Epiphanie Mukasano

The smell of hatred

I was only one year older than Lucie, my half-sister. We had a common grandfather, and two different grandmothers. We attended the same primary school even though we never went or came back from there together. Our parents wanted to keep us as apart from each other as possible. That is the way of polygamy. Thick walls of hatred must be erected between families. You are told not to share a sugar cane or a banana. Your bit must be poisoned.

Despite this simmering hatred between families, Lucie and I got along quite well. We used to play together at school and to share the ways our parents told us to keep to maintain this kind of broken relationship. At times I felt like asking permission to go and spend a night with Lucie at her home, but I never had the guts to say a thing as I always sensed a refusal from my parents. Deep inside, I felt that something was wrong. I could never understand how people could feel the comfort of living behind such walls of hatred. But many times I was told never to try to understand. That was the way of life; I just had to live according to the norm.

I measured the depth of the hatred between our families later on when my youngest brother died. Unlike other people in my neighbourhood who flooded to comfort us, Lucie’s family never turned up in due time. They only came on the day of the funeral.

As I grew up my relationship with Lucie has not suffered much from the barriers created between our families, but I have always wished I had a hammer strong enough to break them down. I have always thought that such things like half-sisterhood should not exist in the first place.


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