Edzordzi G. Agbozo is a budding poet, writer and blogger and won the University of Ghana Community Excellence Award (Creative Arts category) in 2012. He was the convener of the Book and Discussion Club of the Writers Project of Ghana. Edzordzi's poem The Hippo turned our Canoe dedicated to Prof Awonoor was published on this blog. He blogs at edordzi.blogspot.com and ghanavoice.wordpress.com.
Edzordzi shares with us his Top Ten African books. The only rule in this is that the books be written by an African; the person submitting the list has to define this for himself or herself. I have linked some of the titles to posts within ImageNations, where such reviews are available. Note that my views on these books may drastically differ from Edzordzi's views and so this must be borne in mind when reading those reviews.
The Poor Christ of Bomba by Mongo Beti
It is a cross-cultural evangelism and feminist sociological novel. The Reverend Father Superior Drumont is a lovely and complicated character: true believer, rigid moralist, a self-righteous, (little) dictator, negligent. He never understood his role in a shocking web of corruption in his parish. He mirrors all of us who look outside and blame people for our problems. I love the funny descriptions though they are satirically serious.
This novel is REAL. I mean very real. It is a newspaper reporting happenings in Accra just as the women were being killed and their parts used for rituals. The bodies are found and yet no single family could identify one dead person. It also reveals power play, spirituality and hypocrisy in the name of God. Being a first novel, it is much welcomed. I am patiently waiting for The Jewel of Kabibi by the same author.
This is a soul and conscience tormenting novel. It is full of domestic and religious realities that are so much hidden. It is only a writer who can see. The plot is very undulating, giving a surprise, suspense, breath-taking, and surprise format. I think though that some characters are too exaggerated.
This book is a great statement on our common painful humanity. The pain caused by humans on others. It is really a question and that question never get answered and I don't think it will ever be answered since humanity cannot be sincere enough in answering the question. I love the psychic twist to the whole story.
The Blind Kingdom by Veronique Tadjo
The style is amazing. It is new and unique: poetry cum long and short narratives. The plot is very simple but beautifully elevated beyond the Romeo and Juliet narrative. The story is a clear allegory for the conflict in the Ivory Coast, both past and present but hopefully not in the future. I enjoyed the book. It was a quick read, mostly due to its poetic language.
It reminds me of my childhood stories of gory scenes, super humans and spirits. Each time I read it, the child in me becomes more present and I recall those emotions I felt those days. The style is also great.
This is the novel that posed the greatest challenge at first reading but became like a Bible after breaking through the coded and highly sophisticated plot and style. Its historical education and contemporary probe of the real essence of African independence is relevant. After all, the freedom fighters only end up wearing the gowns and shoes of the masters.
Children of Gebelaawi by Naguib Mahfouz
It is a quiet confusing novel. It is more important than just a story. It is a revelation of a sort and or a prophesy? It is philosophical on another level too. I love the language complexities.
It brings out the various levels of the dehumanising effect of the slave trade on all kinds of persons - women, children and men. The descriptions are very deep and emotional.
It is a detailed report on world history parcelled in a powerful collection of poetry. The cadence and the rhythm of the poems come alive in the incantations, chants and songs recorded on the attached CDs. This brings to bear the quintessential African oral tradition. Indeed, sound is older than the written word.