Africa Reading Challenge joined

My colleague book blogger, KinnaReads is hosting the Africa Reading Challenge for 2012.  [Please do see her website for more details]

Challenge Period

January 1, 2012 to December 31, 2012


The entire African continent, including its island-states, which are often overlooked. Please refer to this Wikipedia “list of sovereign states and dependent territories in Africa”. Pre-colonial empires and regions are also included.

Reading Goal

5 books. That’s it. There will be no other levels. Of course, participants are encouraged to read more than 5 books. Eligible books include those which are written by African writers, or take place in Africa, or are concerned with Africans and with historical and contemporary African issues. Note that at least 3 books must be written by African writers.


Fiction – novels, short stories, poetry, drama, children’s books. Note: You can choose to read a number of individual and uncollected short stories. In this case, 12 such stories would constitute 1 book. Individual poems do not count but books of poetry do.

Non-fiction – memoirs, autobiographies, history and current events

My tentative reading list

  • Chicago, by Alaa al Aswany – North Africa/Egypt
  • Tales from different tails, by Nana Awere Damoah – West Africa/Ghana
  • An elegy for Easterly, by Petina Gappah – Central Africa/Zimbabwe – short stories
  • Broken glass, by Alain Mabanckou – Central Africa/Congo – in translation from French
  • The cry of Winnie Mandela, by Njabulo Ndebele – South Africa
  • Half-blood blues, by Esi Edugyan – this is African/Ghanaian by descent

I am fairly sure that I will actually end up reading more than these, as in 2011 I read 19 books by Africans/about Africa.  And as I write, I am currently reading 10 years of the Caine prize for African writing (for Accra Book Club), Zoo story by Lauren Beukes and You’re not a country Africa, by Pius Adesanmi (a collection of essays)

Thanks a lot to Kinna for taking this initiative.  Now to get reading, and writing about it


Two recent literary events in Accra

Two literary events during this past week, and they took place back to back – on the 18th and 19th of January.

The first I have known about for quite some time, as it involved a senior colleague at work. The second was totally unexpected – and I literally had less than three hours notice [admittedly partly my fault]!  The first was a book launch, the second wetted my appetite for a forthcoming work.  Again the first was fairly formal – with speakers on a podium and a high table, while the other was outside, around an alluring blue swimming pool which pulled my thoughts towards a dip, even if it was only my feet!  The first was academic though impinging on policy and the Chairman did not mince words; the second was supposedly non-political – at least in the contemporary sense – though the readings from the forthcoming book written by the Vice-President of Ghana referred more to the politics of the 1970s, while blended in with recollections of growing up in the northern town of Tamale. And as I write, I realise that both books have children on their covers!

Publisher's blurb

The first book, Children’s rights in Ghana: reality or rhetoric, is edited by three academics, one of whom, Nana Apt is Dean of Academics at Ashesi University College where I work. I had already seen a hard copy version of the book, which was published in the US. This was a paperback edition, specifically meant for the Ghanaian market published by a UK based company called Mot Juste. I have to admit I was especially impressed by the Chairman, Ken Attafuah, who did not hesitate to be straightforward, yet picked up some of the essentials of each person who played a role in the event.

The second event was readings by various well-known Ghanaian writers, in honour of Bloomsbury (USA) senior editor, Nancy Miller, who was in Ghana for a brief visit, working with the Vice-President of Ghana who is publishing his memoirs – My first coup d’etat and other true stories from the lost decades of Africa. Several of the readings were amusing – mainly for their descriptions of events which many of us know or have experienced. The highlight was of course quite a long reading by John Dramani Mahama of an excerpt from his forthcoming book – he chose a  tale of first teenage love interspersed with how the Acheampong regime impinged on his own family.

A couple of colleagues have written about the event, including Nana Awere Damoah who was also present (see his blog with the same content on Facebook.)  Nana Fredua-Agyeman also commented on writing by heads of state and its relative scarcity here in Ghana.

I safely say that many of us are very much looking forward to Mahama’s book actually arriving here in Ghana.

A personal list of key Ghanaian authors

I have been making a list of Ghanaian authors who do creative writing/fiction/plays/poetry and these are the ones I came up with.  It is very much a personal list, and I have read most of them.

NB:  This is work in progress, and I am more than happy to admit that I will have forgotten some people.  Most long works are available via Amazon – though sometimes it may not be the US Amazon, but the UK or Canadian one!   For short stories I have not indicated any collections, for which I do apologize in advance.

Older writers (many are deceased)

  • Kobina Sekyi:  The Blinkards ( play)
  • Ayi Kwei Armah:  The beautyful ones are not yet bornTwo thousand seasonsThe healersFragments (plus some literary criticism, which I have not included)
  • Amu Djoleto:  The strange manMoney GaloreHurricane of dust + some children’s books
  • Efua Sutherland: Marriage of AnansewaEdufa, Voice in the forest  – Wrote plays mostly
  • Francis Selormey:  Narrow Path
  • Kofi Awoonor: This earth my brother + some non-fiction
  • Mawugbe, Efo Kojo:  The prison graduate .  Wrote plays mostly

Older (in age) and still active

  • Ama Ata Aidoo:  Changes, Our sister Killjoy, Anowa, Dilemma of a ghost, No sweetness here, Diplomatic pounds and other stories, African love stories (ed)Angry letter in January
  • Kojo Laing : Search sweet country, Woman of the aeroplanes, Big Bishop Roko and the alter gangsters, Major Gentl and the Achimota wars
  • Manu Herbstein :  Ama, Brave music of a distant drum 
  • Atukwei Okai: Poet
  • Kofi Anyidoho : The place we call home, Praise song for the land.  Poet

More contemporary (part of Ghanaian diaspora)

  • Benjamin Kwakye: The clothes of nakedness, The sun by night, The other crucifix
  • Nii Ayikwei Parkes: Tail of the blue bird, The makings of you
  • Mohammed Naseehu Ali : Prophet of Zongo Street and other stories
  • Kwei J Quartey: Wife of the gods, Children of the street 
  • Yaba Badoe :  True murder
  • Marilyn Heward Mills: Cloth girl, The association of foreign spouses
  • Nana Ekua Brew-Hammond: Powder necklace
  • Akosua Busia:  Seasons of beento blackbird
  • Lesley Lokko: Sundowners, Bitter chocolate, One secret summer, A private affair, Rich girl, poor girl.  Architect, who also writes chick lit
  • Selasi Taiye : Ghana must go (To be published in 2012) + well acclaimed short stories
  • Esi Edugyan:  Half-blood blues, The second life of Samuel Tyne.  Canadian, born of Ghanaian immigrants
  • Glover, Boakyewaa:  Circles
  • Kuukua Dzigbordi Yomekpe:  Writing memoir; creative non-fiction mostly

More contemporary (living in Ghana)

  • Amma Darko:  The housemaid, Faceless, Beyond the horizon, Not without flowers
  • Camynta Baezie:  The African agenda 
  • G A Agambila:  Journey
  • Ayesha Harruna Attah:  Harmattan rain
  • Meri Nana-Ama Danquah: The black body, Willow weep for me, Shaking the tree, Becoming American.  Writes mostly non-fiction
  • Farida Bedwei: Definition of a miracle
  • Mamle Kabu:   writes short stories
  • Franka Andoh:  writes short stories
  • Alba Konadu Sumprim :  The imported Ghanaian, A place of beautiful nonsense.  Both are satirical
  • Kofi Akpabli: A sense of savannah, Tickling the Ghanaian.  Writes creative non-fiction
  • Nana Awere Damoah:  Tales from different tails, Excursions in my mind, Through the gates of thought

Non-Ghanaians (with close associations to Ghana)

  • Ellen Banda-Aaku:  Patchwork, Wandi’s little secret.  Also writes short stories
  • Fiona Leonard:  The chicken thief 
  • Sarah Mussi: Door of no return, The last of the warrior kings.  Teen/children’s fiction

What do you think of this list?