Posts tagged with ‘Africa’

The Fortunes of Wangrin by Amadou Hampaté Bâ

The Fortunes of Wangrin is my book from Mali for the Read The World challenge. It’s a novel — or at least it seems to be universally described as a novel, despite the fact that Hampaté Bâ says in the Afterword: I don’t know why, even is spite of the specific assertions contained in the Foreword, […]

Football advertising

As all the sportswear manufacturers unveil their big ad campaigns in the run-up to the World Cup, the one which has been the biggest hit is Nike’s epic Write the Future. And don’t get me wrong, it’s certainly impressive, if only for the sheer amount of money thrown at the screen. And while it’s conceptually […]

Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika

So, the World Cup is almost upon us, and inevitably our attention has been narrowed in on the nervy minutiae of squad selections and injury worries and tactical arguments. So before the action starts, can I just take a moment to say how fucking marvellous it is to see the World Cup being hosted in […]

The Whistler by Ondjaki

I have read several books recently that felt like a bit of a chore, so the first point to make about The Whistler is that it is gloriously short. With the help of generous amounts of white space the publishers have padded it out to 100 pages, but it’s probably more like 60 pages of […]

‘The Kingdom of Ife’ at the British Museum

I went to the BM to see the exhibition of art from the medieval west African kingdom of Ife (now in Nigeria). Ife is most famous for some extraordinarily high quality naturalistic heads cast in brass or copper, although the exhibitions also has various other pieces, including terracotta heads in the same style, jewellery, animal pieces and […]

Harry’s advent calendar of birds, day 7: mousebirds

I just love this picture of mousebirds feeding on aloe flowers in South Africa: I’m not quite sure about the species — Speckled Mousebird, maybe? — but it doesn’t matter. Here are some more mousebirds, showing their tails better: The mousebirds are an African family of birds which are distantly related to parrots. They are […]

Harry’s advent calendar of birds, day 3: Secretary Bird

The Secretary Bird, Sagittarius serpentarius: Because it’s a bird of prey which has evolved long legs like a crane; something I think is just fabulous beyond words. They stalk across the grasslands of Africa, hunting small prey like snakes and lizards. It looks more eccentric than terrifying, and it hasn’t lost the power of flight; but […]

Chaka by Thomas Mofolo

Chaka is a fictionalised account of the life of the C19th Zulu king Shaka. It’s unusually early for an African novel, originally published in 1925 but existing in manuscript in some form as early as 1910. I wasn’t entirely looking forward to reading it. It has started to really bother me when those who rose to power […]


cloth tickets – a set on Flickr "These large gummed labels – known as cloth tickets, shippers tickets, or bolt tickets – were attached to bales of printed cotton cloth for export from Britain (read 'Manchester' in many cases). They were designed by British artists who depended on information from company agents in the various […]

Season of Migration to the North by Tayeb Salih

Season of Migration to the North is my book from Sudan for the Read The World challenge. Originally published in 1966, ‘in 2001 it was selected by a panel of Arab writers and critics as the most important Arab novel of the twentieth century’. I didn’t really know anything about it before I started reading, […]


ephemera assemblyman: Film Poster Paintings from Ghana 'In the 1980s video cassette technology made it possible for “mobile cinema” operators in Ghana to travel from town to town and village to village creating temporary cinemas. The touring film group would create a theatre by hooking up a TV and VCR onto a portable generator and […]


A New Approach to Aid: How a Basic Income Program Saved a Namibian Village – SPIEGEL ONLINE – News – International Trying a different approach to aid in Namibia: 'The idea is simple: The payment of a basic monthly income, funded with tax revenues, of 100 Namibia dollars, or about €9 ($13), for each citizen. […]

Broken Glass by Alain Mabanckou

Broken Glass is a novel from the Congo (aka the Republic of the Congo aka Congo-Brazzaville; i.e. the smaller of the two Congos, not the one which used to be Zaire). It was translated from French by Helen Stevenson. It takes the form of the notebook jottings of the customer at a bar called Credit Gone […]

The Last Will and Testament of Senhor da Silva Araújo by Germano Almeida

I’ll keep this fairly brief, because I’m going away to France for a week in Saturday and not only have I not packed, I haven’t done the more important bit of writing a list, and thus don’t know if I have to do some urgent shopping. Or laundry. So: The Last Will and Testament of […]

Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight by Alexandra Fuller

This is an autobiography about growing up in Rhodesia/Zimbabwe, and my book from Zimbabwe for the Read the World challenge.

Abyssinian Chronicles by Moses Isegawa

My review of a Ugandan novel (which I didn’t like very much).

A Grain of Wheat by Ngũgĩ Wa Thiong’o

A Grain of Wheat is a novel about the inhabitants of a village in Kenya in 1963 in the last few days before the celebrations for Uhuru — that is, Kenyan independence. It was originally published in 1967, so the material was completely current at the time, although after finishing it that I read in the […]

Africa Reading Challenge: finished!

It just occurred to me that I’ve now read six books from or about Africa since I learnt about the Africa Reading Challenge. Links to the reviews: An African in Greenland by Tété-Michel Kpomassie Told by Starlight in Chad by Joseph Brahim Seid Waiting for the Wild Beasts to Vote by Ahmadou Kourouma The Wah-Wah […]

An African in Greenland by Tété-Michel Kpomassie

An African in Greenland is an autobiographical book; as a teenager in Togo, Tété-Michel Kpomassie read a book about Greenland and decided to go there. It took him eight years, working a variety of jobs, to make his way up through West Africa and Europe before eventually arranging a trip to Greenland, where he stayed for about two […]

Told by Starlight in Chad by Joseph Brahim Seid

Told by Starlight in Chad is a collection of stories by Chadian writer Joseph Brahim Seid, translated from French by Karen Haire Hoenig. I’ve tagged this post with ‘short stories’ but they aren’t really short stories in the literary tradition: they are fables or folk tales in the oral tradition. I’m not sure whether they are […]

Waiting for the Wild Beasts to Vote by Ahmadou Kourouma

Waiting for the Wild Beasts to Vote is the life story of President Koyaga, the dictator of the (fictional) République du Golfe, as told to him by his court storyteller Bingo. Bingo is in some ways the ultimate unreliable narrator, portraying Koyaga as a heroic, semi-mythical figure protected by powerful magic, but he is accompanied by an apprentice whose […]

The Wah-Wah Diaries by Richard E. Grant

This is Grant’s account of making Wah-Wah, his first film as director. Grant grew up in Swaziland and the film is about growing up there, so I read it as my book from Swaziland for the Read The World challenge. For me, the book is mainly interesting for its portrayal of film-making, which is fascinating but sounds […]

Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Half of a Yellow Sun is a novel about the Biafran war, told from the perspective of three people on the Biafran side. It switches back and forth between their lives pre-war and the war years. Adichie is too young to have been part of the war herself, but I gather from the Author’s Note that her parents […]