Zambia, as so many other countries have gone through, and is still going through big changes in the society, and the way people think. There is always the pressure of tradition and modern life. Do you choose the old ways or your own ways? Bitterness by Malama Katulwende is therefore an apt description of what life can be like for a young man in Zambia.
Besa is a young student entering University of Zambia in a time of unrest. Everything seems to be about pressure, whether it’s social, economical, or political doesn’t always seem to matter, but the pressure is there. Many opt to leave the country for good. Others stay, and many of them struggle. The book is an appropriate description of Zambia’s culture and history.
My favourite parts are when Besa’s father tells his stories about life in his village. It’s a life of old ways and traditions. I did not find the romantic parts of the book as fascinating, and quite often even a bit boring. The book therefore felt a bit unevenly written. I did also enjoy reading about the political struggles the students had.
I find these stories about the struggle between old and new interesting, and it seems to be a part of most of the African books I have read for this challenge. I guess every country has to go through it, and everyone has to learn from their mistakes. In some ways this book tackled this issue well, but the prose style changed from one to another, and it failed to attach me to the people in the book the way I hoped.