#BannedAfricanBooks: List of Banned African Books

On October 6, 2012 I set out to create a database of banned African books. This action stems from my belief that it is the reader who has the ultimate control of what books should be read or not. Anytime a government takes up that responsibility, it means that it has something to hide, doing something it doesn't want anyone to know, or becoming (or has become) autocratic.

Though I don't have the data (the reason why I'm creating one) I believed several books have been banned for several reasons. It is funny when a book that had been banned before for sexual content suddenly reads like it contains none at all. However, this quest of developing a database has received less patronage. It makes me want to question if my belief was right. I am therefore sharing with you banned African books that readers have shared with me. 
  1. Matsayin Lover by Khamisu Bature Makwarari. [Nigeria]. Banned by the Kano Association of Nigerian Writers for lesbian content. Year Banned: 1998;
  2. The Man Died by Wole Soyinka. [Nigeria]. Banned for Libel by the Nigerian Government. Year Banned: Unknown;
  3. July's People by Nadine Gordimer. [South Africa]. Banned by the apartheid government and censored by the post-apartheid government. It was removed from school reading list for being 'deeply racist, superior and patronising'. Year Banned: Unknown;
  4. The Late Bourgeois World by Nadine Gordimer. [South Africa]. Banned by the apartheid government for racist issues. Year Banned: 1976;
  5. A World of Strangers by Nadine Gordimer. [South Africa]. Banned by the apartheid government for race issues. Year Banned: Unknown;
  6. Burger's Daughter by Nadine Gordimer. [South Africa]. Banned by the apartheid government for subversiveness and going against the government's racial policies. The ban was reversed in the same year. Year Banned: 1979;
  7. I Will Marry When I Want by Ngugi wa Thiong'o. [Kenya]. Banned by the Kenyan Government. Year Banned: 1977;
  8. Petals of Blood by Ngugi wa Thiong'o. [Kenya]. Ngugi was arrested and detained for writing this book by the Kenyan Government. Year Banned: 1977;
  9. The Repudiation by Rashid Boudjedra. [Algeria]. Perhaps for language and explicit sexual description and content. Banned by the Algerian Government and it occasioned a fatwa on the author. Year Banned: 1969;
  10. Season of Migration to the North by Tayeb Salih. [Sudan]. This book was banned by the Islamic Government of Sudan for explicit sexual content. It has, however, been declared the most important Arabic novel of the 20th Century. Year Banned: 1989;
  11. After 4:30 by David Mailu. [Kenya]. Banned by the Government for sexual content. Year Banned: Unknown;
  12. The Beautyful Ones are not Yet Born by Ayi Kwei Armah. [Ghana]. Banned for racial oppression. Year Banned: Unknown;
  13. Knowledge at Night by Andre Brink. [South Africa]. Banned perhaps for racial issues by the Government. This book was translated by the author and published in English as "Looking into Darkness". It is the first Afrikaan book to be banned by the apartheid Government. Year Banned: circa 1973;
  14. The Blinkards by Kobina Sekyi. [Ghana]. Banned by the government, librarians, and publishers for offensive language and sexual content. Year Banned: 1997/2001
  15. A Woman Alone by Bessie Head. [Botswana]. Year Banned: Unknown;
  16. Mating Birds by Lewis Nkosi [South Africa]. Banned by the apartheid Government for racial content. Year Banned: 1986.
  1. Blame Me on History by William "Bloke" Modisane. [South Africa]. This book detailed the author's despair at the bulldozing of Sophiatown and with apartheid. Year Banned: 1966;
Do you agree with the above information? Do you have any information to add? Anything you have to say is welcomed. For instance, I don't have the reason why Bessie Head's A Woman Alone was banned.

The form for collecting entries into the database is located on the top right part of this blog. Or kindly click here for it.
Last update: November 3, 2012


  1. Well done Nana, for working on this.
    I wonder if Matsayin Lover is the most recently banned book (1998). I'll check the others.

    1. Thanks. The contributor didn't enter the year in which it was banned. I know nothing about this book. Perhaps I should check it out. However, if the year you've entered is right then it would be the most recently banned per the database I have.

  2. Hi Nana, what about "A Dry White Season" by Andre Brink, sure that was banned. The film was banned in South Africa, when I lived there. Also what about the plays by Athol Fugard, I am sure those were banned too.

    1. Thanks Larry. That's why I'm collecting the data. This is not exhaustive, not in the least. Have you filled the form with the data? I will check them out too. Thanks

  3. Replies
    1. thanks Stefania. I only hope people will participate by submitting entries.


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