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Kenya Wizard of the Crow - Kenyan author Ngugi wa Thiongo. Also, Unbowed by Wangari Maathai.
Nigeria Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Sudan What is the What by Dave Eggers
South Africa Cry, the Beloved Country by Alan Paton. Also A long walk to freedom - Nelson Mandela
Sierra Leone Blood Diamonds by Greg Campbell. Also A long way gone - Ishmael Beah
Botswana The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency - Alexander McCall Smith
Rwanda We wish to inform you that tomorrow we will be killed with our families - Philip Gourevitch
Zimbabwe Zenzele: a letter for my daughter - J Nozipo Maraire
Malawi the boy who harnessed the wind
BTW, I'm glad to see someone trying to reinvigorate this group as I've been "watching" for several months now.
This would be a great annual challenge.
Just to clarify that everyone is of course welcome to set their own goals, rules, time challenges, etc. Mine personal goal may be different from others'. I'm just looking to learn, become aware, be entertained, etc. I hope this will spur some interesting and likely poignant discussions as well.
In addition to listing the books, I'll try, as I can, to include some info, opinions, and/or reviews on them, and hope that others will share as well.
Algeria - Assia Djebar - Children of the World
Botswana - Moteane Melamu - The Unweeded Garden and Other Stories
Congo-Brazzaville - Alain Mabanckou - African Psycho
Egypt - Ahmed Alaidy - Being Abbas el Abd
Ethiopia - Nega Mezlekia - The God Who Begat A Jackal
Kenya – Ngugi wa Thiong’o – Wizard of the Crow
La Cote d'Ivoire - Ahmadou Kourouma - Allah is not Obliged
Libya - Hisham Matar - In The Country of Men
Morocco - Tahar Ben Jelloun - This Blinding Absence of Light
Mozambique - Mia Coutu - Under the Frangipani
Nigeria - Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani -I Do Not Come To You By Chance
Sierra Leone - Ishmael Beah - A Long Way Gone
South Africa – J.M. Coetzee – Disgrace
Uganda - Moses Isegawa - Snakepit
Zimbabwe - Solomon Mutswairo - Chaminuka: Prophet of Zimbabwe
Next up is something perhaps a bit lighter and fictional: The number one ladies' detective agency for Botswana.
i may add Blood Diamonds to my tbr. My father in law was from Sierra Leone. it just seems there was a different work i was more interested in but on the same subject. i can't recall it at the moment.
This mystery series is set in Botswana, where the heroine Precious Ramotswe sets up the first (and only) detective agency in Gabarone. A bit like an African Ms. Marple, in the first installment Mma Ramotswe goes about solving cases including a missing husband, a con man, following a wayward daughter, and tracking a missing boy.
It's a light and quick read, the mysteries are fairly easily solved, and the sleuthing is often straightforward, though its clear Mma Ramotswe is a novice and her clients sometimes don't pay and her subjects sometimes outwit her. Detective issues aside its a neat look at Botswana and Gabarone. I found that while enjoyable, this was one of the rare times I can say I enjoyed the TV version better, even though I've only seen the first episode, which corresponds very well to the first book. The HBO miniseries did a better job at fleshing out the characters, particularly the secretary and Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni, and of interweaving the cases as they arose as opposed to spending a brief chapter on each one.
While this was fun, I'm not sure that I'm compelled to read the rest. I will probably put the rest of the HBO miniseries on my queue to see though.
All that being said, its a fascinating read. Really interesting. Mandela really tries to give a sense of what is going on politically, socially, and in his life, with just the right amount of detail.
What I don't understand quite so well so far is why, when the tactics of nonviolence appeared to be working - and in fact was one of the staying powers for his and others to get off the hook during the Treason Trial, - Mandela felt that it was absolutely necessary to form the MK guerrila army and to take the more militant route. Clearly Mandela was becoming a focal organizer for the ANC, and perhaps to steal the thunder from the PAC, a faster/more visible message was being sought. But.. it seemed to me that the ANC was on the right track with its adherence to the principles of nonviolence.
Gandhi had been a guiding influence in the early stages of the ANC - why did this change?
I am looking to learn more, since this is my first exposure to South African history. I fully admit I do not know what I'm talking about here :)
Another thing that amazes me about him is his cognizance (and candor of such) about what his re/actions represent and symbolize to others, and not just for himself. For instance, he does not let his captors on Robben Island see his emotional side or personal side by intentionally pacing himself as he receives a letter (few and far between) from his wife that he is allowed to receive, or his behavior and reactions upon being arrested and not attempting escape or bail when presented with the opportunities. That level of personal control and is impressive, particularly when all eyes are watching.
And yet, his writing is so personal and personable and reasonable. Perhaps this one of those traits that set him apart from other leaders around the world?
I do encourage others to join the discussion - I am interested in learning from others in this group to supplement and discuss what I learn from what I read.
"During the genocide, I didn't know - I thought so many people did as I did, because I know that if they'd wanted they could have done so." - Paul Rusesabagina
About halfway through the we wish to inform you that tomorrow we will be killed with our families the author makes a few very simple, should-be-obvious, yet completely overlooked points about the genocide that I think are central to understanding what happened:
1) that the causes were not as straightforward or pithy or about nothing as was commonly described by outsiders or the develped world
2) that essentially the genocide was political strategy, and that it was not simply a case of descent into an anarchic scramble for power, nor was it an end but rather a means.
3) that Rwandans, especially the Hutu Power refugees, are not babes in the wilderness, or naive, and have self-motivations and strategies, and have been able to manipulate and utilize the international community for their own benefit.
The author lays the groundwork for a compelling argument that the international community has a moral imperative to take the side of preventing loss of human life and should be able to committ troops - really commit troops - to do so.
Further, that justice, as of 1998, had not prevailed and was not on a course to do so.
A stronger case for internationalism could be made from the example of Rwanda and its contrast to the Holocaust in Europe.
I am really curious to read something on Rwanda and the aftermath of the genocide in the last decade to bring me up to speed.
Though Nelson Mandela wrote these words about his colleague Oliver Tambo, they are fitting to him as well: "He too epitomized Chief Luthuli's precept: 'Let your courage rise with danger.'"
Nelson Mandela's autobiography is simply a must read. Mandela's writing captures your attention and dares you to disbelieve that he is not in the room telling you these things himself. Though a thumper of a book at over 600 pages, it was impossible for me to read less than 50-75 at a time. I highly recommend it to everyone.
He wrote the first draft while in prison on Robben Island, and it eloquently and deftly tells his story: his noble birth and legal training, the rise of his political consciousness and activism, his struggles against the apartheid regime, his trials for treason and his decades of political imprisonment on Robben Island. No matter the challenge, Mandela's courage rises to meet it: going underground, representing fellow prisoners for grievances for color-blind food rations and clothing, and being separated from his wife and family with visitations separated by years.
Mandela recounts numerous anecdotes to point out lessons learned, disparities impossible to ignore, changing perceptions of the political and social world (both inside and outside prison), and what is required of a leader. “Like the gardener, a leader must take responsibility for what he cultivates; he must mind his work, try to repel enemies, preserve what can be preserved, and eliminate what cannot succeed.” His cognizance and candor about what his re/actions represent and symbolize to others amazes me. As a person who possesses the inner strength, self-control, and follow-through, Mandela fits the billing of a real-life superhero, on the scale of Gandhi and Moses.
i finished we wish to inform you last night. if i havent said it before, this was one of those books where reading just a few pages was not really an option. I liked this book because the first half tells the story of what happed during the Rwandan genocide, and the second half tells why it happend. Philip Gourevitch doesn't flinch at pulling punches, he doesn't shy away from saying 'x screwed up', or from taking sides, and he isn't afraid to said that intolerance is intolerable or that Rwandans are people with motives and politics, rather than some backward primordial tribal people.
This is not a dry book, but nor is it a weepy book - it presents personal stories through the genocide, profiles of how Rwandans see themselves and the time 'Before' and up to 1998, but also a sharp look at the West and developed nations.
Overall highly recommended, but not for the faint of heart reading at teatime.
I have read about half of A long way gone by Ishmael Beah.
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