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Crossroads: Women Coming of Age in Today's Uganda, Edited by Christopher Conte

Source: I received a free copy in exchange for an honest review.
Genre: Non-fiction, Memoir
Format: eBook, Print
Number of Pages: 178
Publication Date: August 30, 2015


They are rooted in their culture's rich traditions, yet they stand at the cutting edge of change. This is the crossroads where many Ugandan women find themselves today. With dignity and grace, they play a complex social role, balancing worldly sophistication with reverence for the values of their upbringing.

In Crossroads, a group of these women explore the past that shaped them and the future they hope to build, telling varied stories about a rapidly changing society where they serve both as guardians of culture and harbingers of reform.

While one woman examines the cultural implications of Ugandan names, another describes being tortured in a secret prison, and a third traces the mix of African and imported religions that shaped her. One mocks girls' traditional sex education, while another voices her love of sports and a third reflects on her struggle to overcome a legacy of growing up in a war zone. All challenge social expectations, yet many view "modernization" with ambivalence.

Covering topics from sex roles to western ideas of "development," this compelling picture of the lives of women in today's Uganda, sometimes funny and sometimes tragic, provides powerful testimony to the strength of the human spirit.
~ Summary from Goodreads ~


Crossroads is a compilation of 15 essays written by Ugandan women that discuss a variety of topics: gender roles, societal norms, poverty, education, sexual orientation, Western charitable organizations, religion, and so much more. Profound, thoughtful, thought-provoking, and sometimes disturbing; each essay focuses on different aspects of Ugandan culture and reveals how each woman struggles with, and overcomes, the challenges that she faces with a dignity and grace that seem absent in Western civilization.

Before we get started with the content of the book, I have to say that the artist who created the cover of this book, Ronnie Ogwang, created such a beautiful work of art. The painting is so wonderful and appropriate for the book.

I have to be honest with you all; I am really at a loss for words about this book. Have you ever looked at a work of art and found it beautiful, sad, and disturbing at the same time? Have you ever stopped to think about how our perspectives of the world are so limited and screwed up; that maybe Western culture and society is not all that it is cracked up to be? Have you thought about the victories that we have won in the human rights arena are very, very tiny when compared to the rest of the world; that the human rights we take for granted everyday are not enjoyed by millions of people?

Pretty mind-blowing, right? Now you know how I feel after reading this book.

Each woman has a voice and each voice has a meaning; they all come together to paint a descriptive and moving picture of Ugandan society. Some of the stories I empathized with and others opened my eyes to a different way of life and thinking. For instance:

While I shared one woman's perspectives of Western charities, I did not realize that these charities employed the people that they were helping.

My heart broke when one woman revealed that she had been molested by a cousin as a child, and did not realize at first that what he did was wrong.

I discovered that the team sports that I grudgingly participated in as a child were considered taboo in Ugandan society; then, once that was overcome, it became a means for men to determine if a woman would be good wife material by Ugandan standards.

I was appalled to learn about how one woman feared for her life because of her sexual orientation. My heart went out to her, and I admired her courage and perseverance in the face of extreme discrimination.

These are just a few examples of the threads that make up the gorgeous and vibrant tapestry called Crossroads. I do not know what I was expecting, but I was not expecting such an honest and touching collection of essays. I personally think that anyone who can should read this book because it will broaden their world view and help them to gain a deeper understanding of the human rights that we take for granted in Western society.

About Christopher Conte

Image of Christopher Conte, editor of Crossroads. Book reviewed by On My Kindle.
Christopher Conte, editor.
Courtesy of
Christopher Conte is a writer, editor and media consultant based in Washington, DC. A former reporter and editor for the Wall Street Journal, he has traveled and consulted on economic development issues and journalism. He lived in Uganda from 2008 to 2010, and considers the country his second home.

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