Apio pens an impassioned tale on all that life really is

Apio pens an impassioned tale on all that life really is
Apio pens an impassioned tale on all that life really is

By Philip Matogo

Africa-Press – Ethiopia. Book Title: Zura Maids

Author: Dr Eunice Otuko Apio

Year of Publication: 2018

Pages: 300

Price: Shs50,000

Where: Femrite Library


Lena Ayugi was in jail for two years. Yet hers was a justifiable crime. She was lured into sexual slavery by a wolf in sheepish smiles and affected manners. Devils rarely appear in plain sight, after all. They, specifically a woman named Esther, lied to her that she could leave an Internally Displaced Peoples’ (IDP) Camp in Acokara, Otwal Sub County, Oyam district, and earn her crust as a domestic servant in Kampala.

It was the best way for her to escape the devastation wrought by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in the north, she thought. More importantly, it was also the best way to support her four infant siblings Lily, Okulu, Okello and Odoch, after her mother was killed by LRA rebels. Being the oldest of the brood, she had to find ways of fending for her family. And going to Kampala to work as a domestic, even though she was a graduate, seemed the least arduous way to do this.

Sadly, however, it also proved to be the shortest route to sheer hell. For in Kampala, she found herself trapped in a Kawempe brothel where her living was devalued and her life dehumanised as she became a victim of human trafficking.

After a while, though, she chose to fight back and burnt down the brothel. She was subsequently jailed for her trouble. In Luzira Maximum Prison, she met the 64-year-old harridan named Martina Maa—her cellmate who was doing a stretch of 15 years in jail for child abduction.

Martina was a “businesswoman” who sat at the helm of a storied conglomerate called the Victoria Group of Companies (VG). Made up of Tastier Salt Ltd, Zura Maids and Tora Sales, its capitalisation was $20,000 million. Zura Maids was the jewel in the crown of Martina’s sprawling business empire. And it is with Zura Maids, ostensibly a housekeeping establishment, which this story turns on its hinges to open a door to betrayal, murder, torture and what one philosopher termed the impossibility of reason.

After doing her time, Lena leaves Luzira with a subdued skip in her step. As a free woman, she happily leaves her prison term in the rearview mirror. In spite of her haste to be free, she still promises to call Martina’s associates Mukwano, Tony, Rhamji, the Indian, and Faruk after Martina all but begs her to. But all their phones are off.

Later, when the trail to Martina’s associates goes cold, she decides to go home. After meeting her lawyer Arthur, a counsel who has taken a shine to her, she steels her spine to return to the IDP camp in Acokara. To her horror, upon return to the camp, she finds that her younger sister, Lily, who is barely out of puberty, was lured into sexual slavery in the same manner she was and by the same shrew, Esther.

This is certainly a tale well told. The character development of each of the dramatis personae brings a singular rhythm to the book. Lena is the never-say-die stoic who is determined to find her sister and take care of her family. While Arthur is the somewhat glib, cavalier lawyer secretly grief-ridden because of his abducted sister, Molly. All in all, their personalities play to different registers yet do not come across as cacophonous. Instead, their interactions are as symphonious as Dr Eunice Otuko Apio’s seamless abilities as a storyteller.

Source: Monitor

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