Story telling is such a beautiful art. More than any other people, Africans have mastered this art the best. Just take a look at the hieroglyphics from Egypt and how they tell tales of the times of the Pharaohs, tales that would have been otherwise lost.
Contemporary African authors have taken the African stories to paper and ink, a medium that will ensure the African story is never forgotten. There are many great books by African authors, some of whom I have not been privileged to read. Yet. Here however are my 10 must read books by African Authors for all lovers of literature and story telling.
1. The African Child – Camara Laye
I read this as a 11 year old and loved every word. In it, Laye describes life, growing up as an African child in Guinea, West Africa. Deeply nostalgic, the book is an autobiography portraying a vision of Islamic and ancient African community in the pre colonial era, a time when tradition engendered mutual understanding and respect for all.
2.The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born – Ayi Kwei Armah
This is another childhood favorite although I didn’t understand much of it then until I read it a second time as an adult. It is a satirical attack on the Ghanaian society during Kwame Nkrumah’s regime and the period immediately after independence in the 1960. The book is regarded by many as a close second to Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart as one of the finest books to come out of Africa.
3.The Narrow Path – Francis Selormey
One word to describe this one? Nostalgic. Effortless. Okay that is two words but what a perfect book. Selormey takes us a journey of childhood in rural Ghana. Growing up as the first child has its pains and joys for our little hero and you can’t help but root for Kofi, not even when he is beinga little rascal. Like an African Child, this book is descriptive and filled with imagery that will stay with you for a long time.
4. Weep Not Child – Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o
Ngugi does a great job with this story, weaving fiction and non-fiction seamlessly into a wonderful tale. It is a moving story about the effects of the Mau Mau war on the lives of ordinary men and women in Kenya.
5.Things Fall Apart – Chinua Achebe
Take a deep bow people. This is one of the finest books ever written- by anyone, from wherever. It is probably the best known African novel and has become one of the world’s most influential literary masterpieces. Since publication, nearly 12 million copies have been sold(did i hear someone say ‘bestseller’), with translations into more than 50 languages.
The book has been made into TV series- I clearly remember Pete Edochie’s apt interpretation of the book’s hero Okonkwo.
6. The Passport of Mallam Ilia – Cyprian Ekwensi
Ekwensi is one of an unsung hero of African story telling. From Jagua Nana to Toads for Supper, this wordsmith captures our minds with beautiful tales from all over Nigeria. The Passport of Mallam Ilia is an adventure set in Northern Nigeria and has everything a thriller should possess-adventure, love, betrayal and suspense. It is a beautiful story that will stay with you, long after the last page
7. Cry The Beloved Country – Alan Paton
Your heart cannot help but fill with love and hope after reading this masterpiece. I saw the movie first but no matter, it didn’t spoil the book for me. This is probably the most famous and important novel in South Africa’s history and it became an immediate worldwide bestseller in 1948. It is the deeply moving story of the Zulu pastor Stephen Kumalo and his son, Absalom, set against the background of a land and a people riven by racial injustice.