Set in Nigeria, during the country’s civil war of the 1960s, A Time to Heal is about the struggle of a young cross-cultural couple to save their marriage in the face of ethnic tensions. The story revolves around Chidi, a young engineer who hails from the east of the country and Tori, a southerner. The Christian couple are recently married, this after a year of wrangling with Tori’s parents who objected to their daughter marrying from another part of the world.
With Patchwork (published by Penguin in June 2011), her first book for an adult audience, Aaku demonstrates her versatility and talent for telling a good story, even as she tackles serious social themes.
Aaku’s book, which won the 2010 Penguin Prize for African Writing, is set in Zambia. The story, presented in two parts, revolves around the life of Pumpkin, who we first meet as a nine year old growing up with her mother, Totela in Tudu Court, an apartment complex in Zambia’s capital, Lusaka.
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.
Ahmadou Kourouma, highly respected award winning Ivorian author, has created with “Allah is Not Obliged” a vivacious, often hilarious, but also disturbing and thought provoking novel. Published in 2000 in its original French, it was likely the first of fictionalized or factual accounts capturing the life of child soldiers in modern-day Africa. Written in the voice of a boy with less than three years of schooling, and with limited French, the author uses his protagonist to convey much more than the intimate reflections of one of the “small soldiers” and what the youth describes as his “miserable existence”.
Aidoo’s Changes: A Love Story is a book about the choices we make and the end result of whatever that choice is. The book confronts the challenges the married working class African woman faces as opposed to the men. It’s a story about what we want not always being what we need.
Rabble Rouser for Peace is the authorized biography of Desmond Mpilo Tutu, the retired primate of the Anglican Church in South Africa – a man with a distinguished record in pastoral ministry and a sometimes controversial record as a hero in South Africa’s anti-apartheid struggle.
Set in the city of Accra, Ghana during colonial rule, Cloth Girl is about how an affluent man’s desire changed the course of a young girl’s life. At the center of the story is Matilda, a young Ga girl of fourteen. One fateful day, she carries some important documents to give to give to her uncle, who works for an influential lawyer. While there, she catches the lawyer’s attention.
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.
Beah’s A Long Way Gone is a remarkable account of his life as a child soldier. The writing is so vivid that sometimes one can’t help but wonder how a person can experience such horrors and still come out sane. But Beah shows it is possible.
There’s a lot that Nelson Mandela has said – before and after his 27-year incarceration. In Nelson Mandela By Himself, recently released by Pan Macmillan/PQ Blackwell, all Mandela has ever said outside his bedroom is showcased in all its intellectual glory. Read Don Makatile’s review of the book.