The Teeth May Smile but the Heart Does Not Forget: Murder and Memory in Uganda

In This Review

The Teeth May Smile but the Heart Does Not Forget: Murder and Memory in Uganda
By Andrew Rice
Metropolitan Books, 2009
384 pp. $26.00
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This enthralling account of a political murder in the Ugandan countryside in 1972 and the victim's son's efforts, 30 years later, to get a measure of justice is a highly readable narrative of a murder investigation and trial. It is also a deeply perceptive chronicle of Uganda's troubled past that sheds much light on contemporary Africa. Eliphaz Laki, an administrative chief in rural southwestern Uganda, was executed because of his political opposition to the Idi Amin regime. His son's detective work led to the arrest and trial of three of the dictator's now-retired henchmen, although the state eventually dropped all charges against them due to the court's unwillingness to accept key evidence for technical reasons. Rice paints vivid portraits of the characters in this complex story and skillfully analyzes Uganda's dysfunctional ethnic politics, which helped undermine the country's political order in the 1960s -- and which still lurk just under the surface today. More broadly, this book is a wise meditation on memory, forgiveness, and loss in times of conflict.