portal.”

Tusiime interjects, “As for me, I shall sleep with any man to makes money. Life is not easy. There is no short-cut. Even girls who are university graduates are doing it...Beauty can make your life different. Think of it Vicky, it is time you made some smart move. Put your love for sale and forget about your uncle.”

That night Vicky thought what her friends had advised her and concluded she needs to look for a big fish (a rich person) to save her from her miserable life. She wooed rich men who came to pick her up at her uncle’s home. Later, she left her uncle’s home to live with a rich man whom she had hooked up with. She got married to the wealthy businessman whom she didn’t love. She was in the relationship for the purpose of living a life she had dreamer of.

Her friends, Tusiime and Kunihira benefited from prostitution (in their view) in diverse ways. One of them was that the two were successful in owning a tailoring shop in Kachwamba. The business was financed by someone who Vicky doesn't know. Maybe it is the white man who is the boyfriend of Kasiime though he is a married man.

In fact, Tusiime mysteriously managed to pay her schools fees and becoming one of the best dressed girls in Maria Goretti Secondary. This happened after her studies were discontinued in the school as she was involved in leading students to burn some mattresses at the school. Her family was poor thus how did she manage to pay the fees and dress very well.

When Abooki visits her cousin to request for financial assistance, she is advised by Vicky, “My dear sister, I wish to counsel you on one thing. Don’t go after money...Don’t go after money. Money will kill you. You better get married to a beggar.”

5. Poverty

Adyeri’s family was living an impoverished life. Adyeri had to some extent contributed to the misery life his family found themselves in. Most of his salary was spent drinking and buying for his friends drinks. He had a mistress whom he helped to set up a shop by financing it. He even sold a half of his inherited land to further finance his mistress’ shop.

The children rarely enjoyed the delicacy of meat. The family didn't own a radio displaying the degree of poverty they were living in. Uncle Araali, a generous and kindhearted man used to visit the family bringing with him gifts for the children and some foodstuff for the family. In fact, he was the one who paid for the children’s high school education.

When Abooki suggested to an infected Atwoki they should visit their uncle, Atwoki replied, “How can I go there, while I’d neglected the man who paid for my education during my best days?”

6. Erosion of Moral Conduct/Moral Decay

When David invites Atwoki to visit his family, Atwoki was flabbergasted at what he observed in the stylish home of the wealthy family. “Atwoki was given a room in the visitors' quarters. On the table there was a pile of pornographic magazines..."

Despite David’s father being a married man, he’s ‘sleeping’ with girls. This also applied to Adyeri. Both men engaged in extra-marital affairs to the point Adyeri moved in to stay with his mistress; neglecting his wife and children.visitors’ quarters. The room was full of pictures of half-naked women. On the table there was a pile of pornographic magazines.”eeping’ with girls. This also applied to Adyeri. Both men engaged in extra-marital affairs to the point Adyeri moved in to stay with his mistress; neglecting his wife and children.

7. Drunkenness

The author has depicted the resultant effects of being under the influence of alcohol. One of the consequences of being intoxicated with alcohol is that a person loses his reasoning capacity. Additionally, the person becomes addicted to alcohol because of its addictive nature to the extent the person believes he can’t survive without it.

Adyeri’s wife and children had become accustomed to Adyeri's drunkenness. In chapter one, his drunkenness state makes little Atwoki to want to hide from his presence. “The father appeared from nowhere. Atwoki had just squatted to enjoy his matoke, the banana meal which was accompanied by groundnut sauce, when his nostrils unmistakably detected the notorious tobacco smell from his daddy’s pipe. As his sensory hair stood all over his body he heard his father already quarreling with somebody in the house ... Daddy was staggering as he spoke. Atwoki’s appetite was lost immediately when he saw his father. The man was very drunk; his trousers were wet and dirty. There was a lot of mud on his clothes to indicate that he had slipped and fallen on the wet ground several times over before he reached home.”

When Adyeri was fired as the headmaster of St. Leo’s Secondary School, the other schools declined to employ him because of his drinking behaviour. This forced him to sell a half of his land as he had no other means of earning income.

His drunkenness behaviour drove his family into a pit of poverty. He was no longer the respected teacher and headmaster. In fact, his drinking stupor led him to sleep with street women since the influence of alcohol overpowered his logical reasoning. Not knowing who he was sleeping with, he got infected with HIV. In turn, he infected his wife.

8. Betrayal

Abooki trusted John who came from a rich family. He would bring her gifts and money which helped Abooki in running the home after Atwoki ignored her and their ailing mother.

Abooki never thought John would do something against her that is immoral. She thought of him as a gentle and honest man. Even so, she took precautions such as refusing the offer of beer. Nonetheless, John dropped a valium tablet in her glass when she went to the bathroom for a short call. After drinking her glass of soda, she lost her senses not knowing she was drugged. When she woke up the next morning, she found herself naked and sleeping in John’s bed. Feeling ashamed (dirty) and crying, she couldn’t believe John could do something like that.

9. Charity/Kindness

The novel includes acts of kindness or generosity.

Uncle Araali would visit Adyeri’s family with gifts for the children and some foodstuffs such as matoke or mushroom for the family.

Despite betraying Abooki’s trust on him, John would bring Abooki gifts and some money which helped her in taking care of her mother and herself. One would wonder whether his ‘kind’ intention was genuine or it was a means to create an environment to engage in the bestiality act of having sexual intercourse with her.

Some football fans of Atwoki gave Abooki some money once or twice. She couldn’t remember how many times Atwoki's fans helped her financially.

10. Greediness/Self-centeredness

Adyeri exhibited a personality trait of selfishness/greediness. He was only concerned about himself and not for the needs/concerns of Vicky and Akena. He had a selfish desire to be rich not caring about other’s needs or limitations.

Adyeri became interested in Vicky when he learned that her man whom she wanted to introduce owned a motor garage. He believed he had hit a jackpot if it’s true Vicky’s man owned a garage. He felt ‘his fortune was soon to change with the looming huge dowry.’

Amoti was against Vicky being married by a man outside their tribe. However, Adyeri didn’t care who would marry Vicky as long as the man would pay the dowry on Adyeri’s terms - leave it or take it. He told his wife, “I don’t care who marries Vicky, whether it’s a person, a cow or a donkey. All I want is the dowry. I’ll fix the bride-price, and this man will cough it out.”

Things don’t turn out as Vicky had expected. Adyeri had refused to compromise his fixed bride price. He was “adamant not to receive a cow or a penny less. On his side, Akena was only ready to pay the maximum of two cows only...Inside her heart, she burnt with anger against what she imagined to her a greedy uncle.”

11. Gossip

Amoti had been late to arrive at home because she was busily involved in gossiping about a shopkeeper’s wife with a friend of hers. This depicts Amoti as a gossipmonger. She is "a person who habitually reveals personal or sensational facts about others." (Merriam-Webster Dictionary).

In chapter one, we read, “It was at this precise moment that Amoti walked into the house with a Jerry can of drinking water she had got from the water pump at Virika Hospital. It was less than a kilometre from their weather-beaten home at Kachwamba area in the outskirts of Fort Portal. Of course, she had spent more than one hour gossiping against the wife of the rich shopkeeper whom she intensively hated and was jealous of. They had laughed and laughed with Abwoli, whom was her best friend."

12. Jealousy

The author illustrates Amoti as a person who had issues with other people. She was jealous of other people on different aspects.

The novel recounts two occasions when Amoti exhibited jealousy. In the first instance, she had spent an hour with her best friend, Abwoli gossiping regarding the wife of a rich shopkeeper. If she hadn’t spent an hour in the useless talk - an hour gossiping against the wife of a rich shopkeeper - her son wouldn’t be lying on the floor in shock at what his father had done against him.

In another instance, she was jealous of Vicky after she learned that Vicky’s man was a rich person because he owned a motor garage.

When Amoti asked Vicky what her man did, Vicky replied he owned a motor garage in Kamwenge. Amoti became jealous of Vicky. She was jealous as her husband, Adyeri, was not as rich as Vicky’s boyfriend. She considered Vicky lucky. She was jealous of that fact.

Character Analysis

1. Adyeri

Adyeri, the husband of Amoti, and father to Abooki and Atwoki, was a former headmaster at St. Leo's High School and one of pioneer teachers at Kinyamasika Primary School.

Adyeri was a respected person in the community. His position as the headmaster of St. Leo's High School was attributed to his virtuous character. Nonetheless, his reputation was tarnished when he gave in to his secretary's advances on him. Rumours were that he's squandering the school's funds to build a house for Birungi, his secretary, in Burungu.

His cordial treatment towards his staff changed for the worse. He became hostile towards them - mistreating the school's staff.

The old Bishop overseeing the school fired him from his job after receiving news of another scandal Adyeri was entangled in - an extramarital affair with the school's secretary. This happened after Amoti stormed in the staffroom during a staff meeting, and confronted Adyeri. She demanded to know from the staff where her husband was living as she'd not seen him for a month.

A man conscious of his need to remain faithful to his wife, Adyeri broke the marital vows by engaging in extramarital affairs (adultery). Not only was he sleeping with his secretary but was also sleeping with other women e.g. the toothless woman.

After losing his job at the school, Adyeri became increasingly alcoholic. He applied to schools at Fort Portal as a part-time teacher. His alcoholic behaviour led to the schools discontinuing his employment. In the end, no school accepted his application.

Adyeri enjoyed an atmosphere of authority that permeated his home. His children grew up fearing him. For every little mistake, even accidental ones, a special cane was preserved for such an occasion. When Amoti pleaded with him not to sell a portion of his inherited land, Adyeri fired back that she should pack her belongings and leave if she thought he had no right to make decisions on his inherited land.

Adyeri became infected with HIV that was spreading at a high rate in the country, Uganda and neighbouring country, Tanzania. He succumbed to the disease in a deplorable situation.

2. Amoti

Amoti, the wife of Adyeri, and mother to Abooki and Atwoki was known in the village as short Amoti due to her shortened height.

A gossip monger, Amoti could have saved her son, Atwoki, from the fiery hands of her husband. She had spent more than a hour with her friend, Abwoli, discussing the wife of a local shopkeeper instead of heading straight to home from fetching water water at a local pump situated in Vihika Hospital.

Perhaps what she lacked in height, she made it up with her words. She enjoyed hurting her husband with her words because she no longer loved him as she used to. "Amoti was a funny woman. Her courage was only good in words and she enjoyed a war of words. But she was quite helpless whenever she provoked her husband Adyeri. They used to fight often, with her as the under-dog. But she would never agree to keep quiet, not hesitate to provoke her husband into a fierce temper. The under-dog as she always was, knew that her words were very effective against him because they hurt him deeply. Her satisfaction lay in hurting the man whom she once loved dearly." (Pg. 4)

Amoti had enough of her husband's treatment towards her and the children. This happened after her husband told her that she can pack her things and leave if she thought he didn't have any right to do what he wanted with his inherited land. An elderly woman who approached her where she's living with her children begged her to take her ill husband back - take care of him. Amoti replied, "Let him go to his woman in Burungu. Is this the time for him to come back to me while he is all stool and skeleton? He had even neglected his own children because of that wife of his. Me? I am not his wife. Go and say that to his wife As for me, I'm now enjoying my children's sweat." (Pg. 28)

Her hatred to her husband is further revealed when Atwoki accepted the ailing body of her father to be taken in his house. When it's being taken inside, Amoti thought, "They have just brought a burden." (Pg. 29)

3. Atwoki

Atwoki, the only male child of Adyeri and Amoti, and sister to Abooki, was a gifted footballer from a young age. Nicknamed, 'Fort Portal Bullet,' Atwoki rose to national fame as a skilled footballer when he scored two goals for his national team against Egypt despite being a student at secondary school.

Disciplined and dedicated, Atwoki managed to build a well furnished house where he lived with his mother and sister. His father had moved to Burungu to live with his mistress, Birungi.

Inspite of completing his A levels studies and becoming an accomplished footballer, Atwoki was negatively influenced by David whom he had met in a football training camp before completing his high school education.

He had intended to go to university or polytechnic after he completed his high school studies. Nonetheless, David asked him why he would want to enroll in a higher learning institution when he had all the money. Furthermore, David pressured him in getting himself a girlfriend.

Atwoki had resisted the advances that were directed at him by young women due to his fame as a national footballer. In the end, Atwoki gave in, just like his father, and began 'sleeping' with a young woman, Edda, in David's father's visitors' quarters.

Like his father, Atwoki became infected with HIV.

From a young age, Atwoki was a good natured fellow and playful (active). "In contrast to his sister, Atwoki was a tiny, busy character who always went home over-exhausted. Now he was singing, now he was skipping the rope, now he was running, then all of a sudden you would hear loud cries from the football ground, "Atwoki...Atwoki!" as the little devil dribbled the ball past confused defenders and smashed it home into the net." (pg. 13)

4. Abooki

A kind, friendly, quiet and meditative young girl, Abooki was the only member in Adyeri's family who escaped from the hold of HIV infection. Her mother died shortly after her father's burial, having been infected by Adyeri, her husband.

She's the only who took care of her mother, Atwoki having neglected them.

Even though she was in the same class with Atwoki, she did most of the house chores while Atwoki involved himself in playing football whenever her mother was not around after arriving home from school. "At the end of the school day, Abooki would wait for her brother until he was through with his football fever. For that reason, they were usually among the last group of pupils to leave school...But, normally at such times the children never found any of their parents at home and it was up to Abooki to prepare the evening meal for the whole family. The little girl was overworked but she was as hardworking as a donkey." (pg. 13-14)

Despite his brother neglecting her and her mother, and having not attended their mother's funeral, Abooki warmly welcomed her brother at their home in Katumba. "One day Atwoki arrived suddenly in Katumba. It was too late for him to see his mother again because they had just buried her...Abooki welcomed her brother in their lonely home. She didn't condemn him for anything he had done. She did her best to spend most of her time with him." (pg. 48)

Being a person who didn't want to appear unkind, Abooki accepted John's offer to visit him at his home. This happened shortly after completing her A levels. John would often visit her and her mother who was ill. He would bring her presents and leave her with some money.

"One day, John invited her to his home. It was Abooki's first time to accept an invitation to visit a man. This was her first date. At first, she had resolved to reject the appointment. But then John looked quite gentle and honest. She later decided to go because if she did not then he would feel so bad." Although she took precautions, she found herself naked in John's bed, the next morning. John had drugged her the previous evening by putting a valium tablet in her glass when she went for a short call.

5. Vicky

Abooki's and Atwoki's cousin, Vicky didn't live long to enjoy her life. She died at a young age after being infected with HIV.

She was left in the care of her uncle, Adyeri after her mother died while she's very young. Amoti considered her an extra burden to the family. As a result, she became a difficult child. "Due to that hostile environment, Vicky had grown bellicose and hard-headed. It was a pity she had nowhere else to live." (pg. 6)

Having dreamt of living a lavished lifestyle, she got engaged to a man, working as a mechanic, from Kamwenge. She never loved the man. Not only did she want to live a better life but also to "teach Short Amoti a lesson - by getting married to a wealthier man who would make her very comfortable." (pg. 7)

However, Adyeri refused her to get married to Akena as the man was unable to meet the bride price put forth by him. The greediness of her uncle costed her a man who would uplift her living standards.

Vicky was influenced by her friends, Tusiime and Kunihira to get herself a big fish, that is, involve herself in prostitution. By seducing rich men, and falsely get married to a rich man, she would live the life she'd always dreamed of. As a result, she got married to Aliganyira, a wealthy businessman.

She was abused by her uncle and his wife as a secondary source of support for her cousins' education. "Tears streamed from Vicky's face as she recalled the ordeal when her uncle failed to come to terms with the man she wanted to marry. She resented the treatment she had received afterwards from Adyeri, as he directed all the frustration in missing the dowry fortune on her...A few days later they had sent her to Bundibigyo to work as a plucker for three months in a neighbour's tea plantation. She wasn't able to smell a coin from her sweat as all wages had been prepaid to Amoti so that she could pay for her children's fees." (pg. 16)

Her hatred for his uncle and his wife knew no bounds. He blamed them in how her life had turned out before she began selling her body for money. "A deep hatred arose in her when she thought of Adyeri and Amoti. She held them responsible for her miserable life." (Pg. 19)

6. David

David lived an extravagant life, changing women with ease as he could afford money to seduce girls who were after money or fell to his charms. His father, holding a high level office in the government enabled him and his wife to live in a luxurious house. "David stayed at his father's posh home in Makindye. His father was an important man both in government and in the Kabaka's Council. David was his father's perfect replica. Short and stout, he had a long nose and cheating eyes. He always put on very expensive clothes. His greatest hobby was to chat with girls." (pg. 32)

David influenced Atwoki to enjoy life since he was making a lot of money as a footballer. He discouraged him from enrolling in a higher learning institution. A womanizer, just like his father, David tried to bring sense into Atwoki's mind concerning women. He told him when they met in a restaurant in Kampala, after completing his high school education, "You are a very handsome, famous young man. These ladies were not created for nothing. If at all you are church going, you'll agree with me on that. It is written in the Bible. You have to enjoy fruits of the earth. If you can't enjoy girls, then I wonder what else you can enjoy in this world. Maybe there are no beautiful girls in Fort Portal. But here in Kampala, you'll see." (pg. 30)

David was never successful in his studies at Makerere University. This can be attributed to his free-style life. "David himself was a Makerere University reject who had repeated examinations year-in year-out. In the end, the years couldn't hold him indefinitely at the University. Eventually, he had to bow out with bitterness against the "deadwood lecturers" with three pregnant girls to his credit. From then on, he spoke frequently on the failing standards of African universities, especially Makerere." (pg. 34)

He boasted to Atwoki how his father was good in picking girls. Furthermore, in one of the rooms in his father's visitors' quarters, it "was full of pictures of half-naked women. On the table there was a pile of pornographic magazines..." These two instances display the extent of immorality his father encouraged his son to embrace.

When David's father died due to HIV infection, he purposed to avenge by infecting many girls who fell in his trap because his flamboyant lifestyle was ebbing away. "As for David, things were just as bad because his flamboyant dad had perished and now his mother and the atttctive house-girl were on their death beds. People murmured that it was the house-girl who had caused it all. David was so enraged by the catastrophe that had befallen him that he did his best to spread the infection to as many unsuspecting girls as he could catch." (pg. 48)


The following are some of the figures of speech (figurative language) that have been employed by the author in narrating the events in the novel.

1. Imagery

An imagery is a mental image (picture) created in a reader's mind by an author's choice of words. An author uses words that will mainly engage the five senses of a human being - sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch.

Examples of imageries used in the book:

a) "Uncle Araali's home was on top of a hill directly overlooking Lake George, which was only two kilometres away. The lake view and the surroundings were so beautiful and the power of nature could be felt even within Atwoki's veins. At the distance Atwoki could see the fishermen rowing in Lake George." (pg. 49)

b) "Atwoki was given a room in the visitors' quarter. The room was full of pictures of half-naked women. On the table there was a pile of pornographic magazines. On the back-cover of one of the magazines was a large advert: "JOIN THE FIGHT AGAINST AIDS. USE CONDOMS."" (pg. 32)

b) Flashback

This is a literary terms where the current event is put on hold (paused), and the reader is taken back to an event that occurred in the past. It also implies of a past event incurring in the mind of a character.

Adyeri had begun coughing uncontrollably and had chest pains. As a result, he was admitted at Virika Hospital for tuberculosis treatment. An AIDS counsellor who happened to be a neighbour disclosed to him that he was infected with the viral disease. He asked Adyeri if he had other partners other than his wife and mistress. Adyeri 'rewinded' his mind to past events whereby he would pick a woman at random whenever he was drunk. He recalls a toothless woman whom he slept with after having a drink with her.

c) Symbolism

This is the use of a symbol, mostly an object, to represent a different thing (or idea). For example, a dove is used to symbolize peace, red to represent, and chain to symbolize imprisonment.

Vicky's friends convince her to get herself a big fish so that she can live the life she desires. A 'fish' represent a target. A big fish is preferred than a small fish because of the quantity of its meat. Her friends were persuading her to target a rich man who would fulfill her long desire of living a luxurious life.

d) Colloquialism

It refers to use of words that can't be used in a formal setting. It also refers to use of slang words. These are newly invented words that can't be used in official places. At times, slangs can be impolite.

In the Prologue, there is the mention of Daladala. Dalalala are minibuses (city buses) that are used as public vehicles in the former capital city of Tanzania, Dar-es-Salaam.

Vicky and her husband visited a witchdoctor to help Vicky to get a child by using charms. Her husband told her the witchdoctor has a powerful juju. Juju is an informal word referring to black magic.

e) Irony

This is when a person says something that's opposite to his intended meaning. It also refers to something occuring opposite to the expectation of a person.

As readers, we didn't expect Adyeri, a hardworking and respected headmaster, could sap with a woman whom he isn't married to. He broke marriage vows of remaining faithful to his wife by having an affair with his secretary. It comes as a surprise that Adyeri of all people would succumb to AIDS.

When Adyeri is brought on a stretcher to where his wife is staying with their children, Amoti is unconcerned of her husband's deplorable state of health. She considers him a luggage as he's unable to do anything on his own. Unbeknown to her, she'd been infected by her husband. Very soon, she'll succumb to the disease.

Atwoki was an ambitious young man. He wasn't one to get himself lost in the pleasures of the world. Also he was a responsible and disciplined young man. Knowing that his father died from being infected with the virus disease, and his sister's warning to be careful of the disease when he goes to Kampala; Atwoki lowers his guard. Life in Kampala, particularly influenced negatively by his friend, David, sees him getting the disease.

f) Sayings

Tusiime tells Vicky that she'll not get married. Her decision is based among other things Vicky's uncle cheating on his wife. He has a mistress. She tells Vicky there's so much cheating in marriage. "In fact, marriage is an institution for the blind," she says.

'Marriage is an institution for the blind' is a proverb. Marriage is likened to an institution because it's a union between two people. In relation to her statements, she is implying that partners are unaware their other significant one is cheating on them.

Towards the end of the chapter, Uncle Araali is joyous to see Atwoki. He tells him, "East or West, home is the best." He was reaffirming the fact the only place Atwoki will feel loved, cares for, understood and comfortable is at home.

g) Hyperbole

Hyperbole is exaggerating something with the intention of emphasizing an idea so that it can be understood clearly.

Kunihira, referring to the drunkenness nature of Adyeri tells Vicky that her uncle is drunk twenty four hours. No matter how alcoholic or drunkard a person is, it's impossible to be drunk twenty four hours nonstop. By exaggerating, she is drawing a picture (image) of how intoxicated her uncle is to alcohol.

h) Metaphor

A metaphor is when you state one thing is another thing. It's unlike simile whereby you say something is in the likeness of another things by using 'as' or 'like." The aim of metaphor and simile is to show a similarity between the two things being compared or likened.

When Amoti saw young Atwoki on the floor writhing in pain from being slapped by his father, Amoti becomes furious. She tells Adyeri that she regrets of having married a pig.

In literature, a pig represents many characteristics than the common one we're accustomed to - greedy.

What did Amoti mean by angrily telling Adyeri she regrets marrying a pig? She is lamenting that she wishes she didn't get married to a hot-tempered man. This is one of ghey characteristics of pigs - they are prone to sudden anger.

It's not well-known why the name of Abooki means a pig. Looking at her behaviours that are described in a later chapter, we see the positive personality traits of hers. When analyzing pigs positive attributes, they're good-tempered, kind, thoughtful (smart/intelligent), loyal and friendly.

i) Onomatopoeia

This is the usage of words that imitate the sound made by something or somebody.

Amoti couldn't withstand the beatings of her husband. As a result, she screamed, "uwiii," followed by, "He's killing me." 'Uwiii' is a word that resembles the sound being made by a human who has been attacked by another person or robbed.

j) Repetition

Repetition is using a word or phrase multiple times to emphasize something.

In reference to Adyeri giving Atwoki a man-size beating, Amoti tells her husband, "I really regret I have married a pig. A pig. A pig. I have married a pig." She is stressing how distressed she's of having been married to Adyeri. She wishes a million times she wasn't married to him.

After beating her, he calls her a 'swine' twice before leaving the house to head to his mistress'. Swine share the same (or nearly the same) personality as pigs. Adyeri is stressing how useless his wife is. She is a good-for-nothing person.

k) Similes

This is comparing the personality or physical appearance of a person with another person or thing so as to paint a vivid image in a person's mind concerning the person being talked about.

We are told that most of the chores at home were reserved to Abooki because her parents were not, most of the time, at home when they leave school in the evening. The author says, "The little girl was over-worked but she was as hard working as a donkey." The use of the simile emphasizes how hardworking Abooki was. She was not a person prone to laziness.

Adyeri's drinking mates are in their favourite bar discussing about the deceased Adyeri and the slim disease - AIDS. While talking about Atwoki, and whether he'll succumb to the disease, one of them says, "They say that Bullet is now a reputed womanizer. You know it is as they say, like father, like son." By likening Atwoki to his father, the man is trying to prove that Atwoki will meet his fate the same way his father did. An example he gave is that Atwoki has the same womanizer behaviour as that of his late father.


There are several lessons we can glean from studying the novel. Some of the lessons are:

  1. Parents should refrain from exercising autocratic parenting. It results in the hardening of the hearts of the children towards them, that is, the fond feelings they've towards their parents is replaced by hatred or dislike. Furthermore, the expectations children have of their parents will be squashed as they'll no longer perceive their parents in a lovely light. Staring at the frail body of her father, Abooki cried. "She looked back at the expectations she had on her father as a child, how they had been frustrated and tramped upon." Amoti confronted her husband on his dictatorial parenting style. She asked him, "What type of man are you? Do you think that this child is of your equal? Why do you give him such man-sized beatings? Do you think he will love you when he grows up?"
  2. Scientific studied have, time and time again, reteirated the benefit of existence of mutual respect among partners in a relationship. They assert respect among partners is one of the top ten foundational components that knit relationships. Lack of respect in a relationship can lead to a break up, separation or divorce. A partner who is unrespected feels unloved, unappreciated, undermined, and devalued. Amoti deserted her matrimonial home to stay with her children in another location. It reached a point she developed hard feelings towards her husband. She never wept when the fragile body of her husband was brought to their home. She considered her husband a burden to take care of.
  3. The type of friends you have determines the kind of impact they'll have in your life. Will they influence you, positively or negatively? Will they propel you in the right direction or will they divert you from the right path? David influenced Atwoki negatively. Atwoki closed the chartered path he'd set of enrolling in an institution of higher education. Additionally, Atwoki was infected by the 'slim' disease by Edna, a going woman David hooked up Atwoki with.
  4. Your worthiness or value as a human being is determined on how you lived your life on earth. Which kind of impact will you leave behind when you pass away? Will you have impacted those you left behind, and others, in a positive light? This was the major theme of standard five pupils of Kinyamasika Primary school who staged a poetic play during the schools Parents' day.

© 2019 Alianess Benny Njuguna


Alianess Benny Njuguna (author) from Kenya on September 20, 2020:

@Fahima, I will publish them next week. Thank you for bringing that up.

Fahima on September 20, 2020:

Where is the analysis on figures of speech used aalong eith the messages we get from the figures of sperch

Alianess Benny Njuguna (author) from Kenya on August 18, 2020:

I agree, and thanks for the comment, kyleinbaddest

kyleinbaddest on August 13, 2020:

it was epic

Alianess Benny Njuguna (author) from Kenya on May 26, 2020:

Thank you, Riel for the feedback. It is much appreciated.

Riel tina on May 25, 2020:

Its nice.i like it

Alianess Benny Njuguna (author) from Kenya on May 09, 2020:

@Eugy, thanks for your feedback. I have only concentrated on chapter analysis (and soon character analysis). Hopefully soon, when things get better or back to normal, I will include the figures of speech or stylistic devices the author has used to tell the story.

Alianess Benny Njuguna (author) from Kenya on May 09, 2020:

@Berry, thank you for your comment. I will include the character analysis in this analysis before the end of this month.

Eugy Kalma on May 09, 2020:

I can see you have really tried but where are the figures of speech used

Alianess Benny Njuguna (author) from Kenya on April 29, 2020:

@David, the following are the traditions and customs that have been manifested in the book.

1. Dowry. This is a traditional practice that occurs in Uganda where the major events in the book take place. Adyeri refused the negotiation bride price that had been suggested by the group representing Akena. This meant that the arranged marriage between Vicky and Akena wouldn't take place.

2. It is not acceptable in the village, and possibly most parts of the country, for a woman (old or young) to ride a bicycle. Adyeri chased away Vicky from his house when he saw her riding a bicycle.

3. House chores are reserved for women. When the parents were not at home, it was Abooki who was left with the responsibility of doing the house work - washing utensils, cleaning the house and cooking. Despite her young age, she would cook food even for her father when her mother was not around. Her father could have cooked the food noting Abooki was very young. Atwoki could have washed his clothes or helped with some house work. Instead, most of his home time was devoted to playing football.

4. The sole decision maker in a family is man. A woman can contribute to a family issue but her contribution can be dismissed. Adyeri made it clear to Amoti and Vicky that he is the only man wearing a trouser in the house pertaining to dowry and Akena (Vicky's man who wants to marry her). This meant that he was the one to choose not them. When Amoti requested Adyeri not to sell a piece of his inherited land, Adyeri became furious and told her if she's is not satisfied with him selling the land she should get out of their home. In the end, he sold a piece of his land.

Berry Michael on April 22, 2020:

Plz if there was an analysis on the characters main characters and other characters it would've been nice

Alianess Benny Njuguna (author) from Kenya on April 15, 2020:

@David, thank you for the feedback. I will reply to your comment again with the question you've requested.

David meena on April 15, 2020:

Thanks for the summary but can you also try to help me ny showing

The traditons n customs from the book

Alianess Benny Njuguna (author) from Kenya on April 14, 2020:

Thank you, Stanley. I really appreciate it.

Stanley Mkunda on April 14, 2020:

thank you for ur story,u educate us a lot.

Alianess Benny Njuguna (author) from Kenya on April 04, 2020:

Thank you Delia for your feedback.

Selina on March 18, 2020:

ilove it

Alianess Benny Njuguna (author) from Kenya on March 11, 2020:

Thank you Edwa for your reply and good to know when you read posts like this you gain knowledge and skills how to deal with people. It is the most important thing in life to avoid depression and unnecessary stress.

Alianess Benny Njuguna (author) from Kenya on March 11, 2020:

Thank you Edwa for your reply and good to know when you read posts like this you gain knowledge and skills how to deal with people. It is the most important thing in life to avoid depression and unnecessary stress.

Alianess Benny Njuguna (author) from Kenya on March 05, 2020:

Thank you Nassra for your feedback. I too enjoy it.

nassra on March 05, 2020:

ilove this story

Alianess Benny Njuguna (author) from Kenya on February 13, 2020:

@Meshack, asante kwa maoni yako kuhusiana na hii chapisho.

Alianess Benny Njuguna (author) from Kenya on February 13, 2020:

I will include the relevance since this post isn't yet complete.

Alianess Benny Njuguna (author) from Kenya on February 13, 2020:

@Nashon, thank you

Alianess Benny Njuguna (author) from Kenya on February 13, 2020:

@Joh, asante.

nashon alufan on February 11, 2020:

good summary

Oscar on October 28, 2019:

Where the relevant

meshackngushwai on October 24, 2019:

mbaya i DID NOT like it