Through Writing a Short Book, Freshman Queen-Heaven Womujuni’s Relationship With Her Father Flourishes 

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Fia Cooper

Talking about her father, freshman Queen-Heaven Womujuni said, “he wanted us to do something to bring us together, and he thought that making a book would be something good.”

Carlie Weigel, Editor in Chief

As only a middle schooler, freshman Queen-Heaven Womujuni learned about the ideologies of African politics through writing and publishing a short novel with the help of her father, which they named “Rat Nation.”

The short fictional book illustrates political corruption, as Johnnie, a cat, represents the role of a president, and rats, who portray citizens, attain independence from their disreputable leader. 

While explaining the roles of these characters, Womujuni said that the rats “find out that the cat isn’t a very good leader, so they go in and rebel against the cat and start their own civilization.”

Womujuni had animals reflect these roles, as the tension between cats and mice are similar to the nature in which people sometimes respond to political leaders. 

“The cat represents a president and the rats represent us humans, [as] we follow the rules of the president — they’re just like citizens,” she said. “Cats are more powerful than a rat, and rats are usually scared of them, so we just thought the cat could be someone they’re afraid of.”

With parents who grew up in Africa and later moved to the United States, Womujuni gained insight into what life for her parents had been like and the effect leaders had on citizens.

“In Africa, their politics are a little bit more harsh,” she said. “They don’t really hold back.”

According to the description of the short novel, Womujuni worked alongside her father to showcase themes such as “labor exploitation, struggle for independence, opportunism, corruption and bribery, political violence and civil disobedience, and the rigged justice system” — all of which many locations throughout the world still experience regularly. 

During the writing process of “Rat Nation,” Womujuni said that some of the themes “were a little bit too scary” for her at the time, as she was much younger. However, to create something more lighthearted, Womujuni and her father determined that they wanted to write about “African politics but just with humor in it — just a little bit of humor,” she said. 

Particularly, Womujuni was responsible for “writing some of the jokes that were in it,” she said, “and writing down whatever her dad thought and just putting it into my own words.”

With inspiration from her father, Womujuni progressively gained motivation to write “Rat Nation.” Initially, she said that she felt as if “my dad forced me.”

“He wanted us to do something to bring us together, and he thought that making a book would be something good,” she said, and she eventually realized that this experience “would help me in the future.”

The short novel took Womujuni and her father roughly a year to put together, as they started in 2016 and finished in 2017. 

“It took a lot of brainstorming, a lot of thinking, and just a lot of putting ideas together,” she said. “It was like half and half… He would write and I would write. We would just sit there and talk to each other while each of us were writing.”

Talking about her relationship with her father, Womujuni said that they “have a strong bond” — even despite the fact that he is often away from home in Uganda, campaigning as a politician. 

“He’s motivated me to be hardworking because he has been running for politician for a while,” she said. “He hasn’t stopped; every time he lost, he just kept going… It makes me think that if I’m not doing good at something, I just need to push and keep going to be better.”

Womujuni emphasized that their close camaraderie is centered around sports, as they “both like soccer and the Trail Blazers,” and when he is home, they “play basketball sometimes on the basketball court.”

“When we were writing the book, we made jokes and stuff, and that’s mostly how we became closer,” she said. 

After having self-published “Rat Nation” a few years ago, Womujuni promotes the short book on occasion “just by posting on social media,” she said. Although she and her father never created paper copies of the 33-page-long novel, it is available for purchase on Amazon through the Kindle App, costing $4.99. 

From her past experience with “Rat Nation,” Womujuni said that her interest was further sparked, as she now has another book in the works. 

“I kind of enjoyed it,” she said. “It’s just like a free time to just express just whatever is on your mind.”

Looking ahead, Womujuni said that she will likely continue writing again in her future, especially because she wants to become a lawyer. But, she also said that it will not serve as her main focus but rather an outlet for self-expression. 

For those who want to explore new creative endeavors, she encouraged others to continue with optimism. “Just go for it,” she said. “There’s nothing stopping you, and you can just eventually get better.”