Africa has many inspirational stories to tell. There is nothing as beautiful as seeing the African story through the African eyes. Most of our authors try to paint a different picture from the poverty and disease stricken Africa that is popular in the media. Through them we appreciate our culture and traditions which are not always backward! Here are my top four favorite African Novels that have stuck with me: inspired by Mummy dearest.
1) The concubine by Elechi Amandi (1966)
Ihuoma is an attractive woman. She is highly admirable not only because of her beauty but also for her grace and how she does her chores! She only seems to have one problem; every man who falls in love with her gets ill fate. When Emenike gets Ihuoma’s hand in marriage he is the envy of most men from his village. He succumbs to ‘chest lock’ a couple of seasons later. Madume feels that he should have been Ihuoma’s rightful husband. Things go south when a snake spits in his eyes and he ends up hanging himself. Ekwueme tries to woo Ihuoma. Though she is skeptical at first she gives in and the happy couple starts the wedding arrangements. Their happiness is short lived as Ekwueme is shot in the chest by a stray arrow shot by Ihuoma’s son! As it turns out, you cannot live happily ever after with the sea king’s concubine!
2) The river between by Ngugi wa Thiong’o (1965)
Two ridges, Kameno and Makuyu lay side by side with the valley of life separating them. Though the villages share a common river, they are separated in terms of their beliefs and faith. Will Waiyaka win the war of trying to bring the two villages together and in turn win the war against colonization? From a young age, Waiyaki is believed to have special gifts. His father, Chege insist that he goes to school and learns as much as he can. In that way, he is empowered by knowing both the ways of the white man and the traditional ways hence fight the white man effectively! What happens when Waiyaki falls in love with Nyambura the daughter of the ‘enemy’? Does love prevail? The book touches on female circumcision, betrayal, division and unity, colonization, religion and love!
3) Purple hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (2003)
15 year old Kambili Achike comes from a wealthy family. Her father Eugene is a staunch catholic who follows the book to the letter but is also a violent man. He subjects his wife and two children to physical and psychological torture. His children have to follow a strict timetable that dictates time spent in the family room, study time and even time to sleep. Eugene doesn’t believe in public display of affection. The best he can do is have his children sip from his tea cup and thoroughly punish them when they go against his laws! A turning point is reached when Kambili and her brother visit their aunt who exposes them to freedom hence a contrast to the life they have been living back home. Chimamanda puts the spotlight on domestic violence, religion, political instability, education, oppression and love.
4) Mine boy by Peter Abraham (1946)
The novel is set in South Africa during the Apartheid. It reflects the problems that African miners experienced and the struggle to get equal rights and ultimately be treated with dignity. Xuma from the north is new to the city and is intrigued by the fast life. Though mining is a new concept, he is strong enough and is a fast learner. But is he strong enough to lead the other miners in the fight against discrimination? He falls in love with Eliza who wants the life that only a white man can offer and in the process heartbreaking Maisy who is head over heels in love with him.