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Africa: Book Notes

AfricaFocus Bulletin
Jul 6, 2010 (100706)
(Reposted from sources cited below)

Editor's Note

This AfricaFocus contains a diverse selection of recent books likely to be of interest and new to AfricaFocus readers. You will find, for example, new books by Africa's distinguished elders, such as Achebe, wa Thiong'o, and Mandela. Selected new books from publishers such as Africa World Press, HSRC Press, and Aflame Books. Books on topical themes such as SMS activism and other ICT developments, on India and China's relations with Africa, and on xenophobia and migration. And more.

In the topical groups, I have also included several books that are not specifically focused on Africa, because I regard their analysis of key global issues as highly relevant in the context of Africa.

I've added brief descriptions for some books, but have opted not to in most cases, in order to give you more to browse without making this Bulletin much longer. You can easily find out more by clicking on the links or just using a Google search.

These are only a small sample of the books available in AfricaFocus Bookshop (, where you will also find lists organized by country and by selected topics (just added: a recommended selection of books on Women in Africa, contributed by Kathleen Sheldon. See

I've also added a few references to new mystery novels by African writers such as Kwei Quartey, Mukoma wa Ngugi, and Deon Meyer and to my essay "Is the Mystery Novel Going Global," on my website for mystery novels with a sense of place (

And remember, any book you order from Amazon in a web visit that begins with AfricaFocus Bookshop or brings a small commission to support AfricaFocus, at no extra cost to you.

++++++++++++++++++++++end editor's note+++++++++++++++++++++++

New Books from Distinguished Elders

Chinua Achebe, The Education of a British-Protected Child: Essays.

Chinua Achebe's characteristically measured and nuanced voice is everywhere present in these seventeen beautifully written pieces. In "The Education of a British-Protected Child," Achebe gives us a vivid portrait of growing up in colonial Nigeria and inhabiting its "middle ground," recalling both his happy memories of reading novels in secondary school and the harsher truths of colonial rule. The complex politics and history of Africa figure in "What Is Nigeria to Me?," "Africa's Tarnished Name," and "Politics and Politicians of Language in African Literature."

Nelson Mandela, Conversations with Myself, with a foreword by Barack Obama. Coming October 2010.

Conversations with Myself draws on Mandela's personal archive of never-before-seen materials to offer unique access to the private world of an incomparable world leader. Journals kept on the run during the anti-apartheid struggle of the early 1960s; diaries and draft letters written in Robben Island and other South African prisons; and more--from a historic collection of documents archived at the Nelson Mandela Foundation.

Ngugi wa Thiong'o, Something Torn and New: An African Renaissance.

Novelist Ngugi wa Thiong'o has been a force in African literature for decades: Since the 1970s, when he gave up the English language to commit himself to writing in African languages, his foremost concern has been the critical importance of language to culture. In Something Torn and New, Ngugi explores Africa's historical, economic, and cultural fragmentation by slavery, colonialism, and globalization.


Yochai Benkler, The Wealth of Networks.

Technology trends that are lowering prices for accessing and producing information are fundamentally changing the opportunities for African countries to compensate for their structural disadvantages in the world economy.The phenomenon Benkler describes as social production is reshaping markets, while at the same time offering new opportunities. Benkler's book is a fundamental guide to the new realities of the information age.

Miriam de Bruijn, Francis B. Naymnjoh, Inge Brinkman, eds., Mobile Phones: The New Talking Drums of Everyday Africa.

Mobile phones have become part and parcel of the communication landscape in many urban and rural areas of Africa and the growth of mobile telephony is amazing: from 1 in 50 people being users in 2000 to 1 in 3 in 2008. Rich in theoretical innovation and empirical substantiation, this book brings together reflections on developments around the mobile phone by scholars of six African countries (Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Ghana, Mali, Sudan and Tanzania).

Sokari Ekine, ed., SMS Uprising: Mobile Activism in Africa.

Edited by Nigerian activist Sokari Ekine, who runs the prize-winning blog Black Looks, the book brings together some of the best known and experienced developers and users of mobile phone technologies in Africa, including Juliana Rotich from Ushahidi in Kenya, Ken Banks of, and Berna Ngolobe of WOUGNET in Uganda.

Don Osborn, African Languages in a Digital Age: Challenges and opportunities for indigenous language computing.

This book is the result of several years of observation, analysis, consultation and synthesis of the adaptation of ICTs to local languages in Africa. The goal of the Pan Africa Localization project led by Don Osborn was to closely track the progress of ICTs in African languages and clearly identify the priorities that the Pan African Network for Localization (ANLOC) will pursue in its work plan. This book is a revised version of the project's final report.

China, India, and Africa

For more books on China and Africa, see

Harry Broadman, Africa's Silk Road: China and India's New Economic Frontier.

One of the earliest studies to call attention to the roles of China and India, from the World Bank. See excerpts in

Fantu Cheru and Cyril Obi, eds. The Rise of China and India in Africa.

A wide-ranging newly published collection of essays, from the Nordic Africa Institute.

Prem Shankar Jha, Crouching Dragon, Hidden Tiger: Can China and India Dominate the West?

From an Indian scholar and policy analyst, a study that goes beyond hype into analysis of the policy and class contradictions in the policies of both countries.

More New Books from Featured Publishers

Aflame Books

Pauline Chiziane, Niketche

A farce that celebrates the triumph of six women over one philandering man, this novel uses an age-old African story to address the subjection of women in modern Mozambique. After 20 years of marriage, Rami discovers that her husband, a senior police officer in Maputo, has a very big secret: he has been supporting four other households, complete with wives and children, for many years. Rami turns the tables. She and the other women quickly join forces to demand their rights, their voices, and support for their children.

Africa World Press

Dike Okoro, ed., Speaking for the Generations: An Anthology of Contemporary African Short Stories.

This anthology aims to represent the best of contemporary African short stories written in English. Familiar names such as Benjamin Kwakye, Tijan Sallah, Zahra Ramij, Freddy Macha, Arja Salafranca, Odun Balogun, Tanure Ojaide, Jackee Budesta Batanda, Lola Shoneyin, Mohamed Said Raihani and Omar Akikli are present along with the new talent of younger generation which includes Kondwani Kamiyala, Ayobami Adebayo, Prince Mensah, Dipita Kwa, Khadija El Younossi.

(2) Behnaz Mirzai, Ismael Musah Montana, Paul Lovejoy, Slavery, Islam and Diaspora.

Slavery, Islam and Diaspora explores slavery in the context of the Muslim world through a study of the African Diaspora. The volume identifies the enslaved population as a distinct social stratum in Islamic societies and reflects on the ways Islam has been used to justify enslavement, liberate slaves, and defend the autonomy of communities. ... A cast of talented scholars provides a rich and remarkable volume on the crucial linkages between Islam and slavery in different spaces and places, as well as historical eras. - Toyin Falola, University of Texas

HSRC Press

HSRC books are available for download from

Omano Edigheji, Constructing a Democratic Developmental State in South Africa: Potentials and Challenges.

In this seminal collection, an interdisciplinary team of distinguished scholars examine how South Africa could go about building a democratic developmental state, while drawing on relevant conceptual models and useful comparative experiences from other countries. Among the chapters of particular interest are the introduction by the editor Omano Edigheji, an overview essay by Peter B. Evans on "Constructing the 21st century developmental state," Thandkika Mkandawire's "From maladjusted states to democratic developmental states in Africa," and Seeraj Mohamed's critique dissecting "The effect of a mainstream approach to economic and corporate governance on development in South Africa."

Björn Beckman, Sakhela Buhlungu, Lloyd Sachikonye (eds), Trade Unions and Party Politics: Labour movements in Africa.

This volume examines the political role of trade unions in seven African countries and the various ways in which they seek to influence political parties and the state. Whereas some, like the Nigeria Labour Congress, push for a political party of their own, others, such as COSATU in South Africa, opt to engage with the power struggles in the ruling party. In Namibia and Uganda unions have been incorporated by a one-party dominated state while in Ghana, unions insist on being autonomous. There is also a move towards autonomy in Senegal, despite the plurality of unions with party affiliations. In the case of Zimbabwe, unions took the lead in creating an alternative alliance in opposition to a repressive state.

Pambazuka Press

Chambi Chachage, Annar Cassam, eds., Africa's Liberation: The Legacy of Nyerere.

This book includes contributions from leading commentators, those who worked and fought imperialism alongside Nyerere, members of a younger generation - and Nyerere in his own words. Their writings reflect on Nyerere and liberation, the Commonwealth, leadership, economic development, land, human rights and education. Above all, they are a testament to the growing recognition of the need to rekindle the fires of African socialism to which Nyerere was deeply committed.

Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem, Speaking Truth to Power: Selected Pan-African Postcards.

Dr Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem's untimely death on African Liberation Day 2009 stunned the Pan-African world. This selection of his Pan-African Postcards, written between 2003 and 2009, demonstrates the brilliant wordsmith he was, his steadfast commitment to Pan-Africanism and his determination to speak truth to power. He was a discerning analyst of developments in the global and Pan-African world and a vociferous believer in the potential of Africa and African people; he wrote his weekly postcards for over a decade.

New Teaching Resources

William Worger, Nancy Clark, and Edward Alpers, eds., Africa and the West: A Documentary History, Vol. 1: From the Slave Trade to Conquest, 1441-1905.

William Worger, Nancy Clark, and Edward Alpers, eds., Africa and the West: A Documentary History: Volume 2: From Colonialism to Independence, 1875 to the Present.

Fatima Sadiqi, Amira Nowaira, Azza El Kholy, Moha Ennaji, eds., Women Writing Africa: The Northern Region (v. 4).
[All volumes of this series are also included in a new listing in the AfricaFocus Bookshop of books on Women in Africa, recommended by Kathleen Sheldon, at]

Voices from Liberation History

Bernard Magubane, My Life & Times.

John S. Saul, Revolutionary Traveller: Freeze Frames from a Life\

Vladimir Shubin, The Hot "Cold War": The USSR in Southern Africa.

And don't forget No Easy Victories: African Liberation and American Activists over a Half Century, 1950-2000 (excerpts and discount order available at Excerpts available on line include the reference list at

New Books on Migration, Citizenship, and Xenophobia

Aderanti Adepoju, ed., International Migration within, to and from Africa in a Globalised World.

Jonathan Crush, Bruce Frayne, eds., Surviving on the Move: Migration, Poverty and Development in Southern Africa

Bronwen Manby, Struggles for Citizenship in Africa.

Michael Neocosmos, From "Foreign Natives" to "Native Foreigners". Explaining Xenophobia in Post-apartheid South Africa. 2nd Ed

Roberto Patricio Korzeniewicz, Timothy Patrick Moran, Unveiling Inequality: A World-Historical Perspective.

Football / Soccer

Peter Alegi, African Soccerscapes: African Soccerscapes: How a Continent Changed the World's Game.

Steve Bloomfield, Africa United: Soccer, Passion, Politics, and the First World Cup in Africa.

Chuch Korr, Marvin Close, More Than Just a Game: Soccer vs. Apartheid.

Mystery Novels

Deon Meyer, Thirteen Hours.

Mukoma wa Ngugi, Nairobi Heat.

Kwei Quartey, Wife of the Gods.

And for background and much, much more for those of you who read mystery novels, here's a short excerpt from my essay "Is the Mystery Novel Going Global?" You can read the full essay and find a site organized by country and author at

Sweden's Lisbet Salander and Botswana's Precious Ramotswe may have little else in common. But these fictional detectives created by Stieg Larsson and Alexander McCall Smith are both harbingers of a trend which is gathering force: the globalization of the mystery novel. Along with the familiar scenes of English villages, London and Manhattan streets, and Los Angeles freeways, airport kiosks around the world feature books set in cold Nordic landscapes and African cities, in the high mountains of Tibet and in Brazil's Amazon.

English-language readers can now sample mysteries and thrillers quickly translated not only from French, German, and Spanish but from a score of other languages. And although the authors are still much less diverse than the locations, and many countries are still unrepresented in the international marketplace, China's Qiu Xiaolong, Cuba's José Latour, and South Africa's Deon Meyer, for example, have established outstanding mystery series with many loyal followers. And Kwei Quartey and Mukoma wa Ngugi, to cite only two younger writers, have published their first novels in what we hope will be ongoing series set in their home countries of Ghana and Kenya.

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AfricaFocus Bulletin is an independent electronic publication providing reposted commentary and analysis on African issues, with a particular focus on U.S. and international policies. AfricaFocus Bulletin is edited by William Minter.

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