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A passionate witness to the colossal upheaval that has transformed her native South Africa, Gillian Slovo has written a memoir that is far more than a story of her own life. For she is the daughter of Joe Slovo and Ruth First, South Africa's pioneering anti-apartheid white activists, a daughter who always had to come second to political commitment. While recalling the extraordinary events which surrounded her family's persecution and exile, and reconstructing the truth of her parents' relationship and her own turbulent childhood, leading her at one point to a chilling interview with one of the men responsible for her mother's death, Gillian Slovo has reated an astonishing portrait of a courageous, beautiful mother and a father of integrity and stoicism.
The Dark Child is a distinct and graceful memoir of Camara Laye's youth in the village of Koroussa, French Guinea. Long regarded Africa's preeminent Francophone novelist, Laye (1928-80) herein marvels over his mother's supernatural powers, his father's distinction as the village goldsmith, and his own passage into manhood, which is marked by animistic beliefs and bloody rituals of primeval origin. Eventually, he must choose between this unique place and the academic success that lures him to distant cities. More than autobiography of one boy, this is the universal story of sacred traditions struggling against the encroachment of a modern world. A passionate and deeply affecting record, The Dark Child is a classic of African literature. This edition was translated by James Kirkup and Ernest Jones. It features an introduction from Philippe Thoby-Marcellin.
This powerful and widely acclaimed autobiography of Magona's early years in South Africa gives an account of her eventful first 23 years--a candid story of triumph and endurance in the face of hardships relentlessly reinforced by the apartheid system.
The moving memoir of one brave woman who, along with her daughters, has kept 90,000 of her fellow citizens safe, healthy, and educated for over 20 years in Somalia. Dr. Hawa Abdi, "the Mother Teresa of Somalia" and Nobel Peace Prize nominee, is the founder of a massive camp for internally displaced people located a few miles from war-torn Mogadishu, Somalia. Since 1991, when the Somali government collapsed, famine struck, and aid groups fled, she has dedicated herself to providing help for people whose lives have been shattered by violence and poverty. She turned her 1300 acres of farmland into a camp that has numbered up to 90,000 displaced people, ignoring the clan lines that have often served to divide the country. She inspired her daughters, Deqo and Amina, to become doctors. Together, they have saved tens of thousands of lives in her hospital, while providing an education to hundreds of displaced children. In 2010, Dr. Abdi was kidnapped by radical insurgents, who also destroyed much of her hospital, simply because she was a woman. She, along with media pressure, convinced the rebels to let her go, and she demanded and received a written apology. Dr. Abdi's story of incomprehensible bravery and perseverance will inspire readers everywhere.
A Daughter's Legacy is the story of Kedibone's journey from childhood to parenthood, from the dusty streets of her home village to the modern worlds of university and working life. Determination and resilience battle with fear and insecurity in Kedibone's searing engagement with relationships and personal growth. This novel is a bold and necessary statement that exposes the taboos and abuse that a male-dominated culture allows, if not engenders. It breaks the silence and connivance in a way that has never been done before.
A groundbreaking and wide-angled memoir by the acclaimed Kenyan Caine Prize winner Binyavanga Wainaina.
Binyavanga Wainaina tumbled through his middle-class Kenyan childhood out of kilter with the world around him. This world came to him as a chaos of loud and colorful sounds: the hair dryers at his mother’s beauty parlor, black mamba bicycle bells, mechanics in Nairobi, the music of Michael Jackson—all punctuated by the infectious laughter of his brother and sister, Jimmy and Ciru. He could fall in with their patterns, but it would take him a while to carve out his own. In this vivid and compelling debut memoir, Wainaina takes us through his school days, his mother’s religious period, his failed attempt to study in South Africa as a computer programmer, a moving family reunion in Uganda, and his travels around Kenya. The landscape in front of him always claims his main attention, but he also evokes the shifting political scene that unsettles his views on family, tribe, and nationhood. Throughout, reading is his refuge and his solace. And when, in 2002, a writing prize comes through, the door is opened for him to pursue the career that perhaps had been beckoning all along. A series of fascinating international reporting assignments follow. Finally he circles back to a Kenya in the throes of postelection violence and finds he is not the only one questioning the old certainties. Resolutely avoiding stereotype and cliché, Wainaina paints every scene in One Day I Will Write About This Place with a highly distinctive and hugely memorable brush.
An extraordinary, literary memoir from a gay white South African, coming of age at the end of apartheid in the late 1970s. Glen Retief's childhood was at once recognizably ordinary--and brutally unusual. Raised in the middle of a game preserve where his father worked, Retief's warm nuclear family was a preserve of its own, against chaotic forces just outside its borders: a childhood friend whose uncle led a death squad, while his cultured grandfather quoted Shakespeare at barbecues and abused Glen's sister in an antique-filled, tobacco-scented living room. But it was when Retief was sent to boarding school, that he was truly exposed to human cruelty and frailty. When the prefects were caught torturing younger boys, they invented "the jack bank," where underclassmen could save beatings, earn interest on their deposits, and draw on them later to atone for their supposed infractions. Retief writes movingly of the complicated emotions and politics in this punitive all-male world, and of how he navigated them, even as he began to realize that his sexuality was different than his peers'.
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William Kamkwamba was born in Malawi, a country where magic ruled and modern science was mystery. It was also a land withered by drought and hunger. But William had read about windmills, and he dreamed of building one that would bring to his small village a set of luxuries that only 2 percent of Malawians could enjoy: electricity and running water. His neighbors called him misala—crazy—but William refused to let go of his dreams. With a small pile of once-forgotten science textbooks; some scrap metal, tractor parts, and bicycle halves; and an armory of curiosity and determination, he embarked on a daring plan to forge an unlikely contraption and small miracle that would change the lives around him. The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind is a remarkable true story about human inventiveness and its power to overcome crippling adversity. It will inspire anyone who doubts the power of one individual's ability to change his community and better the lives of those around him.
An irresistible and heart-warming child's-eye view novel set in Africa -- Michel is ten years old, living in Pointe Noire, Congo, in the 1970s. His mother sells peanuts at the market, his father works at the Victory Palace Hotel, and brings home books left behind by the white guests. Planes cross the sky overhead, and Michel and his friend Lounès dream about the countries where they'll land.While news comes over the radio of the American hostage crisis in Tehran, the death of the Shah, the scandal of the Boukassa diamonds, Michel struggles with the demands of his twelve year old girlfriend Caroline, who threatens to leave him for a bully in the football team. But most worrying forMichel, the witch doctor has told his mother that he has hidden the key to her womb, and must return it before she can have another child. Somehow he must find it.TomorrowI'll Be Twentyis a humorous and poignant account of an African childhood, drawn from Alain Mabanckou's life.
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Born in 1938 in rural Kenya, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o came of age in the shadow of World War II, amidst the terrible bloodshed in the war between the Mau Mau and the British. The son of a man whose four wives bore him more than a score of children, young Ngũgĩ displayed what was then considered a bizarre thirst for learning, yet it was unimaginable that he would grow up to become a world-renowned novelist, playwright, and critic. In Dreams in a Time of War, Ngũgĩ deftly etches a bygone era, bearing witness to the social and political vicissitudes of life under colonialism and war. Speaking to the human right to dream even in the worst of times, this rich memoir of an African childhood abounds in delicate and powerful subtleties and complexities that are movingly told.
"From the legendary author of "Things Fall Apart" comes a longawaited memoir about coming of age with a fragile new nation, then watching it torn asunder in a tragic civil war"
The defining experience of Chinua Achebe's life was the Nigerian civil war, also known as the Biafran War, of 1967-1970. The conflict was infamous for its savage impact on the Biafran people, Chinua Achebe's people, many of whom were starved to death after the Nigerian government blockaded their borders. By then, Chinua Achebe was already a world-renowned novelist, with a young family to protect. He took the Biafran side in the conflict and served his government as a roving cultural ambassador, from which vantage he absorbed the war's full horror. Immediately after, Achebe took refuge in an academic post in the United States, and for more than forty years he has maintained a considered silence on the events of those terrible years, addressing them only obliquely through his poetry. Now, decades in the making, comes a towering reckoning with one of modern Africa's most fateful events, from a writer whose words and courage have left an enduring stamp on world literature.
Achebe masterfully relates his experience, bothas he lived it and how he has come to understand it. He begins his story with Nigeria's birth pangs and the story of his own upbringing as a man and as a writer so that we might come to understand the country's promise, which turned to horror when the hot winds of hatred began to stir. To read "There Was a Country" is to be powerfully reminded that artists have a particular obligation, especially during a time of war. All writers, Achebe argues, should be committed writers--they should speak for their history, their beliefs, and their people.
Marrying history and memoir, poetry and prose, "There Was a Country "is a distillation of vivid firsthand observation and forty years of research and reflection. Wise, humane, and authoritative, it will stand as definitive and reinforce Achebe's place as one of the most vital literary and moral voices of our age.
A young man's quest to reconcile his deafness in an unforgiving world leads to a remarkable sojourn in a remote African village that pulsates with beauty and violence These are hearing aids. They take the sounds of the world and amplify them." Josh Swiller recited this speech to himself on the day he arrived in Mununga, a dusty village on the shores of Lake Mweru. Deaf since a young age, Swiller spent his formative years in frustrated limbo on the sidelines of the hearing world, encouraged by his family to use lipreading and the strident approximations of hearing aids to blend in. It didn't work. So he decided to ditch the well-trodden path after college, setting out to find a place so far removed that his deafness would become irrelevant. That place turned out to be Zambia, where Swiller worked as a Peace Corps volunteer for two years. There he would encounter a world where violence, disease, and poverty were the mundane facts of life. But despite the culture shock, Swiller finally commanded attention--everyone always listened carefully to the white man, even if they didn't always follow his instruction. Spending his days working in the health clinic with Augustine Jere, a chubby, world-weary chess aficionado and a steadfast friend, Swiller had finally found, he believed, a place where his deafness didn't interfere, a place he could call home. Until, that is, a nightmarish incident blasted away his newfound convictions. At once a poignant account of friendship through adversity, a hilarious comedy of errors, and a gripping narrative of escalating violence, The Unheard is an unforgettable story from a noteworthy new talent.
King Peggy: An American Secretary, Her Royal Destiny, and the Inspiring Story of How She Changed an African Village (by Peggielene Bartels and Eleanor Herman)
The charming real-life fairy tale of an American secretary who discovers she has been chosen king of an impoverished fishing village on the west coast of Africa. "King Peggy" chronicles the astonishing journey of American secretary, Peggielene Bartels, who suddenly finds herself king to a town of 7,000 people on Ghana's central coast, half a world away. Upon arriving for her crowning ceremony in beautiful Otuam, she discovers the dire reality: there's no running water, no doctor, no high school, and many of the village elders are stealing the town's funds. To make matters worse, her uncle (the late king) sits in a morgue awaiting a proper funeral in the royal palace, which is in ruins. Peggy's first two years as king of Otuam unfold in a way that is stranger than fiction. In the end, a deeply traditional African town is uplifted by the ambitions of its decidedly modern female king, and Peggy is herself transformed, from an ordinary secretary to the heart and hope of her community.
Like the single white eyelash that graces her row of dark lashes–seen by her people as a mark of good fortune–Halima Bashir’s story stands out. Tears of the Desert is the first memoir ever written by a woman caught up in the war in Darfur. It is a survivor’s tale of a conflicted country, a resilient people, and the uncompromising spirit of a young woman who refused to be silenced. Born into the Zaghawa tribe in the Sudanese desert, Halima was doted on by her father, a cattle herder, and kept in line by her formidable grandmother. A politically astute man, Halima’s father saw to it that his daughter received a good education away from their rural surroundings. Halima excelled in her studies and exams, surpassing even the privileged Arab girls who looked down their noses at the black Africans. With her love of learning and her father’s support, Halima went on to study medicine, and at twenty-four became her village’s first formal doctor. Yet not even the symbol of good luck that dotted her eye could protect her from the encroaching conflict that would consume her land. Janjaweed Arab militias started savagely assaulting the Zaghawa, often with the backing of the Sudanese military. Then, in early 2004, the Janjaweed attacked Bashir’s village and surrounding areas, raping forty-two schoolgirls and their teachers. Bashir, who treated the traumatized victims, some as young as eight years old, could no longer remain quiet. But breaking her silence ignited a horrifying turn of events. In this harrowing and heartbreaking account, Halima Bashir sheds light on the hundreds of thousands of innocent lives being eradicated by what is fast becoming one of the most terrifying genocides of the twenty-first century. Raw and riveting, Tears of the Desert is more than just a memoir–it is Halima Bashir’s global call to action.
he second installment of J. M. Coetzee's fictionalized "memoir" explores a young man's struggle to experience life to its full intensity and transform it into art. The narrator of Youth has long been plotting an escape-from the stifling love of his overbearing mother, a father whose failures haunt him, and what he is sure is impending revolution in his native country of South Africa. Arriving at last in London in the 1960s, however, he finds neither poetry nor romance and instead begins a dark pilgrimage into adulthood. Youth is a remarkable portrait of a consciousness, isolated and adrift, turning in on itself, of a young man struggling to find his way in the world, written with tenderness and a fierce clarity.
Coetzee grew up in a new development north of Cape Town, tormented by guilt and fear. With a father he despised, and a mother he both adored and resented, he led a double life—the brilliant and well-behaved student at school, the princely despot at home, always terrified of losing his mother's love. His first encounters with literature, the awakenings of sexual desire, and a growing awareness of apartheid left him with baffling questions; and only in his love of the high veld ("farms are places of freedom, of life") could he find a sense of belonging. Bold and telling, this masterly evocation of a young boy's life is the book Coetzee's many admirers have been waiting for, but never could have expected.
The first sub-Saharan African to hold the position of Secretary-General, Annan has led an extraordinary life in his own right. His idealism and personal politics were forged in the Ghanaian independence movement of his adolescence, when all of Africa seemed to be rising as one to demand self-determination. Schooled in Africa, Europe, and the United States, Annan ultimately joined the United Nations in Geneva at the lowest professional level in the still young organization. Annan rose rapidly through the ranks and was by the end of the Cold War prominently placed in the dramatically changing department of peacekeeping operations. His stories of Presidents Clinton and Bush, dictators like Saddam Hussein and Robert Mugabe, and public figures of all stripes contrast powerfully with Annan's descriptions of the courage and decency of ordinary people everywhere struggling for a new and better world. Showing the successes of the United Nations, Annan also reveals the organization's missed opportunities and ongoing challenges--inaction in the Rwanda genocide, continuing violence between Israelis and Palestinians, and the endurance of endemic poverty. Yet Annan's great strength in this book is his ability to embed these tragedies within the context of global politics, demonstrating how, time and again, the nations of the world have retreated from the UN's founding purpose. From the pinnacle of global politics, Annan made it his purpose to put the individual at the center of every mission for peace and prosperity.
A personal biography of global statecraft, Annan's "Interventions" is as much a memoir as a guide to world order--past, present, and future.
A Mouth Sweeter Than Salt gathers the stories and reflections of the early years of Toyin Falola, the grand historian of Africa and one of the greatest sons of Ibadan, the notable Yoruba city-state in Nigeria. Redefining the autobiographical genre altogether, Falola miraculously weaves together personal, historical, and communal stories, along with political and cultural developments in the period immediately preceding and following Nigeria's independence, to give us a unique and enduring picture of the Yoruba in the mid-twentieth century. This is truly a literary memoir, told in language rich with proverbs, poetry, song, and humor. Falola's memoir is far more than the story of one man's childhood experiences; rather, he presents us with the riches of an entire culture and community-its history, traditions, pleasures, mysteries, household arrangements, forms of power, struggles, and transformations.