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Posts tagged "book"

Nigerian Writer Sefi Atta Talks Life, Literature and Leaving Nigeria in Interview with Elle South Africa.

Nigerian writer Sefi Atta was recently in Cape Town for the annual Open Book Festival. Elle Magazine South Africa interviewed Atta who was both refreshingly honest and inspiring.

As a Nigerian whose experiences of moving around and living in multiple countries mirrors hers, I love what she had to say about the ways in which being a global citizen has informed her passion for writing, "I feel that Nigeria gave me my stories, America gave me the opportunity to tell them, and England gave me my love for literature."

A recipient of the Wole Soyinka Prize for Literature in Africa, Atta has written plays for film, radio and stage, as well as several short stories and three novels. Her most recent book, A Bit Of Difference, is the first to not be centered on life in Nigeria, something Atta believes is a natural and logical progression of the relationship between her personal life and writing.

"The fact that I started writing stories based in Nigeria was just logical to me. People asked why I was writing about Nigeria when I’d been living in England for so long, but the earliest stories need to be told first: it seemed an orderly way to do it. When I got to writing a bit of difference, I was ready to talk about England. My next books will be set in the US. I’m an organized thinker and this makes sense to me."

Atta, who studied in England and has lived in America for two decades, is also brutally honest about the realities of why she, and many other young Nigerians, end up seeking a new life abroad saying:

"The reason I left Nigeria was that I had a degree, but it was hard to be independent. No matter how much you earned as a graduate, you couldn’t live on your own, and culturally it was very different…I went back to England because I knew that I’d be able to be independent.”

Beyond the obvious and glaring issues that plague everyday life in Nigeria, Atta’s reasons for leaving then still echo strongly for many young Africans living on the continent. There’s a certain unique struggle that many who wish to emigrate face - both young and old, but the hunger for independence and need to experience more of what the world has to offer makes it all the more difficult.

Ending the interview, Atta ends with her definition of feminism, "Feminism today to me: for me it’s being allowed to be who you are, and it’s that simple."

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All Africa, All the time.

In honor of International Literacy Day, I compiled a list of some of my favourite books written by African authors (with the exception of the book about Fela). There are many books I could’ve added to this post but these were the first that came to mind.

There’s no order to this list and each comes highly recommended as they, in some way, changed me for the better. If I had to pick a favourite it would undoubtedly be Zimbabwean writer Tsitsi Dangarembga’s Nervous Conditions simply because it was the first book I read in which I related so deeply to several of the characters - and still do. From Nyasha’s struggle with depression and being caught between two cultures she feels alienated by, to Tambu’s hunger for a world beyond her circumstances. Ugandan author Okot p’Bitek’s Song of Lawino and Song of Ocol comes in a close second, it’s just about as cheeky and blunt as I am in some parts and, perhaps a little out of narcissism, is why I enjoyed it.

Between these 18 books you’ll find everything from the personal to the political, and everything in-between. There’s love, there’s romance, there’s struggle, there’s strife, there’s beauty and there’s ugly too. No story is as simple as their titles may suggest, just read Camara Laye’s L’enfant Noir (The African Child) that explores the author’s early childhood in Guinea under French colonisation, or South African writer Sol Plaatjie’s historical novel Mhudi written in 1919 that placed a woman at the center of a story that deals with survival, displacement and early European colonisation in South Africa.

For anyone interested in reading these books, I found some of them available online (not all are complete):

Etisalat Prize for Literature 2014: Call for Entries.

Lagos, Nigeria; May 12, 2014: Etisalat Nigeria, today announced the 2014 Etisalat Prize for Literature Call for Entries, the second edition of the much celebrated innovative literature prize launched in 2013. The Etisalat Prize for Literature which is the first Pan African Literary Award to celebrate African fiction writers seeks to recognise, celebrate and reward debut fiction writers of African descent whose works are published in the last 24 months.

According to the Acting Chief Executive Officer at Etisalat Nigeria, Matthew Willsher, “the Etisalat Prize for Literature serves as a platform for the discovery of new creative writing talent out of the African continent and is the first prize with the novel concept of also promoting the growing publishing industry in Africa. The winner receives a cash prize of £15,000 in addition to a fellowship at the prestigious University of East Anglia. The winner and shortlisted writers receive a sponsored two city tour promoting their books.”

The acting CEO highlighted that following the success of the maiden edition last year, the literary community is eagerly awaiting this second edition. NoViolet Bulawayo won the maiden edition of the Etisalat Prize for Literature with her highly celebrated debut novel “We Need New Names”. The Etisalat Prize accepts submitted books which must be a writer’s first work of fiction of over 30,000 words, published in the last 24 months. The Etisalat Prize will also launch the online based flash fiction prize later in the year to engage the rising stars of fiction.

A Press Conference will be held in Lagos, in June, to announce the panel of judges for this year’s competition. Rules and guidelines for entry are available on www.etisalatprize.com

Entries close 8th of August 2014.


The shortlist for the 2014 Caine Prize for African Writing has been announced.

Yesterday, Nigerian Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka, the first African to be awarded this title, announced the shortlist for this year’s Caine Prize for African Writing during the opening ceremony of UNESCO's Port Harcourt World Book Capital festival in Nigeria.

The winner of the prestigious and highly coveted award with a £10,000 prize will be announced at the Bodleian Library, Oxford, on Monday 14 July.

To commemorate fifteen years of the Caine Prize this year, £500 will be awarded to each shortlisted writer.

Kenya leads the pack this year with two out of five shortlisted authors. Last year’s award was won by Nigerian-American writer Tope Folarin, and in 2012 it was won by fellow Nigerian Rotimi Babatunde. Previous winners also include Zimbabwe’s NoViolet Bulawayo (2011) and Kenya’s Binyavanga Wainaina (2002).

Here are this year’s nominees:

Phosphorescence by Diane Awerbuck (South Africa), published in Cabin Fever (Umuzi, Cape Town, 2011)

Chicken by Efemia Chela (Ghana/Zambia), published in Feast, Famine and Potluck (Short Story Day Africa, South Africa, 2013)

The Intervention by Tendai Huchu (Zimbabwe), published in Open Road Review, issue 7 (New Delhi, 2013)

The Gorilla’s Apprentice by Billy Kahora (Kenya), published in Granta (London, 2010)

My Father’s Head by Okwiri Oduor (Kenya), published in Feast, Famine and Potluck (Short Story Day Africa, South Africa, 2013).

Read a short biography of the five shortlisted writers here.

Going to take the time to congratulate a girl I went to high school with who’s a fantastic writer and all-round hilarious and witty person - congrats Efemia! Your struggles are all worth it and now you’ll probably have your own Wikipedia page.

Look at the children of the land leaving in droves, leaving their own land with bleeding wounds on their bodies and shock on their faces and blood in their hearts and hunger in their stomachs and grief in their footsteps. Leaving their mothers and fathers and children behind, leaving their umbilical cords underneath the soil, leaving the bones of their ancestors in the earth, leaving everything that makes them who and what they are, leaving because it is no longer possible to stay. They will never be the same again because you cannot be the same once you leave behind who and what you are, you just cannot be the same.
NoViolet Bulawayo, "We Need New Names".

Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s latest book Americanah has been listed by the New York Times as one the year’s best fiction novels, as selected by the publication’s editors of The New York Times Book Review.

Straying from Nigerian landscapes, as seen in her previous books, as suggested by the title of the book, the story centers around a young woman who moves to the United States for educational purposes - a common decision for many young Africans pursuing tertiary education opportunities, and her experiences with her multi-layered dual identities as she struggles aligning herself fully with each, and the allegiances that lie on either end.

The first Zimbabwean to be featured on the Man Booker prize shortlist, the BBC’s Alan Kasujja speaks to NoViolet Bulawayo about the inspiration behind her coming-of-age novel We Need New Names, the writing culture and publishing industry in Zimbabwe, and the sociopolitical consciousness burden that often comes with being an African writer.

CURRENTLY READING: Kenyan writer Lily Mabura’s Caine Prize for African Fiction shortlisted collection of short stories How Shall We Kill the Bishop? And Other Stories.

Just picked this up form the library purely through random selection. Well, not entirely random as I had already narrowed my criteria to that of books by African authors that were slim in size and thus, quick reads. It contains 11 short stories that are only several pages in length, around 10-15 on average. Read the first few lines and knew that this would be a book I’d engross myself in very quickly, based on her writing style.

Expect excerpts and quotes later.

AUGUST: Highlighting African Women

In Pictures: The Hargeisa International Book Fair is one of the largest literature and arts festivals in East Africa, according to the BBC.

Taking place in Hargeisa, the capital of Somaliland - a country that declared its independence in 1991, the annual celebration is now in its sixth year and includes authors, artists, actors, poets and musicians from various parts of the continent such as Kenya and Nigeria, as well as international artists from Italy and the UK.

Theatre performances, readings and discussions take place during the event, and literature is sold to attendees. This year, the Somaliland Circus proved to be one of the major highlights of the festival.

Though declaring itself independent, Somaliland is not internationally recognized as a sovereign state, but rather an autonomous zone within Somalia.


And these days it is worse, with the poverty of blackness on one side and the weight of womanhood on the other. Aiwa! What will help you, my child, is to learn to carry your burdens with strength.

Intersectionality and womanism in Tsitsi Dangarembga's novel Nervous Conditions.

AUGUST: Celebrating African Women

…condemning Nyasha to whoredom, making her a victim of her femaleness, just as I had felt victimised at home in the days when Nhamo went to school and I grew my maize. The victimisation, I saw, was universal. It didn’t depend on poverty, on lack of education or on tradition. It didn’t depend on any of the things I had thought it depended on. Men took it everywhere with them. Even heroes like Babamukuru did it. And that was the problem…all conflicts came back to the question of femaleness. Femaleness as opposed and inferior to maleness.

A quote from Zimbabwean writer Tsitsi Dangarembga's debut novel Nervous Conditions, book I love more and more every time it’s brought up in conversation.

So many of the words in this book, and both Nyasha and Tambu’s lives, resonate so deeply with my experiences.

AUGUST: Celebrating African Women

WOMEN’S MONTH RECOMMENDED READING:“The Girl Who Can, and Other Stories” by Ama Ata Aidoo is a series of short stories, each of them woven into the fabric of Ghanaian identity and told, always, from the perspective of a female protagonist.

Through each of these stories, Aidoo visits both the complex and seemingly mundane events that women face in every day situations, all the while managing to transcend heritage and history, weaving through tradition against the backdrop of modernity, and combing through the fibres of colonial and post-colonial life.

AUGUST: Celebrating African Women

(via teambailey)

WOMEN’S MONTH RECOMMENDED READING: “The Concubine” by Elechi Amadi

Nigerian writer Eledi Amadi’s tragic love story centered around the life of Ihuoma, a beautiful woman whose ill-fated bouts with romance are enough to shatter any and all notions of true love and kill the human spirit seven times over.

It’s a beautifully written book that moulds itself into a classic bittersweet tale of misfortune and vulnerability, and I highly recommend it.

AUGUST: Celebrating African Women

WOMEN’S MONTH BOOKS TO READ: "Women’s Liberation and the African Freedom Struggle" by Thomas Sankara

AUGUST: Celebrating African Women