Sunday, November 22, 2015

A Right To Love by Mark Frew

Title: A Right to Love
Author: Mark Frew
Genre: Gay Fiction / Religious / Psychological

The story is about a non-religious man, called Michael, who is a teacher in a modern college. He meets a student, Polycarp, who is a refugee from Rwanda and who has lost all of his family. Michael decides to travel to Africa to find out if any of Polycarp's family members are still alive. In the process, he meets a devout Muslim sub-Saharan African man, Ibrahim. Michael and Ibrahim fall in love and as their relationship develops, Michael and Ibrahim have to adjust to each other's outlooks on life. Throughout the process, the interpretation of both the Bible and the Koran, and how homosexuality can be accepted within this framework are discussed.


“Bwana Michael,” Amani replied. “To be very honest with you, if I had not known about my father, I would have maintained the same belief as all other macho Tanzanian men that this relationship between him and you was wrong. But my father was a good father to us children and worthy of respect, not only because it is in our culture to respect our parents but because my father was a great man. Because of this, I have had to change my thoughts about the whole matter. Also, now that I have met you, and from what my father has said about you and all the good things you do, that you came all this way to help someone out, and now listening to what you have to say, I am forced to think differently about it. And I can see that you will make my father very happy.” 

   Amani stopped there which gave me a moment to reflect. Did you listen to yourself? I thought. Let’s substitute a few other hypothetical aspects of a person and see if you could say the same thing. “If I had known that my father was a murderer/rapist/thief/child molester, I would have had to change my thoughts about murderers/rapists/thieves/child molesters.” No, you would never say that. This just shows that your father’s sexuality is not in the same league. It wouldn’t matter how much you loved and respected your father in your childhood if one day you found out he made a practice of murdering people in cold blood, or raping people, or stealing things of great value, or molesting children. These would actually cause you to no longer respect your father, and in some ways fear him. The reason why you can continue to respect your father with this new knowledge of him is because deep down you know it is not inherently a bad thing. The only problem with it is that it makes people feel uncomfortable that people engage in such activities that others would never engage in themselves. 

Hardest Thing About Character Development

What I found difficult with character development was making my characters sound real throughout the trilogy, not just in A Right To Love. But even so, it is hard to be consistent throughout the entire story, especially in a long story like A Right To Love. For example, I had Ibrahim consistently call Michael, “Bwana Michael”, “Bwana” being the Swahili word for “Mister” and a sign of respect to a man. This use of “Bwana” is based on my own personal experience when I go to Tanzania as there are people there who call me “Bwana” even though I consider them as my friends. The problem was that in the earlier stages of writing the text, I forgot sometimes to get Ibrahim to call Michael “Bwana Michael”. I had to be consistent and get Ibrahim to call everyone “Bwana” and there is a time that Ibrahim talks about Gordon, the director of the Msingi wa Mungu project, and initially I had Ibrahim calling him “Gordon” when to be consistent I had to get him to call him “Bwana Gordon”.
Not only is it the consistency of the language but also the consistency of the personality. This was particularly difficult in A Right To Love because many of the characters are composite characters based on a number of people in real life and out of all the real people I used to make the character, I had to choose one of these people’s personality and then be consistent with this throughout the book.

Mark Frew is a teacher of English to speakers of other languages. He has a bachelor degree in chemistry and is an avid linguist who speaks several languages. Mark Frew is also the author of Mauritian Creole in Seven Easy Lessons, Michael and the Multicoloured Gospel and Farewell My Pashtun.

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