Wednesday, 21 March 2012

A View from Poisonwood's Adah Price

As part of the Faith and Action class, USP students read The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver a modern literary classic which records the fictional story of a 1960s US missionary family who leave their home in the Southern US to serve in a village in the Belgian Congo (present day Democratic Republic of Congo).  One of their assignment is to write a critical insight paper using the eyes and narrative of one of the characters in Poisonwood; this particular student has chosen to represent the physically warped and emotionally sarcastic, yet intellectually brilliant member of the Price family, Adah Price.  

Habari yako, or Wasuze Otyanno, means “What is your news?”, “you have spent the news how?”, or "How did you sleep?" People are Baganda, the singular Muganda. Their Kingdom is Buganda, and their language Luganda, and I once classified it all Uganda. Buganda is the eye of the Man Uganda. The Banansangwa makes the eye see: the Indigenous clans. The eye can see, think, and feel by its animals: the Lion, the Bulldog, the Fish, or the Shit. That is what he said at least. The Muganda must know which clan they belong to, because their roles require so.
The day was hot, and we all peered on, or sneered on, or slept on, as we listened intently to the guide who spoke to us in what sounded like metaphors. Animals represent the Baganda, whom speak in Luganda, and make up Buganda. He named the totems in both Luganda and English, and gave us their Kingdom responsibilities.  For some they guard, others keep the fire burning, while he is responsible for greeting the females in the Kings Palace.
Habari yako? What is the news? Asks more clearly how that day was spent at the Buganda King's Palace. The eye with all of its nerves, vessels, sclera, macula, conjunctiva, rectus medialis, or ora serra is only seen to me as the anatomical eye. I'm aloof; a fool am I. It is usually only understood in its anatomy, rather than its intricate and elaborate work of art. If the eyes is to the soul, and the soul reveals the man, the man is Uganda, and his eye Buganda. I must look, gaze, study, reflect, and appreciate the function of the eye.
We moved on, faster and faster, through the wooden doors that opened our minds to generations of history. The doors that Our Father carelessly entered; trampling on the ground that feeds him. The hungry ground that serves the Reverend Mzungu and the Reverend Mzungu vomits its food back on the hospitable ground. Dogma: I am God is how he carried himself.
I was speechless, as speech for me is less. My sister Rachel would have probably been her own totem; the princess totem of Buganda: the queen of her own palace. As for Ruth May, her image engraved on the wooden wall: the Cobra. And Leah: whatever animal she could hunt. As for me, God saw I was dog.
I was bombarded by imagery, of the clans eating the Lion, the Lion eating the dog, and the dog eating the snake: as Our Father had described the condition of Uganda. I had come to know, however, that the eye instead was the Garden of Eden, at least before we came: Madam, in Eden I'm Adam. And whether or not I ever looked deep into the eye of the Man didn’t matter. You know, I did little for you: for little did I know you. He existed before me, and will exist after me. And as for Our Father, he stood his ground, assuming that it was his God-given mandate to renew and baptize The Man. amen enema.

Tiffana LeMaster (Spring 2011)

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