THIS is a great book. I first read it an afternoon at Professor Mibanga Kashoki’s home as a 12 year old. He had a copy. I finished it at one sitting in one afternoon. 40 years later it still entrances me.
It is about an adolescent male exploring love and sexuality in pre-independence colonial Zambia. The book raises lots of issues like cross tribal relationships, puppy love, and the almighty teenage crush, how a naive innocent young fellow reacts to the advances of his more precocious and sophisticated female peers as well as misguided sex education as provided by older relatives as well as friends. It even delves into that special grandmother grandson relationship.
Some of the stuff in it is truly hilarious. The book writes about stuff which when you reread it really opens your eyes. Take the young hero’s first crush. She is a nubile young lady with a bosom that entrances the narrator. It’s only later when you think about it you realise she is so poor she cannot afford underwear!!! The little hole in her dress which he describes is actually in a place where a pair of old fashioned undies would cover. However it also represents the real rural poverty of the pre Independence Zambian countryside. There is a lot of such stuff in the book. Little things that are social commentary of 1950s Zambia hidden within the rollicking hilarity that is always near at hand in this book.
A lot of people also don’t get the theme of a country growing up along with our hero. In the background of all the hilarious escapades of the rather clumsy bumbling protagonist as he grows older and wiser is the birth of the new nation Zambia. The book ends literally on Independence Day 1964 with our hero finally finding true love with Stella the woman he describes as a star in Fort Jameson which also transitions into Chipata after Independence.
Yep despite all the sexual innuendo and truly rib cracking situations our hero gets up to, the real story behind it all is both the author and his country finally finding Independence and fulfillment.
Great Book. Well written and despite the rather salacious content I recommend it as good reading for anyone including curious teenagers. Long available at ZEPH this book is a great rollicking read and despite having been written in the early 1960s it has not aged at all. Get a copy of Ticklish Sensation you will enjoy this book.
By Brian Mulenga
©Kalemba April 16, 2021