Book Review – Language of the Heart

The Songs of Kiguli, edited and published by PDMI Freelance Publishing, available for apx $10.00.

The story of this book begins as a crossing of paths in that huge social networking soup known as Facebook.  A teacher and volunteer, Philip Matogo, in the Kiguli Army School worked on a project with his class to learn to write poetry in English.  When this project was discovered by a publisher (Nessa Arcamenel, owner/co-founder of PDMI Publishing) in the United States, she contacted the school and asked if they would like to publish a book containing their poetry.  Phil gladly took the proposal to the school board who agreed to the project.  Thus began a journey that spanned the globe and included teachers, parents, school children of all ages, and a publisher with a heart.  Nessa (Lisa McKinney) and her husband TC McKinney have brought this book into being completely out of their own pocket.  They do ask for word-of-mouth support.  If you like, you can contact the publisher to make a donation (in addition to purchasing the book).  The proceeds will go directly to the school’s fund to support ongoing projects.

Uganda is an African country with borders drawn by western colonial powers that had little to do with the ancient ranges of tribal Africa.  Thus, as in many African countries, those ancient tribal conflicts rage on.  The continent is also stressed with draughts, disease and corruption.  Effective aid is difficult for many reasons.  In part, tribal passion runs deep on all sides and supporting one tribe against another generates situations similar to the problem that arose in Afghanistan.  The other is, of course, corruption and the difficulty of getting funds to where they are needed.  In this atmosphere it appears that those enterprises that help people to help themselves have the best chance of success.  Educating the children who will, one day, lead that country will be a cornerstone to any success.

The Kiguli Army School in the Nakasongola District of Uganada is such a place of learning.  The poetry project was started by the teacher mentioned above, Philip Matogo, in his classes about English and Social Studies.  The broad subject base of the works included in the book indicates that he does his job well.  These bits and pieces of children’s lives from half a world away show a clear understanding of their own political and social situation as well as the global issues of our time.

The book is a collection weaving quotes and poetry from ancient and modern poets of western philosophy with the thoughts of children 11-17 years old.  These children write from the eyes of a mosquito, the heart hungry for the knowledge, the heart running from abuse and social ills, the spirit looking for ways to improve life and their beloved country, the spirit willing to fight back and build a better future.  This little book is built with thoughts from half way across the globe that could come from somewhere just around the corner, or somewhere deep within your own heart.  You will find that these children are quite insightful.  Their hopes and dreams, disappointments and fears are, indeed thought provoking and very much a part of citizens living anywhere on this planet we call home.

A few quotes seemed to be in order:

“The poem… is a little myth of man’s capacity of making life meaningful. And in the end, the poem is not a thing we see – it is, rather, a light by which we may see – and what we see is life.”

Robert Penn Warren

“Poetry is the impish attempt to paint the color of the wind.”

Maxwell Bodenheim

And from one of the students,  Otengo Mike

Tree is My Name

Oh Man! Oh Man! Oh Man!

Be kind to me as I am to you
Forget not that I save you and your family
You and your children crawled on my chest
Broke off my breasts and sucked themselves
Then you survived
When you were sick
You exposed my many feet
Broke off my toes and ate them
Before you survived

Oh Man! Oh Man! Oh Man!

Be kind to me as I am to you
Don’t forget that I saved you and your crops
When you and your crops were withering to death
I sweated and cried for you
My sweat and tears went up the sky
They dropped down as rain
You and your crops survived
When you and your animals were suffocating to death
You sat under my thick shade
You took my bad breath
And I took your bad one too
You and your animals survived

Oh Man! Oh Man! Oh Man!

For life on Earth
Let me multiply
And you will multiply too




For more information on the project, visit:

So, tell me.  What sorts of projects do you see that generate real progress for the human spirit around the globe?  Modern day anthropology is as much the study of current social structures as it is of those that came before us.  In what ways can we contribute to a better understanding of each culture so that we can improve the life circumstances of others without eradicating their own special heritage?



Filed under Giving Back, My Bookshelf (and a movie or two), My Bookshelf ~ Current times

3 responses to “Book Review – Language of the Heart

  1. Thank you Victoria for such a lovely review of ‘The Songs of Kiguli. Indeed it is an honor and pleasure to know you. You are an outstanding person and an awesome Writer!

  2. Pingback: The Songs of Kiguli Return | Victoria Adams' Reading Alcove

  3. Pingback: Projects that Inspire | Victoria Adams' Reading Alcove

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