In this play, Remi, the first of his tribe to go to university, ponders whether or not he should return to his people. Or should he continue to be a black hermit in the town? Amidst the backdrop of a politically torn country, Remi himself is torn between his sense of tribalism and nationalism. This struggle runs deep, as he finds it at the heart of his afflictions between himself, his marriage and familial relations, and his greater sense of obligations to his people and the country. The overwhelming nature of these problems drives him into isolation as a black hermit. His self-imposed exile into the city leads him to find contentment in the Jane, his new lover, and nightly clubbing. However, after he is lobbied to return to the tribe, he must now confront the demons of his past.
The Black Hermit was the first published East African play in English. The play was published in a small edition by Makerere University Press in 1963, and republished in Heinemann’s African Writers Series in 1968.
Obi Okonkwo is an idealistic young man who, thanks to the privileges of an education in Britain, has now returned to Nigeria for a job in the civil service. However in his new role he finds that the way of government seems to be backhanders and corruption. Obi manages to resist the bribes that are offered to him, but when he falls in love with an unsuitable girl – to the disapproval of his parents – he sinks further into emotional and financial turmoil. The lure of easy money becomes harder to refuse, and Obi becomes caught in a trap he cannot escape.
Showing a man lost in cultural limbo, and a Nigeria entering a new age of disillusionment, No Longer at Ease concludes Achebe’s remarkable trilogy charting three generations of an African community under the impact of colonialism, the first two volumes of which are Things Fall Apart and Arrow of God.
The Lovers collects Head’s short fiction of the 1960s and 70s, written mainly in Serowe, Botswana, and depicting the lives and loves of African village people pre- and post-independence.
An earlier selection called Tales of Tenderness and Power was published in the Heinemann African Writers Series in 1990, but this expanded and updated volume adds many previously unavailable stories collected here for the first time. Anthology favourites like her breakthrough The Woman from America and The Prisoner who Wore Glasses are included, leading up to the first complete text of her much translated title story.
Barack Obama, via Facebook: “A compelling story of how the transformative events of history weigh on individual lives and relationships.”
The Nobel Prize–nominated Kenyan writer’s best-known novel
Set in the wake of the Mau Mau rebellion and on the cusp of Kenya’s independence from Britain, A Grain of Wheat follows a group of villagers whose lives have been transformed by the 1952–1960 Emergency. At the center of it all is the reticent Mugo, the village’s chosen hero and a man haunted by a terrible secret. As we learn of the villagers’ tangled histories in a narrative interwoven with myth and peppered with allusions to real-life leaders, including Jomo Kenyatta, a masterly story unfolds in which compromises are forced, friendships are betrayed, and loves are tested.
The Narrow Path is a story set in southern Ghana. Kofi, the hero of this novel, follows the well-worn path of many young Africans caught between the traditional life and the new world after the end of colonial administration.
It is a story about discipline, mischief and the continuous struggle of the youth between adventure and discipline from his parents. The struggle defines the young protagonist and the interesting narration makes this novel a fine piece of literature.
‘A man’s story is always badly told. That’s because a person never stops being born. Nobody leads one sole life, we are all multiplied into different and ever-changeable men.’ So it is with all the stories in this collection, which never make a definitive judgement on the individual life, but only suggest its possibilities.Set in Mozambique, the stories reflect the legacy of Portuguese colonialism and the tragedy of the subsequent civil war.Mia Couto’s first collection, Voices Made Night, was described as ‘lyrical’, ‘magical’ and ‘compassionate’ by the reviewers, who were unanimous in identifying a significant new talent from the continent. This volume confirms that judgement.
Rated 4.00 out of 501
This witty, extravagant but seriously intended satire marks the arrival of Ghana’s answer to T.M. Aluko. Abraham Kofi Kafu finds teaching a hard grind and lacking in rewards. He stands for the Liberation Party, the party of businessmen, landlords, smallholders and taxi drivers. As Minister of Internal Welfare, Kafu pursues his political career with a lively devotion to women, drink, gambling and skulduggery of various kinds and an almost total aversion to work unless it is devoted to some personal end. He is supported by a large cast: a crooked but amiable contractor, Anson Berko; a less amiable and even more crooked contractor, Nee Otu Lartey; the Permanent Secretary, Mr Vuga, an ineffably dreary civil servant who strives to manipulate Kafu as he has manipulated previous Ministers but also turns out to be as crooked and so is subject to blackmail; the slimy Reverend Dan Opia Sese, who takes over as headmaster from Benjy Baisi and seduces Kafu’s maid. But even Kafu cannot get away with it for ever.
Encompassing the period of apartheid, from the triumph of the National Party in the 1940s to the release of Nelson Mandela in 1990, this anthology contains twenty-one of the most compelling South African short stories.
As one would expect, the ugly reality of apartheid is the dominant theme, but what is remarkable is the sheer range of approaches represented here, from the brutal realism of Can Themba to the suggestive lyricism of Bessie Head and Nadine Gordimer.
Above all, this anthology bears witness to the triumph of the storyteller’s art in the face of tyranny.
In this collection of stories, the Mozambican poet, Mia Couto, expresses, through striking poetic metaphors, the emptiness and absurdity of lives bound by poverty and subject to arbitrary incursions of extreme violence. The frustrated longing of the lipless snake catcher who surrounds his lady’s house with snakes; or the man who fears his wife is a witch and scalds her with boiling water, are caught in dual tension. In Voices Made Night, an African cosmology portrays a surreal world defined by its contradictions, set against a background of political instability.
In the heart of rural Botswana, the poverty stricken village of Golema Mmidi is a haven to exiles from far and wide. A South African political refugee and an Englishman join forces to revolutionise the villagers traditional farming methods, but their task is fraught with hazards as the pressures of tradition, opposition from the local chief and the unrelenting climate threaten to divide and devastate the fragile community.
The revolution that ended white minority rule in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) is seen here chiefly through the eyes of Benjamin Tichafa, a young guerrilla. He is the son of a devoutly religious couple, his father a government messenger completely subservient to his white superiors. Enraged by the treatment of blacks, a teenage Benjamin turns from his parents’ apolitical religion. After being arrested in a demonstration, he joins the revolution.
The novel is enriched by the viewpoints of black Rhodesians who, out of fear or for economic reasons, do not fully support the struggle. The slaying of a dictatorial white farm owner dismays his foreman, whose livelihood is now threatened. The fatal beating of a woman who reluctantly informed on the guerrillas raises misgivings in Benjamin’s outfit. Though ultimately portraying the victory as worthwhile, Chinodya also shows the price paid in lives, tattered families and lost traditions. The result is a humane and penetrating look at a brutal government and a bloody revolution.
Harvest of Thorns is a novel of great significance which will give all those who read it a greater understanding of the road along which Zimbabwe has travelled, as well as indicate many of the directions ahead.
Olaudah Equiano was born in 1745 in a village east of the Niger River in what is now Nigeria. The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano or Gustavus Vassa the African was published in London in 1789. This is his own account of a remarkable life.
At the age of ten he was captured by slave traders and taken to the southern states of America. He was sold to a planter in the West Indies and worked there and abroad slave ships sailing between the Caribbean and England. At the age of twenty-one he had saved enough money to buy his freedom. He visited the Mediterranean, took part in Phipps’ expedition to the Arctic in 1773 and crossed the Atlantic several times. He was an ardent member of the Movement for the Abolition of Slavery and was appointed Commissary for Stores when the freed slaves were settled in Sierra Leone.
This abridged edition has a new introduction by Professor Ogude of the University of Benin, together with explanatory notes on the text.
“Your mother was insane. If you’re not careful you’ll get insane just like your mother. Your mother was a white woman. They had to lock her up, as she was having a child by the stable boy who was a native.”
It is never clear to Elizabeth whether the mission school principal’s cruel revelation of her origins is at the bottom of her mental breakdown. She has left South Africa with her son and is living in the village of Motabeng, the place of sand, in Botswana where there are no street lights at night. In the darkness of this country where people turn and look at her with vague curiosity as an outsider she establishes an entirely abnormal relationship with two men. A mind-bending book which takes the reader in and out of sanity.
The fourth novel from the Nigerian-born writer, Buchi Emecheta, The Joys of Motherhood is recognised as one of Africa’s 100 Best Books of the 20th Century in an initiative organised by the Zimbabwean International Book Fair.
First published in 1979, The Joys of Motherhood is the story of Nnu Ego, a Nigerian woman struggling in a patriarchal society. Unable to conceive in her first marriage, Nnu is banished to Lagos where she succeeds in becoming a mother. Then, against the backdrop of World War II, Nnu must fiercely protect herself and her children when she is abandoned by her husband and her people.
The Joys of Motherhood is a powerful commentary on polygamy, patriarchy and women’s changing roles in urban Nigeria.
This anthology introduces the African literature of incarceration to the general reader, the scholar, the activist and the student. The visions and prison cries of the few African nationalists imprisoned by colonialists, who later became leaders of their independent dictatorships and in turn imprisoned their own writers and other radicals, are brought into sharper focus, thereby critically exposing the ironies of varied generations of the efforts of freedom fighters.
Extracts of prose, poetry and plays are grouped into themes such as arrest, interrogation, torture, survival, release and truth and reconciliation.
Contributors include: Kunle Ajibade, Obafemi Awolowo, Steve Biko, Breyten Breytenbach, Dennis Brutus, Nawal El Saadawi, M J Kariuki, Kenneth Kaunda, Caesarina Kona Makhoere, Nelson Mandela, Emma Mashinini, Felix Mnthali, Augustino Nato, Ngugi wa Thiong’o, Kwame Nkrumah, Abe Sachs, Ken Saro Wiwa, Wole Soyinka, and Koigi wa Wamwere.
Although an often harrowing indictment of the history, culture and politics of the African continent and the societies from which this literature comes, the anthology presents excellent prose, poetry and drama, which stands up in its own right as serious literature to be cherished, read and studied.