Book Review – Tears on the Equator: Muzungu by Gerasimos I. Kambites

tears on Equator CoverTears on the Equator: Muzungu
Gerasimos I. Kambites
File Size: 6135 KB
Print Length: 397 pages
Publisher: FriesenPress; 1 edition (September 14, 2014)
Language: English

BOOK BLURB:   In the beginning, in 1973, when a young couple met at a seminary in the city of Boston, during a time of great racial tension over an issue called bussing, they dared to share a dream and the dream was about faith, progress, unity, love and sustainable development in Africa. She trained in education, her Canadian husband schooled in medicine. They would return to the Ugandan paradise island of her youth in Lake Victoria only to discover that beauty hid the beast; that an interracial couple, white and black and their Ancient Orthodox faith would cause a spark which turned verdant fields into flames of conflict.

This was a wonderfully told story of hope, conviction, and determination, and I enjoyed taking this journey to Uganda with Kambites and his wife.  The detail of place and people was so well done, I felt like I was there.

In reading this memoir there are lessons to be learned about the history and the culture of a people who have been maligned by so many that they hesitate to trust anyone, especially an outsider. Still, Kambites has patients who come to get his medical help when they are desperate, and the sadness he feels when he is not able to help, is palpable.

There is also much frustration over the inequities in the country, and Kambites speaks the truth about what is wrong with the social order in Africa, noting the order of bribes in particular. “Everyone profited except the common man.”

He was also very clear about his role there as a priest. “The church would be our family and those who wished to join us. There would be no aggressive proselytizing.”

The main goal of the trip is to build a school in the town where Sarah, Kambites wife, grew up. They face many obstacles, but they also have  successes that make the reader smile.

On a personal, family level, Kambites and his wife experience many highs and lows during their years of service in Uganda, and that is all told with honesty, that I’m sure was not always easy. I was touched by Kambites effort to bring his father to Africa, and back to the faith, only to lose him before the father could settle in and do some fishing in a new country.

If you would like a first-hand glimpse of what life is like in so many poor African towns, this is the book to open. It will make you smile. It will make you cheer. And it may sometimes make you cry. But ultimately, you will be glad you read it.


Dr. Kambites was born in Montreal in 1947. A third generation Greek Canadian, he was raised in his father’s corner store where he read every comic book and most magazines and books that came through the store for 15 years. He went to Sir George Williams University in Montreal and then worked as a Parliamentary journalist for United Press International. After earning a Master’s in Divinity, he went on to medical school at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario before heading to Uganda.

In 2008 Dr. Kambites took part in National Geographic’s  Genographic DNA tracking program. The greatest irony for him is that his genetic map marks him as having originated in East Africa, in the Northern part of Lake Victoria. By moving to Uganda, in a true sense, he was just coming home.

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