Gloria D. Gonsalves comes from Korogwe, Tanzania, where she lived for 27 years before migrating to Europe. She spent some time in Ireland before moving to Germany, where she currently resides. She enjoys writing poetry and tales for children and adults. The author of several books, she recently talked to Africa Book Club about her writing and how she came to rekindle her interest in African literature.
In 2004, Ugandan entrepreneur Andrew Rugasira founded Good African Coffee, with a vision to become the first African to collect, roast, market, and sell quality coffee direct to supermarkets globally. By his example, Rugasira hoped to demonstrate that trade, not aid, was a viable, sustainable strategy for driving Africa’s economic and social development. Good African Coffee had its first breakthrough, when the company launched its roast and ground coffees in South Africa through the Shoprite Checkers supermarket chain. In 2005, Waitrose became the first UK supermarket chain to list Good African roast and ground coffees. The following year, the company’s coffees were listed in Sainsburys. Today, the company supports more than 14,000 farmers and gives 50 percent of its net profits back to the community through investing in sustainable community empowerment projects. Rugasira’s remarkable entrepreneurial journey is captured in his book, A Good African Story A Good African Story: How a Small Company Built a Global Coffee Brand, out this year. In this interview with the Africa Book Club, he talks about his experience, the challenges he experienced, and what he learned.
Born in the US to Nigerian parents in 1975, Teju Cole was raised in Nigeria and now lives in Brooklyn, New York. Cole attained international fame in 2011 with “Open City”, an innovative and powerful first novel set in New-York, USA. Before that, he wrote “Everyday is for the thief” (2007), a novella depicting joys and ordeals of everyday life in Lagos, Nigeria. He is also famous for the small stories he crafts on “Small Fates”, a Twitter project he initiated. A writer, art historian and passionate street photographer, Teju Cole contributes to important literary publications such as “The New Yorker” and “Qarrtsiluni”. In this interview with Africa Book Club, he explains why this double identity gives him freedom, how limits are actually an opportunity for the writer and why big cities are so interesting.
Chris Van Wyk is an important figure on the South African literary scene. Born in 1957 in a coloured township of Johannesburg, he experienced at first hand the inequality and deprivation reserved to “non-whites” during apartheid. Fascinated by literature from a very young age, Van Wyk rose to fame in the 1970s for his engaged poems where absurdity and humor brought a daring counterpoint to the harsh realities they were referring to. In 2004, his acclaimed childhood memoir “Shirley, Goodness & Mercy” gave a delightful account of his special relationship to the township he grew up in and its inhabitants. In this interview with Africa Book Club, Chris Van Wyk discusses his writing, the challenge of finding a readership in South Africa and the present state of his country.
Noo Saro-Wiwa is a Nigerian travel writer who lives between London and Africa. Her début work Looking for Transwonderland (published in 2012) is a travel book praised by critics as an affectionate yet irreverent guide to Nigeria. Sparked with humour, “Looking for Transwonderland” is also a moving and tentative attempt by the author to come to terms with her homeland and the death of her father, Ken Saro-Wiwa, the famous Ogoni activist hanged by Nigeria’s military junta in 1995 for his environmental struggle against Big Oil in the Niger delta. In this interview with Africa Book Club, she talks about her literary demeanour, the insight she gained by living between two continents and her opinion about contemporary African literature.
Born in 1973, Niq Mhlongo is part of a young generation of black writers who depict their country without concession. In a casual style made of humour and powerful dialogues, Mhlongo never hesitates to tackle the heavy issues South Africa is plagued by – joblessness, AIDS or latent racism to cite only a few. His latest novel “Way Back Home” which has just been published by Kwela Books, reads as a fierce critic of the corruption of the South African elite. In this interview with Africa Book Club, Niq Mhlongo talks about his literary endeavour, today’s South Africa and the expectations that lay on the shoulders of young black South African writers.
With nine novels, five collections of poems and a bunch of essays to his name, Franco-Congolese writer Alain Mabanckou is a literary phenomenon in the Francophone world. Renowned for the derisive drollery of his prose but also for his candour when talking about Africa, he has become an important voice of African literature – a subject he now teaches at UCLA. We talked to him on the occasion of the publication in English of his novel “Tomorrow I will be 20 years old”, in which he evokes with mischievousness and emotion his childhood in Pointe-Noire, the Congolese port city on the Atlantic coast. In this interview with Africa Book Club, Alain Mabanckou speaks about African identity, his eclectic influences and why it is difficult to define an “African literature”.
Doreen Baingana is the Ugandan author of Tropical Fish: Stories out of Entebbe, which won the 2006 Commonwealth Prize for First Book, Africa Region, and the AWP Award for Short Fiction. She has twice been a finalist for the Caine Prize for African Writing. A Bread Loaf Writers Conference Fellow and a Fellow at the Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Centre, Baingana has also won a Washington Independent Writers Fiction Prize, and an Emerging Writer’s Fellowship from the Writer’s Center. She talked to Africa Book Club recently.
Tewodros Fekadu scraped through his childhood years between relatives’ houses and the streets of Ethiopia. He has since lived in five countries on three continents and is fluent in four languages (Amharic, Tigrinya, Japanese and English). In 2003, he arrived in Australia and resides on the Gold Coast with his wife, Anita, where he is an active member of the community. His book, No One’s Son tells the remarkable story of his life – from his difficult childhood, his struggles through life’s challenges, and eventual migration to Australia. In this month’s interview, he talks to Africa Book Club about his life and work.
This month, Africa Book Club speaks to Ghanaian writer, Nana Ekua Brew-Hammond. Nana (nanaekua.com) is an accomplished author and copywriter, who has written for AOL, The Village Voice, JET Magazine, Metro, and Trace Magazine, among others. Her short stories have been published in African Writing and the anthology This Woman’s Work; while her poem, “The Whinings of a Seven Sister Cum Laude Graduate Working Bored as an Assistant,” was published in the anthology Growing up Girl. A cum laude graduate of Vassar College, she attended secondary school in Ghana. Her debut novel, Powder Necklace (published by Simon and Schuster) was released in 2010 and was featured as one of our 2010 Books of the Year.