Bat Valley And Other Strange African Animal Stories, Llyfrau Cambria Books, Llandeilo, 2017, ISBN 978-1-9997416-0-0. 111 pages.
Bat Valley. New book. Kindle and Amazon.
Cover image: William Gurney.
eBook ISBN 978-1-9997416-1-7
Bat Valley is the name of an imaginary university in Kampala.
On my first two “Africa” books:
Annie Davison (UK) on my Absurd Tales from Africa (2017): “The beauty of these tales lies in the wonderful pictures created in my imagination. The humour arises when life goes wrong for people in serious situations, a bit like John Cleese in the immensely watchable Fawlty Towers.”
Colin Townsend (Canada) on A Night in Buganda (2014): “An extraordinary book – unlike any other I have read … stories brought together with a poet’s flair for language … they will have you laughing, crying or perhaps just wondering.”
Niall Herriot (writer, Ireland) on A Night in Buganda: “It’s a brilliant piece of writing” and on Absurd Tales from Africa: “I enjoyed Absurd Tales, not only for the zany humour and the wildly imaginative scenarios but also how the characters and settings for the stories reminded me so vividly of those times.”
INTRODUCTION 1 The Okello’s Camper Van Man 4 The Gecko Man of Lugard’s Fort 9 The Old Man and The Stride 16 The Buffalo Men of Akagera 21 The Beautiful Butterfly People of Kanyawara 25 The Chameleon of Buntuntumula 31 The Chicken Man of Mbarara 38 The Crane Lady of Mperwerwe 41 The Crocodilophile of Mukusu Island 45 The Herpetologist of Nabajuzzi Swamp 49 The Gorilla Man of Bwindi 52 The Gower Hippo Boy 56 The Jaguar Men of Kiziba 61 The Lungfish Man of Mbazi 63 The Mount Elgon Waiter 66 The Moth Lady of Tororo 69 The Kampala Shopping Mall Ostrich Man 73 The Owl Man of Mukono 77 The Bat Valley University Mantis Man 81 The Snake Lady of Nakasero 86 The Spider Man of Gulu 92 The Congolese Warthog Man 98 Bat Valley 102
The first story, ‘The Okello’s Camper Van Man’, tells the poignant tale of a dying Englishman kept alive by an abandoned Ugandan orphan.
The second, ‘The Gecko Man of Lugard’s Fort’, explores the relationship between an English academic who has fallen on hard times in Uganda and the Tutsi refugee who cares for him.
‘The Old Man and The Stride’ is a dialogue between a visiting academic and a strange local gentleman. It takes place in a park in Kampala in front of a statue that represents the future of the Commonwealth.
‘The Buffalo Men of Akagera’ describes the relationship between an American, part First Nation, and an Englishman. It describes their common interest, the buffalo, and their violent end.
‘The Beautiful Butterfly People of Kanyawara’ reports on a comic academic conference, financed by the European Union, held at Bat Valley University in Kampala.
The protagonist in ‘The Chameleon of Buntuntumula’ experiences an illumination one day on coming face to face with a chameleon. As a result, he develops a new theory of education for a developing nation, one that gets him into some trouble.
‘The Chicken Man of Mbarara’ describes the trials and tribulations, the frustrations and failures that beset an African American intent on returning to the land of his fathers.
‘The Crane Lady of Mperwerwe’ follows the adventures of an eccentric young Englishwoman who gets carried away by her research and forms a strange relationship with a Crested Crane.
‘The Crocodilophile of Mukusa Island’ traces the progress of a man’s obsession with crocodiles, one that lands him in trouble with the law.
‘The Herpetologist of Nabajuzzi Swamp’ is the sad story of a man so obsessed with frogs he becomes totally isolated from other human beings.
‘The Gorilla Man of Bwindi’ is a cautionary tale in which the reader is asked to contemplate the fate of a man who attempts to swindle a charity out of money in order to fulfil an African dream.
‘The Gower Hippo Boy’ accompanies a Welsh academic, as he travels down the Nile researching hippopotami, eventually meeting his maker, trampled to death, on the shores of Lake Victoria.
The object of desire at the heart of ‘The Jaguar Men of Kiziba’ is the last King of Rwanda’s Jaguar Mk5 coupé. Based on a true story, it includes Princess Margaret’s state visit to Uganda. The main character’s weakness, envy, leads to a dramatic ending.
‘The Lungfish Man of Mbazi’ has a relatively happy dénouement. It involves a research programme at Bat Valley linked to space exploration that almost ends in disaster for the researcher.
‘The Mount Elgon Waiter’ culminates, in a Fawlty Towers- like scene in a tourist hotel, in a reference to witchcraft.
‘The Moth Lady of Tororo’ finds an ageing British lawyer almost falling for a glamorous young post-grad student in a swimming pool situated in a hotel near the Uganda-Kenya border.
‘The Kampala Shopping Mall Ostrich Man’ examines the disgraceful behaviour of a married Lothario.
‘The Owl Man of Mukuno’ is a dark tale involving an Englishman, his Mugandan wife and his mother-in-law.
‘The Bat Valley University Praying Mantis Man’ delves deeply into a work by the surrealist artist M.C. Escher: ‘Dream’. ‘The Snake Lady of Nakasero’ involves a man’s deep fear of snakes, his efforts to overcome it, a doomed relationship and a fatal snakebite suffered during curfew.
A fear of spiders is the subject of ‘The Spider Man of Gulu’. It features the spoiled daughter of a member of the British Establishment who overcomes her fear only to meet an unexpected end in the north of Uganda.
‘The Congolese Warthog Man’ relates how a man from Katanga, turning his back on the ivory trade, learns how to love a warthog.
Finally, ‘Bat Valley’ tells the story of a man whose all- consuming interest in bats leads to near-disaster.