image 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…

image Forging Oral Tales into Written Stories: A Review of Ekọñ Ñke

By Agatha Aduro


  • Title: Ekọñ Ñke: Our Stories
  • Author: Ini Ite Ubong
  • Publisher: Extra Proff Media
  • Number of pages: 190
  • Year of publication: 2015
  • Category: Children

For many centuries, the oral art of storytelling was an integral part of many African cultures. Each ethnic group has its own treasure trove of folklore, which was used to entertain and provide moral instruction to children during nocturnal sessions held in the moonlight. These activities were an integral part of community life but were sacrificed on the altar of ‘civilisation’. Over the years, traditional storytelling has struggled to keep up with the times, being recreated in various forms so as to be transmitted by the media of the times. More…

image A Marriage of Inconvenience

By Dami Ajayi


  • Title: Nuptials at Vespers & Other Strains
  • Author: John Ngong Kum Ngong
  • Publisher: Langaa RPCIG
  • Number of pages: 84
  • Year of publication: 2015
  • Category: Poetry

John Ngong Kum Ngong is one of the prolific Anglophone Cameroonian poets working today. With seven poetry collections already, Nuptial at Vespers & Other Strains is his eighth, and it has forty-four interconnected poems that dwell, as the title would indicate, on a kind of marriage. To the reader with a mind already primed by the delights of heterosexual love and attraction, the title of the collection might evoke images of a church wedding. However, four poems into the collection and the title poem will disabuse the reader of any notions of typical, white weddings (think Philip Larkin’s ‘The Whitsun Weddings’). The image of a wedding where the officiating minister, a gawky Mayor, ‘smiles at the thought of loot’, is put forward instead. More…

image The Maddening Drive to Make It by Any Means

By Agbonmire Ifeh


  • Title: By Any Means
  • Author: Kurt Ellis
  • Publisher: Human & Rousseau
  • Number of pages: 208
  • Year of publication: 2014
  • Category: Fiction

Kurt Ellis’s By Any Means is a fictional account of the realities of young coloured people in South Africa. It describes the dysfunctional state of the family and society; it shows how poverty ravages a people and how that leads to the emergence of a dog-eat-dog system and the savage struggles for survival. The novel is divided into two parts, a first part titled ‘Cause’ and a second part titled ‘Consequence’. More…

image The Promise of Hope: A Review

By Dami Ajayi


  • Title: The Promise of Hope: New and Selected Poems, 1964–2013
  • Author: Kofi Awoonor
  • Publisher: Amalion Publishing
  • Number of pages: 297
  • Year of publication: 2014
  • Category: Poetry

On 21 September 2013, one of Ghana’s illustrious poets, Kofi Awoonor, was shot dead by gunmen of the Al-Shabaab terrorist group at the Westgate Shopping Mall. He was in Nairobi, attending Kenya’s biggest book festival, the Storymoja Festival. He was a father, an academic, a diplomat and a poet, with a practice of more than fifty years. A few days before his death, he held an advance copy of the book that was to become his last, The Promise of Hope: New and Selected Poems, 1964–2013, and was said to have remarked on its beauty. More…

image Fifty Poems of a Nigerian Century

By Su’eddie Vershima Agema


  • Title: Poems for a CenturyAn Anthology on Nigeria
  • Editor: Tope Omoniyi
  • Publisher: Amalion Publishing
  • Number of pages: 79
  • Year of publication: 2014
  • Category: Poetry

Anthologies of diverse works by different writers are published every once in a while to celebrate one event or the other. Sometimes, they are for causes. The most popular of these anthologies collect essays, short stories, or poetry. Recent anthologies include the SEVHAGE flood publications, The Promise This Time Was Not a Flood and The Rainbow Lied, poetry and short stories respectively. Both anthologies feature artistic responses to the 2011 flood in Nigeria. More…

image Self Ties

By Modupe Yusuf


  • Title: Those Who Wait
  • Number of pages: 156
  • Title: Perfectly Imperfect
  • Number of pages: 168
  • Year of publication: 2014
  • Title: Plain Yellow
  • Number of pages: 175
  • Year of publication: 2015
  • Author: Ruby Yayra Goka
  • Publisher: Techmate Publishers Limited
  • Category: Young Adult

The challenges of youth are innumerable. Ruby Yayra Goka is one writer who has chosen to explore the experiences of youth, with all of its challenges and adventures, and in the books under review, even though the experiences of youth are not exclusively those of the girl-child, Goka explores youth-related themes and issues through young, female protagonists. More…

image The Boy Who Spat in Sargrenti’s Eye: The Lion’s Account of the Hunt

By Agatha Aduro


  • Title: The Boy Who Spat in Sargrenti’s Eye
  • Author: Manu Herbstein
  • Publisher: Techmate Publishers Limited
  • Number of pages: 236
  • Year of publication: 2014
  • Category: Young Adult

‘Do you know who Sargrenti was? That was the name I gave to Major General Sir Garnet Wolseley, KCMG, Commander of the British Queen Victoria’s Army which invaded Asante and sacked its capital, Kumase, in 1874, 21 years ago. Here he is, with his waxed moustache and medals’.

These are the opening sentences of The Boy Who Spat in Sargrenti’s Eye, discounting the ‘Author’s Note’ which precedes them. The author’s note is itself a part of this fictionalised retelling of one of the five conflicts that are together known as the Anglo-Ashanti Wars, specifically the Third Anglo-Ashanti War, also known as The First Ashanti Expedition. More…

image The Poet and Her People

By Kwabena Agyare Yeboah


  • Title: The Birth of Illusion
  • Author: Jumoke Verissimo
  • Publisher: Fullpoint Publications and Communications
  • Number of pages: 83
  • Year of publication: 2015
  • Category: Poetry

‘Once upon a time in one’s land not far not near

Pigs ruled men and ate their carcass for lunch

Men became pigs and ate themselves for dinner

And then pain designed poetry into gelatin brains

To conjure feelings in the stitched spines of papers’

The quotation above is from Jumoke Verissimo’s poem, ‘The Birth of Poets’, which appears in the collection The Birth of Illusion. The quoted lines set up what the collection concerns itself with. It paints the idea that the world is full of absurdity. And, that is why there is poetry and poets. Poetry is for the people and the poet is one of the people. She, the poet, should speak to power. She should unsettle. She should interrogate the establishment. She should be an enquirer of the human soul. More…

image The Dismal and Grim Life Story of Anna P

By Agbonmire Ifeh


  • Title: The Story of Anna P, as Told by Herself
  • Author: Penny Busetto
  • Publisher: Jacana Media (Pty) Ltd
  • Number of pages: 155
  • Year of publication: 2014
  • Category: Fiction

Penny Busetto’s The Story of Anna P, as Told by Herself is an experimental fusion of literature and psychology – issues of memory, identity, self and existentialism are handled with sagacity. The Story of Anna P, as Told by Herself is a divided into three parts: the first part is titled ‘Book of the Present’, the second part is ‘Book of Memory’ and the last part is ‘Book of the Future’. More…