2015 Africa Reading Challenge

Welcome to the Africa Reading Challenge.

This will be the third time that I’m hosting the Africa Reading Challenge.  Details and requirements are the same this year as for the 2012 Africa Reading Challenge, which started with: “I have absolutely no reason for hosting nor urging you to participate in this challenge save for the joy of discovering and reading African literature!” Here are the details:

Challenge Period

January 1, 2015 to December 31, 2015

Region

The entire African continent, including its island-states, which are often overlooked. Please refer to this Wikipedia “list of sovereign states and dependent territories in Africa”. Pre-colonial empires and regions are also included.

Reading Goal

5 books.  That’s it.  There will be no other levels.  Of course, participants are encouraged to read more than 5 books.  Eligible books include those which are written by African writers, or take place in Africa, or are concerned with Africans and with historical and contemporary African issues. Note that at least 3 books must be written by African writers.

Genres

  • Fiction – novels, short stories, poetry, drama, children’s books.  Note: You can choose to read a number of individual and uncollected short stories.  In this case, 12 such stories would constitute 1 book.  Individual poems do not count but books of poetry do.
  • Non-fiction – memoirs, autobiographies, history and current events

Reading Suggestions

  • Cover at least two regions, pick from North Africa, Southern Africa, East Africa, West Africa and Central Africa
  • Include translated fiction from Arabic, Francophone and Lusophone literature
  • You can mix classic and contemporary fiction
  • If you are intend to read mostly non-fiction, then please include at least one book (out of the five) of fiction

I’m not inclined to push any reading philosophy, I would however like to encourage participants to broaden their knowledge of African literature. Broadly then: For the novice, if you have not read any African lit or if you’ve read one book (E.g. Achebe’s Things Fall Apart):  I would advise a mix of at least two regions, two languages, classic and contemporary, with both men and women writers.  A sample reading list could be:

  • Season of Migration to the North by Tayeb Salih (North Africa, Arabic, classic)
  • Maps by Nuruddin Farah (East Africa)
  • Nervous Conditions by Tsitsi Dangarembga (Southern Africa, contemporary)
  • So Long a Letter by Mariama Ba (West Africa, classic, Francophone)
  • Zoo City by Lauren Beukes (Southern Africa, contemporary, modern fantasy)

For the advanced reader of African literature:  perhaps there is some gap (country, region, language, theme, gender)  you want to fill or author(s) whose works you want to explore further? You could also, for example:

  • Read only collection/anthologies of short stories
  • Stick to the literary tradition of one country
  • Explore literature written in African languages
  • Read only Lusophone literature
  • Explore the literature of contemporary South Africa
  • Read the books of North African countries of the Arab Spring
  • Read wherever the urge takes you!

My suggestions notwithstanding, the most important thing is to have fun and to explore Africa through books.

Other Details

  1. Overlap with other challenges is allowed.
  2. E-books and audio books are allowed.
  3. There is no need to make a list beforehand.  Although most of us love lists, don’t we?

To Sign up:

Leave a comment below to sign-up. You can list the books you intend to read if you’ve already decided. For those with blogs:  write a post on your blog about the challenge (with or without your list) and link to this post.

Reviews and Completion of Challenge

Reviews of books read are not required but are encouraged especially for those with blogs.  Please share your reviews with the rest of community the on Reviews Page.  If you do not have a blog and would like to guest review on this blog, then please feel free to contact me. Likewise, completion posts are encouraged and you can share those on the Completion Page.

On Books and Reading Lists

Some classic African literature can be hard to find.  Please check your libraries and use inter-library loans if you have access to such services.  You will be able to do this challenge with the books currently available on the market. I will publish lists of reading materials under various themes until I tire of the process.  Please contact me at kinnareadsATgmailDOTcom if you need any help.

Associated Events

  1. Ghanaian Literature Week – I have hosted this event for the past two years. So you could save your GhanaLit reads for then.
  2. Maybe a readalong or two.  I will announce those in the coming months.

You can subscribe to this blog (see top of the right sidebar) to stay updated on this challenge. That’s it.  Let’s enjoy reading for the 2015 Africa Reading Challenge.

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90 comments

  1. Yay, made it through to the end 🙂 The books I read were:

    Americanah, by Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie

    Still a Pygmy, by Isaac Bacirongo

    Zoo City, by Laren Beukes

    Present Darkness by Malla Nunn

    Foreign Gods Inc, by Okey Ndibe

    Lagoon, by Nnedi Okorafor

    Thanks for a great challenge, look forward to more reading in 2016

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi there – Here’s my African reading list so far this year…

      Angola! Angola! Testemunho sobre o problema colonial – Jose Pires
      Struggle for Mozambique – Eduardo Mondlane
      Mozambique – Allen Isaacman
      In Our Own Skins – A Political History of the Coloured People – Richard van der Ross
      Coolie Woman: The Odyssey of Indenture – Gaiutra Bahadur
      And Still They Dance – Stephanie Urdang
      S Is for Samora: A Lexical Biography of Samora Machel and the Mozambican Dream – Sarah Lefanu
      Port Cities and Intruders: The Swahili Coast, India, and Portugal in the Early Modern Era – Michael Pearson

      I can’t script what’s to come, but I expect to read these by the time the year is out. Wish me luck!
      An Ice Cream War – William Boyd
      The Rose Colored Map – Charles Nowell
      Os Ismailis de Moçambique: Vida Económica no Tempo Colonial – N. Khouri & J Pereira Leite

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  2. A fellow Guardian (UK) poster introduced me to this Blog, and inspired by my Ghanian mate, and African neighbours , I feel encouraged to engage in the challenge, I have started reading two Ghanian e books, The Prophet of Zonga Street, by Mohammed Naseehu Ali, and Diplomatic Pounds by Ama Asa Aidoo, both short story collections. I have enjoyed the wit, wisdom and style of what I have read so far.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I added my name to the list in June and forgot about this challenge (a trip to South Africa followed by a heart attack clouded my memory a little). I have not written a post about this challenge but I plan to. I have already read at least 12 books from South Africa this year and one from Rwanda, but I do want to spread my reading out before year’s end with something from North Africa (I just acquired 3) and a few other countries on my agenda. Is it okay to post when I feel I am satisfied with my accomplishments?

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  4. Just got put onto this website but I’ve been trying to read more African literature anyway. I am usually a non-fiction guy but have bene forcing myself to branch out. Admitted most of these are about Ghana, where I am currently living, but Naija, Zibabwe, Rwanda and Congo have made their way in there too! I am currently reading the “Africa 39” collection of short stories and the African books I have read this year are:

    Manu Herbstein “Brave Music of a Distant Drum”, “Akosua and Osman”

    Ayesha Harruna Attah “Harmattan Rain”

    Alba Kunadu Sumprim “The Imported Ghanaian”

    Ama Ata Aidoo “Changes” A Love Story”, “Diplomatic Pounds & Other Stories”

    Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie “Half of the Yellow Sun”, “Purple Hibiscus”, “Americanah”, ”
    The Thing Around Your Neck”

    Mamle Wolo “The Kaya Girl”

    Chinua Achebe “The Trouble with Nigeria”

    Kwame Nkrumah “Africa Must Unite”

    Tsitsi Dangarembga “Dangerous Conditions”

    Ayi Kwei Armah “The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born”

    Taiye Selasi “Ghana Must Go”

    Paul Rusesabagina “An Ordinary Man: An Autobiography”

    About Africa:
    Adam Hochschild “King Leopold’s Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror and Heroism in Colonial Africa”
    Carl Wilkens “I’m Not Leaving”
    Maya Angelous “All God’s Children Need Traveling Shoes”
    Halifu Osumare “The Hiplife in Ghana: West African Indigenization of Hip-Hop”
    Steve Feld “Jazz Cosmopolitanism in Accra: Five Musical Years in Ghana”
    Nathan Plageman “Highlife Saturday Night: Popular Music and Social Change in Urban Ghana”

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    • Wow and quite the list of books. I periodically post lists with various books from around Africa. I hope you find more to broaden your reading of Africa. Thanks for coming by and visit often :).

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      • Did you see where Chigozie Obioma’s book “The Fishermen” (Nigeria) made the Man Booker Shortlist? It’s a good book, a bit confusing in places but definitely worth the read. Best “Africa book” I read this year was Maps by Farah Nurruddin (Somalia).

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  5. Great job you’ve been doing Kinna!! It’s mid-year and I just got to know of this wonderful initiative but please count me in! Thank you for doing this for Ghana, for the Continent and for the World. I doff my hat . . . Can a woman do that?? well, I just did!

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  6. Having just completed a round of reading nominees for the major translated book awards, a trip to South Africa within a week and a collection of titles by some African International Booker nominees I imagine I can step in at this point and aim to meet this challenge. I’m glad I discovered this!

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  7. Hi, just got some feedback from people who were looking for the comments thingy and did not see it, probably because they had to scroll right down to the bottom. ;-( is ther any way you could put this at the top – have recent comments at the top rather than oat the bottom?

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  8. Hi – I know its May, but I am signing up – and I think a few of my book club members just might so the same… We live in Cape Town and have started a book club to read African Literature – whatever book gets your fancy is what you should read… we are using themes rather than all reading teh same book… it might change over time but this is what it is…have spread your post on Facebook so…

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  9. This is a fantastic idea! We’ve only read books by our dear Igbo woman, Chimamanda so it would be great to branch out! Currently reading the comments to get some inspiration of where we should start. Once we’ve read those books we’ll make a post and link your page.

    Stay tuned for the link on our blog: https://ngwasunite.wordpress.com/

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  10. I am up for the challenge too. I started doing a “read the world” challenge although that will take me several years to do. In the process I noticed how few books I had read by African writers so want to correct that (probably only read half a dozen or so other than Arabic ones).

    I have lined up Mia Couto A River Called Time, Jose Eduardo Agualusa The Book of Chameleons, Tayeb Salih A Season of Migration to the North and have started Ngugi Wa Thiong’o Weep Not Child but on the look out for further recommendations.

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  11. Signing up late: I am going to focus on authors writing in French, which I had neglected so far, for no good reason. Like every year, I also aim to read at least one novel in Kiswahili. If I have enough time to work my way through a book in Yoruba, I will but there’s no guarantee 😉

    All the best to the other challengers !

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  12. I wondered if you would be hosting the Africa Challenge again this year…I’m not sure how I missed this post! I am most certainly in for the challenge again this year despite being late to the party 😉

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  13. Thanks for this challenge, it’s like a friendly kick in the behind to finally sit down and read those books that have been sitting on my bookshelf wayyy too long now. Off the top of my head, I’ve got these 4 ideas to begin with:
    Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: Purple Hibiscus
    Dambisa Moyo: Dead Aid
    Chinua Achebe: Arrow of God
    Ngugi wa Thiong’o: Herr der Krähen (Wizard of the Crow)

    I’ll be sure to blog about the books and the challenge: hhttps://fraeuleinstern.wordpress.com/2015/02/11/2015-africa-reading-challenge-first-ideas/ or http://fraeulein-stern.blogspot.de/2015/02/2015-africa-reading-challenge-first.html (I usually write in German, but I’ll do English posts about the Challenge as well).
    Looking forward to reading very much 🙂

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  14. I’m already reading a book on Africa at the moment, so count me in:

    Mau Mau’s Children by David Sandgren (non-fiction, Kenya/East Africa, American author)

    And coming up in my mountain of library books are:

    I Do Not Come to You By Chance by Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani (fiction, Nigeria/West Africa, African author)
    South African Literature after the Truth Commission by Shane Graham (non-fiction, South Africa/…Southern Africa…, American author)

    So, basically, I just need two more African-authored books and I’m set.

    Challenge accepted.

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  15. Reblogged this on London, Paris, Milan, blah… and commented:
    Todays task in my blogging course is to participate in a blogging event of my choice. As a postgraduate in Comparative Literature i love to explore the huge world of literature. Thus I chose this great challenge below in order to get in touch with African authors. For I am a total newbie in this field, I’m going to read the recommended books:

    Season of Migration to the North by Tayeb Salih (North Africa, Arabic, classic)
    Maps by Nuruddin Farah (East Africa)
    Nervous Conditions by Tsitsi Dangarembga (Southern Africa, contemporary)So Long a Letter by Mariama Ba (West Africa, classic, Francophone)Zoo City by Lauren Beukes (Southern Africa, contemporary, modern fantasy)

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  16. I want to participate! As a postgraduate in Comparative Literature I love to explore the world of literature! It would be great to get to know the diverse range of African literature! But I have to admit, I am a complete newbie to African literature. So could you please recommend some books, so I can get in touch with your authors?
    Lots of Love
    Verena Fiona

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  17. I am joining as well! It’s a pleasure to join such the interesting challenge of such unknown land :).
    The book I am currently reading is adventurous book about Somali, written by French:

    A Pied au Nord Somali: Grenier d’Aromates des Pharaons.

    BALSAN, Francois.

    Published by La Palatine, Paris, 1965

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    • Yep, that’s what I did. 😉 Is this my warm welcome? LOL! I see your earlier message and will be thrilled to have you in “My Kind Of Mystery”. WordPress users in general are having problems with linky buttons. Mine are hard to see but work. I am searching new options. Carolyn.

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  18. As a german student of transnational literature, i would love to join this challenge. And not just because i already got like 10 african books on my to-do list for this year 🙂

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    • Welcome to the challenge, Rebekka. Please come back and post on your progress. I will publish post quarterly so that we can all discuss our progress. Enjoy reading Africa.

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  19. I’ll definitely join in again! My first book in 2015 was Changes: A Love Story. (I really enjoyed the book and also seeing your name on the dedication page!) I’m going to make my goal to read 5 books originally written in 5 different languages. Having covered English, here is a possible list:
    An African in Greenland by Tété-Michel Kpomassie (French, Togo)
    Homeless Rats by Ahmed Fagi (Arabic, Libya)
    By Night the Mountain Burns by Juan Tomás Ávila Laurel (Spanish, Equatorial Guinea)
    The Wizard of the Crow by Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o (Kikuyu, Kenya)

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    • Wow, wow. I love your plan> Plus I have never heard of Kpomassie who’s an explorer! Who knew. Thanks for participating in the challenge again. The Wizard of the Crow is one of my favorite books but I’ll leave you to judge for yourself :). Looking forward to your reviews. You’re off to a good start!

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      • Wizard of the Crow intimidates me a bit, but I’ve heard such great things about it that I really want to read it. Maybe putting it on this list will help give me the push I need.

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  20. I hardly read books by African Authors until a friend recommended a few books Like Half Of The Yellow Sun, Kintu among others. There was a challenge by @SisterKillJoy on #100DaysofAfricanReads which I joined and appreciated. This year I intend to read more books by African authors. I am going to follow this blog closely, so far I have read On Sisters Black Street by Chika Unigwe (I highly recommend). I have ‘The Famished Road by Ben Okri’ which I intend to read next week. I have also resolved that each month I will be buying a book by an African Author.. Thanks again

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m jealous that you’ve read Kintu. I want to read that so badly. I hope you post on your impression of the book. Welcome to the challenge. Your reading list looks superb!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Oh I have been pining for Kintu. It is on my reading list for this year, definitely, if I can get myself a copy. @kinna we must lobby Kwani? to publish an ebook version !! Or else, form a chain of solidarity from East Africa out to the world, shipping copies 😀

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  21. Hi – this looks fascinating! We are moving to South Africa this year so thought this would be a good one for me. I have already read a couple of African books including the Africa House (http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Africa-House-English-Gentleman/dp/0140268340) and Under Our Skin (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Under-Our-Skin-Familys-Journey/dp/1849831378).

    Does books that we read to our children count? We are currently going through the books by Lauren St John – the White Giraffe, Dolphin Song etc.

    I am looking forward to participating.

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  22. Naturally, I am up for this. I just finished reading Camara Laye, “The dark child” which has been on my TBR list for quite a long while.

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    • Ei, I have Laye’s book on my shelves. Not sure if I’ve read it. Been awhile, Nina. Thanks for signing up. I hope that we run into each other real soon.

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    • Welcome to the challenge and thanks for the recommendation. I’ll be posting some more lists and recommendations in the coming weeks. Enjoy all your reading this year!

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  23. Thanks again Kinna. I’m so excited about the challenge that I got in early with Foreign Gods, which I think you may have mentioned in last years’ challenge. I reviewed it here: https://maamej.wordpress.com/2015/01/12/foreign-gods-inc/

    You have also inspired me to start my own challenge – an Indigenous reading challenge, which I hope will encourage people to learn more about Indigenous people. Happy new year!

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    • Happy New Year and welcome to the challenge. You’re off to a great start. Yes, I have Foreign Gods on the TBR and will be reading it this year. I will check out your Indigenous Reading Challenge. Enjoy reading Africa!

      Liked by 1 person

  24. I’m pretty familiar with African Literature but I’d like to read more. I’m in again for 5 wherever the interest leads me – likely all African authors and likely a couple of nonfictions. I have a blog – I’ll post the page when I finish the books. Thanks for doing this Kinna.

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  25. Your post last year inspired me to begin exploring more books by African authors. I’ve purchased a few and am now eager to begin reading. So, I am joining his challenge and will soon write a post linking over here! Thanks for the motivation, Kinna 🙂

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  26. Thanks for doing this again. I rely on you and the Challenge to guide my reading of books by African authors. You have lead me to many excellent books. Keep up the good work.

    Liked by 1 person

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