image Grandma’s Hands

By Vuyo Mzini


  • Title: May I Have This Dance
  • Author: Connie Manse Ngcaba
  • Publisher: Face2Face
  • Number of pages: 131
  • Year of publication: 2014
  • Category: Autobiography

Bill Withers, the soulful American singer-songwriter who recorded between the early 1970s and mid 1980s, has a song titled ‘Grandma’s Hands’. In Withers’ characteristic style of simple lyrics and melodies, the three-verse song summarises the love of a grandmother through anecdotes about domestic harmony, musical creativity, resilience, family and humanity. The autobiography of Mama Connie Manse Ngcaba, titled May I Have This Dance, has similar musicality and reads like a long conversation with a loving grandmother. It is peppered with flavoursome anecdotes and delivered gracefully. The wise 84-year-old authoritatively retells the story of a life governed by guiding principles of love, discipline and loyalty to one’s kin. More…

image Koleka’s Memories

By Ofuonyeadi Chukwudumebi Mercy


  • Title: Collective Amnesia 
  • Author: Koleka Putuma
  • Publisher: uHlanga Press
  • Number of pages: 111
  • Year of publication: 2017
  • Category: Poetry

Koleka Putuma’s debut poetry collection, Collective Amnesia, is a collection of fifty-one poems divided into three parts: ‘Inherited Memory’, ‘Buried Memory’ and ‘Post Memory’. The three parts into which the collection is divided encompass all the memories that the society of the poet-persona would like to forget, as the title of the collection implies. Putuma was born in 1993 in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, and the themes in this collection are centred on the African society and its experiences. In the collection, the poet-persona describes her experiences as an African woman. She depicts African society and discusses its makeup, the good and the bad, and also evaluates all aspects of that society, leaving no stone unturned. More…

image Cutting Culture Off: A Review of Mary Karooro Okurut’s The Switch

By Timi Odueso


  • Title: The Switch
  • Author: Mary Karooro Okurut
  • Publisher: FEMRITE Publications Limited
  • Number of pages: 211
  • Year of publication: 2016
  • Category: Fiction

‘Culture can be the worst form of imprisonment’. – Dr Medard

Mary Karooro Okurut’s The Switch contains numerous exhilarating elements but first and foremost is the intensity and intrigue the first few pages offer. The suspense, right from the first few pages, is reminiscent of a thriller novel. Readers will feel the same impending sense of danger they feel in reading prolific thriller writers like James Patterson, John Grisham or Nora Roberts, and although The Switch is not a crime thriller or a mystery novel per se, it still, heavily so, employs elements from those sub-genres and that gives it a unique style. In fact, the style of writing and the elements involved are so unusual for books with the same or similar themes as The Switch that the effect is pleasantly surprising. More…

image A Poetic Awareness of the Self

By Ayodele Ibiyemi 


  • Title: Liminal
  • Author: Douglas Reid Skinner
  • Publisher: uHlanga Press
  • Number of pages: 77
  • Year of publication: 2017
  • Category: Poetry

Liminal is Douglas Reid Skinner’s seventh collection of poems, and the age and experience of the poet are obvious throughout the collection. Although he is one of South Africa’s most prolific poets, he is not a canonised poet because of the politics and dynamics of canonisation. More…

image The Yearnings of Our Hearts

By Omotola Otubela


  • Title: Wondering and Wandering of Hearts
  • Editors: Susan N Kiguli and Hilda J Twongyeirwe
  • Publisher: FEMRITE Publications Limited
  • Number of pages: 255
  • Year of publication: 2017
  • Category: Poetry

‘[T]he happiest aspect of this anthology for me is the dexterity and polish of the compositions of many of the young poets included. As I have said elsewhere, this refinement is, obviously, not accidental. It is the result of dedicated and systematic hard work, which is a sine-qua-non of all good writing. The young people’s seriousness in this direction is a heart-warming vindication of my lifelong advocacy of technique in creativity’. – Mwalimu Austin Bukenya, FEMRITE Honorary Member

Wondering and Wandering of Hearts is an anthology that features poems from renowned poets, young poets, as well as a new generation of emerging writers. The poems delve into the niches and nuances of different aspects of Ugandan society. Unlike FEMRITE’s previous anthology of short stories, Nothing to See Here (2015), this anthology of poems provides a generous representation of male voices. The reader will find thematic explorations of political, economic, social and psychological issues in this anthology. More…

image People of the Book: A Review of Diary of a Jewish Muslim

By Ona Akinde 


  • Title: Diary of a Jewish Muslim 
  • Author: Kamal Ruhayyim 
  • Translator: Sarah Enany
  • Publisher: The American University in Cairo Press
  • Number of pages: 240
  • Year of publication: 2014
  • Category: Fiction

In the first half of the twentieth century, there were thousands of Jews living in Egypt. With the 1948 Arab-Israeli war, their lives in Egypt became increasingly difficult and many emigrated to Europe. Not only did the war have an effect on the status of things in reality, it led to a great absence of Arab Jews in African literature in Arabic. Kamal Ruhayyim, through his novels, tells stories that place Arab Jews not just at the centre of the novels, but as part of the fabric of Arab communities. More…

image Orality, Nostalgic Sensitivity and Cultural Nationalism in According to Sources

By Nureni Ibrahim 


  • Title: According to Sources 
  • Editors: Martin Egblewogbe and Mawuli Adjei
  • Publisher: Woeli Publishing Services
  • Number of pages: 85
  • Year of publication: 2015
  • Category: Poetry

‘For the African people, oral tradition is linked to their way of life. Most African societies place great worth in oral tradition because it is a primary means of conveying culture. It is also a mode of transmitting feelings and attitudes. For centuries, African people depended upon oral tradition to teach the listeners important traditional values and morals pertaining to how to live. Oral tradition delivers explanations to the mysteries of the universe and the meaning of life on earth’. – Sharon Wilson, ‘African Oral Tradition’

According to Sources is an anthology of poems by Ghanaian poets. It engages the reader on the themes of cultural nationalism, nostalgic sensitivity and the underlying principles of orality in postcolonial literature. The anthology is a projection of African customs and traditions. The poems are not only models of African culture, they also build a bridge between the precolonial and postcolonial African identities. ‘Libation of Blood’ and ‘Abracadabra Adabraka’ are two poems that treat precolonial and colonial African experiences and identities.

More…

image Corruption at Its Ugliest in Chidubem Iweka’s August Inmates

By Veronica Elias Ugian


  • Title: August Inmates
  • Author: Chidubem Iweka
  • Publisher: Kraft Books Limited
  • Number of pages: 65
  • Year of publication: 2015
  • Category: Drama

‘There is no greater tyranny than that which is perpetrated under the shield of the law and in the name of justice’. – Charles-Louis de Secondat

Chidubem Iweka’s August Inmates is a fascinating, satirical play. Addressing politics, democracy and governance in Africa, the play explores a very relatable story. Many readers will easily identify with the plot and the characters, as they are reminders of our present political sphere. The writing is suspenseful and leaves readers on the edge of their seats, wondering how events will unfold. As far as suspense goes in literature, this play provides the highest form. More…

image Martyrdom and Immortality in the Poems of Ogaga Ifowodo

By Ekemini Pius


  • Title: A Good Mourning
  • Author: Ogaga Ifowodo
  • Publisher: Parrésia Publishers Ltd
  • Number of pages: 78
  • Year of publication: 2016
  • Category: Poetry

A Good Mourning is a great attempt by Ogaga Ifowodo to immortalise people and events that have shaped history. With his superb ability in using imagery, he reopens old wounds and unearths the works of people who sacrificed themselves to make our world a better place. More…

image The Modern African Woman in Francine Simon’s Thungachi

By Ofuonyeadi Chukwudumebi Mercy


  • Title: Thungachi
  • Author: Francine Simon
  • Publisher: uHlanga Press
  • Number of pages: 63
  • Year of publication: 2017
  • Category: Poetry

‘You have to read my poetry to understand my culture better and how complicated it is. I also had a lot of influence from the schools I went to. I was competing with the cultural effects of school and cultural effects of home, so I feel like I have mixed influences’. – Francine Simon

As a poet and a PhD candidate in the Department of English, Stellenbosch University, Francine Simon certainly has her fingers in more than one pie. Born in Durban in 1990 to Indian Catholic parents, Simon is ‘one of South Africa’s most unexpectedly excellent poetic débutantes’. Her poems are famous in South Africa and she is widely published in South African literary journals such as New Contrast, New Coin, and Aerodrome. More…