‘Let’s Tell This Story Properly’ by Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi

The story opens with Nnam clearing her house in Manchester of her dead husband’s smell and memories. She and Kayita had been together for over five years and had two sons together. At his funeral, she finds out that he had been living a double life the whole time. He was still married to his first wife in Uganda, and he passed on to her their rented house in Uganda, having secretly fathered two more daughters. Nnam and her sons are treated as his illegitimate family. A group of middle-aged women arrive at the mourning ceremony and start retelling the story, from Nnam’s perspective. This story, which was the Overall Winner of the 2014 Commonwealth Short Story Prize, is included in Manchester Happened (2019), a collection that focuses on the experiences of Ugandans in Manchester and even draws on some of Jennifer Makumbi’s memories of when she worked at Airport Security. It carries many resonances with Sam Selvon’s canonical The Lonely Londoners(1956), with whom the child of the protagonist in Makumbi’s ‘Our Allies the Colonies’ shares the same name. 

First published in Granta, June 2014, and available to read here. Collected in a Commonwealth collection of best winning stories Let’s Tell This Story Properly, Dundurn Press, 2015, and in Jennifer Makumbi’s Manchester Happened, Oneworld Publications, 2019

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