image A Review of John Habwe’s Kovu Moyoni (‘Scar in the Heart’)

By Redscar McOdindo K’Oyuga


  • Title: Kovu Moyoni
  • Author: John Habwe
  • Publisher: Bookmark Africa
  • Number of pages: 154
  • Year of publication: 2014
  • Category: Fiction

Kovu Moyoni (translates loosely as ‘Scar in the Heart’) is a Kiswahili novel based on a series of land clashes in an imaginary village that witnesses the same wrangles as befell the Mt Elgon area of Kenya from 2005 to 2008. The intriguing story is set in the fictional village of Siloko, in a post-independence nation called Tandika. What strikes the reader is how John Habwe expertly documents the intellectual, economic, social and spiritual emptiness of life in contemporary African nations. More…

image Plumbing the Unfathomable

By Tinuke Adeyi


  • Title: Terra Incognita: New Short Speculative Stories from Africa
  • Editor: Nerine Dorman
  • Publisher: Short Story Day Africa
  • Number of pages: 278
  • Year of publication: 2015
  • Category: Fiction

If, according to Rachel Zadok, the survival ethos of the publishers of the anthology Terra Incognita: New Short Speculative Stories from Africa is to ‘reclaim a place for non-conformist writing’ and ‘subvert ideas about what it means to be a writer in Africa’, the anthology unapologetically declares they are here to not only survive but to blaze an exciting new trail. The small but rapidly expanding cult of enthusiasts of African speculative fiction – with all of her freak children, including futuristic tales, science fiction, stories of the supernatural and fantasy fiction – will find this third and latest result of the annual Short Story Day Africa Prize difficult to put down. More…

image Good Morning or Good Night?: A Review of Zelda la Grange’s Good Morning, Mr Mandela

By Agatha Aduro


  • Title: Good Morning, Mr Mandela
  • Author: Zelda la Grange
  • Publisher: Viking Penguin
  • Number of pages: 368
  • Year of publication: 2014
  • Category: Memoir

Good Morning, Mr Mandela is an almost coming-of-age story of an individual and a country. It is the story of South Africa or, more specifically, Nelson Mandela as seen through the eyes of Zelda la Grange, his personal secretary. In the author’s note that prefaces the book, she enters a caveat: this is not Mandela’s story. It is her story told as a tribute to Madiba, in the way she knew him. And if sometimes she appears to portray him in an unflattering light, the reader would do well to remember that it is her story. More…

image The Wretched of the Cameroons

By Dami Ajayi


  • Title: Day and Night in Limbo
  • Author: Jean Tardif Lonkog
  • Number of pages: 108
  • Title: In Chains For My Country: Crusading for the British Southern Cameroons
  • Author: Nfor N Nfor
  • Number of pages: 161
  • Publisher: Langaa RPCIG
  • Year of publication: 2014
  • Category: Memoir

The recently deceased American author, E L Doctorow, once said that there is no such thing as fiction or nonfiction. In lieu of these two major categories, he proposed that there is only narrative. One is inclined, once again, to embrace this truth after reading two books by Cameroonians about living in Cameroon: Jean Tardif Lonkog’s Day and Night in Limbo and Nfor N Nfor’s In Chains for My Country: Crusading for the British Southern Cameroons. These two books, beyond having Cameroonian male authors, are both memoirs about the difficulties of existence and they staggeringly depend on remembrance and memory. More…

image These Streets: Our Slum Dwellers Demand the Key to the City

By Emeka Ugwu


  • Title: True Citizen
  • Author: Oduor Jagero
  • Publisher: KoaMedia
  • Number of pages: 248
  • Year of publication: 2014
  • Category: Fiction

‘The street hadn’t changed. And I was raised on these streets, on kindness and loot’. – Roots in the Sky, Akin Adesokan.

‘A slum is not a chaotic collection of structures; it is a dynamic collection of individuals who have figured out how to survive in the most adverse of circumstances’. – Rediscovering Dharavi, Kalpana Sharma.

Nairobi, popularly known as ‘Green City in the Sun’, is both the largest city in and capital of Kenya. Nairobi is also home to the headquarters of UN-Habitat as well as an estimated two hundred slums and squatter settlements. It seems the perfect setting for Oduor Jagero’s pulsating, satirical thriller, True Citizen. More…

image Counting an Amputee’s Nine Fingers

By Tomiwa Ilori


  • Title: The House My Father Built
  • Author: Adewale Maja-Pearce
  • Publisher: Kachifo Limited
  • Number of pages: 175
  • Year of publication: 2014
  • Category: Memoir

Our lives are stories that require courage to be told. The House My Father Built is one of such stories. The book is a memoir whose humour is at brilliant par with its sarcasm, wit and satire. It is about the author’s fight, through the challenges of being Nigerian and living in Nigeria, to take possession of what is his. The House My Father Built carefully stings into consciousness memories of Nigeria in the ‘90s. The political, economic and social milieu of that period is brought into sharp focus, and what living through it meant for the average Nigerian is presented from a detached point of view and from the standpoint of having experienced it directly. More…

image The Spirals of Life

By Tunji Olalere


  • Title: Growing Up with Tanzania: Memories, Musings and Maths
  • Author: Karim F Hirji
  • Publisher: Mkuki na Nyota Publishers Ltd
  • Number of pages: 286
  • Year of publication: 2014
  • Category: Autobiography

‘I was looking for the athletic, handsome guy of the Ruvu National Service days. Instead there was a skinny skeleton with an almost bald head, scrawny face and sunken eyes. Who is this strange buffoon? Is it me? Who am I?’ More…

image The Pyramid of Askia Burtune: An Example of a Bad Book

By Tọ́pẹ́ Salaudeen-Adégòkè


  • Title: The Pyramid of Askia Burtune
  • Author: Aminu Hamajoda
  • Publisher: Fasihan Nigeria Limited
  • Number of pages: 290
  • Year of publication: 2014
  • Category: Fiction

The print-on-demand book on Amazon by Aminu Hamajoda can be said with considerable justification, if assessed by the raisons d’être of creativity, fluidity of narration and sublimity of subject matter, to be an example of a bad book that is not worthy of space on anybody’s bookshelf or anybody’s time for that matter. More…

image The Past That Is Not History

By Tomiwa Ilori


  • Title: Regarding Muslims: From Slavery to Post-Apartheid
  • Author: Gabeba Baderoon
  • Publisher: Wits University Press
  • Number of pages: 207
  • Year of publication: 2014
  • Category: History

The book Regarding Muslims seeks, as its fundamental objective, to theorise the history of Muslims in Cape Town, South Africa. The book is a protest staged on the page. With picturesque imagery, the author generates topics for intellectual discourse, works to create equality in the eyes of history and works on how the righting of wrong narratives must be set in motion. By means of historical evidence and by arguments, the book treats contemporary issues that range from slavery to race to Islam. Lenses like slavery and race are used to review the ascendancy of Muslims in the Cape. The literary preoccupations of the book are both historical and contemporary, and careful attention is given to revisionist perspectives. More…

image Christine Coates’ Homegrown is an Alcove of Memory and History: A Review

By Richard Oduor Oduku


  • Title: Homegrown
  • Author: Christine Coates
  • Publisher: Modjaji Books
  • Pages: 69
  • Year of publication: 2014
  • Category: Poetry

Homegrown is a delicate intertwining of personal memory and national history. Memory has always been regarded a high art, even a sacred one, closely akin to the arts of divination and inspiration. In Homegrown, the emotions of daily life litter the pages with acute specificity. Coates uses narrative and everyday conversational language to weave personal experiences and memory as a way of investigating universal themes. The straightforward verse style and colloquial tone and simplicity radiates nostalgia so pervasive, yet so entrancing, in its effort to hold your hand and walk you through all the spaces the poet has passed through. Indeed, the poet sings, ‘I love to go a-wandering – in the dusty town of Africa’. More…