image The Animist Swath

By Tade Ipadeola


  • Title: Animist Chants and Memorials 
  • Author: Harry Garuba
  • Publisher: Kraft Books Ltd
  • Number of pages: 79
  • Year of publication: 2018
  • Category: Poetry

‘Can we ever again shred the drapery of the word

and return to the fullness of the spell and the chant?’ – Harry Garuba, ‘In the House of the Tongue’

‘What heart is large enough to store a question so long

it troubles every answer that history trades and analysts provide’ – Harry Garuba, ‘Girl and the Dancing Hoop’

The poet Harry Garuba has now published two volumes of poetry 35 years apart. The first of the volumes came from a 24-year-old mind and the second a 59-year-old consciousness, if consciousness can be reckoned by the calendar. Again, installing an eskhatos of any sort to benchmark the poetic output of Harry Garuba may not be a terribly useful undertaking because, like Rilke, even when Harry Garuba is washing his hands, he cannot help being a poet. In the annals of African poetry, the two events matter all the same because they touch – tangentially at first and then emphatically, on a way of seeing, and a way of reckoning and rendering reality that is closer to the geologic than it is to the chronologic – on ‘modern’ temper. More…

image 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…

image 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…

image Striking an Oasis: A Review of A Gecko’s Farewell

By Kemi Falodun


  • Title: A Gecko’s Farewell
  • Author: Maik Nwosu
  • Publisher: Parrésia Publishers Ltd
  • Number of pages: 256
  • Year of publication: 2016
  • Category: Fiction

There have been different narratives dealing with the themes of migration, displacement and home by many African writers. However, Maik Nwosu’s ability to weave different worlds into this novel makes A Gecko’s Farewell an unusual read. ‘A Gecko’s Farewell’ is also the title of an essay and the personal narrative of Mzilikazi, one of the three central characters of this novel and a core member of the Gecko X organisation. Etiaba and Nadia are the other two. These three young Africans, who are on different paths of struggle and discovery, meet on the internet via a platform created for Africans to tell their own stories. In Chimamanda Adichie’s Americanah, Ifemelu creates a community on the blogosphere for people with similar experiences. Etiaba does something similar, Gecko X. The reader will later learn, as the story progresses, how the lives of these three characters intersect. More…

image Our Poet for the Ages

By Tade Ipadeola


  • Title: Remains of a Tide (Poems 2014–2017)
  • Author: J P Clark
  • Publisher: Mosuro Publishers
  • Number of pages: 70
  • Year of publication: 2018
  • Category: Poetry

‘Yes, calls will come of all kinds in the course

Of the day; some on notice; others

At random, the nice with the nasty; then

Finally, of course, the call, that will be

Recorded missed, the caller, having come

And gone away with the one for whom it rang’. – ‘Waiting for the Call’, J P Clark

 

Though praised early for his lyricism and by mid-career lauded for his stunning mastery of idiom, what stands the poetry of J P Clark apart has always consisted of a certain je ne sais quoi. The scholars search for it in his syntax and rhythm, exercise themselves in mapping it throughout his staggeringly varied oeuvre and now have a chance to plumb for it in Remains of a Tide (Poems 2014–2017), coming out of his octogenarian years and as stalwartly Clark as any collection from his youth. You will not find him changed from the man you knew, only surer of what he always held true as man and artist. More…

image A Loom and Star-Crossed Love

By Tade Ipadeola


  • Title: Between Two Worlds
  • Author: Amma Darko
  • Publisher: Sub-Saharan Publishers
  • Number of pages: 524
  • Year of publication: 2015
  • Category: Fiction

Generations of novelists from Ghana have added to the variety of styles and substance of African fiction in many ways. From Ama Ata Aidoo to Ayi Kwei Armah to Kojo Laing and Amma Darko, no two styles of writing are even remotely the same and the paths each have chosen have found followers from all over the continent. A certain pith, a certain depth and scope characterise the best fiction from Ghana and the land has not failed to yield new discoveries to date. More…

image A Toss between Loss and Love in the Spirit of Time

By Su’eddie Vershima Agema


  • Title: A Rare Blue Bird Flies with Me
  • Author: Youssef Fadel
  • Translator: Jonathan Smolin
  • Publisher: Hoopoe
  • Number of pages: 235
  • Year of publication: 2016
  • Category: Fiction

Youssef Fadel’s A Rare Blue Bird Flies with Me is a postcolonial novel and part of a prison literature set in the period of Moroccan history known as the Years of Lead (1961–1999), the reign of King Hassan II. It is the second part of a trilogy that explores that country’s history and culture during the ‘70s and ‘80s. The novel covers a season of imprisonments, maltreatment and murder in Morocco, which was the aftermath of the 1971 and 1972 coups against King Hassan II. More…

image A Tale of New Beginnings

By Kemi Falodun


  • Title: Unlikely
  • Author: Colleen Crawford Cousins 
  • Publisher: Modjaji Books
  • Number of pages: 63
  • Year of publication: 2016
  • Category: Poetry

Different people make different demands of poetry and so it is wise that in this collection Colleen Crawford Cousins writes as one who is free of any pressure to meet everybody’s demands. What more could a poet ask for than a self-selecting audience that thinks it worthwhile to make the effort to connect with the poet’s words? Having already published two books, one co-authored, Unlikely presents an intimate blend of surrender and reinvention of self. More…

image Still Waters and Kaizen

By Tade Ipadeola


  • Title: Little Birds and Ordinary People
  • Author: Deji Haastrup
  • Publisher: Bookcraft
  • Number of pages: 406
  • Year of publication: 2017
  • Category: Memoir

Recent Nigerian memoirs that are not at the same time hagiographies are very hard to come by indeed. The pleasure of encountering Little Birds and Ordinary People, a work straddling the nexus between the written meditation and the compte rendu was therefore welcome relief from the monuments of literary dross littering the landscape much like what passes, for the most part, for contemporary Nigerian architecture or legal practice or broadcasting. More…

image Surviving the Times

By Emeka Ugwu


  • Title: Grace and Other Stories
  • Author: Bongani Sibanda
  • Publisher: Weaver Press
  • Number of pages: 92
  • Year of publication: 2016
  • Category: Fiction

‘An eye for an eye and an ear for an ear may not be adequate in our circumstances. We might very well demand two ears for one ear and two eyes for one eye’. – Robert Mugabe

‘They don’t care if people die. For the sake of political power the government is willing to sacrifice the lives of thousands. The government is starving areas that voted for the opposition in recent elections. It is the work of devils’. – Pius Ncube

Bongani Sibanda’’s debut collection of short stories, Grace and Other Stories, opens as we meet Mlungisi, a young Zimbabwean migrant, who has just returned home on a visit for the first time in a decade. Meeting Mlungisi, the Political Science student at a university in South Africa, we come to learn that his Shona father married his Ndebele mother, who was just sixteen at the time, only to later divorce and throw her out on the streets. With his title story, ‘‘Grace’, Sibanda begins to thread the needle with stories of survival in Matabeleland. More…