All posts by Agatha Aduro

A Review of Abdilatif Abdalla: Poet in Politics

By Agatha Aduro


  • Title: Abdilatif Abdalla: Poet in Politics
  • Editors: Rose Marie Beck and Kai Kresse
  • Publisher: Mkuki na Nyota Publishers Ltd
  • Number of pages: 147
  • Year of publication: 2016
  • Category: Essays

Abdilatif Abdalla: Poet in Politics is a collection of essays in honour of the Kenyan poet. It is composed mainly of papers that were presented at a symposium in honour of Abdilatif Abdalla on the occasion of his retirement from the University of Leipzig at the end of a fifteen-year teaching stint. The book is divided into four sections preceded by a preface and the editors’ acknowledgment. The papers are authored by a wide range of contributors, from renowned authors Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o and Said Ahmed Khamis to Sheik Abdillahi Nassir, a noted Islamic scholar, translator and political activist who is also Abdalla’s elder brother. More…

The Longing of the Dervish Served on a Platter of Love and Revenge

By Agatha Aduro


  • Title: The Longing of the Dervish
  • Author: Hammour Ziada
  • Translator: Jonathan Wright
  • Publisher: Hoopoe
  • Number of pages: 297
  • Year of publication: 2016
  • Category: Fiction

What happens when you put a freed slave with strong leanings towards Jihadism and an impressionable, young, Christian nun, filled with a zeal to convert ‘African barbarians’, together in the midst of a Sudan that is embroiled in politico-religious turbulence? The result is what forms the core of The Longing of the Dervish, a novel by Hammour Ziada that in its Arabic original won the Naguib Mahfouz Medal for Literature in 2014. More…

A Review of Glowfly Dance

By Agatha Aduro


  • Title: Glowfly Dance
  • Author: Jade Gibson
  • Publisher: Umuzi
  • Number of pages: 438
  • Year of publication: 2015
  • Category: Fiction

People think that when you are fourteen you know nothing, but I have seen so much, I have a thousand stories, burning and shining and rising within me, and all I can do is try to catch them, one by one, because I only have the moments, fading in and out, when everything else is gone (p 7).

This is how Jade Gibson introduces us to Mai, the major protagonist of Glowfly Dance. The entire first chapter is an innocuous, nearly idyllic introduction to the book, and it speaks of glowflies, the smell of blood oranges and of dancing and cherry blossoms. The reader is completely in the dark regarding the horrors that are lurking in the subsequent chapters. More…

A Review of Hiding in Plain Sight

By Agatha Aduro


  • Title: Hiding in Plain Sight
  • Author: Nuruddin Farah
  • Publisher: Kwani Trust
  • Number of pages: 322
  • Year of publication: 2015
  • Category: Fiction

A dream, a premonition and an al-Shabaab attack open Nuruddin Farah’s novel, Hiding in Plain Sight. The book – the author’s twelfth novel – is mostly set in Nairobi and tells the story of the death of Aar, a UN staff who is murdered in Mogadiscio, and how his family and loved ones cope with the loss. More…

Jarring Notes: A Review of Dub Steps

By Agatha Aduro


  • Title: Dub Steps
  • Author: Andrew Miller
  • Publisher: Jacana Media (Pty) Ltd
  • Number of pages: 366
  • Year of publication: 2015
  • Category: Fiction

Dub Steps is a novel set in a future South Africa. Initially, the only hints that the story is set in the future are references to ‘transmission paint’ and an evolving virtual reality experience that grows from virtual reality day care, for both children and adults, to graffiti broadcasts powered by mobile phone signals and transmission paint, to the ultimate thing – interactive, virtual reality sex clubs. More…

Forging Oral Tales into Written Stories: A Review of Ekọñ Ñke

By Agatha Aduro


  • Title: Ekọñ Ñke: Our Stories
  • Author: Ini Ite Ubong
  • Publisher: Extra Proff Media
  • Number of pages: 190
  • Year of publication: 2015
  • Category: Children

For many centuries, the oral art of storytelling was an integral part of many African cultures. Each ethnic group has its own treasure trove of folklore, which was used to entertain and provide moral instruction to children during nocturnal sessions held in the moonlight. These activities were an integral part of community life but were sacrificed on the altar of ‘civilisation’. Over the years, traditional storytelling has struggled to keep up with the times, being recreated in various forms so as to be transmitted by the media of the times. More…

The Boy Who Spat in Sargrenti’s Eye: The Lion’s Account of the Hunt

By Agatha Aduro


  • Title: The Boy Who Spat in Sargrenti’s Eye
  • Author: Manu Herbstein
  • Publisher: Techmate Publishers Limited
  • Number of pages: 236
  • Year of publication: 2014
  • Category: Young Adult

‘Do you know who Sargrenti was? That was the name I gave to Major General Sir Garnet Wolseley, KCMG, Commander of the British Queen Victoria’s Army which invaded Asante and sacked its capital, Kumase, in 1874, 21 years ago. Here he is, with his waxed moustache and medals’.

These are the opening sentences of The Boy Who Spat in Sargrenti’s Eye, discounting the ‘Author’s Note’ which precedes them. The author’s note is itself a part of this fictionalised retelling of one of the five conflicts that are together known as the Anglo-Ashanti Wars, specifically the Third Anglo-Ashanti War, also known as The First Ashanti Expedition. More…

A Review of The Domestication of Munachi

By Agatha Aduro


  • Title: The Domestication of Munachi
  • Author: Ifesinachi O Okpagu
  • Publisher: Parrésia Publishers Ltd
  • Number of pages: 181
  • Year of publication: 2015
  • Category: Fiction

‘For the first time in my adult life, I was struck dumb’.

This is the opening sentence of The Domestication of Munachi, Ifesinachi O Okpagu’s novel about two generations of women and how they handle the domestic issues they face. The novel belongs in the tradition of African literature that deals with aspects of culture relating in particular to women. It evokes memories of such classics as Flora Nwapa’s Efuru and Elechi Amadi’s The Concubine. More…

A Review of Crossroads: Women Coming of Age in Today’s Uganda

By Agatha Aduro


  • Title: Crossroads: Women Coming of Age in Today’s Uganda
  • Editor: Christopher Conte
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
  • Number of pages: 172
  • Year of publication: 2015
  • Category: Essays

Christopher Conte is a writer and editor based in Washington, DC. In 2008, he began working in Uganda as a journalist for a Kampala-based newspaper, a stint that lasted two years. His interactions with certain people gave him the idea of publishing a book filled with factual stories about the everyday lives of Ugandan women, to give insights into life in Uganda. This he explains succinctly in his introduction: ‘We hoped that stories by “ordinary” people, told in the straight-forward manner of journalism, would offer readers more authentic glimpses into one small corner of a huge and diverse continent that is neither as pitiful nor as romantic as the stereotypes suggest’. More…

Blood, Guts and Gore

By Agatha Aduro


  • Title: A Family Portrait: A Collection of Short Stories from the Breaking the Silence Project
  • Editors: Tsitsi Dangarembga et al
  • Publisher: ICAPA Publishing
  • Year of publication: 2014
  • Number of pages: 117
  • Category: Fiction

A Family Portrait is the ambitious product of a ten-day workshop, Breaking the Silence Project, which held in 2012 in Harare, organised by the Institute of Creative Arts for Progress in Africa (ICAPA) Trust and funded by the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation. There are seven fictional stories centred around the theme of violence in A Family Portrait. The stories are based on sixty true-life stories that were submitted to the workshop as letters from the public. More…