Some of my Ghanaian and African reads for the first six months of 2016

Some of my Ghanaian and African reads for the first six months of 2016 include

Ghana reads include books by Ghanaian authors, Ghanaians in the diaspora, on Ghana, or with a Ghanaian setting:

  • Quartey, Kwei: Murder at Cape Three Points (mystery/crime with Inspector Darko Dawson)
  • Agyeman-Duah, Ivor: Africa – a miner’s canary into the 21st century (a collection of essays on African countries)
  • Insaidoo, Kwame Afadzi: Ghana – An incomplete independence or a dysfunctional democracy (political analysis)

Africa reads include books by African authors, Africans in the diaspora, on African countries, or with an African setting:

  • Singh, Astha: Congo – a journey (fictional account of an Indian family in DRC)
  • Guillaume, Laurent: White leopard (thriller set in Mali)
  • Mahlangu, Songeziwe: Penumbra (prize-winning South African novel with the main character having a mental breakdown)
  • Camus, Albert: The stranger (this was a re-read of the classic which I originally read in French)
  • Orford, Margie: Like clockwork (crime/thriller set in South Africa)
  • McCain, Paula: Circling the sun (fictional account of early part of Beryl Markham’s life, mostly set in colonial Kenya) [read for Accra Book Club]
  • Davids, Nadia: An imperfect blessing (a family saga set in the Cape Town of 1993-94)
  • Farah, Nuruddin: Hiding in plain sight (a diasporan Somali family adapts to loss of a member to a terrorist attack) [read for Accra Book Club]
  • Banda-Aaku, Ellen: Sula and Ja (a young adult novel about two teens discovering more about each other, set in Zambia)

Plus a special mention of three cookbooks with African/Ghanaian connections:

  • Sloley, Patti Gyapomaa: A date with plantain (I admit that ripe plantain is one of my absolutely favourite foods)
  • Osseo-Asare, Fran and Baeta, Barbara: The Ghana cookbook (comprehensive, and great if you are a non-Ghanaian or not living in Ghana)
  • Timothy, Duval and others: The groundnut cookbook (lots of West African recipes adapted to more Western/UK tastes)

A weakness for cookbooks

I am not a good cook, though I do like to bake at the weekends.

But I do like to buy and skim/read through cookbooks.

Although my shelves of cookbooks don’t particularly look like it, I do try to buy any Ghanaian or African cookbooks which I come across, which admittedly are not that numerous. Here are a few of them – some definitely newer – in colour, with photos – and some older, with a few line drawings if one was lucky, none was much more the norm.

Interestingly the newer Ghanaian cookbooks are often aimed at those in the diaspora – many of whom who may be of Ghanaian origin – and wanting to recreate a little bit of “home” through their cooking. With the increasing availability of items such as plantains and yams even in mainstream supermarkets, plus the plethora of so-called “international” supermarkets catering to multi-ethnic communities, as well as the so-called “Ghana stores” or “African supermarkets” which are no longer total rarities even in suburban areas of the US.

One of the best sources of Ghanaian recipes which is not in book form – yet – can be found on Fran Osseo-Asare’s BetumiBlog which not only has recipes, but talks about alternatives and the whole process at arriving at formal recipes. Fascinating, though I admit to not having the patience to do this.

Apart from Ghanaian/African cookbooks I love looking and drooling at contemporary cookbooks with their beautiful photos – and knowing that my dishes never look anything like that. Middle Eastern/North African/Mediterranean food are all pretty attractive to me, especially those that do not use a lot of meat. Baking too is a weakness – after all that is something I often do on a Sunday afternoon.

So here are some of what is on my shelves, and in some boxes.

NB: I was originally going to post this as part of the Blog Action Day on FOOD, but obviously it didn’t happen quite as planned!

Better late than never?