5 Books Every African Should Read

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By Kelsey Maggott

 

  1. Steve Biko, I Write What I Like

Steve Biko’s love for African people and his dream for the world to have a more human face echoes off of each page of this book. As the father of Black consciousness, he focuses much of his writings on seeking to infuse every black person with renewed life by liberating them from the mental shackles of what he defines as their inferiority complex. Biko articulates himself so profoundly and embodies a man so free that no amount of police interrogation, detention and eventually death could take that away from him.

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  1. Donald Woods, Asking for Trouble: The Education of a White African

Donald Woods, a white anti-apartheid activist, writes about his life as a journalist for a liberal newspaper which led him to Steve Biko. The book recounts their friendship, including debates between them, where Woods grapples with Biko’s worldview, until Biko is killed in police custody.  The reader follows Woods journey enduring police harassment forcing him to flee the country in order to publish Biko’s writings and reveal the truth about his murder to the world.

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  1. Pumla Dineo Gqola, Reflecting Rogue: Inside the mind of a feminist

Gqola shares experiences in her life, from a Black woman’s perspective, in which themes of gender and race intersect. She explores the politics of black hair and the policing of female bodies and critiques how she was socialised. She also reflects on her role as a mother and feminist to her son.

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  1. Nelson Mandela, Favourite African Folktales

This is a book of thirty-two African tales, old and new, chosen by Mandela himself. These “beloved stories, morsels rich with the gritty essence of Africa” contain moral teachings and explore rich African traditions. Some stories being as old as Africa itself, this book is a treasure to be passed on to future generations.

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  1. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Half of a Yellow Sun

This novel is set on the backdrop of the Nigerian Civil War in the 1960’s. Historical and cultural events that happened during this time period are recounted. Chimamanda shows the reader the painful effects these events have on the lives of five very different but intrinsically connected characters.

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