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Showing posts from 2011

Vitabu Reads | Sherry Early's Reading Challenge

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I just stumbled upon Sherry Early's "Reading Challenge: Northern Africa." Sherry has been interested in reading books about Africa for a while so she decided to get organized in 2012 and sponsor a challenge for herself and anyone else who wants to join in.

Sherry's challenge is to read eleven books either set in north Africa or written by authors from this region in 2012. She hopes to read at least one adult book and one children’s book from Algeria, Chad, Egypt, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Sudan, Tunisia, and Western Sahara.

In Sherry's North Africa Tour, you can:

1. Read at least one book from each of the eleven countries in northern Africa. Since the challenge runs for eleven months, this challenge would entail reading one book per month.

2. Read five books set in one of the countries of northern Africa or five books by authors from one of the countries of northern Africa. Example: Read five books by Egyptian authors.

3. Read five to eleven chil…

Book News |One Day I Will Write About This Place – A Chimurenga Session featuring Binyavanga Wainaina

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Binyavanga Wainaina's One Day I Will Write About This Place has been released to widespread critical acclaim. Seven years in the making, it spans Wainaina’s middle-class upbringing in Kenya, his failed attempt to study in South Africa, a moving family reunion in Uganda, his travels around Kenya, music, soccer, food, politricks, beauty, tragedy, fragile ripeness, sexual fantasy, love and philosophy.

On December 2, 2012, Chimurenga will host the Cape Town launch of Kwani? founding editor and celebrated writer, Binyavanga Wainaina’s groundbreaking new memoir, One Day I Will Write About This Place. Wainaina will read from his book followed by a discussion session with Centre for African Studies Director, Prof Harry Garuba. For more information visit Chimurenga Blog

Vitabubooks | There's A Story Behind Your Name

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Over the next 7 days, Kinna Reads, a leading African lit blogger, is hosting the 2nd annual Ghanaian Literature Week. This year’s reading event started Monday, November 14th and will run till Sunday, November 20th.

I read a slim picture book that's been tucked away since I bought it at the Baltimore Book Festival. Soul Name by Naana Kyereboah, a children's writer and teacher based in the United States, touches on an important aspect of Ghanaian life: Every name has meaning and character.

Published in 2007, Soul Name (Nabina Publications) is about a young girl and the journey she takes us through a remarkable naming ceremony for her one-week old brother.

Here's how Naana describes Soul Name in a 2009 interview

Soul Name is about an eight-year-old Ghanaian girl, Ekua, who invites you to join her and her family in the naming ceremony for her brother, Kofi. Ekua shares with us why the naming of a child is very important... The given name, which is revealed by the father fo…

Vitabubooks Blog | Frightful Halloween with Poe and Tutuola

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Rain, snow and wind have kept me indoors most of the day. Except for a morning walk to the local shop, I've been on the couch. Not even the delightful Waverly Farmers' Market on Baltimore's 32nd could drag me out to eat or play. Bundled up, I channel zap aimlessly for a bit before walking over to the book case for inspiration.

My hands rested on an old Edgar Allan Poe. I thought of a friend who'd mentioned a Halloween fund raiser somewhere in Baltimore. Come to think of it, an arts program on TV had mentioned the city was having a few parties for Poe. One of them even promised an evening with him playing “Ghost Host With The Most at the most ghoulish event” billed to be “great fun for the living and the dead.” Sounded like fun (and I wish them pots of money) but with Baltimore's weather as frightful as it is, stepping out to celebrate Halloween isn't too appealing. A book or two might do the trick.

So I settle for one of Poe's horror-filled shorts a…

Vitabubooks Blog | Calabar Calabar... restoring the Ancient Marina by Enuma Chigbo

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Ignorance would get the better of me many a time. A case point is a statement I made in my kitchen in Lagos many years ago: “[T]wo places in Nigeria I cannot imagine visiting— Sokoto and Calabar.” I would say this, perhaps in the same location, with this contraption called my nose way up in the air. However, all of that changed when a special birthday party took me to Calabar sometime in 1999.

I marveled as I moved around the clean and serene city of Calabar...quaint, unspoiled by the corruptible winds that seemed to pervade the rest of the nation. Over time, I got to learn a lot about the land of Calabar, also known as the Canaan city. I got to learn more about her convivial people, piled on several pounds from overindulging in her extraordinary cuisine and perhaps, most importantly, discovered her amazing yet dilapidated tourist sites.

Calabar, the first capital of Nigeria, seemed to have a unique take on the history of West Africa. I had heard stories of how royals sold thei…

Vitabubooks | Yewa S. Holiday reviews The Importance of Being Seven by Alexander McCall Smith

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Yewa S. Holiday went to see Alexander McCall Smith at this year’s Hay Festival of Literature and Arts. She found him, in life, "to be much as he is in his books: amusing even when serious, courteous and charmingly old-fashioned." Below is a short review from Yewa for Vitabubooks.

I first got to know McCall Smith’s writing through The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency, a warmly wise series set in Botswana. [Then] quickly moved through many of his other books from the hilarious 2½ Pillars of Wisdom to the more sedate Sunday Philosophy Club series to the 44 Scotland Street books.

The Importance of Being Seven, Alexander McCall Smith’s sixth novel in this set, is charming, entertaining and funny with the undertow of wisdom and ethics which seem to course through all of McCall Smith’s work. The books center on the characters who live in the flats at 44 Scotland Street and their relationships with friends, family and the wider world.

Have the newlyweds, Matthew and Elspeth Harm…

Ezekiel Mphahlele Biography | BookRags.com

Celebrated South African writer and teacher Ezekiel Mphahlele (Es'kia Mphahlele) died on October 27th, 2008. Here's a link to one of the best biographies on the webEzekiel Mphahlele Biography | BookRags.com

Kinna Reads announces 2nd Annual Ghanaian Literature Week

Kinna Reads, a leading African lit blogger, has announced that it will host the 2nd annual Ghanaian Literature Week. This year’s reading event is scheduled for Monday, November 14th – Sunday, November 20th. Kinna Reads hosted the event for the first time last year. "[I]t was a lot of fun, although participation was limited to bloggers. This year, I’m opening it up to the world and relaxing the rules somewhat."

To participate:

- Read one or more works by a Ghanaian author or an author of Ghanaian descent. Fiction and non-fiction works are allowed. All forms and genres of fiction are also allowed. These include novels, novellas, short stories, children’s literature, poetry and drama. Literary fiction, faith-based works, romances, mysteries are also included. The length or topic does not matter except that it must be connected to Ghana or touch on some aspect of Ghanaian life. The material must be published as a physical book, an ebook, in a newspaper, in a journal or pu…

The Poet, the Author, His Book & the Rapper

Seen today's headlines? Chinua Achebe forces 50 Cent to rename movie: Things fall apart for rapper as Nigerian writer makes him change forthcoming film title to avoid conflict with 1958 novel

The word on the streets of Baltimore is blame it all on the legal team. I can't quite understand why a line from a 1919 poem that becomes a title for a novel almost forty years later (both works portraying "great social troubles") shouldn't be used by a rapper more than fifty years on. I'm not sure either why an artist who drops 60 pounds to portray a man whose "world is [literally] spinning out of control" (an American football player stricken with cancer) doesn't get a nod from an 8-million-product book empire? How many millions of humans die from cancer each year? What's the impact on humanity worldwide?

Morquee: Chapter Two

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Morquee: Chapter Two

by Karamoh Kabba, excerpted from Morquee

Gbankaya is the headquarters town of Gbankaya Chiefdom. It is the largest Chiefdom with the biggest towns in Kono District. The town had not changed much from the time Morquee left it in the early sixties. The road network into Gbankaya and in the township was the same. As a boy growing up there, he first saw these road projects as a white man's benevolence to help the natives. But after he studied the history of colonialism, he had developed a different view about the intention of the colonial masters when they constructed road networks into the provinces. It was more to facilitate cash crop transportation to the capital city for export. Even the popular railway that wound through resource-rich provinces seemed like a straw stuck into a ripe orange fruit with England at the receiving end sucking hard, dehydrating the fruit right to its stem and not putting nutrients back into the soil. There had been no change to the …

Vitabubooks Interview | Nsedu Onyile

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Nsedu Onyile's articles on cross-cultural issues in healthcare delivery--language differences, communication problems and discrimination-- laid the foundation for a book. Using the complexities of cultural clashes, Nsedu shines light on discrimination in the fictional story of Minor, a dying AIDS patient still struggling to adjust to western society, and Usukuma, a free spirit whose courage helps Minor cope. Below are excerpts from our email interview on Ten Days with Minor.

Vitabubooks: Ten Days With Minor has been described as a “clash of worlds.” What’s your view?

Nesdu Onyile: I totally do not see the clash. I see different worlds intermingling; differences should not be seen as clashes. If the whole world was the same, it would be a very boring world. In Ten Days With Minor, two very unlikely strangers from very different worlds met and produced the most intense and fulfilling relationships. Instead of clashing, they learned about their pasts, different traditions, and ev…

Vitabubooks Interview | Chioma Okereke

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You can't beat this for an intro:

Chioma Okereke was born under a Soprano Sky in Nigeria almost a quarter century ago and has spent most of this time travelling. She is married to London but is engaged in an illicit affair with New York which has had a profound effect on her work - primarily because she found a space with people even crazier herself. She likes lots of feedback on her poetry but as a black belt voodoo priestess [kidding, she's kidding] choose your words carefully!
TimBookTu rocks as does Chioma Okereke's new book Bitter Leaf which has garnered raving reviews across the blogosphere. I thought it was fab, so, recently, I checked out the events page on Chioma's website and saw she had been doing quite a bit of traveling as you might have guessed. In her email response to my questions, she shared stories from her Lagos-Abuja stops, some of her special guests and lots more! Except for just how many languages she speaks.

Chioma Okereke: We launched Bitter Le…

Vitabubooks Interview: Tendai Huchu

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Last March,  at first sight, I fell madly in love with the 'Angela Davis' afro on Tendai Huchu's book cover. By the time I'd got through the 196 pages of The Hairdresser of Harare I could see why it had earned  all the accolades it did. “[S]tunning debut, funny, dramatic with a powerful punch in the end" beat the Drum magazine; "lively, clever and ironic," observed The Witness. The Africa Report described Tendai's work as a “confident and brave novel” in which “liberal life choices meet old prejudice.” The book didn't disappoint. It was all of those and more.

Several months later, I came across a list of books the author had read. "Reading 2010: Tendai Huchu"  and I wondered whether he'd been as busy a reader in 2011. So I reached out to him by email. Tendai talked about the books he's read so far this year, gave practical tips on improving writing and honing one's craft, and mused about life choices and old prejudice. …

People of the City: When all doors are closed

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When all doors are closed

by Cyprian Ekwensi, excerpted from People of the City

This was no homecoming, because even though the taxi stopped in the lane where he shared a little room with First Trumpet, he had no feeling of ownership, let alone of freedom and privacy. First Trumpet was dressed to go out, and in the band's uniform too. “Ha, Sango, welcome!” He was polishing his trumpet. “How you left us like that?”

And before Sango could answer: “We read all your dispatches in the Sensation. But were you not afraid? That was hot news! How was the rioting out there?”

Sango put down his box in a corner and flopped into a chair. “That's the first time I've relaxed in two weeks! Where are you going, all dressed up like this?”

“You've forgotten about the elections! Our band is playing for one of the parties. I don't care about
their politics, but they pay well. Don't you see how I've been running the band in your absence…

Vitabubooks Interview | Chika Unigwe

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A tale of choices, displacement and courage, suffused with the richness of the oral story-telling tradition and set against the backdrop of the Antwerp prostitute underworld. 
The blurb grabbed me several months ago when I first came across the book On Black Sisters Street. Perhaps because I am an African migrant worker, I get drawn to tales of displacement; of root shock among continental Africans--people of all creeds and from all walks of life. I found On Black Sisters Street essentially a tough story of people, of women on the so-called 'margins of society.'

In a time when human trafficking, modern-day slavery, forced labor and debt bondage are such hot button issues, more and more these days we read about or watch television documentaries on programs that are trying to raise awareness--how many men, women and children are trafficked for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation, where they come from, countries they transit in and where they end up. So there were al…

Vitabubooks Interview | Beatrice Lamwaka

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Beatrice Lamwaka’s story, ButterflyDreams, was published in a collection of shorts from Uganda bearing the same title: Butterfly Dreams and Other New Short Stories from Uganda, published by CCC Press. Lamwaka was also on this year’s Caine Prize shortlist for African Writing. The 2011 shortlist (the twelfth since the first prize began) was announced in May.

The same month, Ikhide R.Ikheloa published The 2011Caine Prize: How Not to Write About Africa in his popular Email From America. Of the five shortlisted stories selected from over 120 stories submitted from a total of seventeen African countries, Ikheloa thought NoViolet Bulawayo's piece was “fly-ridden”; Beatrice Lamwaka's Butterfly Dreams "a pathetic story about a child soldier"; Tim Keegan’s What Molly Knew, “a plodding tale with ingredients that make for an African howler”; and that Lauri Kubuitsile "fired a volley of ignobility" for portraying the men of Botswana as drunken simpletons. The saving…

Vitabubooks Interview | NoViolet Bulawayo

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Zimbabwe’s NoViolet Bulawayo won the 2011 Caine Prize for African Writing for her short story entitled ‘Hitting Budapest.’ It was published in The Boston Review, Vol 35, no. 6 - Nov/Dec 2010.

The Caine Prize is described as Africa’s leading literary award.
Hisham Matar, Caine Prize chair of judges, announced Bulawayo as the winner of the £10,000 prize at a dinner held Monday, July 11, 2011 at the Bodleian Library in Oxford, England. Matar said: "The language of ‘Hitting Budapest’ crackles. Here we encounter Darling, Bastard, Chipo, Godknows, Stina and Sbho, a gang reminiscent of Clockwork Orange. But these are children, poor and violated and hungry. This is a story with moral power and weight, it has the artistry to refrain from moral commentary. NoViolet Bulawayo is a writer who takes delight in language."
Another of her stories, ‘Snapshots’, was shortlisted for the 2009 SA PEN/Studzinski Literary Award. More recently, she completed a master's degree in fine arts…

Reflecting Life. Reflecting Wole Soyinka

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I'd like to thank 50 Cent for a perfect opening line: 'I'm just a mirror reflecting my life experiences. I'm wishing every one well who reads this.'
Special wishes go to Wole Soyinka, who celebrates his 77th birthday today. For all those outside Abuja, Nigeria, joining the national theater art’s birthday party for Soyinka is probably a 'sorry-I-can't -come RSVP. But I had an idea: Why not celebrate one of Africa's leading voices, virtually, with Vitabu's own version of  'My Favorite Wole Soyinka...'

In the coming days and weeks we'll bring you answers to the questions we asked: Which Wole Soyinka plays and books we want to read again and again, which characters we found the most memorable and which books we are glad to have read/ made us sad/ or have had a great impact in our lives.

I put my answers into a story that, you guessed it, reflect my own life experiences. So here's wishing everyone well who reads this:

I'm not sure …

Vitabubooks Interview | Mercy Ngozi Alu

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Mercy Ngozi Alu is a powerhouse. She sings, was top finalist in the 2000 "Miss Nigeria/USA" pageant,  a consummate networker and a published writer.

“Most good writers have read lots of books, says Mercy, author of a 2010 book about life in Nigeria. “I read just about any literature you can think of,” adds the **English graduate who's read lots of books from the African Writers Series as well as from the Pacesetters African Series, which she still collects.

“The more you read, the more you are able to build ideas and understand yourself as a writer,” she explains. “What appeals to you? What types of subjects you like to read about? This will propel you to understand what sorts of subject areas you would be good at writing about.”

Mercy's Halima celebrates a birth and the unity that, eventually, comes through the power of love, and pain of tragedy, to two families from opposing cultures. When the book was first announced in 2008, clashes between Muslim and Ch…

VitabuBooks Review

I think AllGov.com had one of the best headlines for the news of the day: A New Nation is Born: What is South Sudan? AllGov dot com, which provides up-to-date news about more than 300 branches of the United States government, had a good primer on the new East African nation and led its July 9 entry with a cheerleader.   

"American sports fans", allgov said, "may recognize the names of professional basketball players Luol Deng and Manute Bol, both of whom were born in what is now South Sudan and starred in the National Basketball Association."

Chicago Bulls star Luol Deng may miss out for Great Britain, according to the BBC, but Deng's role in his new 'old' country is not in doubt.
Like Deng, Manute Bol, who died a year ago this June, returned to his homeland, and he wanted to do everything he could to see southern Sudan make it through. During a fundraising drive, Manute said that he spent much of the money he made during his 10-year NBA career (an es…

Vitabubooks Interview | Brian Rath

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Email turned 40 this June. Like most electronic tools these days one wonders how the world ever did without it. Billions of stories have been shared by email since 1971 and over a period of three to four months one more digital story was added to the ever-growing number. My emails with Brian Rath, a South African writer, would fill up a huge folder. This week, Vitabu Books brings you the most recent exchanges.Tell me brother, have you heard from Johannesburg?

Vitabu Books: What are you working on?

Brian Rath: I'm working on the memoirs of a misspent youth. I've done some crazy, dangerous and really stupid things in my time. I think it's worth writing about. Rian Malan before me, and Mark Gevisser recently, have had some success with personal stories and some agents are actively seeking South African memoirs. So I might as well cash in. But seriously, I've had about five different incarnations in one lifetime so far (and another one beckons) so there's no shortage…