Showing posts from November, 2010

The African Story

I have been promoting African Literature for some time now and it was only a matter of time that I talked about this issue, which having been flogged refuse to pulp. What is the African Story? Is it a story of or about huts and deaths? Wars and famines? Child slavery and genocide? Ethnic cleansing? Gross human atrocities? Savagery? Cannibalism and cat killers and eaters? Growing up, in the mid eighties and nineties, and learning about the art of story-telling from my father and teachers at school, where Fridays and breaks were story telling periods, I was never told that Africa has its unique story. There we told tales of morality using animals as characters - fables they are known. These stories always ended with a 'what not to do' lesson of life. For instance, we knew that the spider was cunning, the lion brave and cunning and the snake could be wise. The Old Woman was always a repository of knowledge, never a witch. Yes! You heard me right! She was not a witch so that w

Proverb Monday

Proverb (in Akan): Onipa bewu na sika tease Transliteration: Man would die but his riches would remain on earth Implication/Usage: No matter what you do you cannot take your wealth with you. Hence it is important not to do injustice to others in our quest for wealth.

Library Additions

Yesterday I added a few books to my growing unread titles. It takes a second to increase the unread titles but days to decrease it by one. Cry, the Beloved Country by Alan Paton: This is an African classic novel by the South African and published by Vintage. I purchased this book because I have come across it several times and still wondered why it wasn't on my TBR. so when I chanced upon it last three weeks, I prayed that no one would get this before I am ready to buy it. And my prayers were answered. It's now resting in my shelf. The Other Crucifix by Benjamin Kwakye: This book was much touted by Geosi  and later supported by Kinna . I promised both that I would get my copy this month so we could talk more about the author and his books. This book is not on my TBR but on the list of authors to look out for. The novel is published by Ayebia-Clarke. The Book of Not by Tsitsi Dangrembga: This is a sequel to Nervous Conditions , which I purchased last month or so.

47-49. Non-African Books I have Read this Year II

Once a while I bring to my readers non-African books I have read. Since these are non-African books, this post is not a review. However, it helps me judge my progress with the 100 books to be read and share thoughts on this book where possible. The first was posted exactly two months ago .  96. The Castle by Franz Kafka So finally I read this dystopian novel. Kafka takes us on a journey that bothers the mind. I was so tired after I read this book that I didn't think I would read Kafka again this year. I read this because almost every literary/book person has read it and besides I have read The Trial , which is on my TBR 100. There is a surveyor who wants to get into the Castle and the book tells of all the impediments and troubles he went through and still couldn't get there. The book as I see it as about the present life. How many of us are able to achieve our dreams. They mostly remain as dreams. And even those that realise theirs soon dreams another. Do we sometimes b

46. The Lion and the Jewel by Wole Soyinka

  Title: The Lion and the Jewel Author: Wole Soyinka Genre: Play Publishers: Oxford University Press Pages: 64 Year of Publication: 1963 Country: Nigeria Comedic. In the Lion and the Jewel, Wole Soyinka tells a funny story - almost in style of the cunning Ananse folklores told in Ghana - involving four 'main' characters. Sidi is the Jewel: the village's belle whose beauty has been captured by a photographer and published in a magazine. As a result she sees herself as above anyone in the village including Bale Baroka, the Lion of Ilunjinle. Bale Baroka, is the Lion of Ilunjinle and its chief. He has several wives and is courting the love of Sidi, the village's Belle (the Jewel). Lakunle is a young (of twenty three years) bombastic teacher in the village who is bent on bestowing Western culture onto the people of Ilunjinle. In the meantime his priority is to stop the payment of dowry. When in school he wears an old threadbare un-ironed English coat with tie

Interview with Mamle Kabu

When did you begin writing? I did a bit of writing aged about 8 or 9 with illustrations but later I got embarrassed about it and threw it away so nobody would see it. I’ve always regretted that. In adulthood, I knew I wanted to write, I knew I would write, but interestingly, I felt I wasn’t ready, not experienced enough to be worth listening to or reading, till I was about 30. Then I felt ready and I started. But I think another factor was that that was when I stopped keeping a journal and I think the urge needed somewhere else to go. For whom do you write/ who is your audience? This is different according to different stages of writing. At the inspiration stage I don’t really have an audience, it’s just me and the story. As I write I do consider the audience in terms of technicalities, say, in using a phrase in a vernacular language, whether it’s necessary for it to be understood by everybody and if so, how to go about that. Then of course, if I want to try and get it published, I ha

45. The End of Skill by Mamle Kabu

Author: Mamle Kabu Title: The End of Skill Genre: Short Story Publisher: Picador Africa Published in: Dreams Miracles and Jazz Year: 2008 Editors: H. Habile and K. Sesay This week is Ghanaian Literature week at Kinna Reads and I have joined her in bringing to light the gems of Ghanaian Literature. Amy at Amy Reads is also participating. The End of Skill, which was shortlisted for the 10th Caine Prize in 2009 , is a different kind of short story told by Mamle Kabu. The story unlike many others takes a path that lies untrodden. Most at times stories are told of change; of how wills must be asserted; of how parents force their children to tow a path, take a career, marry a given person, and how the children are affected by their parent's decisions. Always negatively affected. However, in The End of Skill, Mamle Kabu tells a story of how parent's decisions aren't all that colloquial. Jimmy or Kweku, as known and called by his father, was tired of c

44. Changes by Ama Ata Aidoo

Title: Changes Author: Ama Ata Aidoo Genre: Novel (Love Story) Pages: 200 Publishers: African Writers Series ISBN: 978-0-435910-14-3 Year of Publication: 1991 Changes by Ama Ata Aidoo is a love story that transcends the sub-genre within which it has been placed. Sometimes in our inability to classify a book we give it a classification readers would quickly agree. If one knows the culture and religious dynamics of Ghana, one would realise that Changes challenges a lot of the stereotypic mentality of Ghanaians, that the characters, some of which are the usual archetypal Ghanaians, were mostly opening new avenues of our social life and pushing the boundaries of what has become the norm in relationships, such as inter-cultural marriages and women divorcing their husbands. In an age where anything practiced by our forebears is described as evil or colloquial, where people (educated) would gladly accept homosexuals and condemn polygamists, only because the former is acc

The Golden Baobab Prize Announced

Accra,  November 9, 2010  - The 2010 winners of the Golden Baobab Prize , a leading African  literary award , have been announced. This year  Lauri Kubuitsile  of Botswana,  Mirirai  Moyo  of Zimbabwe and  Ahmed Farah  of Kenya were selected as the distinguished winners by a  prestigious panel of judges . They join the growing circle of promising authors chosen by The Golden Baobab Prize, which is the only prize of its kind: it is awarded annually to inspire the creation of quality  African literature  to be enjoyed by youth readers all around the world. The prize offers a monetary award to its winners and connects outstanding stories with an array of African and international publishers.  This year,   Kubuitsile's  Mechanic’s Son  won her the Golden Baobab Prize for the best story written for ages 12-15 years.  Moyo’s  Diki, the Little Earthworm  was named the Golden Baobab Prize for the best story written for ages 8-11 years and Farah's  Letters from the Flames , earned him

Library Additions

Over the past two weeks I have come to possess some books, mostly through purchases, which I must share with you. But before I do so, let me take talk about the resurgence of old almost lost books on the Ghanaian market and thank some publishers (or a publisher) for doing so. Last week I passed by the Silverbirds Lifestyle shop and I saw books that I thought were almost lost: Tsitsi Dangarembga. I jumped and jumped. I looked at those books and realised that they had one publisher: Ayebia . Nana Ayebia Clarke, the founder of Ayebia Clarke Publishing Limited, is a Ghanaian-born publisher currently resident in the UK. She was the Submissions Editor for Heinemann and Caribbean Writers Series for 12 years. Together with her husband, David, they established this publishing company in 2003 specialising in quality African and Caribbean writing. They hope to be the first stop for established and budding writers who require a publisher who understands where they come from. Their mission i

This Bitch of a Life, the Official Biography of Fela by Carlos Moore

Dr Carlos Moore Literature lovers in Ghana on last week Thursday had the fun of their lives (at least most of them had), when Dr Carlos Moore, author of Fela's official biography, This Bitch of a Life , and professor John Collins, a musicologist and author of the Fela: Kalakuta Notes , took the stage to discuss the works of this great musician who was and is an industry on his own.  The discussion, organised by Kinna of Kinna Reads , saw interesting revelations in the life of Fela, a great musician Africa has ever heard. Questions were asked of the man, what he believed in and what motivated him to do what he did. This is a musician we would never understand: for the passion to fight a government as corrupt as it was cannot be cultivated from just the need to do good. Anyone who wants to do what Fela did must be born for it. After all, it is no coincidence that he is called Anikulapo (he who carries death in his pouch). Participants had the chance of purchasing autographed c

Burt Awards for African Literature - 2010: Call for Submissions

CODE, a Canadian NGO and the Ghana Book Trust have the pleasure to invite Ghanaian authors and publishers to take part in a writing competition to produce engaging and educational stories for youth 12-15 yeas old. The Burt Award for African Fiction is a newly created annual award to recognise excellence in young adult fiction from Ghana. The Award is sponsored by CODE through the generous support of a Canadian patron, Bill Burt. The award is restricted to authors who are citizens and resident in Ghana. Prizes 1st Gold: GH ¢ 16,000 2nd Silver: GH ¢ 8,000 3rd Bronze: GH ¢ 4,000 Criteria: Manuscripts will be accepted through publishers only; who are allowed to submit not more than three manuscripts. The manuscripts are expected to be prepared by authors in collaboration with publishers. This is to ensure that the submitted manuscripts are edited to some extent by the publishers before they are read by the jury. Manuscripts shall be written in English and show the mastery in the use o

43. Matigari by Ngugi wa Thiong'o

Title: Matigari Author: Ngugi wa Thiong'o Translator: Wangui wa Goro Genre: Fiction (Satire) Pages: 175 Publishers: Heinemann (African Writers Series) Year of Publication: in Gikuyu, 1986, (in English 1987) It was my first attempt at writing this review that led to my article on Precolonial and Post-Colonial African Literature . Ngugi's novel, Matigari, is one that is funny along all lines and at several levels. Just after independence, Africa's faithful literati realised the path along which the new governments were taken the country. They foresaw that such a path portends nothing but doom and so decided to speak against it. One of such prolific writers against the system in Kenya and because of the ubiquitousness of the atrocities on the continent for that matter Africa, was Ngugi wa Thiong'o. In Matigari, Ngugi wa Thiong'o created a fictional hero Matigari ma Njiruungi (this in Gikuyu means 'the patriots who survived the bullets'). M

Pre-Colonial* and Post Colonial African Literature - Is Writing the Path to Development

Pre-colonial African Literature concerned itself with the fight for independence. Writings that were churned out during this period (before the 1960s) addressed colonialism and occupation and its tone was vitriolic. Such books as Ngugi's Weep Not Child sought to put the fight for independence into perspectives. So drunk were the people with the struggle of the day that the people (of Africa) began to confuse independence with development. And as a matter of fact development, by a people for the same people according to their likes and dislikes, is truly a function of independence. However, when those who position themselves to enjoy the fruits of independence behave like the oppressors, against whom the masses struggled, then the people's development becomes a mere word not a philosophy. Dissolved in the quest-for-independence euphoria, the people - the freedom fighters , those whose real blood fetched freedom - forgot to ask questions of those who were window-sitting expe