The literary scene in Africa has always been one to be in awe with. Our culture, talent, and unique way of expressing ourselves has proven that you really shouldn’t be sleeping on African literature. Sierra Leon writer, Aminatta Forna, author of Memory of Love said, “If you want to know a country, read its writers.”
Here are 5 digital books I recommend that will help you explore Africa in new lights. The works span across different genres- from comedy, drama to fantasy.
1. Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
Children of Blood and Bone is the first book in a planned trilogy by the Nigerian-American author, Tomi Adeyemi . If you were captivated by the likes of Harry Potter, Avatar the last airbender, Akata Witch then this is the perfect book for you to start. The Young Adult fantasy follows Zelie Adebola, a maji in her passionate attempt to bring back magic to the Kingdom of Orisha which is under oppression by the ruling class, kosidans. You will easily fall in love with Zelie’s stubbornness and fierceness. Every character is developed beautifully and the plot takes you around familiar cities in Nigeria in . Adeyemi does an amazing job turning ancient Nigeria into the perfect mystical landscape while raising serious issues of class and race and the deadly dynamic between the powerful and powerless.
2. We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo
“If you are stealing something it’s better if it’s small and hideable or something you can eat quickly and be done with, like guavas. This way, people can’t see you with the thing to be reminded that you are a shameless thief and that you stole it from them, so I don’t know what the white people were trying to do in the first place, stealing not just a tiny piece but a whole country. Who can ever forget you stole something like that?” -excerpt.
The Zimbabwe writer will win your heart with the clumsy but intelligent language of the novel’s young narrator, Darling. Your heart will however break as you follow the pitiful life of the 10 year old, her friends and incomplete family. Through her observant eyes, and insightful commentary, we meet a people, a nation who have been brutalized by more than 30 years of autocracy under Robert Mugabe. They wake up to their brick houses being bulldozed and hold a large wads of money that can no longer feed them. It is painful for them to realize that it is not only the white man that is capable of hurting them, but their fellow black men will also make them beggars in a country they fought for.
For Darling her ray of hope is to one day escape to America, where she believes their tears will be wiped away in strange lands.
3. The Mechanics of Yenagoa by Michael Anefia
Anefia’s work provides a comic relief for the stereotype that African literature is overly serious and too packed with tales of suffering. The story is fast paced with unexpected twists and a captivating plot. Ebinimi, star mechanic of Kalaka Street constantly gets in and out of troubles. Some of his own doing, like his recurring entanglements in love triangles and joyriding in a customer’s car. Others are a result of his sister’s dysfunctional family situation, the three mechanics he employs and the money loving preacher who pastors a church rent free on Ebinimi’s land.
We get a hilarious taste of Yenegoa, one of Nigerian’s lesser known cities. You will laugh and sympathize with the characters and the unfortunate the keep running into.
4. Our Men Do Not Belong To us be Warsan Shire
Our Men Do Not Belong to Us is a collection of poetry by Somali-British writer Warsan Shire. In her poem, What We own, she writes: Then the men we try to love, say we carry too much loss, are to heavy to be around, much too sad to love. Then they leave and we mourn them too. Is that what we are here for?
Both readers and non-readers of poetry will enjoy this collection of poetry intrinsically woven together to provoke you to reflect on the plight of women subjected to violence and exploitation.
5. Funny Men Can Not Be Trusted: Poetry for people who hate poetry by Tolu Akinyemi
The title pretty much does justice. Tolu sets out to write poetry for those of us who have only seen the art as complex Shakespearean words. He writes about everyday Nigerian life in an easy to understand yet poignant manner. You will laugh, smile and reflect while digesting this work that touches on fatherhood, infidelity, justice, loss and loneliness.
Which one of these books will you be reading next? Comment which seems the most intriguing to you below and don’t forget to share this article with your fellow book lovers!