image The Trigger-Happy Generation

By Tomiwa Ilori


  • Title: Gang Town
  • Author: Don Pinnock
  • Publisher: NB Publishers
  • Number of pages: 312
  • Year of publication: 2016
  • Category: Sociology

‘When I first killed a man in Hanover Park I was 13. It’s a great feeling, the feeling I have when I hold a gun in my hand. I have no fear. I get excited…. Every gun is lot of power’ – Clifton, Hanover Park, 2014

Violence is a means of communication. In whatever language it is expressed, its message spreads fast. One of its most insistent messages is that those who receive hurt should return respect. It is this communicative dimension, as an important trait of every human, that the book Gang Town by Don Pinnock explores. More…

image To Do a Person’s Work: A Review of Boy, Interrupted

By Tunji Olalere


  • Title: Boy, Interrupted
  • Author: Saah Millimono
  • Publisher: Kwani Trust
  • Number of pages: 150
  • Year of publication: 2014
  • Category: Fiction

‘SBU da Small Boy Unit, the albino said. Today we na bring dem wif us. You say yor son da twelve year ol, but wait until you see seven-year-ol boys in deh SBU’

There are many absurdities in life. Love in a time of war, for example. Nobel peace medals on the chests of warlords or commanders of drone attacks or financiers of genocide. What about dynamite? Do not ask. More…

image Breaking the Cryptex: A Review of H J Golakai’s The Score

By Uchenna Ekweremadu


  • Title: The Score
  • Author: H J Golakai
  • Publisher: Kwela Books
  • Number of pages: 376
  • Year of publication: 2015
  • Category: Fiction

Every day, we hear or read about employers ‘actively poaching’ stars from their rivals. Should these employers grow weary of their new hires shortly after taking them on, they begin assigning them either impossible tasks or, paradoxically, unchallenging ones, all in order to get them to quit by their own volition. But in The Score, what starts out as a ploy to frustrate the protagonist, Voinjama (Vee) Johnson, ends up making her more valuable. More…

image The Ghosts of 1894: Revisiting the Rwandan Genocide

By Emeka Ugwu


  • Title: The Ghosts of 1894
  • Author: Oduor Jagero
  • Publisher: KoaMedia
  • Number of pages: 254
  • Year of publication: 2015
  • Category: Fiction

‘What happened in Rwanda happened to us all – humanity was wounded by the genocide’. – Immaculée Ilibagiza, Rwandan author

‘The Rwandan Liberation Front, Tutsi-dominated, has demonstrated that its cadres are not above acts of vengeance. A vicious cycle is the inevitable legacy of generations yet unborn’. – The Open Sore of a Continent, Wole Soyinka

In The Ghosts of 1894, Oduor Jagero does not only revisit the scene of what is perhaps Africa’s most brutal event of human rights violation, he also examines its root causes. It is a tragic story told mostly through the eyes of the characters Habineza, Vestine and Sandra, survivors of the Rwandan genocide. Given the novel’s title, students of African history will instantly deduce that the book fingers 1894 – the year in which explorers led by the German Count Gustav Adolf von Gotzen set foot in Rwanda – as the exact point in history when the country’s ghosts came into being. More…

image Worlds All Our Own: A Review of AfroSFv2

By Tinuke Adeyi


  • Title: AfroSFv2
  • Editor: Ivor W Hartmann
  • Publisher: StoryTime
  • Number of pages: 487
  • Year of publication: 2015
  • Category: Fiction

These worlds get you as much as they did the last time you visited. There are no disappointments. In fact, your need being greater now than at your last visit, your pleasure is doubled. Such is the response Ivor W Hartmann’s AfroSFv2 draws out of any reader whose literary pleasure centres have been sensitised by the preceding anthology he edited, AfroSF: Science Fiction by African Writers. More…

image The Life and Times of Lost Poems

By Kwabena Agyare Yeboah


  • Title: The Road to Jamaica: Poems, 1968–1970, and New Poems, 2012–2013
  • Author: Syl Cheney-Coker
  • Publisher: Karantha Publishing House and Sierra Leonean Writers Series
  • Number of pages: 67
  • Year of publication: 2015
  • Category: Poetry

In 2014, Richard Oduor Oduku wrote an essay that was essentially a lamentation. He was worried about his old, unpublished poems, about the fact that those poems might not be a good representation of his evolution and current thinking, about the fact that his old voice, which bore witness to a part of history, could be lost to time. At the end of ‘Where Do Old Unpublished Poems (and Stories) Go?’ he asks these questions:

Still, in your own life as a creator, where do your old unpublished poems (and stories) go? Do they acquire a life of their own and live undeterred in the darkness inside box locks or digital backups? Are they historied or they die off and reincarnate as new poems and stories? More…

image Pinpointing the Troubles of Modern South Africa: A Review of Affluenza

By Agbonmire Ifeh


  • Title: Affluenza
  • Author: Niq Mhlongo
  • Publisher: Kwela Books
  • Number of pages: 190
  • Year of publication: 2016
  • Category: Fiction

Scientists have discovered that the brain has a negative bias that causes humans to continually look for bad news. Perhaps that explains why writers are prone to write books about sad topics. As the writer Khaled Hosseini aptly noted, ‘Sad stories make good books’. More…

image 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…

image African Oral Art or Literature?: A Review of My Father’s Song

By Tọ́pẹ́ Salaudeen-Adégòkè


  • Title: My Father’s Song
  • Author: Efo Kodjo Mawugbe
  • Publisher: Afram Publications (Ghana) Limited
  • Number of pages: 232
  • Year of publication: 2015
  • Category: Fiction

Whether African oral art should be written down is a question that has been considered by many scholars. In fact, it has been argued that the genre should be regarded as ‘art’ and not ‘literature’. One of the perspectives on the genre, raised by a notable scholar, Ruth Finnegan, is that ‘literature’ denotes text and written material while ‘art’ works perfectly well for describing the genre because it was essentially oral and unwritten. More…

image A Poet That More People Should Know: A Review of A Book of Rooms by Kobus Moolman

By Richard Oduor Oduku


  • Title: A Book of Rooms
  • Author: Kobus Moolman
  • Publisher: Deep South
  • Number of pages: 98
  • Year of publication: 2014
  • Category: Poetry

To get a glimpse of the innermost spaces of A Book of Rooms, one must be cognisant of how creative works come into being. There are works that spring wholly from the poet’s intention to produce a specific result. To achieve this, the poet treats the material, adding to it, subtracting from it, emphasising an effect here, toning an effect there, keenly juggling the laws of form and style, all the while working towards the intended, ultimate end. This is a scenario where the poet is aware and is in control of the creative process. More…