image Rhetoric of Pain and Other Resources

By Tomiwa Ilori


  • Title: A Nation in Labour
  • Author: Harriet Anena
  • Publisher: Millenium Press Ltd
  • Number of pages: 79
  • Year of publication: 2015
  • Category: Poetry

Pain sells. It is from it that the most beautiful expressions are fashioned to last in time and memory. There has been an attempt to explore the poetics of pain, anguish and feeling in a world where the economy is deception and its currency is ‘fakeness’. That attempt is Harriet Anena’s A Nation in Labour. A Nation in Labour is a four-part treatise that uses elevated language to tell of horror. Anena’s collection of poetry warns society about its warped value system through a disciplined use of satiric responses that resonate. Each part of the treatise soaks our dessicated humanity in fluid cadences. More…

image When Best Loved Tales for Africa Are Not Enough: A Review of Refilwe

By Adaudo Anyiam-Osigwe


  • Title: Refilwe
  • Author: Zukiswa Wanner
  • Illustrator: Tamsin Hinrichsen
  • Publisher: Jacana Media
  • Number of pages: 32
  • Year of publication: 2015
  • Category: Children

The African retelling of ‘best loved tales’, with a primary aim to encourage a love of reading in preschool and nursery school children, is commendable. Introducing children to the world of books and helping them develop a yearning for reading provides them with a platform to progressively experience the vast knowledge the world has to offer. However, there is a distinction to be made between the goal of such endeavours and the routes taken to achieve this aim. More…

image A Family Affair

By Modupe Yusuf


  • Title: After the Tears
  • Author: Michelle Faure
  • Publisher: Cover2Cover Books
  • Number of pages: 144
  • Year of publication: 2014
  • Category: Young Adult

Ideal love stories are ideal because they are a near-perfect imitation of what we dream love should be about. They have a happy ending, too. This love story, After the Tears, is however not that ideal. The recklessness of youth and the calculations of the not so young sometimes result in unforeseen and seemingly helpless situations. Such is the case with Busi whose life suffers a sharp reversal when she is made pregnant by her much older and married boyfriend. Having to care for her ageing grandmother while preparing for her final examinations and while dealing with the embarrassment of a swelling belly, she shies away from all social activities involving her schoolmates. Her otherwise simple life takes interesting turns within a really short time. More…

image In Praise of Death: An Existentialist Reading of Smithereens of Death

By Richard Oduor Oduku


  • Title: Smithereens of Death
  • Author: Olubunmi Familoni
  • Publisher: WriteHouse Collective, Ibadan, Nigeria
  • Number of pages: 124
  • Year of publication: 2015
  • Category: Fiction

‘Life is about death; tiny pieces of dying… but when the last piece has been peeled away, the grief that remains is an open sore on the hearts of those left behind – you cannot cover it with anything, with living … It will not heal tomorrow, or the day after …’ (‘A Rain of Many Things’, p 88)

 Life is inherently devoid of meaning. Like Jean-Paul Sartre would say, it is up to man to find meaning for himself. The inherent meaninglessness does not equal doom and depression. Rather, it opens up doors of possibilities and feeds the idea that we earn our freedom by finding ourselves and creating our own meanings. Existentialism lies at the heart of Smithereens of Death. In this collection of short stories, the characters create their own sense of purpose because of the failure of externalities – God and society – to provide one. More…

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…