Originally published in 1972, and re-released in 2012 by Waveland Press, Alex la Guma’s In the Fog of the Season’s End centers on two precisely observed main characters, Beukes and Elias. It depicts the inhumane treatment of blacks during the pre-independence period of South Africa. La Guma is cautious, avoiding excess frivolous drama and yet passing across his message.
In My Temptations, Kemonde Wangmonde narrates the story of a young man, Victor Nyiko, who rises from being a nonentity to a prosperous police officer. Encouraged by one of his teachers, the young Victor Nyiko seeks to become a teacher himself. But before he can sit for the entrance examination to get into a teachers’ training college, his role model leaves the teaching service. Victor’s father, who would rather see his son become a soldier just like him, forbids him from pursuing his dream.
Six Feet of the Country is a short story collection by seasoned South African writer, Nadine Gordimer. Published by Penguin in 1982, it comprises her seven ‘best’ stories from previously published collections. Although her country’s racial segregation policy—which strongly underpins the collection—has since been abandoned, these stories are likely to serve as an epitaph of apartheid for many years to come. Told through a range of voices, they still have the power to shock and disturb.
Everything has been said about Idi Amin’s ruthless reign over Uganda (1971-1979). Expelling Ugandans of Asiatic descent after a dream, offering shelter to terrorists hijacking a plane or officially claiming to be the uncrowned “King of Scotland”, this trooper-turned-president pushed the limits of the absurd while in power. Against this background, Foden’s attempt to grasp Amin’s character without falling into the cliché of the usual African despot, was a daring enterprise. To his credit, Foden brilliantly avoids the trap.
In Mogadishu Diaries 1992-1993: Bloodlines (published in 2012), Eddie Clay provides a fictional account of the mission, that draws from his real-life experience. Clay is a former US Marine, who served in the Operation Restore Hope mission to Somalia from 9 December 1992 until 21 March 1993. Written in the first person, the story is told by Gunnery Sergeant Thompson.
Award winning Djibouti author, Abdourahman A. Waberi (now residing in France) has set himself a challenging task with his novel, Transit, published 2003 in French, and very recently published by Indiana University Press, translated into English by David Ball and Nicole Ball. What are the challenges in Transit? If you know anything about Djibouti questions like the following won’t come as a surprise: How best to capture in a novel the complexity and the desolate conditions in the small African country of Djibouti? How to bring out the repercussions for individuals and groups who may be more like pawns within a political and economic international power game that Djibouti’s leaders are trying to participate in? How to create a portrait of the essence or parts thereof of the “inner soul” of the people; reflect their suffering and pain, but also demonstrate their perseverance and search for happiness? And, finally, how to achieve all this in a way that we as readers can relate to without feeling totally overwhelmed?
The late Mongo Beti (1932 – 2001) ranks among Cameroon’s foremost writers and Mission to Kala, although light-hearted and entertaining, is underpinned by a moral message. Published in 2008 by Mallory, the book is an engaging tale of a young man’s adventure in a remote village of colonial Cameroon which he visits on a do-good mission for a relative. His western education makes him a hit with many, but also lays him open to exploitation by others. He, however, emerges from his adventure with a deeper sense of self and a certainty that he must deal with the real challenge in his life—his father.