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From a new star of American journalism, a riveting murder mystery that reveals the forces roiling today’s Africa From Rwanda to Sierra Leone, African countries recovering from tyranny and war are facing an impossible dilemma: to overlook past atrocities for the sake of peace or to seek catharsis through tribunals and truth commissions. Uganda chose the path of forgetting: a From a new star of American journalism, a riveting murder mystery that reveals the forces roiling today’s Africa From Rwanda to Sierra Leone, African countries recovering from tyranny and war are facing an impossible dilemma: to overlook past atrocities for the sake of peace or to seek catharsis through tribunals and truth commissions. Uganda chose the path of forgetting: after Idi Amin’s reign was overthrown, the new government opted for amnesty for his henchmen rather than prolonged conflict. Ugandans tried to bury their history, but reminders of the truth were never far from view. A stray clue to the 1972 disappearance of Eliphaz Laki led his son to a shallow grave—and then to three executioners, among them Amin’s chief of staff. Laki’s discovery resulted in a trial that gave voice to a nation’s past: as lawyers argued, tribes clashed, and Laki pressed for justice, the trial offered Ugandans a promise of the reckoning they had been so long denied. For four years, Andrew Rice followed the trial, crossing Uganda to investigate Amin’s legacy and the limits of reconciliation. At once a mystery, a historical accounting, and a portrait of modern Africa, The Teeth May Smile But the Heart Does Not Forget is above all an exploration of how—and whether—the past can be laid to rest.


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From a new star of American journalism, a riveting murder mystery that reveals the forces roiling today’s Africa From Rwanda to Sierra Leone, African countries recovering from tyranny and war are facing an impossible dilemma: to overlook past atrocities for the sake of peace or to seek catharsis through tribunals and truth commissions. Uganda chose the path of forgetting: a From a new star of American journalism, a riveting murder mystery that reveals the forces roiling today’s Africa From Rwanda to Sierra Leone, African countries recovering from tyranny and war are facing an impossible dilemma: to overlook past atrocities for the sake of peace or to seek catharsis through tribunals and truth commissions. Uganda chose the path of forgetting: after Idi Amin’s reign was overthrown, the new government opted for amnesty for his henchmen rather than prolonged conflict. Ugandans tried to bury their history, but reminders of the truth were never far from view. A stray clue to the 1972 disappearance of Eliphaz Laki led his son to a shallow grave—and then to three executioners, among them Amin’s chief of staff. Laki’s discovery resulted in a trial that gave voice to a nation’s past: as lawyers argued, tribes clashed, and Laki pressed for justice, the trial offered Ugandans a promise of the reckoning they had been so long denied. For four years, Andrew Rice followed the trial, crossing Uganda to investigate Amin’s legacy and the limits of reconciliation. At once a mystery, a historical accounting, and a portrait of modern Africa, The Teeth May Smile But the Heart Does Not Forget is above all an exploration of how—and whether—the past can be laid to rest.

30 review for The Teeth May Smile But the Heart Does Not Forget: Murder and Memory in Uganda

  1. 5 out of 5

    J.

    Nearly flawless account of a cold-blooded political killing in Uganda in the time of Amin, and a view of the shifting perspectives that tend to obscure this kind of history, wherever it happens. Attempts to make the history comprehensible or the killers accountable are the subject of the book, a struggle nearly impossible in regions where blood has been spilled in the name of change, progress, or power. Truth and Reconciliation agencies are not unique to Africa, though, and Rice is able to const Nearly flawless account of a cold-blooded political killing in Uganda in the time of Amin, and a view of the shifting perspectives that tend to obscure this kind of history, wherever it happens. Attempts to make the history comprehensible or the killers accountable are the subject of the book, a struggle nearly impossible in regions where blood has been spilled in the name of change, progress, or power. Truth and Reconciliation agencies are not unique to Africa, though, and Rice is able to construct a well-rounded background that reflects both the independence-era Africa against which his drama transpires, and a World that will increasingly need to examine its own motives in this vein. What some readers will find maddening about the story, others will find most intriguing; stridently-held positions that result in violence seem never to find a neat explanation, a final point on which the jury agrees. In his Rashomon-like array of characters and perspectives, Rice is able to piece together likely renditions, laying the ground for feasible plot-lines, but only given certain articles of faith. Which will be contentious in some quarters, continuing the cycles of doubt and treachery. The unavoidable outcome, no matter which path is taken in the narrative, is heartbreakingly sad, the pointless waste of humanity in the mindless, brutal industry of violence & cultural upheaval. Concise, well-documented, clearly the product of long and relentless research, a valuable glimpse into the East Africa of several colliding eras.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Melina

    Is it better to forgive and forget, forgive and remember, or not to forgive at all? Is the cost of justice higher than that of peace? These are among the questions journalist Andrew Rice grapples with in his recently published book on Uganda; “The Teeth May Smile but the Heart Does Not Forget”. The book is a personal story of one man’s journey to uncover the truth behind his father’s disappearance in September 1972. Eliphaz Laki, a member of UPC and a Saza (county) chief of Rwampara County in we Is it better to forgive and forget, forgive and remember, or not to forgive at all? Is the cost of justice higher than that of peace? These are among the questions journalist Andrew Rice grapples with in his recently published book on Uganda; “The Teeth May Smile but the Heart Does Not Forget”. The book is a personal story of one man’s journey to uncover the truth behind his father’s disappearance in September 1972. Eliphaz Laki, a member of UPC and a Saza (county) chief of Rwampara County in western Uganda, was among the thousands of Ugandans who died under the rule of President Idi Amin. Like so many of those who perished, Laki disappeared one day, never to be seen again. Nearly thirty years later, his son, Duncan Laki, refuses to let that piece of his own history remain buried in the shallow graves of those unlucky enough to be caught in the killing fields of the 1970s. Acting a whim one day in 1999, Duncan stumbles upon a clue that will lead him to his father’s executioners, and ultimately, the place where Eliphaz Laki was unceremoniously laid to rest. After seven years of research from Ankole to West Nile, involving interviews with more than 100 individuals, Rice recounts one man’s fate and in so doing, begins to unearth the ghosts of a dark age that even today continue to cast a long shadow on Ugandan society. The story is not black and white, and the line separating victim and victimizer blurs and shifts depending on with whom you talk, and where in history you begin. There is Eliphaz Laki, who once drove to Tanzania in his blue Volkswagon with then-rebel now-president Yoweri Museveni (referred to as Erifazi Laki in Museveni’s autobiography, Sowing the Mustard Seed) to visit Milton Obote soon after he was overthrown by Amin. Laki’s association with Museveni and company following the disastrous attempted invasion of Uganda in 1972 sealed his fate. Then there is Anyule Mohammed, a driver and one of Amin’s enforcers who was given Laki’s telltale Volkswagon after escorting him to his death. Another figure in the tragedy is Sergeant Nasur Gille, who pulled the trigger of the gun that took Laki’s life. After controversial admissions of guilt, both men then tried to deflect blame, pointing fingers instead at Amin’s No.2, the chief of staff by the end of the regime, Major General Yusuf Gowon. There is never one version of history, Rice discovers as he unravels the story of Laki’s death, even in what many would consider the indisputable reign of terror of Idi Amin. He writes, “These twin histories of Amin’s regime – one that said he was devil and one that hailed him as a savior – ran like parallel threads through Uganda’s fragile patchwork peace. If you pulled one frayed strand of truth, you never knew what might unravel…[Ugandans:] could not come to terms with their history because even the most basic facts were still in dispute. Ugandans had simply set aside their arguments, for the time being, because silence was the price of peace.” How does a society recover from conflict or violent dictatorship? When your family is killed, and the perpetrator is still alive and well among you, how do you cope? How can you forgive? Rice struggles with exactly these questions as he uncovers and unfolds Duncan’s journey to the past, and watches as it catches up to the present day. Amin’s former men have slipped quietly back into the folds of society, living humble lives and seemingly forgotten by history if not by their victims. But Duncan Laki, much to the dismay of family members who wish to bury the sins of the past, refused to forgive and forget. Instead he forces the men, who now feel victims themselves, into the light to be finally brought to justice. Rice does a masterful job of weaving together the many strands of history to form as complete a picture as may be possible today. Many outsiders come to the conclusion that there can be no peace, or at least no peace of mind, without justice. What Rice helps to illuminate, however, is that sometimes justice is what you must give up in return for peace. “We were supposed to believe that it is only by understanding the crimes of the past, and by bringing individuals to account for them – whether through shame or judgment before a court – that a damaged society can regain its sanity,” writes Rice. “The idea that an entire nation might decide to let its murderers go free, that it might suffer so much and commemorate so little, upended everything I thought I knew about the human response to loss.” But inclusion and acceptance of those who have wronged, as he learns, has itself often been what has allowed President Museveni and his National Resistance Movement to remain in power, ideals of justice notwithstanding. To read Rice’s book is to begin to grasp the harsh realities that face a country with a political history as turbulent as Uganda’s. It provides a more nuanced view of society than that of other pop-culture accounts of Uganda, such as the 2005 film, The Last King of Scotland. And like a good journalist, Rice shares with the reader an impressively balanced account of events and emotions. Rice’s narrative is captivating, although the bounding back and forth between time periods can be slightly disorienting at times. The Teeth May Smile but the Heart Does Not Forget is a book best read in a only few sittings, in order not to lose your place in the midst of the winding storytelling – but this is easy once you open the cover, and most likely you will get to the end wishing you were back at the beginning. (my review from the Independent magazine, Kampala)

  3. 5 out of 5

    Leslie Street

    When I was a junior in college, I checked out every single book that the Lee Library held in its collection that discussed Idi Amin. For weeks, I had nightmares about ending up a prisoner in one of his investigation bureaus. At the end of that period, I wrote a thirty page paper analyzing the Tanzanian invasion of Uganda under Walzer's Just War theory. Suffice it to say, that Ugandan history has been an ongoing interest of mine. What I appreciated about this book was twofold. First, it told the When I was a junior in college, I checked out every single book that the Lee Library held in its collection that discussed Idi Amin. For weeks, I had nightmares about ending up a prisoner in one of his investigation bureaus. At the end of that period, I wrote a thirty page paper analyzing the Tanzanian invasion of Uganda under Walzer's Just War theory. Suffice it to say, that Ugandan history has been an ongoing interest of mine. What I appreciated about this book was twofold. First, it told the turbulent story of Uganda's history and the Amin regime through the lens of a "detective story" and fascinating personal narratives. That made it a book that was simply impossible to put down. The second thing that I appreciated about this book was the frank discussion it had about the issues surrounding the rule of law and notions of justice in trying to deal with the awful crimes perpetrated by heinous regimes. What I got out of this book is that no justice system is really equipped to deal retrospectively with regimes premised upon human rights violations and that the rule of law can be little comfort to those seeking justice after the fact. I have always been a believer in TRC type commissions after the fact, but I am not so sure now that those commissions alone really have the power to reconcile the past. This book will spur many thoughts worth thinking, from my point of view.

  4. 4 out of 5

    whynnot

    "Okay... finally figured out what you like..." That's how the book came my way and I've loved every bit of it. It takes something that was sketchy and vividly brings it to life. I loved how the backgrounds of all the actors are traced - we really are prisoners of our history. The Idi Amin atrocities aside, what's become of Museveni is tragic and I hope these words don't come true, "Since Amin, 1971, up to now, the governments have all come by the gun and have been removed by the gun." ======== Than "Okay... finally figured out what you like..." That's how the book came my way and I've loved every bit of it. It takes something that was sketchy and vividly brings it to life. I loved how the backgrounds of all the actors are traced - we really are prisoners of our history. The Idi Amin atrocities aside, what's become of Museveni is tragic and I hope these words don't come true, "Since Amin, 1971, up to now, the governments have all come by the gun and have been removed by the gun." ======== Thank you so much for this Belinda.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Calzean

    This is a book that needed a bit of reorganising and a clear focus. It's a mixture of the history of Uganda, a specific murder under Amin and the court case 30 years later, and lastly of the dilemma of what to do with the murderers from Amin's time now that Uganda is trying to move forward. The problem to me in this book was in the flip flopping between the three themes and time periods. I also felt the debate on forgiving, forgetting, justice and what is all means was a bit shallow. The historic This is a book that needed a bit of reorganising and a clear focus. It's a mixture of the history of Uganda, a specific murder under Amin and the court case 30 years later, and lastly of the dilemma of what to do with the murderers from Amin's time now that Uganda is trying to move forward. The problem to me in this book was in the flip flopping between the three themes and time periods. I also felt the debate on forgiving, forgetting, justice and what is all means was a bit shallow. The historical bits were the book's best parts.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Bob Allen

    Fascinating book on Uganda. If you want to understand the psyche of 21st century Ugandans — how their history and various cultures shape their current worldview — this is a **GREAT** book to read. The title is a Banyankole proverb that is perfect for this book. It's difficult to classify the book because, while it is primarily Ugandan history since independence, there is a ton of cultural and anthropological information in the book. Rice talks a lot about the ambiguity of Ugandans in relation to Fascinating book on Uganda. If you want to understand the psyche of 21st century Ugandans — how their history and various cultures shape their current worldview — this is a **GREAT** book to read. The title is a Banyankole proverb that is perfect for this book. It's difficult to classify the book because, while it is primarily Ugandan history since independence, there is a ton of cultural and anthropological information in the book. Rice talks a lot about the ambiguity of Ugandans in relation to dealing with regime of Idi Amin. From Rice's perspective, they can't decide whether it's better to forget (perhaps it's better to call it denial or repression) the atrocities of the past and to focus on unity and peace or whether it's better to actually deal with the past. The fear, very real in this part of the world, is that dealing with the past and publicly exposing people with powerful political connections is a very dangerous endeavor. There's also the perception that atrocities have been committed by all parties and that exposing the sins of one party is discriminatory and simply revenge. Rice uses the murder of one saza chief, Eliphaz Laki (a Bairu Munyankole), and his son, Duncan's, pursuit of the truth of his murder as the central thread through his history. He interweaves history, clan conflict, tribal suspicion and conflict, and Ugandan politics and judicial processes together in a way that brings clarity to the mosaic (outsiders might use the term "mess") that is modern Uganda culture (the concepts are more broadly applicable to much, if not all, of Sub-Saharan Africa). The cultural/anthropological threads focus primarily on the Banyankole (Bahima and Bairu sub-tribes) and the Nubians, but incoporates Lugbara and Baganda information as well. The material is drawn from academic writings, first person interviews, third party interviews, and personal experiences and observations. However, this book does not read like a textbook -- it reads more like a popular history (really, it reads like a novel).

  7. 5 out of 5

    Mikey B.

    This book examines the disappearance (and death) of a son’s father in 1972 at both the micro and macro level. We follow the struggle of the son to probe his father’s disappearance over many years in Uganda, which finally leads up to a trial that to some extent transfixed the country. It forced open many bottled up memories. We explore this within the Ugandan context where Western values such as justice and human rights are juxtaposed against other pervasive facts like ethnicity, clan, religion, l This book examines the disappearance (and death) of a son’s father in 1972 at both the micro and macro level. We follow the struggle of the son to probe his father’s disappearance over many years in Uganda, which finally leads up to a trial that to some extent transfixed the country. It forced open many bottled up memories. We explore this within the Ugandan context where Western values such as justice and human rights are juxtaposed against other pervasive facts like ethnicity, clan, religion, language (tribalism) and the shifting currents of who is in charge (power). The abduction of Eliphaz Laki (the father) is engrossingly examined by the author in this greater Ugandan background. This is done not to justify his abduction and murder, but to illustrate that this sordid event did not happen in isolation; indeed there were many such abductions, disappearances and killings during the reign of Idi Amin. By reading this book one gains a detailed understanding of the mechanics and lethality of how power is exercised in an African dictatorship. As one group gains ascendancy, it persecutes other less favoured groups and areas of the country. It is a spinning wheel that is in flux – so the individual (like Eliphaz Laki) hardly knows which current to swim in. This is a man who had integrity, for which he paid for with his life. We gain a perspective on how those who commit murder put blinders on themselves – the past becomes distorted through tribal allegiance and power. As the son Duncan Laki states: “When you kill someone, you don’t know how many lives are going to shatter.”

  8. 5 out of 5

    Alex

    The author took the time to illustrate where each of the "characters" (this is nonfiction) came from -- even going back through the history of the formation of Uganda and the idea of tribes and tribalism within the pre-colonialism, colonialism and post-colonialism eras The author is extremely thoughtful, well-versed and well-studied on the cultural and historic context of the trial and the individual players. Although every once-in-awhile I got a peek into his own opinion, I felt he left plenty The author took the time to illustrate where each of the "characters" (this is nonfiction) came from -- even going back through the history of the formation of Uganda and the idea of tribes and tribalism within the pre-colonialism, colonialism and post-colonialism eras The author is extremely thoughtful, well-versed and well-studied on the cultural and historic context of the trial and the individual players. Although every once-in-awhile I got a peek into his own opinion, I felt he left plenty of room for the reader to understand the complexities of Uganda. I appreciated that there were very few "villians" in this book although in the first few chapters I wasn't sure if he would be willing to let people be people without either making them only criminals or forgiving their crimes. He does in an amazing way. I was impressed. The book could have been a bit tighter in its editing but definitely worth the read. If you have any interest in Africa, Uganda, colonialism, post-colonialism, Ida Amin (seen The Last Scottish King?), this is a great book to start or continue that journey.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Laurie

    Before I went to Uganda, four years ago, I tried to read every book available on the country. I don't know if I was just a bad researcher - but I found very little material - and much of it was outdated. I wish that this book had been available - I never learned so much about Uganda and its history. I really appreciated being able to read a detailed history of Ugandan politics with an accompanying understanding of each regime's effects on the Ugandan people. All of this was told in the context o Before I went to Uganda, four years ago, I tried to read every book available on the country. I don't know if I was just a bad researcher - but I found very little material - and much of it was outdated. I wish that this book had been available - I never learned so much about Uganda and its history. I really appreciated being able to read a detailed history of Ugandan politics with an accompanying understanding of each regime's effects on the Ugandan people. All of this was told in the context of a politically motivated murder perpetrated by the infamous Idi Amin and the trial that occurred in the early 2000's. I really, really enjoyed this book - especially for the author's keen discussion on rule of law, justice, truth and reconcilitation, etc. It really shed a whole new light on my four months living there in 2007.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Beth

    I was not able to finish this book. I wanted to be able to finish it, hoping to glean some historical information about a country I know nothing about. But it went too deeply into the political back-and-forths and didn't focus enough on the personal story to keep me reading. So if you like in-depth political information, this book might be one for you. But it wasn't for me. ETA: I gave it three stars, even though I didn't finish it, because I do think it is well written, an important story to be I was not able to finish this book. I wanted to be able to finish it, hoping to glean some historical information about a country I know nothing about. But it went too deeply into the political back-and-forths and didn't focus enough on the personal story to keep me reading. So if you like in-depth political information, this book might be one for you. But it wasn't for me. ETA: I gave it three stars, even though I didn't finish it, because I do think it is well written, an important story to be told and would be enjoyed by others.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jenni

    A tough read for me, as I tend to gloss over when confronted with so many war facts, figures, names, or battles, but a REALLY interesting and well researched book on a topic and country I knew absolutely nothing about prior to this.

  12. 5 out of 5

    AC

    Not a history of Amin, as I had hoped, but the story of one man's search - many years later - for the murderers of his father, and of the trial. Rice writes very well. But the story is quite localized, as I said. Not a history of Amin, as I had hoped, but the story of one man's search - many years later - for the murderers of his father, and of the trial. Rice writes very well. But the story is quite localized, as I said.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Travis Lupick

    This review was originally published in the Georgia Straight newspaper. The story of Duncan Laki’s search for justice is one of Africa. Ethically, his pursuit of the truth is imperfect. Circumstances are rarely black-and-white, and it is not always easy to see a clear path to what is right. In The Teeth May Smile but the Heart Does Not Forget: Murder and Memory in Uganda, Andrew Rice—an American journalist and veteran reporter on African affairs—tells this story with a gift for narrative and an ey This review was originally published in the Georgia Straight newspaper. The story of Duncan Laki’s search for justice is one of Africa. Ethically, his pursuit of the truth is imperfect. Circumstances are rarely black-and-white, and it is not always easy to see a clear path to what is right. In The Teeth May Smile but the Heart Does Not Forget: Murder and Memory in Uganda, Andrew Rice—an American journalist and veteran reporter on African affairs—tells this story with a gift for narrative and an eye for detail. By 1972, Eliphaz Laki had most likely left the resistance movement against Idi Amin Dada, the military strongman who had seized the Ugandan presidency in a coup the previous year. Regardless, on September 22, Eliphaz was taken by government soldiers and shot. His death was one of countless such murders in Uganda under the rule of Amin, who had quickly cemented a reputation as one of the world’s most ruthless dictators. Some 30 years later, Eliphaz’s son, Duncan, tracked down the two soldiers who allegedly pulled the trigger on Eliphaz, and then the general who purportedly ordered the killing. The men were put on trial and Uganda’s attention was fixed on the courts. While Amin lived safely in exile in Saudi Arabia, it looked like somebody might pay for one of his crimes in Uganda. But should anybody have been prosecuted for alleged crimes committed under orders? Rice notes that the defendants had all spent time in exile and had only returned to Uganda under promises of amnesty from President Yoweri Museveni. Only later did the men learn that the amnesties were not absolute. “Their lawyers were sure to argue that the trial violated the spirit, if not the letter, of the amnesty,” Rice notes. And so the judicial process was slowly tainted by accusations of victor’s justice and claims of tribalism. Long after Amin, Uganda remained divided, and the trial tested the country’s capacity to forgive. Did Duncan’s mission serve the people’s wish for reconciliation? These are the questions that Rice fails to sufficiently address. Furthermore, the international consequences of the Ugandan trial have never been more significant. Argentina continues to wrestle with crimes committed during the country’s “Dirty War” 30 years ago, and it’s looking increasingly likely that Pakistan will pursue judicial proceedings against former president Pervez Musharraf, to list just two examples. Rice barely attempts to place the Ugandan trial in any international context, which would have greatly increased the scope and impact of his work. On the other hand, the reader is left with an enthralling account of a son’s quest to uncover the truth about his father’s fate and to bring justice to those who killed him.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Amit

    This is a book about the history of post-colonial Uganda, told from the perspective of the son of a local politician who supported Uganda's first president, Milton Obote, helped its current president, Yuweri Museveni, escape to safety, and was disappeared by the president who came in between, Idi Imin. After Idi Amin deposed Obote, his regime killed hundreds of thousands of Obote loyalists. When Obote returned to power, he killed even more. Museveni decided not to continue this cycle of violence This is a book about the history of post-colonial Uganda, told from the perspective of the son of a local politician who supported Uganda's first president, Milton Obote, helped its current president, Yuweri Museveni, escape to safety, and was disappeared by the president who came in between, Idi Imin. After Idi Amin deposed Obote, his regime killed hundreds of thousands of Obote loyalists. When Obote returned to power, he killed even more. Museveni decided not to continue this cycle of violence, but in doing so, he left open wounds that Ugandans were expected to forget and move on. Almost everyone did, except Duncan Laki, who wanted to find out how his father disappeared, find his body, and bring his killers to justice. The author tells the story of Duncan's quest for truth about his father's disappearance, and supplements this story with copious amount of research on Uganda was colonized, the ethnic conflict between the people of the north (West Nile) where Amin and Obote came from, and the south (Ankole) where Laki and Museveni come from, and the atrocities committed by different regimes. He discusses the fault lines in the south itself, between the farmers (Bairu) and the cattle herders (Bahima), as well as post-independence political rivalries. Reading about these divisions, that were kept alive and simmering during the colonial era, it does not seem surprising that Uganda went through almost two decades of murderous convulsions before settling into today's uneasy calm. Definitely worth reading if you are interested in the history of Uganda and are looking for something that is well researched and easy to read.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Dr

    This is the type of book I yearn for when staying in a country for a long period of time. Having traveled all over Africa, Uganda is among the most friendly and easy countries on the continent to navigate. But stay here for a little while and the socio-political tensions become palpable. You feel what Rice refers to as resignation before you know what it is. In ‘The Teeth May Smile, but the Heart Does Not Forget’, Rice uses the story of one man–one among the hundreds of thousands of victims of p This is the type of book I yearn for when staying in a country for a long period of time. Having traveled all over Africa, Uganda is among the most friendly and easy countries on the continent to navigate. But stay here for a little while and the socio-political tensions become palpable. You feel what Rice refers to as resignation before you know what it is. In ‘The Teeth May Smile, but the Heart Does Not Forget’, Rice uses the story of one man–one among the hundreds of thousands of victims of political violence in Uganda over the past fifty years–to tell the story of its modern history. In particular, I appreciate Rice’s skillful avoidance of the common proclivity to make a neat and tidy narrative. Instead, Rice writes Uganda’s modern history as a journalist, weaving together a patchwork of diverse perspectives and historical records, following each angle to its end. He allows the different–sometimes incompatible–perspectives to remain intact. However, the resulting disjointedness is not a detraction; rather, the effect–arguably a more honest reflection of history–is to leave the reader wondering ‘what is the truth?’ Indeed, what Rice evokes is the sense that “history” is what society agrees history is and, for now at least, there is no broad consensus in Uganda. Unlike its neighbor to the south, Rwanda, in Uganda there are few historical markers; few institutions dedicated to documenting, preserving, or presenting (modern) history to the public; and few memorials commemorating the thousands murdered in its making. A whole generation has come of age knowing no other leader than Museveni. Reconciliation without truth seems a dangerous tactic, and young adults who did not live through the administration of Idi Amin or the years of civil war that followed now look back on him as a “patriot”. So, more broadly, ‘The Teeth May Smile, but the Heart Does Not Forget’ also does a huge service to history in simply compiling documentation produced contemporaneously, and assembling it in a sensical, seemingly objective fashion. As is common with tomes that cover such a long span of time, the book is a smidge repetitive, but overall incredibly engaging and hugely relevant. I’d go so far as to call it essential reading for anyone living or working in Uganda. The most sincere praise I can bestow is that, having read it, ‘The Teeth May Smile, but the Heart Does Not Forget’ has informed and coloured my experience and interpretation of Uganda since.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Maren Bjørgum

    After having finished “It’s Our Turn To Eat” (about a Kenyan whistleblower) I was looking for a book that told a story about history in the same way, but set to Uganda. The “same way” meaning: tell a story that covers more 100 years of history, includes the most interesting characters and events of the era, and somehow tie it all to a Forest Gump/Walter Mitty-type main character (who knows everyone and is tied to all the events in some weird way). Forest Gump in this case is Eliphaz Laki, a local After having finished “It’s Our Turn To Eat” (about a Kenyan whistleblower) I was looking for a book that told a story about history in the same way, but set to Uganda. The “same way” meaning: tell a story that covers more 100 years of history, includes the most interesting characters and events of the era, and somehow tie it all to a Forest Gump/Walter Mitty-type main character (who knows everyone and is tied to all the events in some weird way). Forest Gump in this case is Eliphaz Laki, a local Chief who goes missing in 1972. Decades later, his son Duncan starts looking into his father’s disappearance and unravels a life (and death) intrinsically tied to Uganda’s post-colonial struggles through Obote I, Idi Amin, Obote II and Museveni’s reigns. Excellent, well researched, interesting and frustrating read.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan

    Great book idea of memory, forgiveness and the past in Uganda. Easy to follow narrative that navigates the different historical periods of modern Uganda against the backdrop of a legal trial. Some of the different names can get a little overwhelming but overall the book paints an excellent picture of the trials and challenges of Uganda's past and the way they impact the present and future. Great book idea of memory, forgiveness and the past in Uganda. Easy to follow narrative that navigates the different historical periods of modern Uganda against the backdrop of a legal trial. Some of the different names can get a little overwhelming but overall the book paints an excellent picture of the trials and challenges of Uganda's past and the way they impact the present and future.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Marie

    Terrifying and illuminating. A thoroughly researched, well written account that includes both personal stories around one central disappearance and murder during Idi Amin’s regime as well as broader historical, sociocultural, and political discussions. It was a vivid account and an interesting, highly relevant read.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Ed Milner

    Excellent inside account of the workings of modern Africa. One of the best and most informative books on Africa recent history. An investigative thriller and a morality tale. If there were six stars it would get six!

  20. 5 out of 5

    Tracy

    This book ought to be on the Ugandan syllabus. It's a nearly flawless account of Uganda's history repeating itself. Also, interesting being taught about your own culture by a foreigner that did his homework really well. This book ought to be on the Ugandan syllabus. It's a nearly flawless account of Uganda's history repeating itself. Also, interesting being taught about your own culture by a foreigner that did his homework really well.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Alicia

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I started reading this book because I thought it would be interesting. A Son going back to Uganda to avenge his father's murder that took place in 1972. I must admit, I knew only a little about Uganda and what went on there under the rule of Idi Amin. In the history aspect, this book was very VERY good. It talked about not just the history of the family of the murder victim, but also about the family and history of the murderers themselves and Uganda as a whole. How it was "discovered" by the Eng I started reading this book because I thought it would be interesting. A Son going back to Uganda to avenge his father's murder that took place in 1972. I must admit, I knew only a little about Uganda and what went on there under the rule of Idi Amin. In the history aspect, this book was very VERY good. It talked about not just the history of the family of the murder victim, but also about the family and history of the murderers themselves and Uganda as a whole. How it was "discovered" by the English and under their rule until the late 1960's. Then how coup after coup took place ultimately leading to the horrific 8 year rule of Amin. I was very happy that this book was not a gory expose about the horrific nature of Amin. From all accounts he was a BAD GUY, but this book didn't go into detail about all those murders (estimates are between 100,000 and 300,000 killed under his rule). Granted there was some talk about *some* people that were murdered, but it was not gory and quickly passed over. This book is not about the atrocities of war. This book is about Uganda. Yes, it focuses on one man's struggle to find his father's killers, but ultimately it is more about the country of Uganda as a whole. After all the things that they had done to them by their presidents and rulers(the greed, money filtering, warmongering, etc) the everyday Ugandan just wants to move on. They are willing to forgive (if not forget) and hence the title. Many look at their actions as apathy, but others realize that they are just tired. They just want to move on a hope those things never happen again. I said that this book was mostly about Uganda and not about Duncan Laki's search for justice. GOOD THING because if this were a "stick it to the murderers" story, we all would leave very depressed. Which I did sorta leave anyway. Because the ultimate fate of the murderess is (of course) a twisted trial and ultimate acquittal by a corrupt police force, investigators lawyers and even judge. That put aside, I really liked this book. It was very informative and I can say that I learned a lot about a place I hereto previously only knew a little about. In the end, of course, I was sad. I was sad for all the injustices in the world. Especially the injustices that a leader does to his own people in the name of "the good." Let's hope Uganda stays away from that type of "good" for a long while.

  22. 4 out of 5

    MaryJo

    Compelling book. Andrew Rice takes the story of Duncan Laki's search for his father, who disappeared in 1972 and uses it to tells a bigger story about the civil wars in Uganda, and the legacies of that violence. Duncan is ten when his father disappears. He grows up and becomes a lawyer, and, when he is nearly 40 Duncan Laki moves to the United States, but he pursues the effort in Uganda first to find his father's body, then to uncover the story of his death, and finally to seek prosecution of th Compelling book. Andrew Rice takes the story of Duncan Laki's search for his father, who disappeared in 1972 and uses it to tells a bigger story about the civil wars in Uganda, and the legacies of that violence. Duncan is ten when his father disappears. He grows up and becomes a lawyer, and, when he is nearly 40 Duncan Laki moves to the United States, but he pursues the effort in Uganda first to find his father's body, then to uncover the story of his death, and finally to seek prosecution of the killers in a court of law. In 2002, one of Idi Amin's generals, Yusuf Gowon is charged, along with two others, with responsibility for the killing. After a long trial Gowon is acquitted. The judge rules there is insufficient evidence to convict him of the crime. As we follow the story, Rice takes us back to the early European explorers of the Nile in the nineteenth century, and the colonial creation of African territories and African armies. We learn of Independence, ethnic and religious rivalries, political factionalism, and Idi Amin's rise through the army. The carnage of the civil wars, is the backdrop for the question of memory and the possibility of reconciliation raised by Laki's pursuit of justice within Uganda in the 21st century. The focus on these people-Eliphaz Laki, a supporter of Musevini, and Yusuf Gowon, a support of Amin--gives a focus to this history. Before I went to Uganda in March 2005 I read one history,Uganda Since Independence: A Story of Unfulfilled Hopes by Phares Mutibwa, and one novel chronicling the history of the country since independence, Abyssinian Chronicles: A Novel, by Moses Isegawa. The vivid images of the latter are still with me. Rice's book located in this trial in the Musevini era, offers another view of this history.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Claire

    After all the international relations I've studied, I still don't feel like I understand enough sub-Saharan life to benefit most from this book. That is probably the worst thing I could have said about it. So I should just regard as if it's Russia or something, another place I've learned so much about but don't have much hope of visiting, only maybe flying over (as I did over R. in 2013 en route to Shanghai and from Beijing, with the layover in Toronto, meaning it wasn't a US plane). I mean, I ma After all the international relations I've studied, I still don't feel like I understand enough sub-Saharan life to benefit most from this book. That is probably the worst thing I could have said about it. So I should just regard as if it's Russia or something, another place I've learned so much about but don't have much hope of visiting, only maybe flying over (as I did over R. in 2013 en route to Shanghai and from Beijing, with the layover in Toronto, meaning it wasn't a US plane). I mean, I may fly over this part of the world in my travels, but possibly not. So Rice discusses in this book Ugandan intrigues - with a map pinpointing Uganda as above Tanzania and pretty far below Egypt, not even touching any of the other continents. So the books I should be thinking about here for reference are more along the lines of J. Conrad's Heart of Darkness than any of the Afghan/Paki/whatever stuff. The relation is religion, Islam is all over the place. So that's why I'm trying to tie this to everything else I've been reading. And failing, so this book is returning on Saturday.

  24. 5 out of 5

    C.

    MARX WAS A GREAT MAN. MARX IS DEAD. LENIN WAS A GREAT MAN. LENIN IS DEAD. FANON WAS A GREAT MAN, AND NOW FANON IS DEAD. I AM NOT FEELING TOO WELL MYSELF.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Emily Cobbs

    Good read, but difficult book to get through. Throw out any ideas you have of what a country is, and then read this book. The vestiges of colonialism took a lot longer to leave Africa than everywhere else. And throw out your ideas of justice and revenge, as well, because it seems Uganda has its own ideas of what that means. I'm not sure if they're better or worse, rather than they just are. There's a lot of pain and resentment between the north and the south of the country, and it seems it will t Good read, but difficult book to get through. Throw out any ideas you have of what a country is, and then read this book. The vestiges of colonialism took a lot longer to leave Africa than everywhere else. And throw out your ideas of justice and revenge, as well, because it seems Uganda has its own ideas of what that means. I'm not sure if they're better or worse, rather than they just are. There's a lot of pain and resentment between the north and the south of the country, and it seems it will take a while to come to some sort of conclusion. This book is just a glimpse into how one case stirred up memories, and the author takes you to the beginning and the end of those memories very well.

  26. 5 out of 5

    CG

    The search for Eliphaz Laki's truth is only the beginning of this story. Andrew Rice makes time jumps back and forth to explain why Uganda is what it is today and why Uganda was what it was all those years ago. Though the timelines could be a bit confusing, the order of the story-telling made the most sense. He makes us understand the country, culture and tensions during which so many killings that colour Uganda's history took place, and oddly makes us understand why not everyone views them as t The search for Eliphaz Laki's truth is only the beginning of this story. Andrew Rice makes time jumps back and forth to explain why Uganda is what it is today and why Uganda was what it was all those years ago. Though the timelines could be a bit confusing, the order of the story-telling made the most sense. He makes us understand the country, culture and tensions during which so many killings that colour Uganda's history took place, and oddly makes us understand why not everyone views them as the atrocities the world condemned them as. It's a story of a bloody past which people choose not to persecute for the sake of peace. It raises the question of what justice is in such a situation.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Corinne

    While ostensibly about a murder trial, this book really is about the intractable "tribal" clashes in Uganda - born out of colonialism and carried on to the present. Rice does a great job of telling the story of Uganda from British colonial rule through the present, and all through the life of one man, Eliphaz Laki. Certainly all of Uganda cannot be captured in one book - much of the history of Northern Uganda and the ongoing violence there is glossed over - but, as a focused account of the Obote While ostensibly about a murder trial, this book really is about the intractable "tribal" clashes in Uganda - born out of colonialism and carried on to the present. Rice does a great job of telling the story of Uganda from British colonial rule through the present, and all through the life of one man, Eliphaz Laki. Certainly all of Uganda cannot be captured in one book - much of the history of Northern Uganda and the ongoing violence there is glossed over - but, as a focused account of the Obote-Amin-Museveni power shift, it is informative and well-written.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Michael Livingston

    A sometimes compelling mix of reportage and history, using the murder trial of one of Idi Amin’s senior military commanders from crimes committed decades earlier to explore the complicated history of Uganda. The story sometimes gets a bit bogged down in the history lesson, but generally Rice walks the tightrope assuredly. It’s not a propulsive read, and you’ll find it dragging in the middle, but you’ll come away with a deeper understanding of the ways in which the huge rifts that cut across Ugan A sometimes compelling mix of reportage and history, using the murder trial of one of Idi Amin’s senior military commanders from crimes committed decades earlier to explore the complicated history of Uganda. The story sometimes gets a bit bogged down in the history lesson, but generally Rice walks the tightrope assuredly. It’s not a propulsive read, and you’ll find it dragging in the middle, but you’ll come away with a deeper understanding of the ways in which the huge rifts that cut across Ugandan society throughout the 70s and 80s have been healed (and the ways they haven’t).

  29. 5 out of 5

    Desiree

    I always knew the name Idi Amin, but honestly didn't know the whole story of Uganda's history - so for that I enjoyed this book. Living my sheltered US life, I really cannot imagine what life is like in many of these African countries with these insane people running things (I know some people think our leaders are insane, but it's just a wee bit different). Having been born there, though, I am surprised that the subject of the book thought he would actually get any justice for the killing of hi I always knew the name Idi Amin, but honestly didn't know the whole story of Uganda's history - so for that I enjoyed this book. Living my sheltered US life, I really cannot imagine what life is like in many of these African countries with these insane people running things (I know some people think our leaders are insane, but it's just a wee bit different). Having been born there, though, I am surprised that the subject of the book thought he would actually get any justice for the killing of his father years before. If you are interested in Uganda's history, though, this is a decent book.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Andrea

    This book follows the quest of Duncan Laki to find the men who murdered his father under the Amin regime and to find his father's remains for burial. While Duncan's story is compelling, much of the book covers necessary background and history about Uganda. It is well-written and moves quickly through what could easily become boggy material. I learned quite a bit about Ugandan politics and the difficulties of reconciling or even understanding past violence in a nation's history. This book follows the quest of Duncan Laki to find the men who murdered his father under the Amin regime and to find his father's remains for burial. While Duncan's story is compelling, much of the book covers necessary background and history about Uganda. It is well-written and moves quickly through what could easily become boggy material. I learned quite a bit about Ugandan politics and the difficulties of reconciling or even understanding past violence in a nation's history.

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