Book review: Kumukanda by Kayo Chingonyi

IMG_5199Kumukanda, means initiation, the process/practices by which a young boy grows into a man. Removed from the original cultural context (in Zambia) the poems explore how the author navigates identity and space in the current environment (England).

Growth is reimagined and explored in a terrain that is antagonistic to the author’s heritage and is closed to the voice of migrants – much of the writing will resonate with others. It did with me. The sadness comes through in the overall loss of a welcoming environment to develop as a person, to experience what life has to offer and to navigate personal loss and grief.

IMG_5198The migrant is seen as less than the dominant culture and therefore their experiences, feelings, history and thoughts are not given the same weight – and perhaps, are almost always read through a lens of ‘anger’ rather than resilience.

Through a highly accomplished series of poems that are linked by intelligent lyrical construction, emotional depth and compassion, the author reveals the struggle of decolonising the mind in a culture that erases the experiences of the ‘other’. Highly recommended.

 

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