Morayo Da Silva, a cosmopolitan Nigerian woman, lives in San Francisco. Almost seventy-five, she has a zest for life and enjoys road trips in her vintage Porsche. But when Morayo has an accident, crushing her independence, she is prompted to reassess her relationships and recollect her past life and loves. A humorous, joyful read.
Review –★★★★ (4 stars)
Like A Mule Bringing Ice Cream To The Sun is a decent, really easy-going novella centered around 75 year old Dr. Morayo Da Silva, who’s a retired Literature professor. You’d never believe that Morayo is a senior citizen as she carries herself as if she’s in her 40’s – she dances, she enjoys music, she wants a tattoo, she has perfect memory, she has a healthy sexual appetite, she still drives her Porsche, she has lots and lots of books that occupy her time, she is childless (and not broken by it) – Morayo is basically old lady goals! There isn’t a major plot in this novella; readers simply follow Morayo through her life as she reminisces her past and enjoys her present.
I enjoyed getting to know Morayo through the other characters’ voices we encounter in the novella, like – a homeless woman, Reggie (who becomes a much needed companion for Morayo after her accident), Toussaint (a very talented Black chef), Sunshine (Morayo’s truly amazing friend who struggles with her Indian identity) and her ex-husband in Nigeria. The different voices gave the novella a good twist, as there were various perspectives on incidents that occur.
Some interactions and incidents in the novella felt unreal though, for example – when Morayo realizes her house underwent some renovations after her stay at the Home, she storms out of her house and speeds down the road (in her Porsche) as she cries and laments over the changes. That incident was super dramatic and felt unreal. Also, Morayo planning a clothing business with a homeless woman she usually saw on the street was sooo random and just not real to me. Because of this and other instances where I felt the text felt unrealistic, this novella is really a 3.5 stars rating for me.
While Like A Mule Bringing Ice Cream To The Sun portrayed how alone Morayo was, she was NOT lonely and miserable – which was refreshing! This book had me thinking about: aging, dependence versus independence (as a child and as a senior citizen), the disadvantages of not having children (to look after you and love you once you age), the advantages of not desiring children and being at peace with that decision, mental illness (Reggie’s wife – Pearl’s illness played an important role in this novella. I’d love to read a full novel on their marriage!), the sacrifices we make for the people we love.
I recommend this novella to anyone who wants to get comfy with a good book that isn’t necessarily plot-driven, but nonetheless delightful and easy-going. I’m grateful to Sarah L. Manyika for writing Dr. Morayo’s story in a fun yet insightful way, allowing us to think beyond our present; we won’t be young forever.
★★★★ (4 stars) – Great book. Highly recommend!
Purchase Like A Mule Bringing Ice Cream To The Sun on Amazon
Once again, the month of March is here! Ghana gained independence in March (TODAY, March 6th 1957), so I like to dedicate this month to celebrating Ghanaian writers and their work. In the African literature scene, Ghanaian writers and their books are seriously underrated. As a reader of Ghanaian heritage, I enjoy discovering new Ghanaian writers and learning about our pioneer writers. If we don’t celebrate our own, who will?
Last year on African Book Addict! we celebrated 75 Ghanaian writers and their books in a 3-part series. This year (more like this month), I’ll be in conversation with some of the writers highlighted in last year’s series!
First up is Ayesha Harruna Attah – author of Harmattan Rain, Saturday’s Shadows and forthcoming The Hundred Wells of Salaga, which will be published by Cassava Republic Press in May! Enjoy this fun book chat where Ayesha talks about the inspirations for her forthcoming novel, the first book she read by a Ghanaian writer & the future of Ghanaian literature, the Black writers who influence her work and why we should indulge in The Hundred Wells of Salaga.
Aminah lives an idyllic life until she is brutally separated from her home and forced on a journey that turns her from a daydreamer into a resilient woman. Wurche, the willful daughter of a chief, is desperate to play an important role in her father’s court. These two women’s lives converge as infighting among Wurche’s people threatens to cleave the region, during the height of the slave trade at the end of the 19th century.
Set in pre-colonial Ghana, The Hundred Wells of Salaga is a story of courage, forgiveness, love and freedom. Through the experiences of Aminah and Wurche, it offers a remarkable view of slavery and how the scramble for Africa affected the lives of everyday people.
The Hundred Wells of Salaga is your 3rd forthcoming novel, congratulations on this achievement! When did you first get ideas on the story and how long did it take you to write the novel?
AHA: Thank you! About ten years ago, I found out that my great-great grandmother was enslaved. I wanted to know more. Who was she? Where had she come from? What were her desires before her dreams were snatched away? To unearth more, I made a trip to Salaga, in northern Ghana, where there was an infamous slave market. But I kept hitting walls – either people didn’t want to talk or they didn’t know enough. So in 2012, I decided to research how people ended up in Salaga and to also put my imagination to work. I officially started writing in 2014.
Did you learn anything about yourself while writing The Hundred Wells of Salaga?
AHA: I learned just how much I didn’t know about African history. For instance, it was a big surprise to me that in the 19th century in the Sokoto Caliphate, there were women teachers, jajis, who taught other women and they used poetry as a way of disseminating values.
While reading Harmattan Rain, I saw bits of my life reflected in Sugri’s character and in Saturday’s Shadows, Kojo’s character mirrored a lot of my life as well! How much of your personal life seeps into your stories?
AHA: I don’t consciously set out to put my lived experiences into my writing, but it would be almost impossible to divorce myself from my characters. Even if I were writing the vilest character on earth, it would be with my flavor and through my eyes. Of course, there are certain moments in life that are too good to keep to oneself and, those, I very intentionally put into my stories. For instance, the anecdote in Saturday’s Shadows, where a man cuts himself with a blade to prove he’s invincible—that was a real life scene I witnessed.
Do you remember the first book you read by a Ghanaian writer? If so, what book was it and how was the experience? After working on the #GHat60 project last year, I was amazed at the great number of Ghanaian writers doing amazing work. How do you feel about the future of Ghanaian literature?
AHA: I think it was The Anthill in the Sea, an illustrated poetry book by Atukwei Okai. I don’t even remember how old I was. Maybe seven. I loved it.
On the future of Ghanaian literature, there is so much potential and possibility brimming, which I find really exciting. I think the work the Writers Project of Ghana is doing is commendable and writers such as Ruby Goka, Nana Awere Damoah, Mohammed Naseehu Ali, Nana Ekua Brew-Hammond, Nii Ayikwei Parkes, Boakyewaa Glover give me hope for our generation of writers. What we desperately need are publishing houses with serious distribution networks.
What have you been reading and loving lately? And who are some of your favorite Black writers and influencers of your work?
AHA: After almost a year and a half of new mummy duties, I have started reading again. Since January, I have read Akwaeke Emezi, JJ Bola, Ayobami Adebayo, all debut novelists and I have loved all their books.
I devour work by Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, Bessie Head, Ama Ata Aidoo, Lucille Clifton, and of course, Ayi Kwei Armah, who gave me the push I needed to write my first novel.
Finally, why would you like readers to indulge in your forthcoming, The Hundred Wells of Salaga? What would you like us to take away from the story?
AHA: The involvement of Africans in the slave trade is a part of history that I feel hasn’t been confronted or dealt with enough. There were entire villages built in rocks to prevent slave raiders from attacking. It was a traumatic moment we suffered on the continent, and if trauma isn’t healed it manifests itself in disease, passiveness, self-harm… The list is endless. My impression is that most African countries do not want to deal with this past. Just recently, the world learned of slave auctions in Libya. I was ashamed and appalled that Ghanaians and Nigerians were involved, once again as middlemen. I hope that this book will wake us up to the role that we played in the slave trade, and begin us on the path of forgiveness and healing.
I’d like to give a special thank you to the lovely ladies over at Ankara Press for reaching out to me and sending me two e-copies of the new additions to their African romance fiction collection. Ever since they launched as an imprint of Cassava Republic Press(Nigeria) in 2014, I’ve always wanted to read some of the stories so I couldn’t pass up the opportunity!
Ankara Press aims at publishing a new kind of romance, for the modern African woman where stories are more grounded with a healthy thrill of fantasy. Stories published by Ankara Press feature young, independent, ambitious African women who are unafraid to love, in African cities from Lagos to Cape Town. Their books challenge African romance stereotypes by portraying women who embrace their sexuality and are open to finding true love.
Mini reviews of the two ebooks are below:
The Seeing Place by Aziza Eden Walker
Date Read: March 1st 2016
Published: February 14th 2016
Publisher: Ankara Press
Review – ★★★ (3 stars)
I enjoyed this African romance/chic lit novel. The story takes place in Cape Town and Johannesburg and follows the growing relationship between caramel-colored beauty, Thuli and dark chocolate hunk, Andile. Andile works as a barman but is actually a talented actor, waiting for his next gig; Thuli works as a TV/Film producer. They meet at Andile’s workplace – a bar, when Thuli sought refuge there after she twisted her ankle, trying to evade the rowdiness of a wild street party in Cape Town. They are instantly attracted to one another when their eyes meet and the story takes readers on a rollercoaster of incidents and emotions these characters endure.
The sex scenes in this story were surprisingly quite explicit (I ain’t complaining, haha) and I think readers should be 18 years or older to read this. The storyline was very fairytale-ish, as most romance books are. I don’t know if the average South African woman would identify with Thuli, since her life seemed perfect, despite the ‘hardships’ she faced as a child – does the average 28 year old South African woman drive a matte black Mercedes-Benz and own her own film producing company? All in all, I liked that I learned something from this novel (the importance of communication and being honest) at the end and it wasn’t a flippant tale – as most perceive romance novels to be. Aziza Eden Walker is a great writer! Her writing style was clear and vivid and I enjoyed her way with words. I give The Seeing Place 3.5 stars!
★★★ (3 stars) – Good book. I recommend it, I guess.
Love Next Door by Amina Thula
Date Read: March 6th 2016
Published: February 14th 2016
Publisher: Ankara Press
Review– ★★★ (3 stars)
Love Next Door is a cute story about Abongile (or Abby) and Kopano in Johannesburg, South Africa. Abby, an ambitious business analyst is finally independent and has moved into her new apartment in Johannesburg. Next door to her new apartment is school teacher and artist, Kopano. Once they meet outside Abby’s door as she struggles with hauling groceries into her new home, it is like at first sight and readers follow the blooming love affair between Abby and Kopano.
This was a quick read and I loved how the author incorporated a lot of South African culture into the story, for example: Amina Thula enlightens readers on the negative and positive stereotypes surrounding Xhosa women and the Xhosa language peppered throughout the novel gave the story an authentic feel. I didn’t even need a glossary at the end of the book as it was easy to infer the meanings of the various foreign words. The intimate moments between the main characters were milder than that of The Seeing Place, so I guess readers of all ages could enjoy this book. But the writing style wasn’t as vivid as I had liked and the book could have been edited a little more closely. The ending was quite abrupt for me… or maybe I just didn’t agree with how the characters seamlessly reconciled their love after all the ups and downs they endured. Perhaps Love Next Door targets a younger, teenage audience as the tale was quite juvenile… or maybe the characters were a bit juvenile to me. On the whole, this book was well thought-out and I commend Amina Thula for writing this modern love story.
★★★ (3 stars) – Good book. I recommend it, I guess.
How amazingly chic is the cover art? Onyinye Iwu (@only_onyi) designed the cover art for the novels published by Ankara Press and she does a lovely job at highlighting the vibrant colors of the Vliscocloth, as well as portraying African women of all skin tones, shapes and sizes.
I’m fairly new to the African romance genre, but it would be cool for Ankara Press to explore:
Maybe having some stories written by men? Men write romance tales too! In the Valentine’s Day Anthology 2015, (an anthology Ankara Press published last year, featuring writers like: Sarah Ladipo-Manyika, Eghosa Imasuen, Chuma Nwokolo and my favorite- Binyavanga Wainaina) men penned a good number of the stories. I’d love to read a romance novel from a man’s perspective and also see men on the book covers wearing amazing ankara fabric shirts!
It would also be cool to read a romance novel featuring characters in a same-sex relationship.
Do all romance novels have to end happily-ever-after? It would be interesting to read a tragic African love tale too.
Thank you again to Ankara Press for the ebooks. I enjoyed the stories and look forward to reading more soon! Please do check out blurbs of the various stories published by Ankara Press at www.ankarapress.com.