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.
Aboulela’s brief, yet rich, novel is not only a delicate moving love story, told primarily from the heroine’s perspective, it also touches, in a broader sense, on general human emotions such as longing and belonging, tradition and change, loss, faith and personal growth.
Karen Blixen moved to Kenya in 1914, and spent almost twenty years in that country. By many measures, her life in Africa was a failure. She was bankrupted; got divorced; caught a serious venereal disease; and lost her lover in a plane crash. However, Blixen clearly loved the country of Kenya very deeply, and OUT OF AFRICA is primarily a record of that love affair.
Fiction does not always enhance or deepen our understanding of complex realities of time and place. In his novel, The Madonna of Excelsior, set in his native South Africa, Zakes Mda has achieved this mixture admirably. Against the backdrop of political events of the pre- and post-Apartheid, he builds his narrative around the impact of one specific event and its aftermath on one small community, Excelsior. He captures the essence of life under Apartheid and the difficulties awaiting all when the regime ends.
Julius Chingono was the son of a farm worker, and spent much of his life as a blaster on the mines in his native Zimbabwe, before a late blooming as a rather fine author. Not Another Day is a collection of his poems and short stories, and is an excellent introduction to his work.
The Shackled Continent remains one of the most substantive narratives of the African plight; bad leadership, corruption, tribalism, HIV/AIDS; but, as some critics have argued, it has little to offer on how to move the continent forward.
In Africa’s Greatest Entrepreneurs, Makura profiles businessmen from across the Mother Continent and brings snippets of her interviewees’ lives into print that could easily have remained hidden with the sound bytes on camera. This is broadcast journalism hoisted onto its print cousin.