DATING: WITH MY FAMILY

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My younger sister and I have often toyed with the idea of me re-entering the dating scene through South Africa’s leading reality dating show: Date My Family, just for fun. Date my family is a show where a bachelor or bachelorette dates three potential mates’ families before they could date them. We love the show because it is full of real life drama, intrigue and humour from embarrassing family members, possessive parents, awkward questions and lots of laughs. The shows’ successes hinges on the fact that a potential partner is judged solely on the relatives, close family members and or friends they choose to represent them. The bachelor or bachelorette bases his or her decision on how the family members cook, behave and treat him/her not to mention what they say about the potential date in question who watches/monitors the date from a  separate location. It opens the door to South African society, while highlighting the dating habits of men and women in the country which are the foundation of how families are created and what values and principles most South Africans families hold.
I considered sending in a letter to date my family but decided against it. Thinking that if the show had existed 20 years earlier I would have been more willing to throw caution to the wind and ask to participate in this grand experiment especially since I’ve tried everything including online-dating, speed-dating, slow-dating , long-distance dating and no-dating at all to find a partner. None of it has worked.
When I told my mother that I was considering writing in to date-my family to participate she asked why was I  hesitant. Are you afraid of the competition? I had to suppress the urge to take on her challenge and accept that some things are best enjoyed on Television, I don’t have to be in them. Besides, it would make me look desperate and I’m not right? Right.
So I threw the idea in the rubbish bin and continued to watch the show via YouTube whenever I felt like having a bit of a laugh. But seeing as the word was out, even though it was a non-committal one, a moment came when I accidentally went on an untelevised, off camera, unproduced or edited date with my family – literally.  It was organic. I have never laughed so much! It was an unexpected – out of nowhere situation on my last night in Johannesburg. My brother in-law and his friend were having a boy’s night out together at HoggsHead restaurant where my journey began. They later invited my sister and I to join them so we could celebrate together. I liked him the first time I laid eyes on him; he had a wide smile, beautifully sculpted body, easy on the eye, and he literally swept me off my feet. He picked me up and spun me around a few times over an invisible threshold, you know, like they do in the movies after a couple gets married and I thought to myself, wow! I could get used to this. I felt safe and comfortable in his arms. No stranger has ever been this happy to see me!
Then he put me down, showed me his dance moves which left me immobile and breathless against my sister’s car. Bringing to mind a 90’s naughty song we danced to as children in primary school by Another level, called – Freak Me. All this while my sister and brother in-law looked on cheering, jeering, teasing and commenting on our every move. At another establishment we gravitated to each other. Even though he and I both worked the room from separate corners we had eyes on each other. He was surrounded by legions of female fans and I danced courageously with my sister to dodgy white (sic) music. Later as we left the establishment my brother in-law’s friend and I started coding. He told me he was into (prefers) vanilla but he works well with chocolate. I told him I love all the colours of the rainbow. So you’re a politician? He asked, Somewhat, I responded. Can you count? I asked him. What if I told you a story? He asked. As longs as it’s numerical poetry, I responded. That is so nice, so nice I’m in, he said. I smiled.
All four of us took an uber back home. He and I tried not to kiss while my brother in-law sat next to me and my sister conducted running commentary of my dating habits from the front seat of the car: My sister is into full PDA (Public Display of Affection). Then later on she reprimanded me: no! sisi you promised me you’ll never do that to me. I can hear the sound of your kissing, she said. The Uber driver nodded in agreement. I had forgotten they were there. I was only aware of him and my mission to find out if he could actually kiss. Despite the fact that he made me extremely shy. We had to stop. We parted just as things were about to get interesting. Then my sister asked about the kiss: How was it? It had a rocky start, I told her. He tried to shove his tongue into my mouth like a lizard from the get go. No I did not, he protested leaning into me with laughter. In fact you’re the one who initiated the whole thing! he retorted. #toosoon my sister laughed! But the kiss got better after I demonstrated how I wished he could do it, I told her wishing she was not there to chaperone the whole encounter. I wished we could be alone and it was impossible. We discussed the kiss at length until my sister decided to make the statement of the year, in his direction later that evening:
“we (women) are like ovens not microwaves”
That’s a good one, he said smiling. He is such a joy to be with, I thought.
We’re going to the shop,  what can I bring for you? He asked sweetly wrapping his arms around my shoulders. Death by Chocolate, I responded. When he came back he hadn’t bought it. Why? I asked perplexed. I thought it was a metaphor for me! He said laughing, I didn’t think you actually wanted Death by Chocolate. #duh. He laughed, I laughed too, so did my sister and her husband.

The next day as my sister and I made breakfast I breathed an old tune; rolling with my homies while swaying my hands like a  wave. That’s from Clueless right? My sister guessed. Yes, I said. I was happy and at ease, a rare combination for me. Once it was ready he and my brother joined us at the table, my brother was already protective of me. “Who is this guy? Where was he when she was in Senegal?” He questioned my sister. #Silence. We rummaged through the previous evenings events and retold the highlights. I wore the most unattractive outfit I could find to make things easier for myself. Then we were both roasted and teased about liking each other while we blushed together openly trying not to stare into each other’s eyes or talk about the future, follow-ups and if we wanted to have children. I felt like a teenager dressed in a woman’s clothes. “It’s too good to be true” he said to me. We threw pillows, glances and massages at each other, we were both relaxed in an uncomfortable situation.
He couldn’t believe I was flying out in less than an hour. I was happy to go home until I met you, I told him. We all took a sip of our drinks at the same time around the table. My brother, brother in law, his friend, my sister and I. #Deep. We gulped.
We hugged, he said goodbye Homie. I said I can’t believe you have friend zoned me already. My brother in-law said you just met yesterday, my brother said being a homie is a good sign, he’s the most attractive and  likeable guy you’ve ever introduced to me. I was beginning to worry about your taste in men he said laughing, I thought you like die skobo! #phew. My sister said she’s sorry it didn’t work out. I said I wish him well. He really is amazing.
We didn’t exchange numbers or social media contacts. #nothing. The experience was fun, exciting, passionate, embarrassing, it made me blush so much I needed a fan. It was open, honest, direct and refreshing. But I was glad that only my family was able to see me like that; all giddy, happy and vulnerable. What I loved most about him was how well he fit in with me and my family.
I was even happier to learn that my happiness matters to them so much. It was good to see how everyone wanted to see me smile again. I learnt that even when things I  try out or do,  don’t work out. I can still have fun (enjoy)  with the process and my family as a unit is a great wing man, they are my strength.

My New Homie taught me that there are three things which make love last in any relationship:
One: Empathy – The ability to understand and share the feelings of another. Two: The ability to control your own stress and emotions.
Three: Having positive illusions about your partner: i.e. the ability to overlook what you don’t like about them and focus on what you do like…consistently.
This way you’re guaranteed to stay in-love for as long as you (both) want. Hopefully my next date will be for a lifetime. Until then…
I’m booked !

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EXCUSE ME WHILE I WRITE: THE WORLD IS WHAT YOU ARE.

Late last year I picked up VS Naipaul’s book exploring the origins of African beliefs from my archives The Masque of Africa: Glimpses of African Belief (2010). I bought the book back in 2011 in preparation for a trip to West Africa. While I travelled with it, I never actually finished reading it until I picked it up again last year. I was curious about what people knew, understood and thought about African belief systems, religions and or cultures. I wanted to know what was out there since I had never fully explored the topic before then, owing to my historical status as a born-again Christian. The subject of African faith or belief systems was often a no-go area, just like the elephant grave-yard created a dangerous, forbidden blemish in an otherwise beautiful and tranquil landscape of the Pride lands in Disney’s The Lion King. It was demonic to even think about it.

So for those of you who didn’t know, VS Naipaul (85) is a Trinidadian/British Writer and Nobel Laureate, who has published more than twenty books of fiction and non-fiction including Half a Life, A House of Biswas, A Bend in the River and a collection of correspondence, Letters between a Father and Son. The author is not without controversy and has been accused of being both racist and having “reactionary, artistic, politics” particularly for his book, A Bend in The River (1979) which earned him as much criticism as Joseph Conrad for his seminal work in A Heart of Darkness – which chronicles in fine, colourful detail Central Africa as “a place of chaotic and violent change; tribal warfare, ignorance, poverty and human degradation… punctuated by irruptions of violent death, a tormented love affairs and complex, terror-struck responses to the emergence of “the Big Man”, an archetypal African dictator.” The book is listed No.90 on the UK-based Guardian Newspapers’ 100 Best Novels. I imagined I could trust his judgement owing to his standing in the literary world and because he was a non-white person from the outside, inside the commonwealth. I presumed he would have a different, rigorous, removed, perspective. I approached his words with an open mind, like an outsider looking in and was thus surprised to find his views on African beliefs to be no different to those dominating narratives in pre and post- colonial Africa.
The Masque of Africa considers the effects of Belief (indigenous animisms, the foreign religions of Christianity and Islam, the cults of the leaders and mythical history) upon the progress of African civilization. Beginning in Uganda, at the centre of the continent, Naipaul’s Journey takes in Ghana and Nigeria, the Ivory Coast and Gabon and ends, as the country (sic) does, in South Africa.
Regardless of my own as yet undisclosed views on African belief systems, reading The Masque of Africa; Glimpses on African Belief, I found V S Naipaul’s overall take on (them) African beliefs to be rather sardonic. He wrote as a benevolent voyeur determined to find some spiritual concept or belief system that could somehow redeem Africans and Africa from continued moral decay, but regrettably found none. From his exploration of the city-scape of Kampala, Uganda whose over-built-up poorer areas were littered with “born-again Christian structures, sometimes fancifully named with sign-boards: as though religion here was like a business that met a desperate consumer need at all levels” to his exploration of ancient Mutesa tombs where he notes how “strange it is that rituals which would once have seemed necessary and vital, serving what was divine, beyond money, have to be disregarded when there is no money”. There was nothing beautiful or redeeming about African belief systems which were imbued with (indiscriminate) traditional culture of human sacrifices, the torture of animals, child and women abuse all done to appease the insatiable demands of discombobulated gods and ancestors who rule their subjects with no mercy. A Lagos city councillor who Naipaul Interviews admits that even Christian pastors are afraid of the pagan religions “Muslims and Christians practice forgiveness and cannot harm you. In a pagan religion there is no forgiveness. It is a tit-for-tat religion, there are rules you have to follow very strictly, and if you go against them you die or you go mad” I got the impression that for Naipaul Africans were a people caught up in a kind of psychological hell where they are either brain-washed or mind-controlled through the twin foreign religions of Christianity and Islam or they are rendered slaves and human fodder for the appetites of roaming spirits hungry for fresh blood and energy (souls).
It was a breath-taking,  and rather discouraging account of what African belief systems were, are or have become. By the end of the book I was also compelled to concede and agree with him that Africans in indeed are a savage lot. In spite of myself I began to feel rather grateful that the continent was colonized as it was because now we had a legitimate target for our woes, we have someone else to blame for our savage, cruelty and mindless greedy rituals. We also now have  a redeemer, a saviour, who forgives us despite our fits of carnality. Who would we blame if the West had not come to save us from ourselves? Particularly in South Africa were race (racism) has become somewhat of a religious practice.
The book left me with a notion of Africans as a people bereft of any urgency, self-determination – or an identity of any kind being as they are like animals: slaves to the impulses of our flesh and short-lived appetites, condemned to die like turkeys at thanks giving with no legacy to speak of bar from that which we have inherited from the Arabs and Westerners, people who were kind enough to risk (lay down) their lives in their mission to civilize us. I too began to see Africa as a place where Naipaul concludes in The Masque of Africa “… a resolution is not really possible until the people who wish to impose themselves on Africa, violate some essential part of their being”.
However chilling I was content with the books conclusion, I could not objectively dispute his findings without being defensive, a clear sign of a lack of emotional intelligence or more specifically emotional self-control. I’m not an animal, despite evidence to the contrary. Then I remembered that a good friend of mine had gifted me with an authorized biography of V.S Naipaul written by Patrick French, named after the famous opening line of his book A Bend In A River : “The world is what it is; men who are nothing, who allow themselves to be nothing have, no place in it’
The world is what it is:
It is between these pages that I found Naipaul’s subconscious motivation for his literary career and more poignantly; The Masque of Africa: Something to do with his father’s stunted writing career and eventual humiliation and mental instability – caused by his inability to find a way forward from the “Hinduism of his childhood with its poorly educated pundits and half-understood rituals” which he was later forced to perform, publicly slaughtering a goat etc, to appease readers of a newspaper he wrote for which further entrenched his mental disturbance. While at Oxford trying to outdo the English, the Blacks and others even as he sought their validation VS Naipaul begged his father to write and prove his critics wrong: ‘You have enough material for a hundred stories for Heaven’s sake start writing them…you are the best writer in the West Indies, but one can only judge writers by their work.’ It is then that I came to understand the man behind the Masque of Africa. In this sense the book, though factual and true, has nothing to do with Africa and Africans. It is about VS Naipaul’s world as it was and or is – projected on the African landscape and by extension it’s people. He was trying to find a sense of peace, to redeem his father’s demise. To appease something…
In conclusion my exploration of African beliefs through VS Naipaul’s eyes in the Masque of Africa and Naipaul’s motivations and mind through Patrick Frenchs’ The World Is What It Is’ brought me closer to understanding what Ben Okri meant when he said “To poison a nation, poison it’s stories. A demoralized nation tells demoralized stories of itself.” And his warning to “Beware of storytellers who are not fully conscious of the importance of their gifts and who are irresponsible in the application of the art”
I realize that African stories including our belief systems have been poisoned, polluted not only by others projecting their own fears and demons on us, but also by ourselves. It is up to us to reverse the perceived moral decay of Africa and Africans. But to do that we have to first start with facing our fears. The ones we buried in the elephant graveyard. They are what makes books like the Masque of Africa possible. They are our blind-spots.
“To know a specie is to look at its fears. To know yourself, look at your fears. Fear in itself is not important, but fear stands there and points you at things that are important. Don’t be afraid of your fears, they are not there to scare you. They are there to let you know that something is worth it” C Joybell C

A MILLION WAYS TO LIVE: WRITE HARD, DIE FREE

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This weeks’ blog post features a story by journalist, editor and writer Clinton Nagoor. My former colleague, editor and boss. We’ve worked together for the greatest part of my career as journalist. He never seized to challenge me to come up with more creative ways to tell a compelling story, to write well and to write stories that matter and have an impact. He’s pushed me to do better and inspired me to be a better storyteller and I have admired his ability to remain so positive and focused in a profession that can sometimes  be brutally unforgiving. In many ways he has been my mentor and I am grateful to have had the opportunity to work with him. Last week he moved me. Here’s why:

WRITE HARD, DIE FREE by Clinton Nagoor

I used to be a crime reporter. That first murder scene. I can’t recall her name. But she was eight-years-old and still in her white school dress. She lay in the gutter of a park known as Strawberry Fields. She lay there next to the swings and merry-go-round. Her shoes kicked off-her panties scrunched and thrown beside her. Head turned to one side, her knees slightly drawn up- almost asleep-like. But she had been raped. Then strangled with surgical tubing. Raped and murdered at eight. And left there in the gutter of a child’s playground. It was the early 90s in KZN so I attended many more crime scenes. Massacres where families were shot and their bodies set alight, suicide by gunshot, robberies gone wrong, gone right, death by friends, by serial killers and customers. Political violence and tribal violence. A violent death is an ugly thing. The last crime scene. July 28th 2003. It was a Monday. The house was empty when I got there. There was bloody handprints as I walked up the stairway to the first floor. I noticed blood on the panic button and the alarm panel. A great pool of dark cloying blood on the kitchen floor. Lots of bloody marks in the corridor leading to it. I didn’t look intently but there was enough to burn in my memory. The police docket, witness statements and picture book told a story. The home panic button had been set off sometime in the night. Security guards came to the house but no one answered and everything seemed to be in order. So they left. The alarm went off again. This time they returned with policemen. At the back of the house through the kitchen window they could see a man lying on the floor He was not responsive to their calls so they went in. One of the constables says in his statement that the male victim’s fingers were still twitching. But by the time paramedics arrived there had been lots of blood loss. He was declared dead on scene. The post-mortem will show a massive blunt force trauma to the back of his head. Several stab wounds to his face and upper body. I remember everything about this scene of murder. The man was a 60-year-old who had celebrated his birthday on April 18th with friends and family. He was a printer by trade. Ink dyed into his finger tips. A lifetime of work to raise his sons. He never met his grandkids. Never got to play with them. Nor regale them with childhood stories or teach them to kick a ball. I remember everything about that last crime scene of mine. His name was Larry. But I called him Daddy.

A gift of a Thousand Words……

Akhona Metu Reading extracts from her poetry book titled " A gift of a thousand words"
Akona Metu reading extracts from her poetry book titled ” A gift of a thousand words” Pic: Lwazi Mashiya

It was a beautiful conclusion to International Women’s day( Friday 08 March 2013) in Johannesburg South Africa.  Women as young as four years old to about 80 gathered together in their most regal outfits to watch as one of their own prepared to take flight.  Like proud mother hens, their wings fluttered protectively over  poet and writer Akona Metu – as she stepped out to the world to reveal the garden of her heart  etched in her debut poetry book  “A gift of a thousand words”.   It was an atmosphere that brought to life  Simphiwe Dana’s  debut hit song “Nidredi” lyrics to life.  The song opens with a call so hypnotic one can’t help but want to fly as her voice delivers the words “Ndiredi Ukundiza  Ndiph’umoya” which in English translates to a less poetic  “I’m ready to fly give  me some air”.

The setting was even more special.  The venue:  the Kippies  International Jazz club in Newtown, Johannesburg – a historically significant, center for resistant art(music) in South Africa. The building now part of the country’s increasing cultural heritage sites has been refurbished into a smaller more intimate venue – a structure not far removed from a traditional African hut or rondavel.   Clean high walls stand reminiscent of  a sacred space; a church, an ashram perhaps even a synagogue.  A heavy wooden  grand piano stands grounded at the corner on one side of the room, as if waiting for a master pianist to come play.

Delicate lanterns made out of lace paper hung above the high ceilings created  a lightness of being in some kind of a fairly- tale. The shiny glass doors to the north, west and south of the building gave the space a larger than life atmosphere as well as a  feeling of being in a transient  place  – a pit stop on the amazing race  of life.

Akhona book launch 2
Akona Metu outside Kippies Museum in Newtown Johannesburg. Pic: Lwazi Mashiya

Soweto performance poet  “Mak” Manaka, who was both guest poet and master of ceremonies, was not blind to the significance of the moment. He too, now a power house of performance poetry in the country launched his first  book of poetry (If Only; 2002).  when Kippies was Kippies  Jazz Club.

“He accuses me of being too kind” Those were the first words Akona Metu “hostess with the mostess ” at the Afrikaan Freedom Station – a new venue for all artists young and old from painters, writers, singers and musicians  to showcase their work, experiment  and support each other’s  talent in old Sophia town Johannesburg.   On sitting down with her (it was not a scheduled interview) she allowed herself a moment of giddy nervousness.  “ It’s like standing in the middle of a busy street naked, and no one wants to sleep with you” she said of the impending book launch.  Of the book itself she said “Oh it was something that was long overdue, it just had to be done”

I have always been a writer she says, but I never thought I was any good until I got to university where I was exposed to lecturers who were also authors and had  published books.  When they said my writing was good I decided to run with it. It allowed me to free myself  and my writing from the hazards of comparing it to other more accomplished writers. For the first time I did not restrict my writing to emulate any set formula or style. I just allowed my voice to come through as it pleased. “I stopped putting restrictions on myself” she confessed as if to herself while attending to her four-year old nieces’ intimate confessions of her own.

However  Metu , 27,  is not new to the world of publishing. She has published articles and short stories in the  new Drum Magazine.  In fact  Akona was first published during  high school,  revealed her  two older sisters  who sang her praises during the book launch.   That  was the  first time the Metu family realized that she had a gift.  She wrote a high school essay following a school trip to one of the  eastern capes correctional facilities – the essay received the highest praise in her  class later spreading  from the schools assembly to the  community’s local paper.

A gift of a thousand words is a collection of poems  she wrote before and during her two-year stay in Korea where she worked as an English teacher and a singer in a band to pass time she told the audience at her book launch. ” I found it was necessary for me to go in order to remember who I am and what I valued most in my life”

Metu is the youngest in her family.  Her two older sisters dotingly described her as a fragile, perfectionist, humble and stubborn, quick to laugh and cry, someone who is at ease with herself.

A gift of a thousand words reads like a prayer, intimate conversations with herself and the loves that surround her, an invitations into  her deepest desires musings on life and its meaning.  Poems like Child You Belong, written for one of her sisters is one of hope and encouragement  in which she says she wanted to remind her sister that she belongs  even in the  very  discomfort of life.” It’s not just for her” she said looking in my direction” it’s applies to everyone, we all belong here, even in our discomfort.  “I am the gap that fills up your spaces” is a tribute to the  kind of love American academic and  author Bell Hooks says  “we all want to receive but are afraid to give”. Mother of Mercy is a call out to God, a deity she describes as her mother because she knows her mother loves her more than anyone in the world.  It’s a poem penned, during despairing moments of  being alone in foreign land.

Her voice is fresh,honest, passionate and energetic, a reminder, an inspired call to change our minds about  who  we (think) are and who we have become a call to be  brave and dare to look at life with a different eye – a conciliatory eye of love.

“This moment reminds me of the first time I really, really fell in love” Said her uncle on behalf of the family. “This reminds me of the first time I fell in real love for the first time 36 years ago – I didn’t know she could write like, she melted my heart”.

Master of Ceremonies, Mak Manaka barely caught his tears from falling on to the grand piano as Metu delivered  her final poetic kisses to an audience hungry for love. Her words were like a string of precious pearls she draped around each of her  guest, to Honour  and soothe  reminding  all of us that we are  loved.

Time of The African Writer Today

Writer Mpho Nthunya from Lesotho.

Today the  07th November 2012 is the International day of the…

African Writer 

Once upon a time 21 years ago, African leaders  attending the Conference of African Ministers of Education and Culture in Coutonou Benin, under the  Organization of the African Union (OAU) now AU declared that  we as Africans need a day to  ” Afford the African people a moment of pause to reflect on the Contribution of African Writers to the Development of the continent” Back in 1991.

Today

A conference celebrating  African Writer’s is underway at the University of the Free State in South Africa.  Do you Know about it? Former South African President Thabo Mbeki’s is going to deliver a Key  Note  address on  the  role of the African Writer today and over the last Century on Saturday the 10th of November.

Organizers hope to form a formidable African Writer’s Organization (union perhaps) to represent African Writer’s and Defend their right to probe and expose injustice. To Write what they like. To write what they see.   We are trying to make the world of literature more accessible says  the African Writer’s Conference  director Raks Seakhoa.  There, there shall be music during the writer’s music festival at the weekend to demonstrate that even music starts with writing.  His comment made me think of  Bob Marley and the Wailer’s song WAR, whose lyrics were literally derived from a speech by the Ethiopian Haile Selassie the 1st, which he delivered before the  United Nations General Assembly in 1963:

That until the philosophy which holds one race superior and another inferior is finally and permanently discredited and abandoned; That until there are no longer first-class and second-class citizens of any nation; That until the color of a man’s skin is of no more significance than the color of his eyes; That until the basic human rights are equally guaranteed to all without regard to race; That until that day, the dream of lasting peace and world citizenship and the rule of international morality will remain but a fleeting illusion, to be pursued but never attained; And until the ignoble and unhappy regimes that hold our brothers in Angola, in Mozambique and in South Africa in subhuman bondage have been toppled and destroyed; Until bigotry and prejudice and malicious and inhuman self-interest have been replaced by understanding and tolerance and good-will; Until all Africans stand and speak as free beings, equal in the eyes of all men, as they are in the eyes of Heaven; Until that day, the African continent will not know peace. We Africans will fight, if necessary, and we know that we shall win, as we are confident in the victory of good over evil. – Haile Selassie

Let us all  pause for  moment and reflect.

Have you  read any of  Africa’s Best Books of the Century? 

(here’s a list from  Columbia University)

1. Abnudi, `Abd al-Rahman (Egypt) al-Mawt `ala al-asfalt (Death on the Asphalt)

2. Achebe, Chinua (Nigeria) Arrow of God

3. Achebe, Chinua (Nigeria) Things Fall Apart

4. Aidoo, Ama Ata (Ghana) Anowa

5. Almeida, Germano (Cape Verde) O testamento do Sr. Napumoceno da Silva Araújo

6. Armah, Ayi Kwei (Ghana) The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born

7. Bâ, Amadou Hampâté (Mali ) L’étrange destin de Wangrin

8. Bâ, Mariama (Senegal) Une si longue lettre

9. Ben Jelloun, Tahar (Morocco) La nuit sacrée

10. Beti, Mongo (Cameroon) Le pauvre Christ de Bomba

11. Brink, André (South Africa) A Dry White Season

12. Bugul, Ken (Senegal) Riwan, ou le chemin de sable

13Cheney-Choker, Syl (Sierra Leone) The Last Harmattan of Alusine Dunbar

14. Chraibi, Driss (Morocco) Le passé simple

15. Coetzee, J.M. (South Africa) Life and Times of Michael K

16. Couto, Mia (Mozambique) Terra sonâmbula

17. Craveirinha, José (Mozambique) Karingana ua Karingana

18. Dadié, Bernard (Côte d’Ivoire) Climbié

19. Dangarembga, Tsitsi (Zimbabwe) Nervous Conditions

20. Dib, Mohammed (Algeria) La grande maison, L’incendie, Le métier à tisser

21. Diop, Birago (Senegal) Les contes d’Amadou Koumba

22. Diop, Boubacar Boris (Senegal) Murambi ou le livre des ossements

23. Djebar, Assia (Algeria) L’amour, la fantasia

24. Emecheta, Buchi (Nigeria) The Joys of Motherhood

25. Fagunwa, Daniel O. (Nigeria) Ogboju ode ninu igbo irunmale

26Farah, Nuruddin (Somalia) Maps

27. Fugard, Athol (South Africa) The Blood Knot

28. Ghitani, Jamal al– (Egypt) Zayni Barakat

29. Gordimer, Nadine (South Africa) Burgher’s Daughter

30. Head, Bessie (South Africa) A Question of Power

31. Honwana, Bernardo (Mozambique) Nos matamos o cão tinhoso

32. Hove, Chenjerai (Zimbabwe) Bones

33. Isegawa, Moses (Uganda) Abessijnse Kronieken

34. Jordan, Archibald Campbell (South Africa) Ingqumbo yeminyanya

35. Joubert, Elsa (South Africa) Die Swerdjare van Poppie Nongena

36. Kane, Cheikh Hamidou (Senegal) L’aventure ambiguë

37. Khosa, Ungulani Ba Ka (Mozambique) Ualalapi

38. Kourouma, Ahmadou (Côte d’Ivoire) Les soleils des indépendances

39. Laye, Camara (Guinea) L’enfant noir

40. Magona, Sindiwe (South Africa) Living, Loving and Lying Awake at Night

41. Mahfouz, Naguib (Egypt) The Cairo Trilogy

42. Marechera, Dambudzo (Zimbabwe) House of Hunger

43. Mofolo, Thomas (Lesotho) Chaka

44. Monenembo, Tierno (Guinea) Un attieké pour Elgass

45. Mutwa, Vusamazulu Credo (South Africa) Indaba, My Children

46. Ngugi wa Thiong’o (Kenya) Caitaani Mutharaba-ini (Devil on the Cross)

47. Ngugi wa Thiong’o (Kenya) A Grain of Wheat

48. Niane, Djibril Tamsir (Senegal) Soundjata ou l’épopée mandingue

49. Nyembezi, Sibusiso (South Africa) Inkinnsela yaseMgungundlovu

50. Okigbo, Christopher (Nigeria) Labyrinths

51. Okri, Ben (Nigeria) The Famished Road

52. Oyono, Ferdinand (Cameroon) Le vieux nègre et la médaille

53. P’Bitek, Okot (Uganda) Song of Lawino

54. Pepetela (Angola) A geração da utopia

55. Saadawi, Nawal El (Egypt) Woman at Point Zero

56. Salih El, Tayyib (Sudan) Season of Migration to the North

57. Sassine, Williams (Guinea) Le jeune homme de sable

58. Sembene, Ousmane (Senegal) Les bouts de bois de Dieu

59. Senghor, Léopold Sédar (Senegal) Ouevre poétique

60. Serote, Mongane (South Africa) Third World Express

61. Shabaan, Robert Bin (Tanzania) Utenzi wa vita vya uhuru

62. Sony Labou Tansi (Congo) La vie et demie

63. Sow Fall, Aminata (Senegal) La grève des battus

64. Soyinka, Wole (Nigeria) Death and the King’s Horsemen

65. Tchicaya U Tam’si (Congo) Le mauvais sang – feu de brousse – à trisse-coeur

66. Tutuola, Amos (Nigeria) The Palm-wine Drinkard

67. Vera, Yvonne (Zimbabwe) Butterfly Burning

68. Vieira, José Luandino (Angola) Nós os do Makulusu (Excerpt available online)

69. Vilakazi, B.W. (South Africa) Amal’eZulu

70. Yacine, Kateb (Algeria) Nedjma

Scholarship/non-fiction

71. Amin, Samir (Egypt) Accumulation on a World Scale

72. Amadiume, Ifi (Nigeria) Male Daughters, Female Husbands

73. Andrade, Mario de (Angola) Os nacionalismos africanos

74. Appiah, Anthony (Ghana) In My Father’s House

75. Cabral, Amilcar (Guinea-Bissau) Unity and Struggle

76. Chimera, Rocha (Kenya) Kiswahili, past, present and future horizons

77. Diop, Cheikh Anta (Senegal) Antériorité des civilisations nègres

78. Doorkenoo, Efua (Ghana) Cutting the Rose

79. Hayford, J.E. Casely (Ghana) Ethiopia Unbound

80. Hountondji, Paulin (Benin) Sur la philosophie africaine

81. Johnson, Samuel (Nigeria) The History of the Yorubas

82. Kenyatta, Jomo (Kenya) Facing Mount Kenya

83. Ki-Zerbo, Joseph (Burkina Faso) Histoire de l’Afrique noire

84. Krog, Antjie (South Africa) Country of My Skull

85. Mama, Amina (Nigeria) Beyond the Mask, Race, Gender and Identity

86. Mamdani, Mahmood (Uganda) Citizen and Subject

87. Mandela, Nelson (South Africa) Long Walk to Freedom

88. Marais, Eugene (South Africa) Die Siel van die Mier

89. Memmi, Albert (Tunisia) Portrait du colonisé suivi de portrait du colonisateur

90. Mondlane, Eduardo (Mozambique) The Struggle for Mozambique

91. Mphahlele, Ezekiel (South Africa) Down Second Avenue

92. Mudimbe, V.Y. (Dem. Rep. of Congo) The Invention of Africa

93. Nkrumah, Kwame (Ghana) Ghana: The Autobiography of Kwame Nkrumah

94. Plaatje, Sol (South Africa) Native Life in South Africa

95. Soyinka, Wole (Nigeria) Ake: The Years of Childhood

96. Van Onselen, Charles (South Africa) The Seed is Mine

Literature for Children

97. Asare, Meshack (Ghana) Sosu’s Call

98. Al-Homi, Hayam Abbas (Egypt) Adventures of a Breath

99. Mungoshi, Charles (Zimbabwe) Stories from a Shona Childhood

100. Tadjo, Veronique (Côte d’Ivoire) Mamy Wata et le monstre

A New York Kinda Day

Image

For Each of You


Be who you are and will be
learn to cherish that boisterous Black Angel that drives you
up one day and down another
protecting the place where your power rises
running like hot blood
from the same source
as your pain.

When you are hungry
learn to eat
whatever sustains you
until morning
but do not be misled by details
simply because you live them.
Do not let your head deny
your hands
any memory of what passes through them
nor your eyes
nor your heart
everything can be useful
except what is wasteful
(you will need
to remember this when you are accused of destruction.)
Even when they are dangerous
examine the heart of those machines you hate
before you discard them
and never mourn the lack of their power
lest you be condemned
to relive them.

If you do not learn to hate
you will never be lonely
enough
to love easily
nor will you always be brave
although it does not grow any easier.

Do not pretend to convenient beliefs
even when they are righteous
you will never be able to defend your city
while shouting.

Remember our sun
is not the most noteworthy star
only the nearest.

Respect whatever pain you bring back
from your dreaming
but do not look for new gods
in the sea
nor in any part of a rainbow.
Each time you love
love as deeply
as if it were
forever
only nothing is
eternal.

Speak proudly to your children
wherever you may find them
tell them
you are the offspring of slaves
and your mother was
a princess
in darkness. 

Audre Lorde.