Nomadic pastoralism in the 21st century coupled with the travails of growing up as a refugee in Uganda is the focus of Benon Talemwa’s new memoir Mysterious Privilege: The Power of Faith and Resilience.
The autobiography details the life of a herdsman from an underprivileged background, who against all odds attains a university degree and self-actualisation trading on what he calls “necessary madness.”
Talemwa is a currently a project management professional and a gender expert who writes widely on economic transformation through social prosperity, gender equality and complementarity.
Mysterious Privilege, which was released this year, immerses us in the battle against change in a family set in their cultural ways of walking 188km to look for greener pastures for the cows, and going to the president’s house with the hope of securing a school bursary.
Talemwa explores the themes of lost heritage and identity, religion and faith, negative counsel, early childhood development, embedded inequality, and selective injustice.
He threads disparate themes together while narrating his grass to grace story.
Talemwa comes off as a stoic through his writing, which is not different from his real life persona as a calm and tactful person.
His social commentary throughout the entire book is a call to action to policymakers and leaders.
The book is an earnest and reflective retelling of the author’s journey from the remote parts of Uganda to Washington DC in the US.
One of the outstanding anecdotes in this memoir is his journey to State House. After dropping out of high school due to sickness, and to let this younger siblings go to school since his parents could not afford to have all of them there, Talemwa went in search of a bursary. He asked his mother for transport to the president’s home.
The president had many homes, both official and private. He resolved to go to the president’s private home, where his father—Mzee Amos Kaguta — lived, in Rwakitura, Uganda.
He was denied entry by the soldiers at the gate after waiting for a whole day. He got the bursary on his fourth try and finished his high school education.