Showing posts from August, 2011

99. How Kamau Wa Mwangi Escaped into Exile by Mũkoma wa Ngũgĩ

Mukoma Wa Ngugui's How Kamau Wa Mwangi Escaped into Exile  was shortlisted for the 10th Caine Prize award in 2009 . It is the fourth in the list of five shortlist to be reviewed here. The itself was published in Wasafiri Volume 23, No. 2 in June 2008. Kamau is a member of the Second Independence Democracy with Content Forum (SIDCF), a group that has been asking questions of their dictatorial government. He has been arrested and tortured on several occasions and has become immune to the fear exuded by military officials. One evening Kamau was visited by an army officer who presented him with a list of people who should be on the run, in case an impending insurrection fail: 'I ... we do not want to see more people dead. Especially the young people and even though we anticipate more trouble from the likes of you, you professional agitators, this is our country and your needed. Protect yourselves and your friends. We shall deal with each other later. Like men ... eye to e

98. Look Where You Have Gone to Sit, Edited by Martin Egblewogbe and Laban Carrick Hill

Title: Look Where You Have Gone to Sit Editors: Martin Egblewogbe & Martin Carrick Hill Genre: Poetry Anthology Publishers: Woeli Publishing Services Pages: 63 Year of Publication: 2011 Country: Ghana Look Where You Have Gone to Sit  is a bold literary statement by young Ghanaian writers who have lived in the literary underground for a very long time. It is an anthology that brings hope to a literary scene which on the surface have become lethargic. This lethargy is not a manifestation of a lack of activity, but the lack of opportunity, of space, of medium, for the physical expression of the arts. This lack comes from two main sources: the sensationalism of our media outlets leaves no room for the acceptance and publication of literary arts (poetry, fiction etc). For instance, the most widely circulated newspaper in Ghana Daily Graphic  has no room for poetry or fiction. This is taken care of by its weekly sister newspaper Mirror . Yet, a cursory glance through the latte

Proverb Monday, #37

Proverb: Kooko kyεre pata so a, εgyae hene yε. Meaning: If the riverside cocoyam is kept in the roof beam for a long time, it loses its ability to make you itch. Root & Context: The fresh skin of the cocoyam causes skin irritation, but after a period it becomes harmless. Hence: if a man holds a position of responsibility for a long time, he tends to become less strict in his discipline. No. 3504 in Bu me Bε by Peggy Appiah et al.

97. You Wreck Her by Parselelo Kantai

Parselelo Kantai's You Wreck Her  was shortlisted for the 10th Caine Prize for African Writing in 2009 . The story appeared in Issue 2 of St. Petersburg Review . Parselelo's  You Wreck Her covers a lot of issues in a few pages, from human trafficking to prostitution and fraud. Right from the beginning the reader is confronted with a sleazy sexual encounter between our character who is a malaya (prostitute) and an mzungu  (light-skin tourist). You do not know how far you have fallen down in this world until you see yourself crawling up a karao's  face on a Friday night. You are slobbering and gagging over your short-time, ignoring the after-taste of condom coming into your nostrils from the back of your throat, like Goort's coffee bubbling in the machine on a Sunday morning a long time ago. You lather and stroke. Your head bobs like a bar of soap in bathwater. You can feel he is getting close. There is a commotion far away, beyond the squeak of rubber screamin

Quotes for Friday from Khaled Hosseini's The Kite Runner

[T]here is only one sin, only one. And that is the sin of theft. Every other sin is a variation of theft. Do you understand that? ... When you kill a man, you steal a life. You steal his wife's right to a husband, rob his children of a father. When you tell a lie, you steal someone's right to the truth. When you cheat, you steal the right to fairness. ... There is no act more wretched than stealing. Page 19/20 A few times, I'd even come close to winning the winter tournament - once, I'd made it to the final three. But coming close wasn't the same as winning, was it? He had won because winners won and everyone else just went home. Page 59 But better to get hurt by the truth than comforted with a lie. Page 61 For you a thousand times over. Page 71 And that's the thing about people who mean everything they say. They think everyone else does too I wondered if that was how forgiveness budded; not with the fanfare of epiphany, but with pain gather

96. Icebergs by Alistair Morgan

Alistair Morgan's Icebergs was shortlisted for the 10th Caine Prize for African Writing, in 2009 . The story was published in The Paris Review No. 183 in 2007 . Dennis Moorcraft has moved to his plush retirement home on the coast of Cape Town after several years of work in Johannesburg. He has lost his wife to cancer and his children are abroad and the daughter who continued to live in their Johannesburg home had refused to vacate that place to join his father in Cape Town; coming only to visit. Consequently, the father is alone in the huge apartment after his wife made him promise not to give out their dream home for another person to occupy. One late night, the FOR SALE on the house next to his came down. Mr. Moorcraft now has a neighbour. An enigmatic neighbour whose comings and goings were as sublime as the man himself. However the two individuals met and after several shots of alcohol started talking. Interests were shared and Moorcraft got to know that Bradshaw lo

95. Opening Spaces: Contemporary African Women's Writing by Yvonne Vera (Editor)

Title: Opening Spaces: Contemporary African Women's Writing Editor: Yvonne Vera Genre: Short Story Antholgy/Feminism Publishers: Heinemann (African Writers Series) Pages: 186 Year of First Publication: 1999 Country: Various This is a collection of 15 short stories by African women from 11 different countries. The anthology includes Leila Aboulela's Caine Prize winning story The Museum.  With the exception of a few stories like Crocodile Tails, A State of Outrage, The Barrel of a Pen, and The Home-Coming , the stories revolve around polygamous husbands, domineering husbands, rape, domestic violence, girl empowerment and combinations of these. The collection opens with Ama Ata Aidoo's The Girl Who can , which is a story about a girl who was looked down by her grandmother because she has lanky legs.  'But Adjoa has legs,' Nana would insist; 'except that they are too thin. And also too long for a woman. Kaya, listen. Once in a while, but onl

Reading the Caine Prize Shortlists

A blogger friend asked me once whether I've read the winning story of this year's Caine Prize. I was ashamed to have responded in the negative. Consequently, I have decided to read all the shortlisted stories from 2009 to 2011, the ones I have (or have downloaded). Reviews would be posted every Wednesday and Saturday till I complete them all. About the Prize:  The first prize was awarded in 2000, at the Zimbabwe International Book Fair 2000 in Harare, and the 2001 Prize at the Nairobi Book Fair in September 2001. The winner is announced at a dinner in Oxford in July, to which the shortlisted candidates are all invited. This is part of a week of activities for the candidates, including bookreadings, booksignings and press opportunities. ( Read more here )

Proverb Monday, #36

Proverb: Aboa no pε kɔkɔɔ ayε nti na ɔde ne ho kɔtwere sie. Meaning: An animal that wants to become red, rubs itself against an anthill. Context: If you want to achieve something, you take actions necessary to do so*. No. 943 in Bu me Bε by Peggy Appiah et al. *If you want to achieve something you go to where you can achieve it or you associate with the right people or individuals who can offer that help (my own interpretation).

Quotes for Friday from Chinua Achebe's Anthills of the Savannah

Homeward-bound from your great hunt, the carcass of an elephant on your great head, do you now dally on the way to pick up a grasshopper between your toes? Page 30 I have never seen the sense in sleeping with people. A man should wake up in his own bed. A woman likewise. Whatever they choose to do prior to sleeping is no reason to deny them that right. Page 37 [P]ower is like marrying across the Niger; you soon find yourself paddling by night. Page 45 Worshipping a dictator is such a pain in the ass. It wouldn't be so bad if it was merely a matter of dancing upside down  on your head. With practice anyone could learn to do that. The real problem is having no way of knowing from one day to another, from one minute to the next, just what is up and what is down. Page 45 Chris has a very good theory, I think, on the military vocation. According to this theory military life attracts two different kinds of men: the truly strong who are very rare, and the rest who would b

94. The River Between by Ngũgĩ wa Thiongo

Title: The River Between Author:  Ngũgĩ wa Thiongo Genre: Fiction/Social Realism Publishers: Heinemann (African Writers Series) Pages: 152 Year of First Publication: 1965 Country: Kenya For the Africa Reading Challenge The River Between is a story about leadership, changes and identity. It concentrates on social and political change at the onset of European invasion. As a colonial literature the story is set in the period where the Kikuyu highlands of Kameno and Makuyu was at its nascent stage of Christian European invasion. Though similar to Weep Not Child , the struggle in The River Between against Christian European revolves around the issue of tradition and identity. The story opens with an omniscient narrator who tells of Kikuyu creation; of how Murungu created Gikuyu and Mumbi, the first man and woman. The narrator also debates which ridge is the eldest: Makuyu - where it is claimed that Gikuyu and Mumbi sojourned with Murungu on their way to Mukuruwe wa

93. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

Khaled Hosseini's debut novel, The Kite Runner  (2003; 391), could easily pass as the best non-African authored book I've read this year, if not for 1984 . The novel tracks the life and friendship of two individuals, Amir - the son of a Kabul merchant - and Hassan, the child of their servant, Ali as they grow in the affluent suburb of Wazir Akbar Khan District of Kabul. As their friendship unfolds, the history of a land that has been plagued by local and international wars unfolds. In fact, it is this very wars, leading to the overthrow of monarchs and governments, that dictated how the friendship between these two individuals went. Yet, the precursor of all the events is the age old tradition or practice of discrimination based on physical features. Amir has slim face and nose and is a Pashtun so is considered to be aristocratic, worthy of ruling the land and Hassan his friend has a moon-shaped face, slit-eyes and a Hazara so is cast to be a servant forever. With only a

Proverb Monday, #35

Proverb: W'anka sε wonie a, obi renka sε wowɔ hɔ Meaning: If you don't say you are here, no one will say you are there Context: If you don't stand up for yourself, no one else will No. 4444 in Bu me Bε by Peggy Appiah et al.

Library Additions

Few books have come into my possession which I would love to share with you. As always. Harare North  by Brian Chikwava . Having been described as one of the 'exciting new generation of African writers' Brian Chikwava has moved on from strength to strength ever since he won the Caine Prize for African Writing in 2004 with his short story Seventh Street Alchemy . Brian has been one of the most recommended authors to ImageNations and even though I took the recommendations seriously the book proved elusive until I visited the Silverbird Lifestyle Shop located within the Accra Mall. What I have is a beautifully bound book (hardcover, of course!) from the stables of Jonathan Cape selling at GHC 28.5 or US$ 19. My only encounter with Chikwava is through his short story The Wasp and the Fig tree  published at the Granta magazine. Palace Walk by Naguib Mahfouz . Mahfouz is a Nobelist. What more there is to say? His book Cairo Trilogy  of which Palace Walk  is the first is

Quotes for Friday from Mema by Daniel Mengara

[Y]ou can say that the person over there was my wife, but you can never say that the person standing over there was my brother, my mother or my father.  (Page 24) Wisdom has spoken through your mouth and we all know wisdom is sacred. (Page 25) We have come to beg back our daughter and wife. And we are doing so openly. Is there shame in begging for what you have lost in foolishness? (Page 26) In the privacy of the bedroom, however, women were said to be the real masters of the household. It is in the secrecy of the conjugal room and bed that the real decisions were made, and such decisions, the rumour went, were decisions imposed upon the village by women. Women ran the village, but gave the men the false honour of carrying the empty title of leaders of their households in public. (Page 33) ________________ Read the review here

92. Anthills of the Savannah by Chinua Achebe

Title: Anthills of the Savannah Author: Chinua Achebe Genre: Fiction/Tragedy/Politics Publishers: Heinemann (African Writers Series) Pages: 233 Year of First Publication: 1987 Country: Nigeria Anthills of the Savannah , a 1987 Booker Shortlist, is the fifth book of Achebe's oeuvre I have read. This novel is quite different from the first four of Achebe's books in terms of the narrative style, the prose, the setting and to some extent the theme. Had Achebe not written Things Fall Apart    and my favourite The Arrow of God , this book alone would have established the Man Booker International Prize winner (2007) as one of Africa's literary giants. In this very unique novel, Achebe treats the issue of despots, male chauvinism and power from a rather different and unexpected perspective. He opens up the struggles that goes on behind the power scenes and how easily an innocent, generally good individual could easily transmogrify into an absolutely demented de

91. Eno's Story by Ayodele Olofintuade

Title: Eno's Story Author: Ayodele Olofintuade Illustrator: Bolaji Liadi Genre: Children Fiction Publishers: Cassava Republic Pages: 46 Year of First Publication: 2010 Country: Nigeria Eno's Story by Ayodele Olofintuade is anything but a 'child's' story. It is our story: the story of adults, the story of men, the story of women, the story of pastors, the story of traditional leaders, the story of humanity. It is THE story, one worth being told and Ayodele has done it with finesse. In few and simple words Ayodele has tackled one of the most widespread problem facing 21st Century Africa, a continent with a high rate of technological advancement that is perhaps paralleled only by the rate of growth of churches. Thus, in Africa the collision between science and religion has begun and representatives from both sides have questioned the others capability to question its importance. Yet, when an institution that literally preaches superior moral upr