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Dear Philomena

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Dear Philomena by Mugabi Byenkya


In his book, Mugabi invites us to keep abreast with necessary conversations on mental health, physical health as well as poetry. I find it necessary for us to engage in such conversations as any illness (mental or physical) keeps lurking around in the neighbourhood like the uninvited guest at a party. Mugabi writes his experience on a raw and real account he suffers a series of three strokes, first in his childhood; February 2001 and later in  February 2014.He describes how many trophies doctors collect as they suffer bouts confusion on his case as they investigate why the causes of the intense chronic pain, mental illness that only administer suicidal attempts in his mind coupled with the most innocent form of depression.

The blades of his pen are sharpened with such a broad spectrum of anxiety through the search for an accurate treatment from the modern, traditional world and the recommended narcotics. He has a fluid way of writing his story with a hip-hop fusion and some poetic vibes. (Because, what is the world without poetry?) Mugabi writes all about this nerve wrecking and yet life changing position in 15 chapters. The best character for me is Philomena, whom he describes as the Ying to Mugabi’s Yang and proves to be his strong support system.The book, Dear Philomena, is an invitation to eavesdrop on their conversations that left me  laughing and crying simultaneously. (It sounds crazy until you see the well waters flowing down your face)


I must warn any reader who indulges in Dear Philomena to stay woke (the millennial in me demands to be heard). The sexuality theme is closely intertwined with racism issues as well as the closeness between two spiritual standpoints that is; Islam as well as Catholicism; and all you should do is read in between the lines.

My take home in this book, in amidst all the pain ,trials and tribulations just as he mentions what he goes through and suggests that  the book of Job in the Bible should have been called Book of Mugabi.In such a place,you are left to choose between throwing pity parties and wallowing in pain or to explore the options of hope around oneself such as those provided in this book.


Tough times don’t last, Tough people do. Just ask Mugabi Byenkya