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Sunday, May 27, 2012

Art, history and hardships in a package


The author also puts his bachelors degree in art and design to good use by beginning each of his nine chapters with an illustration that captures the essence of the chapter

The author and his book cover
It’s fiction that reads like non-fiction, or rather like a motivational book. Bright A. Ntakky’s 7:77…Theirs was a Race against Time is his first publication in book format and was written in his student days at Kyambogo University but has such absorbing nature as will force you to pause and reflect.

Published in 2011 by The Investors Nest, the novella is a moving account of Brave, a prototype of hard work, courage and of living a purpose-driven life but who unfortunately is snatched by death out of this world as unexpectedly as his arrival into it was.

Therein is the essence of this 84-page book –reminding the reader of the reality of death and of the need to prepare. The grim reaper comes like a thief in the night, and you will never know when he strikes. But if you have prepared, if you have lived a full, responsible life, if you have been a blessing, then your spirit will go singing into the next world.

It helps that the author is a painter who lost both his parents at a young age and struggled through life largely on his own and through the goodwill of others. So he draws from all that and from the people he has interacted with during his struggles and explore his subject matter vividly and punctiliously.

He advances the sobering argument that the day you are born is the day you qualify to die and through the deliberations of the protagonist captures the essence of living each day meaningfully: “Before death stole tomorrow from him, he was determined to make his today count. To have something to show for the life he had been given. It was better he died at 7 than at 77 with an empty slate.”

Ntakky is a born-again Christian but tactfully avoids the preachy style of shoving his convictions down the throat of the reader. Rather he hides the moral of his narrative in the wrong choices his characters make and the subsequent ramifications as they race against time.

The author also puts his bachelors degree in art and design to good use by beginning each of his nine chapters with an illustration that captures the essence of the chapter and serves to whet the reader’s expectations. He also designed the book cover himself which art connoisseurs can have an involving time making sense of.

In his introduction, he says he was inspired to write 7:77…Theirs was a Race against Time after noticing how people are affected by death and yet tend to live in denial of its existence. “I seek to draw attention to this fact in a way that would leave the reader hopeful; making death cease to be a surprising bitter end, rather a soft landing, expected and prepared for.”

It’s a mission he achieves. At least his book left me strongly convinced of the need to fight a good fight and of seizing the opportunities life throws at me while I race against time. And as the Rt. Rev. Dr Zac Niringiye notes in the Foreword, the story Ntakky tells through the different characters acts like a mirror to the readers – challenging you and I to look at life as a mysterious albeit precious gift that should be cherished and made the most of since it will not last this side of eternity.

--Saturday Monitor, May 26, 2012