The Road to Survival and Happiness

By Veronica Elias Ugian

  • Title: Flame and Song
  • Author: Phillipa Namutebi Kabali-Kagwa
  • Publisher: Modjaji Books
  • Number of pages: 189
  • Year of publication: 2016
  • Category: Memoir

‘To put the world in order, we must first put the nation in order; to put the nation in order, we must put the family in order; to put the family in order, we must cultivate our personal life; and to cultivate our personal life, we must first set our hearts right’. – Confucius

In 2016, the Ugandan author, Philippa Namutebi Kabali-Kagwa, published a memoir on family, memories and survival during the periods of political violence in Uganda. Weaving poetry and prose to narrate her journey from birth to adulthood, all the circumstances that surrounded her and her family and how they were able to live through political violence, she shows that sometimes home is not about places or aura but about people, and maybe we can make people our homes. More…

On Motherhood: A Love Story

By Tolulope Odebunmi

  • Title: Tales of Mother
  • Author: Dupe Kuku
  • Publisher: Coal Media
  • Number of pages: 124
  • Year of publication: 2018
  • Category: Memoirs (Short Stories)

In this collection of stories and reminiscences, Ms Kuku immortalises her mother, Mrs Kuku, through a recollection of fond and not so fond memories from the younger Kuku’s childhood and adulthood. In Dupe Kuku’s attempt to keep Aya Kuku’s memory alive, the younger Kuku shares personal stories about friendship, mentorship and parenthood (motherhood). The tales in this collection will be relatable for people who grew up in southwestern Nigeria, especially millennials. More…

Overcoming Tribulations in Bukky Agboola’s I Made It Through

By Timi Odueso

  • Title: I Made It Through
  • Author: Bukky Agboola
  • Publisher: Winepress Publishing
  • Number of pages: 148
  • Year of publication: 2016
  • Category: Memoir

‘We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed’. – 2 Corinthians 4:8–9, New American Standard Bible

Memoirs – political, religious or otherwise – tend to portray the lives of those they are based on as miraculous collections of occurrences that proselytise ways in which the reader supposedly can achieve the grace, faith, happiness and/or success of the author. This is understandable. However, I Made It Through is unlike such. More…

In Memory of a Coloured Crime

By Tolu Akinwole

  • Title: Born a Crime and Other Stories
  • Author: Trevor Noah
  • Publisher: Pan Macmillan South Africa
  • Number of pages: 342
  • Year of publication: 2016
  • Category: Memoir

Ensconced in your cosy couch in your snug living room, you are watching a television show. It is one of these satirical television shows that analyse political happenings in the US. You are not, perhaps, an American, but you know these are very interesting times for Americans. The host is a fair-complexioned young man who is doing an impressive job of ‘cracking up’ his audience and incisively analysing the American political situation. Now you are asking yourself questions: ‘Who is that man?’ ‘Where did he get that insight from?’ You can easily figure out the answer to the first question because his name gleams on the screen almost as soon as you ask yourself, as if you and the television were elements of a piece of science fiction in which the television has learnt to read the human mind: Trevor Noah. The answer to the second question is hidden in Born a Crime and Other Stories, a charming summary of the first three decades of his life. Trevor Noah’s memoir recounts the adventure of an outsider in his own land, a lone leaf afloat on a troubled sea. More…

When to Write about Yourself

By Agbonmire Ifeh

  • Title: To Quote Myself
  • Author: Khaya Dlanga
  • Publisher: Pan Macmillan South Africa
  • Number of pages: 208
  • Year of publication: 2015
  • Category: Memoir

Khaya Dlanga is neither a persecuted writer nor is he an African leader of some repute. He has never been to prison like Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o or Wole Soyinka. He is not a glorious leader like Nelson Mandela or Obafemi Awolowo, so what gives him the afflatus to undertake the lofty goal of writing a memoir in the prime of his life? More…

Igbobi Boy: The Crisis of Education in Nigeria

By Emeka Ugwu

  • Title: Igbobi Boy
  • Author: Adebayo Lamikanra
  • Publisher: Amkra Books
  • Number of pages: 307
  • Year of publication: 2014
  • Category: Memoir

‘[T]he ‘default setting’ of nine out of ten is primordial, no doubt. But as W E B DuBois says, we are after the talented tenth’. – Tade Ipadeola

‘Traditions are extremely difficult to establish and more difficult to maintain because once they begin to unravel, the whole edifice comes crashing down and is lost without a trace within a short period of time’. – Adebayo Lamikanra

Adebayo Lamikanra’s Igbobi Boy would appeal to any dyed-in-the-wool rascal. To be certain, Igbobi Boy is more than a delicately written story about life as a student at the elite, missionary secondary school, Igbobi College in the ‘60s. It is also a book that draws considerable attention to the hapless state of Nigeria’s dysfunctional education system. The book challenges the unfounded notion that quality education in Nigeria only began a nosedive from the mid-’80s. More…

This Is How History Is Fortified

By Jumoke Verissimo

  • Title: With My Head above the Parapet: An Insider Account of the ANC in Power
  • Author: Ben Turok
  • Publisher: Jacana Media (Pty) Ltd
  • Number of pages: 214
  • Year of publication: 2014
  • Category: Politics

‘But there is no room for sentimentality in politics and I am in no mood to put a rosy gloss on where we are now’ (p 11).

This quote from the ‘Introduction’ in Ben Turok’s book, With My Head above the Parapet: An Insider Account of the ANC in Power, prepares the reader for an insightful procedure on the economy and politics of the ANC in power, based on the experience of a veteran and active member of the party. More…

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…

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…

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…