What makes Africans laugh is a critique of the African’s attitude towards indigenous craftsmanship, knowledge and culture, especially in the post-independence era. It is woven around the life of James Tumusiime, who has been a campaigner for African self-reliance in the cultural industry-humor, media and historiography.
Although Tumusiime draws many of his examples from Uganda and Kenya, the story is familiar to most people in Africa.
This book brings out the practical experiences of civil servants, the challenges of cartoonist in a politically sensitive environment, and the struggles to localize humor to a cynical industry. It narrates the drama in starting a media house-the new vision, a book publishing house- fountain Publishers, a local-language radio station –radio west , and a museum –lgongo cultural center, all coming amidst lukewarm political support and a skeptical audience.
James RwahaburaTumusiime was born in 1950 in Rugando, Mbarara district. Although he studied Agriculture and Economics at University, he become more widely known for the cartoon strips, Ekanya and Bogi Benda, in both local and international media. When he returned to Uganda after the NRA war, he spearheaded the founding of the new vision in 1986, Fountain Publishers in 1988, the National Book Trust of Uganda (NABTOU) in 1997, Radio West in 1998 and IgongoCuitural center in 2008. He has served on several international boards, including African Publishers Network(APNET), the Afro-Asian book Council (AABC) and the International Board of Books for Young People(IBBY). He served as chairman of Council of Mbarara University of Science and Technology and chairman of the Uganda Tourism Board.
“Questioning the African conception of laughter, pitiching at the level of culture and knowledge systems, and continuing to invest his life in the cultural industry. Tumusiime has added his name to the small list of Africa’s liberation heroes of the modern times.” The Monitor
“In what Makes Africans Laugh?,Tumusiime offers not only a ray of hope, but also seeks to question the position of African elites of the post-colonial era, especially about the place of culture and indigenous knowledge systems in modern political and cultural reasoning” The Independent