Considered by some to be Francophone Africa’s’ answer to the Chinua Achebe, the late Ivorian writer and political activist, Ahmadou Kourouma is easily one of Africa’s most celebrated authors. Born in 1927, in the Ivory Coast, Kourouma belonged to the Malinke ethnic group and was raised by an uncle. From 1950 to 1954, he served in the French army in Indochina, following which he moved to Lyon, France to study mathematics.
Set in Uganda and Rwanda, Of Saints and Scarecrows is a love story only that it doesn’t have a fairy tale ending. We are introduced to Beelzebub, a prophet whose parents were murdered most tragically through the machinations of a fierce tug of war between the church and mosque. The real story, however, is not about Beelzebub, but rather about his parents – Sempa and Julia.
Ngugi wa Thiong’o’s Matigari tells the story of a former Mau Mau fighter who returns to his land ready to lay down his weapons and ‘trade them for the belt of peace.’ Determined to rebuild his home, and start a new life, his life instead becomes a search for peace and justice. He finds that despite gaining independence, his people are still dispossessed and being exploited by their corrupt leaders.
Ben Okri’s Infinite Riches is the third volume of The Famished Road cycle (The Famished Road was Okri’s first book). Having read The Famished Road earlier on, and, thus, been introduced to Okri’s beautiful writing, I had high expectations for this book. Thankfully, the beauty of The Famished Road carries on into this third volume.
Born August 14, 1944, Buchi Emecheta is a Nigerian novelist who has published over 20 books, including Second-Class Citizen (1974), The Bride Price (1976), The Slave Girl (1977) and The Joys of Motherhood (1979). Her books mainly focus on women issues, particularly the theme of gender bias. Other themes include racial prejudice and the experience of immigration.
Helon Habila’s new novel, “Oil on Water” is a confidently crafted and absorbing, in parts totally gripping, chronicle of human ambitions, tragedies and failures, but also of love, friendship and perseverance of the human spirit. Evoking the rich and beautiful yet fragile environment of the Delta, that is slowly being devastated by the greed for oil and money, Habila perceptively guides his different narrative strands into a poignant story that is profoundly personal even where he raises broader political and societal concerns.
At the center of Mengestu’s The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears is Sepha Stephanos, the Ethiopian who leaves his Addis Ababa home one fateful day after the soldiers burst into the family home and beat his lawyer father to pulp.
In this volume of essays, first published in the USA in 2009 by Alfred A. Knopf, Chinua Achebe walks us through time; through his thoughts on politics and personalities; colonialism and self-identity; oppression and history and even the bias of narrative in children’s books.
“Measuring Time” is the story of twin brothers, their family and the people that shaped them. Living in rural Nigeria, village life and the natural environment add atmosphere and context. Habila’s story-telling talent are evident in numerous ways. His own narrative of people and events is interwoven with those of his protagonist Mamo, who in later years writes about the people around him and thereby becomes a recorder of the local history.
The book is a collection of a dozen short stories- which engage the reader right from the first page to the last. Many of the stories have been previously printed in journals but under different titles. And like all her previous books, this leaves the reader yearning for more.