Title: How We Buried Puso
Author: Morabo Morojele
'How we Buried Puso' is the third novel by an African Writer I have read this month (July). Since I am a bit busy and in a hurry I would give a quick comment on the book. Perhaps a proper review would follow, if it does not I hope this would suffice.
The book can be classified as a Lyrical Narrative written in the First Person, if only there is a genre of this sort. Under normal circumstances, I don't read books written in the first person as it does not afford the reader the chance of knowing more about the different characters. However, Morabo Morojele's book is no ordinary work. The book is about a young man, Molefe (or 'Lefe) who left home for greener pastures abroad like many Ghanaians and Africans for that matter. He encountered a lot of difficulties that most foreigners are faced with and yet had to pretend that it was all well and good in order not to lose respect at home and cause disappointment. It even happened that when his grandmother died, even though he was his grandmother's pet, he couldn't attend the funeral; not because he was busy, as he made his family aware of, but because he was broke. This make the character of Lefe synonymous with most Africans abroad. Finally, he had to come home following the death of his only brother. He came home to meet a lot of changes and challenges and having acquired some European culture had to face his tradition head on. There is a hint of loneliness and isolation all through the novel.
The author Morabo Morojele, being a jazz musician, carried that musicality into the novel. The story is deep and hardly names places like 'the man' in Ayi Kwei Armah's The Beautyful Ones are not yet Born. For instance, there is the strange and almost mythical country only referred to as 'the country neighbouring ours' and there is also the 'Empire' where the story was sited. The story is laden with political undertones and colonisation be it in 'the country neighbouring ours', whose natives always come to the empire to seek refuge from unknown pursuers and events, or the Empire itself. The Empire, which is probably Lesotho, the author's home country, is portrayed as if it had neither a leader nor a ruling government. Progress in the empire is confined within the civil service boundary and no farther than that. Twice, named so after his stuttering way of speaking, is an enigmatic character whose actual name was never disclosed even after it was enquired by his two close pals: 'Lefe and Abuti Jefti. His participation in an unknown war, his near-death encounter in the war, his optimism after the war and his disappearance and appearance are all as enigmatic as the man himself. There are a lot of things that remained unsaid in the story. The story also touches on other social problems that were again not named: HIV/AIDS and unemployment.
The story is unique in narration, phrase and diction. The narration is poetic. The phrases have been turned upside down and there is a sparse use of articles and conjunctions. In 'How we Buried Puso' nouns easily become verbs and verbs can easily turn into nouns. It is these qualities that make the book a difficult read. It does not flow as smooth as any other book. Perhaps, it is because it is not just any other book. It is a book by Morabo Morojele, and that might be his nascent style. With time you get use to the phrases and are no longer surprised by his phrasal acrobatics. Apart from the musical quality of this novel, the author relied a lot on flashbacks. In fact, since the story is narrated in the first person, and events spanned for only about three days, the notable way for the development of characters and plot is the use of flashbacks. However, sometimes you get a bit confused as to where a past event ends and where the present begins. The story ends after the burial of Puso, Molefe's elder brother.
However, I believe the book could have benefitted to some extent from proof-reading. There were certain points where homophones are interchanged. For example 'new' for 'knew'. Yet, it does not take anything away from the book and if you are interested in African Writers and writings which challenges present day writings, or even if you are a fan of the saying 'I have no respect for people who write English in one way' then get a copy of this book. If you want the normal flowing type of writing with an omniscient narrator, this is not a book for you. Yet, your writing skills would benefit from this book.
ImageNations' Rating: 3.0 out of 6.0