Monday, May 06, 2013

Database of Banned African Books

On October 6, 2012 I began collecting information of banned African books. I wanted to create this database and share with readers. It's always fun going through list of books that were at a point in time banned and the reason why it was banned. Sometimes words as innocuous as 'love' could get a book banned, at other times it's the expression of love across race.

The data shows that in Africa there are three major reasons why books are banned and these are geographically distributed. In Apartheid South-Africa, any book that showed that blacks were humans and have emotions were banned. Thus, books that touches on the negative effects of racial discrimination were banned. Most of Nadine Gordimer's books were banned for this very reason. In Africa's Arab States - Algeria, Sudan, etc - books are banned for being sexually explicit and or if they derogatorily, or are seen to be, in its treatment of religion. In other parts of Africa like Ghana, Ethiopia, Kenya, political themes get books banned. Here, one of the most affected writer is Ngugi wa Thiong'o of Kenya. However, these reasons overlap and are not as distinct as have been presented here.

Studying the trend of banned books and the reason for which they were banned is a means of measuring civil progress and the extent to which our tolerance level has developed. It means that such civil liberties, as the freedom of speech, are have gradually become entrenched. This is an indicator we should not lose sight of.

Click here for the Database of Banned African Books. You can also provide other banned African books not already on the list. The form for this is available here.

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