All Aboard! Next Stop, Tram 83!


Above, Fiston Mwanza Mujila, author of Tram 83

Fueled by high intensity, unforeseen cliffhangers, sensational satire, and perilous adventures, Fiston Mwanza Mujila’s, Tram 83 gripped the reader and never let go. 

Mujila’s impacting tome is filled with wayward characters all ranging from devious villains, treacherous beauties, unreliable friends, and unlikely heroes, all meshed together by one common space, a jazzed up night club by the name of Tram 83.

Throughout the novel, there was multiple phrases that seemed to repeated over and over again.  One of these phrases that kept reoccurring was the phrase,

“Do you have the time?” 

At first this phrase rendered as a common question one might ask in order to acquire the hour in the day, but in Tram 83 the phrase, “Do you have the time?” took on a whole different meaning all together.

The phrase “Do you have the time?” was asked by the “prostitutes” of the novel.  They simply wanted to know if their customer had the time to tumble between the sheets.  Sure, such a question seems simple and innocent at first, but give it an alternate motive then the whole phrase has an entirely different concept. 

Speaking of concept, lets take a look at the concept of time.  Time seemed to be one of many themes that wrapped Mujila’s novel together.   The phrases throughout the novel seemed to throw the novel in a sort of rhyme, and rhyme needs great timing.  Just like jazz pieces, rhyme and timing are everything. 


Above, Fiston Mwanza Mujila accepting Nigeria’s Etisalat Prize in 2015

Not only does the novel itself have some sense of pace or rhyme so does it characters and the elements surrounding the novel itself. Lucien, the main protagonist in this story, happens to be a writer, is on a constant go, desperately trying to get published. 

However, Lucien’s counterpart, Requiem, possibly the main antagonist and foil to Lucien’s character, is always on the move as well.

Unlike Lucien, Requiem is only interested in vices such as: robbery, engaging with prostitutes, and destroying any chance for Lucien to be successful in his writing career.   

For one, the title of the book is called, Tram 83, Tram resonates to locomotives and locomotives need timing and rhyme to operate.  One also needs time in order to catch the train before it departs.

So, the phrase, “Do you have the time” comes full-circle by not just being a phrase, but a way of life for the characters, and a central theme for this novel.   


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