Crossroads Anthology

by Christopher Conte

KSh 950

They are rooted in their culture’s rich traditions, yet they stand at the cutting edge of change. This is the crossroads where many Ugandan women find themselves today. With dignity and grace, they play a complex social role, balancing worldly sophistication with reverence for the values of their upbringing.

In Crossroads, a group of these women explore the past that shaped them and the future they hope to build, telling varied stories about a rapidly changing society where they serve both as guardians of culture and harbingers of reform.

While one woman examines the cultural implications of Ugandan names, another describes being tortured in a secret prison, and a third traces the mix of African and imported religions that shaped her. One mocks girls’ traditional sex education, while another voices her love of sports and a third reflects on her struggle to overcome a legacy of growing up in a war zone. All challenge social expectations, yet many view “modernization” with ambivalence.

Covering topics from sex roles to western ideas of “development,” this compelling picture of the lives of women in today’s Uganda, sometimes funny and sometimes tragic, provides powerful testimony to the strength of the human spirit.

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theMagunga Bookstore

Christopher Conte, Editor

Christopher Conte is a writer and editor based in Washington, DC. In 2008, he began working in Uganda as a journalist for a Kampala-based newspaper, a stint that lasted two years. His interactions with certain people gave him the idea of publishing a book filled with factual stories about the everyday lives of Ugandan women, to give insights into life in Uganda. This he explains succinctly in his introduction: ‘We hoped that stories by “ordinary” people, told in the straight-forward manner of journalism, would offer readers more authentic glimpses into one small corner of a huge and diverse continent that is neither as pitiful nor as romantic as the stereotypes suggest’.

The resulting book, Crossroads: Women Coming of Age in Today’s Uganda, thus joins a list of similar non-fiction anthologies from the continent: No More Strangers Now: Young Voices from a New South Africa edited by Tim McKee, which deals with growing up in apartheid South Africa; Our Stories, Our Songs: African Children Talk about AIDS edited by Deborah Ellis; The Unsung Heroines edited by Magdaline K Ngaiza and Bertha Koda, which is a collection of stories from the lives of seven ordinary Tanzanian women.

– Agatha Aduro, Wawa Book Review

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Christopher Conte

Christopher Conte is a writer and editor based in Washington, DC. In 2008, he began working in Uganda as a journalist for a Kampala-based newspaper, a stint that lasted two years. His interactions with certain people gave him the idea of publishing a book filled with factual stories about the everyday lives of Ugandan women, to give insights into life in Uganda. This he explains succinctly in his introduction: ‘We hoped that stories by “ordinary” people, told in the straight-forward manner of journalism, would offer readers more authentic glimpses into one small corner of a huge and diverse continent that is neither as pitiful nor as romantic as the stereotypes suggest’. The resulting book, Crossroads: Women Coming of Age in Today’s Uganda, thus joins a list of similar non-fiction anthologies from the continent: No More Strangers Now: Young Voices from a New South Africa edited by Tim McKee, which deals with growing up in apartheid South Africa; Our Stories, Our Songs: African Children Talk about AIDS edited by Deborah Ellis; The Unsung Heroines edited by Magdaline K Ngaiza and Bertha Koda, which is a collection of stories from the lives of seven ordinary Tanzanian women. - Agatha Aduro, Wawa Book Review