Crossroads: Women Coming Of Age In Today’s Uganda, By Christopher Conte

What’s This Book All About?

Women are women, all over the world. Everywhere they face the same set of challenges, adversities and problems. But with their courage and resilience, they have emerged stronger and inspirational. Crossroads consists of an eclectic mix of fifteen essays, which showcases the true spirit of women from Uganda, a generation of women that is poised between traditionalism and modernity, between light and dark, and above all between hope and despair.

The Bigger Picture

Over the past few decades human society has evolved in astonishing  and extraordinary manners. At the same time, there is still a great amount of equality and misunderstandings that exist in society, especially when it comes to certain countries and regions. One such region that is shrouded in mystery and therefore greatly misunderstood is Africa. While more than billion people call this place home, there are many myths related to this place that are rooted in lack of knowledge and stereotypes. This novel takes readers on a journey through the mind sets and life struggles of African women, told in their own words. As is the case with life, not all stories end with answers but beautifully showcase the journey that is intermingled with confusion, determination, vulnerability and courage.

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Christopher Conte writes in the Introduction, the goal of these stories is to illuminate a culture through autobiography rather than create another travelogue in which outsiders dissect Africa. These stories therefore show us how Africa is seen in the eyes of its women, rather than stories that act as travelogue from the eyes of people who visit the country. Aptly titled as Crossroads, each of the story in this book clearly depicts the struggle of African women who are trying to find their place in modern society while at the same time maintain their loyalty towards their country’s history and traditions. These women want to live in the modern world by inculcating values of justice, equality and respect while at the same time maintain a strong bond with their past cultural traditions and hopes.

The novel begins with the story of Nakisanze Segawa who considers her name to be her identity and that is why she refused to adopt a name that conformed to the conventions of society. Another story highlights corporal punishments in schools and how this method damages children rather than making them upright individuals who respect authority. Other stories focus on issues like explorations of identity, the description of mourning, perspectives on the developed world approaches to African countries, and issues in the complicated landscape of Western ways and African ways, colonialism, and NGOs. One of my favourite story in this book is about a female soccer player who refuses to give up on her dreams and ambitions, despite the societal pressures. Together, these stories moved me,  made me feel alive, and above all inspired me with their courage and determination.

Final Verdict

Like Erica Mann Jong says, “I have not ceased being fearful, but I have ceased to let fear control me. I have accepted fear as a part of life–specifically the fear of change, the fear of the unknown; and I have gone ahead despite the pounding in my heart that says: turn back, turn back, you’ll die if you venture too far.”, these stories showcases the true spirit of womanhood.
The beauty of these stories are that they are not bound by any region but can be stories of women from any part of the globe. I recommend that both men and women pick up this book and discover stories that provide a look into the life of women who while may be from a particular region, their opinions, hopes and desires are truly global in nature.

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