#NonFictionNovember currently reading + GIVEAWAY!

Hey everyone!

What are you all currently reading? At the moment, I’m reading Hopes and Impediments: Selected Essays by the great Chinua Achebe and Bettah Days by Veronica Wells.

I haven’t really seen many African #NonFictionNovember suggestions on social media, so I’d like to share my enjoyment of Achebe’s work with you all! I reviewed The Trouble with Nigeria by Chinua Achebe last year and I was blown away by the boldness of Achebe’s words and his brave stances on various Nigerian and African social, cultural and political issues. In Hopes and Impedicimets: Selected Essays, I’m already enjoying Achebe’s candid writing style and his sharp wit, with regards to short essays/chapters like: ‘An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad’s Heart of Darkness‘ ; ‘The Truth of Fiction’ ; ‘Thoughts on the African Novel’ ; ‘The Writer and His Community’; ‘Names for Victoria, Queen of England’; ‘James Baldwin (1924 – 1987)’ and so much more.

Check out the blurb:

“One of the most provocative and original voices in contemporary literature, Chinua Achebe – author of the iconic novel Things Fall Apart – here considers the place of literature and art in our society. This collection of essays spans his writing and lectures over the course of his career, from his ground-breaking and provocative essay on Joseph Conrad and Heart of Darkness to his assessments of the novel’s role as a teacher and of the truths of fiction. Achebe reveals the impediments that still stand in the way of open, equal dialogue between Africans and Europeans, between blacks and whites, but also instills us with hope that they will soon be overcome.”

I will be coupling this book prize with the amazing African City tote bag by APiF (African Prints in Fashion). “It’s a 100 % cotton tote bag in black with white handles – 22 African city names printed on both sides. This tote bag is huge and you can fit anything from your laptop, your trainers, books to groceries in it. And actually also all of these items together!” Check out more products from the APiF website – here. (No, this is not a sponsored giveaway).

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And as promised from the Sweet Medicine by Panashe Chigumadzi review, I will be giving away a brand new copy of her debut (by itself) as well – as a second prize!

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Tell a friend to tell a friend! I encourage everyone to enter the giveaway raffle multiple times to increase the chances of enjoying either Achebe’s gems from the essay collection + the awesome African City tote bag or Panashe’s great debut, Sweet Medicine. You have about 9 days to try your luck!

Expect a review of Hopes and Impediments: Selected Essays by Chinua Achebe early next year.

Click to enter > the Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Giveaway TERMS & CONDITIONS:

  • The giveaway starts November 13th 2016 at 12am GMT and ends November 23rd 2016 at 12am GMT (Greenwich Mean Time).
  • This is an international giveaway – it is open to everyone, worldwide.
  • You must be 18 years and older to participate in this giveaway.
  • The winners will be selected by Random.org, through Rafflecopter and will be notified by email.
  • The winners will have 48 hours to respond to the email before new winners are selected.
  • If you are lucky winners of the prizes, Darkowaa will be shipping your prizes via DHL directly to you.
  • Once the winners are notified via email, providing shipping details will go to Darkowaa only and will only be used for the purpose of shipping the prizes to the winners.
  • This is NOT a sponsored giveaway. Items offered in this giveaway are free of charge, no purchase is necessary.
  • If there are any questions and concerns about this giveaway, please contact at: africanbookaddict@gmail.com

Good luck, everyone!

Check out the previous giveaway from February – here.

Classics: Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe & Matigari by Ngūgī wa Thiong’o

Hey everyone! Below are mini reviews of two classics written by two, brilliant, African literature pioneer writers. I enjoyed these books over the summer 🙂

Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

Things Fall ApartDate re-Read: July 12th 2015 (previously read in 2007)

Published: January 2010 (originally published in 1958)

Publisher: Penguin Books

Pages: 152

 

The Blurb

Things Fall Apart tells two intertwining stories, both centering on Okonkwo, a “strong man” of an Ibo village in Nigeria. The first, a powerful fable of the immemorial conflict between the individual and society, traces Okonkwo’s fall from grace with the tribal world. The second, as modern as the first is ancient, concerns the clash of cultures and the destruction of Okonkwo’s world with the arrival of aggressive European missionaries. These perfectly harmonized twin dramas are informed by an awareness capable of encompassing at once the life of nature, human history, and the mysterious compulsions of the soul.

Review –★★★★ (4 stars)

What more can I say about this book? Everyone and their grandparents have read this classic. Most readers hated Okonkwo – the main character, for valid reasons. Who would have thought this true-blooded chauvinist would ultimately take his own life? Killing yourself is a cowardly, weak move, no? Despite Okonkwo’s brashness and overt disdain for females and all things ‘womanly’, I understood him, so I appreciated him.

It’s hard not to resent the British colonizers for the damage they caused Africa in the past. The British came with full force, masked in Christianity and denied natives of the African continent control over their own land. Change is never easy, but I guess sometimes it’s necessary? Many harmful indigenous practices which were revered prior colonization have been abolished for example – the killing of twins and thankfully, many other practices that were tagged with superstitious beliefs. Things Fall Apart gives readers a lot to think about: gender inequality, superstition, tradition versus modernity, masculinity versus femininity etc. I’m glad I re-read this during the summer. It was refreshing to reconnect with this masterpiece that Achebe wrote back in 1958. Things Fall Apart will always be a solid 4.5 stars for me.

★★★★ (4 stars) – Great book. Highly recommend!

Purchase Things Fall Apart from Amazon

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Matigari by Ngūgī wa Thiong’o

MatigariDate Read: August 11th 2015

Published: June 1989 (originally published in 1986)

Publisher: Heinemann (African Writers Series)

Pages: 175

The Blurb

Who is Matigari? Is he young or old; a man or fate; dead or living… or even a resurrection of Jesus Christ? These are the questions asked by the people of this unnamed country, when a man who has survived the war for independence emerges from the mountains and starts making strange claims and demands.

Matigari is in search of his family, to rebuild his home and start a new and peaceful future, but his search becomes a quest for truth and justice as he finds the people still dispossessed and the land he loves ruled by corruption, fear and misery. Rumors spring up that a man with superhuman qualities has risen to renew the freedom struggle. The novel races towards its climax as Matigari realizes that words alone cannot defeat the enemy. He vows to use the force of arms to achieve his true liberation.

Lyrical and hilarious in turn, Matigari is a memorable satire on the betrayal of human ideals and on the bitter experience of post-independence African society.

Review – ★★★★ (4 stars)

Matigari is the ultimate African post-colonial, social justice novel. And of course, Ngūgī wa Thiong’o executes the storyline brilliantly with the strength and courage of character,  Matigari ma Njiruungi – a patriot who goes to great lengths to ensure there is justice for the oppressed in a (fictitious) nation. Matigari ensures there is justice for the oppressed with the help of an orphan and a former prostitute and readers follow this team on their brave, almost rebellious journey to peace and justice. Matigari is a satirical novel. Ngūgī wa Thiong’o uses some elements of magical realism and lots of Christian allegory which are very symbolic in this novel.

But I don’t think this book is for everyone. It can be quite dry and may be too ‘political’ for some readers. Matigari was not a fast/easy read for me: I started reading it in May and finished it in August. But if you appreciate African oral literature and post-colonial literary works – read this! It is indeed powerful.

Favorite quotes:

“The true seeker of truth never loses hope. The true seeker of real justice never tires. A farmer does not stop planting seeds just because of the failure of one crop. Success is born of trying and trying again. Truth must seek justice. Justice must seek the truth. When justice triumphs, truth will reign on earth” pg. 84 [one of Matigari’s many meditations].

“Pregnancies are the result of the evil and wild desires. I shall ask the government to ban dreams and desires of that kind for a period of about two years. Fucking among the poor should be stopped by a presidential decree!” (HILARIOUS!) pg. 120 [said a member of parliament – a typical man in power, guilty of squandering government money].

★★★★ (4 stars) – Great book. Highly recommend!

Purchase Matigari from Amazon

 

The Trouble with Nigeria by Chinua Achebe

Chinua AchebeDate Read: April 5th 2015

Published: 1983

Publisher: Heinemann

Pages: 68

 

 

 

 

 

The Blurb

The eminent African novelist and critic, here addresses Nigeria’s problems, aiming to challenge the resignation of Nigerians and inspire them to reject old habits which inhibit Nigeria from becoming a modern and attractive country. In this famous book now reprinted, he professes that the only trouble with Nigeria is the failure of leadership, because with good leaders Nigeria could resolve its inherent problems such as tribalism; lack of patriotism; social injustice and the cult of mediocrity; indiscipline; and corruption.

Review – ★★★★★ (5 stars)

“The trouble with Nigeria is simply a failure of leadership…The Nigerian problem is the unwillingness or inability of its leaders to rise to the responsibility, to the challenge of personal example which are the hallmarks of true leadership.” pg. 1

The title, The Trouble with Nigeria should actually be called ‘The Trouble with Africa’. In this short book, Achebe questions the motives of the leaders and citizens of Nigeria. Achebe systematically breaks this book into ten chapters, where he discusses the various problems Nigeria was facing in 1983. Some of these chapters are entitled: Tribalism, Indiscipline, Corruption, False Image of Ourselves, Social Injustice and the Cult of Mediocrity, amongst others.

This book is simply brilliant. It is short and straight to the point! Everyone should read this, especially African politicians and people in positions of power. But do African politicians read? A myriad of books in the African Literature genre mirror the happenings of society. Authors use their amazing talent and writing abilities to articulate the faults of our leaders and societies through their stories/fictitious characters. Do the leaders of our societies read these books to hear how the layman feels about the conditions of their nations? Do they care? Even though this book was written in 1983, most of the issues Achebe discusses hold true to Ghana, and other African countries as well- even in present day 2015. Corruption, indiscipline, tribalism, lack of patriotism, illiteracy and greed are killing administrations in several African nations. We honestly need to do better as a people and this book explains why with boldness, style and sharp wit. I loved this! Thank you Chinua Achebe.

My favorite quotes from The Trouble with Nigeria:

“Nigerians are what they are only because their leaders are not what they should be.” pg. 10

“A true patriot will always demand the highest standards of his country and accept nothing but the best for and from his people. He will be outspoken in condemnation of their short-coming without giving way to superiority, despair or cynicism. That is my idea of a patriot.” pg. 16

“Look at our collapsing public utilities, our inefficient and wasteful parastatals and state-owned companies… If you want electricity, you buy your own generator; if you want water, you sink your own bore-hole; if you want to travel, you set up your own airline. One day soon, said a friend of mine, you will have to build your own post office to send your letters!” pg. 20 (Yes, this holds true to Ghana as well, especially issues of electricity *sigh*).

“I must now touch, however briefly, on the grace undermining of national discipline which the siren mentality of Nigerian leaders fosters. In all civilized countries the siren is used in grave emergencies by fire engines, ambulances and the police in actual pursuit of crime. Nigeria, with its remarkable genius of travesty, has found a way to turn yet another useful invention by serious-minded people elsewhere into a childish and cacophonous instrument for the celebration of status.” pg. 34 (Sadly, this is a daily occurrence in Ghana as well. Especially during rush hour).

“My frank and honest opinion is that anybody who can say that corruption in Nigeria has not yet become alarming is either a fool, a crook or else does not live in this country.” pg. 37 (This guy was bold, sheesh!)

“Knowledgeable observers have estimated that as much as 60 percent of the wealth of its nation is regularly consumed by corruption. I have no doubt that defenders of our system would retort: Mere rumor! Where is the proof? No one can offer ‘satisfactory’ proof for the simple reason that nobody issues a receipt for a bribe or for money stolen from the public till.” pg. 41

★★★★★ (5 stars) – Amazing book, I loved it. Absolutely recommend!

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Purchase The Trouble With Nigeria on Amazon

Girls at War and Other Stories by Chinua Achebe

37775Date Read: August 5th 2014

Published: September 1991

Publisher: First Anchor Books

Pages: 121

 

 

The Blurb

Full of characteristic energy and authenticity, the stories in this classic collection capture the remarkable talent of one of the world’s most acclaimed writers and storytellers.

Here we read of an ambitious farmer who is suddenly shunned by his village when a madman exacts his humiliating revenge; a young nanny who is promised an education by her well-to-do employers, only to be cruelly cheated out of it; and in three fiercely observed stories about the Nigerian civil war, we are confronted with the economic ethnic, cultural and religious tensions that continue to rack modern Africa. Displaying an astonishing range of experience, Chinua Achebe deftly takes us inside the heart and soul of people whose pride and ideals must compete with the simple struggle to survive.

 

Review – ★★★ (3 stars)

This is a decent collection of stories by Achebe.

My favorite stories were:

The Madman‘ – a tale of a once prominent man in a village who is humiliated by a vengeful madman. What a shameful but hilarious story!

Marriage is a Private Affair‘ – a story of a loving couple who are trying to convince their relatives of their forbidden love, as they are from different ethnic groups. I liked how Achebe wrote on the challenges of intermarriages between people of different ethnic groups especially as it is a problem we still face in Africa today.

Girls at War‘ – a tragic love story during the civil war in Nigeria. The story is centered on the short-lived romance between a militia girl and the Minister of Justice, living on the edge during the dangerous times of the civil war.

I don’t think I enjoyed reading this collection of short stories. Achebe’s writing style and storytelling manner were phenomenal as usual, but I wasn’t really interested in the subject matter of most of the stories. To be honest, I purchased the book because I loved the book cover design! And I must say, I still like the book cover design more than the stories, hahaa! But I do recommend this book- especially to the die-hard Chinua Achebe fans…this would be a fast read for you.

★★★ (3 stars) – Good book. I recommend it, I guess.

Purchase Girls at War and Other Stories on Amazon