Published in 2012 by Dovetail Press, Waiting for the Rains is a new book by Roger J. Barton. It is a memoir of Africa, more specifically the author’s life as an expatriate in the 1970s in the countries of Malawi and Zambia; working with the Government Printing Office. “Living in Africa is a life changing experience, which only becomes apparent when you move away and reflect on the continent you have left”, writes Barton. Several years after leaving Africa, Roger decides to share his experiences with the rest of the world.
Biographies and Memoirs
Miracle in the Land, by the Ghanaian author, Christine Botchway, is a story that spans nearly twenty years – from 1977 through 1996. It captures the author’s memories, fears, joy and pain, despair and hope experienced from age 9 through 28. Over that period, Ghana went through two military coups.
Living Memories is a depiction of British colonialism captured from the varied and often disturbing experiences of 13 Kenyans. Many of the stories provide a poignant and dramatic indictment of the cruelty that the British colonialists inflicted on their subjects through such atrocities as beatings, rape, infanticide, dispossession of land, mass murder, incarcerations. In the face of these atrocities, Al Kags provides a different perspective on the eight-year Mau Mau revolt – the indigenous uprising that paved the way for the eventual granting of independence to Kenya.
Ngugi wa Thiong’o’s In the House of the Interpreter: A Memoir, published in 2012 by Pantheon books follows on from Dreams in A Time of War: A Child hood Memoir. It covers the years at Alliance High School from 1955 to 1959. These are the years of the Mau Mau liberation struggle. A young Ngugi returns to a desolate landscape. All has been torn down and people crammed into a concentration village next to a home guard post.
In Interventions: A Life in War and Peace (published in 2012 by Penguin Press), Kofi Annan explores the ups and downs of his UN career, bringing into sharp focus the often complex and thankless task of diplomacy and the sometimes elusive search for solutions to conflicts. It highlights the contestations in the UN and how the Secretariat in New York sometimes finds itself trapped between fiercely competing powers attempting to secure individual victories in a field of many players.
Dreams in A Time Of War (by Ngugi wa Thiong’o) starts in a hopeful place. Hopeful for a reason not too obvious at the start. After a day fighting hunger pangs at Kinyogori Intermediate School, Ngugi and Kenneth Mbugua, a classmate, take the longer six mile route home past the Limuru Bata Shoe factory. At a crossroads they are drawn into a crowd discussing the daring escape of a nameless man arrested close by. The crowd disputes the events and breaks up into groups. The nameless man turns out to be Wallace Mwangi also known as Good Wallace. Good Wallace is Ngugi’s brother and a Kenya Land and Freedom Army supplier. So begins a riveting memoir about growing up in colonial Kenya in a time of social, economic, world and anti-colonial war.
Sindiwe Magona’s To My Children’s Children is a memoir that covers the first 23 years of Magona’s life. It is a tale of growth and survival within the restrictions of Apartheid and the African traditional system. Magona’s style is easy and compelling and never descends into monologue or documentary. The story begins in 1940 in a Xhosa village called Gungululu, near the Cape Province of the Union of South Africa. It is here that Magona was born and where, up to age 4, she and some of her siblings, and a plethora of cousins, grow up in a matriarchal household headed by a maternal great grandmother.
As a biographer, Colin Bundy had a long [and fruitful?] relationship with the late Govan Mbeki, a political leader who was one of the leading lights of South Africa’s African National Congress and a father to the country’s ex-President Thabo Mbeki . Correspondence between them stretched back to the days when it was still unfashionable to write letters to the ‘terrorists’ incarcerated on Robben Island.
Zakes Mda is a respected academic and one of South Africa’s most recognized authors. And yet for a man with potentially lots to lose, he appears bent on ripping apart his own legacy. His biography, Sometimes There is a Void (published in the USA in 2012 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux) is at once riveting and […]
Working as a Peace Corps volunteer in a remote African village is not an easy undertaking in any situation. For an inexperienced, idealistic and, in addition, deaf person, such an adventure makes for an extraordinary story. Josh Swiller spent close to two years in northern Zambia in the village of Mununga, one of the most deprived villages in a poor region. His experiences and encounters, his learning by trial and error, and, most of all, his falling in love with the village and Africa, is the content of this unusual and highly readable memoir.