A Long Way Gone – Ishmael Beah
At the age of twelve, Ishmael Beah fled attacking rebels in Sierra Leone and wandered a land rendered unrecognisable by violence.
By thirteen, he’d been picked up by the government army, and Beah, at heart a gentle boy, found that he was capable of truly terrible acts. At sixteen, he was removed from fighting by UNICEF, and through the help of the staff at his rehabilitation centre, he learned how to forgive himself, to regain his humanity, and, finally, to heal.
At sixteen, he was removed from fighting by UNICEF, and through the help of the staff at his rehabilitation centre, he learned how to forgive himself, to regain his humanity, and, finally, to heal.
This is an extraordinary and mesmerizing account, told with real literary force and heartbreaking honesty.
The Book of Secrets – M.G. Vassanji
In 1988, a retired schoolteacher named Pius Fernandes receives an old diary found in the back room of an East African shop. Written in 1913 by a British colonial administrator, the diary captivates Fernandes, who begins to research the coded history he encounters in its terse, laconic entries. What he uncovers is a story of forbidden liaisons and simmering vengeance, family secrets and cultural exiles – a story that leads him on an investigative journey through his own past and Africa’s.
Purple Hibiscus – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Fifteen-year-old Kambili’s world is circumscribed by the high walls and frangipani trees of her family compound. Her wealthy Catholic father, under whose shadow Kambili lives, while generous and politically active in the community, is repressive and fanatically religious at home.
When Nigeria begins to fall apart under a military coup, Kambili’s father sends her and her brother away to stay with their aunt, a University professor, whose house is noisy and full of laughter. There, Kambili and her brother discover a life and love beyond the confines of their father’s authority. The visit will lift the silence from their world and, in time, give rise to devotion and defiance that reveal themselves in profound and unexpected ways. This is a book about the promise of freedom; about the blurred lines between childhood and adulthood; between love and hatred, between the old gods and the new.
Things Fall Apart (The African Trilogy #1) – Chinua Achebe
Things Fall Apart tells two overlapping, intertwining stories, both of which center around Okonkwo, a “strong man” of an Ibo village in Nigeria. The first of these stories traces Okonkwo’s fall from grace with the tribal world in which he lives, and in its classical purity of line and economical beauty, it provides us with a powerful fable about the immemorial conflict between the individual and society.
The second story, which is as modern as the first is ancient, and which elevates the book to a tragic plane, concerns the clash of cultures and the destruction of Okonkwo’s world through the arrival of aggressive, proselytizing European missionaries. These twin dramas are perfectly harmonized, and they are modulated by an awareness capable of encompassing at once the life of nature, human history, and the mysterious compulsions of the soul.
The Camel Bookmobile – Masha Hamilton
Fiona Sweeney wants to do something that matters, and she chooses to make her mark in the arid bush of northeastern Kenya. By helping to start a travelling library, she hopes to bring the words of Homer, Hemingway, and Dr Seuss to far-flung tiny communities where people live daily with drought, hunger, and disease. Her intentions are honourable, and her rules are firm: due to the limited number of donated books, if any one of them is not returned, the bookmobile will not return.
But, encumbered by her Western values, Fi does not understand the people she seeks to help. And in the impoverished small community of Mididima, she finds herself caught in the middle of a volatile local struggle when the bookmobile’s presence sparks a dangerous feud between the proponents of modernization and those who fear the loss of traditional ways.
The Garden of Burning Sand – Corban Addison
Lusaka, Zambia: Zoe Fleming is a young, idealistic American lawyer working with an NGO devoted to combatting the epidemic of child sexual assault in southern Africa. Zoe’s organization is called in to help when an adolescent girl is brutally assaulted. The girl’s identity is a mystery. Where did she come from? Was the attack a random street crime or a premeditated act?
A betrayal in her past gives the girl’s plight a special resonance for Zoe, and she is determined to find the perpetrator. She slowly forms a working relationship, and then a surprising friendship, with Joseph Kabuta, a Zambian police officer. Their search takes them from Lusaka’s roughest neighbourhoods to the wild waters of Victoria Falls, from the AIDS-stricken streets of Johannesburg to the matchless splendour of Cape Town.
As the investigation builds to a climax, threatening to send shockwaves through Zambian society, Zoe is forced to radically reshape her assumptions about love, loyalty, family and, especially, the meaning of justice.