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A Long Walk to Freedom

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Mandela's story is one of the most powerful and inspiring of the 20th century and the book that inspired the major new motion picture Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom.

Nelson Mandela (18 July 1918 – 5 December 2013)  is one of the great moral and political leaders of our time: an international hero whose lifelong dedication to the fight against racial oppression in South Africa won him the Nobel Peace Prize and the presidency of his country. As president of the African National Congress and head of South Africa's antiapartheid movement, he was instrumental in moving the nation toward multiracial government and majority rule. He is revered everywhere as a vital force in the fight for human rights and racial equality.

LONG WALK TO FREEDOM is his moving and exhilarating autobiography, destined to take its place among the finest memoirs of history's greatest figures. Here, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela tells the story of his life--an epic of struggle, setback, renewed hope, and ulti…

Vitabu | October's Book

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Nike Campbell Fatoki first became aware of colonial wars and life in southwestern Nigeria, as stories told by her grandparents. They fired her imagination. Later, in high school, her mother bought a typewriter which Nike used to write her first book--an untitled novel about the life of a slave girl in Charlottesville, Virginia.

In this book, Nike returns to those tales from the French-Danhomè war of the late 1890s in Benin Republic and early 1900s in Abeokuta and Lagos and writes the history of the household of the last independent king of Danhomè, Gbèhanzin, and their fortunes. Nike draws on family stories and history, but translates them into an imaginative tour de force.

The story starts with 13-year-old Amelia, daughter of King Gbèhanzin, and apple of her father’s eye. She is loved beyond measure by her mother, Ajo, the favorite wife of the new king.

But before old King Glele died, a bitter succession struggle between his sons had divided a palace filed with conspirators and tra…

Summer hangout with Pede Hollist's So the Path Does Not Die

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Pede Hollist, a native of Sierra Leone, is an associate professor of English at The University of Tampa, Florida. His interests cover the literature of the African imagination—literary expressions in the African continent as well as in the African Diaspora. So the Path Does not Die is his first novel.  His short story "‘Foreign Aid" was on the shortlist for the 2013 Caine Prize for African Writing.

Vitabu: I found So the Path Does Not Die a remarkable book. The story travels from a graphic, mystical past to the present time, through almost impossible and sometimes hidden cultural, social and economic issues. How did you come up with the idea for the Musudugu chaper?

Pede Hollist: Among the Kuranko, Musudugu refers to a woman’s dwelling, but it also describes a mythical place where only women lived, happily and in sisterhood.  The story of Kumba Kargbo’s confrontation with the elders of Musudugu suggests that the conflict between old and new ways and the tension between an ind…

Nigeria’s Tope Folarin wins the 2013 Caine Prize for African Writing

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Nigeria’s Tope Folarin has won the 2013 Caine Prize for African Writing, described as Africa’s leading literary award, for his short story entitled ‘Miracle’ from Transition, Issue 109 (Bloomington, 2012).

The Chair of Judges, Gus Casely-Hayford, announced Tope Folarin as the winner of the £10,000 prize at a dinner held Monday, 8 July at the Bodleian Library in Oxford.

‘Miracle’ is a story set in Texas in an evangelical Nigerian church where the congregation has gathered to witness the healing powers of a blind pastor-prophet. Religion and the gullibility of those caught in the deceit that sometimes comes with faith rise to the surface as a young boy volunteers to be healed and begins to believe in miracles.

Gus Casely-Hayford praised the story, saying: "Tope Folarin's 'Miracle' is another superb Caine Prize winner - a delightful and beautifully paced narrative, that is exquisitely observed and utterly compelling".

The first prize was awarded in 2000, at the Zim…

Beg Sɔl Nɔba Kuk Sup: An Anthology of Krio Poetry | A review by Ian Hancock

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Caine Prize for African Writing announces 2013 Shortlist

The shortlist for the 2013 Caine Prize for African Writing has been announced today (Wednesday 15 May) – and among the five stories chosen are an unprecedented four Nigerian entries and Sierra Leonean Pede Hollist.

The Chair of judges, art historian and broadcaster, Gus Casely-Hayford said, “The shortlist was selected from 96 entries from 16 African countries. They are all outstanding African stories that were drawn from an extraordinary body of high quality submissions.”

Gus described the shortlist saying, “The five contrasting titles interrogate aspects of things that we might feel we know of Africa – violence, religion, corruption, family, community – but these are subjects that are deconstructed and beautifully remade. These are challenging, arresting, provocative stories of a continent and its descendants captured at a time of burgeoning change.”

The winner of the £10,000 prize is to be announced at a celebratory dinner at the Bodleian Library, Oxford, on Monday 8 July.

The 2013…

WriTivism Festival | The African Continental Writer, Reader and Publisher

WriTivism Festival | The African Continental Writer, Reader and Publisher
Kampala, Uganda  15-19 August 2013

Vitabu | Book of the Month

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Man cannot live on Adichie alone, not if you are like me and you find yourself always hankering for delightful and beautifully written love stories - Ainehi Edoro (Bella Naija Book Review: Ainehi Edoro’s Review of “Nothing Comes Close” by Tolulope Popoola, February 28th, 2013)
Brittle Paper's Ainehi Edoro did an ace review of Tolulope Popoola's new book in Bella Naija. Like Edoro, I also found Nothing Comes Close a "delightful and beautifully written" love story this past weekend. For protagonists Lola and Wole, nothing really comes close to what they feel for each other.

Popoola's sizzling romance, published by her own label, Accomplish Press, is set among a well-heeled circle of  twenty-thirty somethings at personal and professional crossroads. The novel kicks off in Lagos with an intriguing scene before coursing its way through the lives of five very different Nigerian women--the talented and tragic Maureen, Temmy, Titi, Funmi and Lola--all based in London.

I…

Vitabu Interviews | Yema Lucilda Hunter

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Yema Lucilda Hunter is Sierra Leone’s first female novelist. Her novels include Road to Freedom, Bittersweet and Redemption Song. She was invited to write an article on the Sierra Leonean-Ghanaian literary figure, Gladys Casely-Hayford, for the Dictionary of African Biography (Oxford University Press) after publishing her biography An African Treasure, in Search of Gladys Casely-Hayford, 1904-1950

Vitabu: When did you discover books?

Yema Lucilda Hunter: I learned to love reading soon after I learned to read because I lived with my maternal grandmother who took me to the British Council library where there was a children's section. In those days there were no books for children written by African authors. In fact, the only stories about Africa that I remember reading as a child were in a series called Jungle Doctor,. They were written by an English doctor and set in East Africa.

Vitabu: Tell us about some of your favorite books written by African authors.

Yema Lucilda Hunter: I m…

Farouk Sesay, Chinua Achebe | Linguistic Freedom, Linguistic Wealth and Legacy

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Thursday, March 21 was UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) World Poetry Day. In keeping with the message from the director-general of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, I recited home-grown poems that I'd found to be the “purest expressions of lingusitic freedom.”

The verses hold a special significance for me because they were penned at a time of great dread. "[P]roduced by a group of Sierra Leonean writers who met regularly throughout the war,” wrote Penny Boreham in “Sierra Leone's poems of war”  for BBC African Performance Freetown (May 2007).


The landscape of Sierra Leone's decade-old civil war [1991-2002] seems to drape most of the poems by Oumar Farouk Sesay, observed one reviewer. Sesay, one of the poets Boreham spoke to, has been published in many anthologies of Sierra Leonean poets, including Songs That Pour the Heart and Kalashnikov In The Sun. He told Boreham: “[E]very individual in Sierra Leone was confronted with his or her own m…

Vitabu Interviews Deji Olukotun | Nigerians in Space

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Vitabu had a telephone interview scheduled with Deji Olukotun on International Women's Day but the flu got in our way. As luck would have it, we are publishing the writer's answers to questions we sent him by e-mail on Vitabu's third anniversary, reason enough to name his newly released e-book, Nigerians in Space, as our best choice for World Book Day. Olukotun is a lawyer and and writer with global development and advocacy experience.

Deji Olukotun’s debut novel, Nigerians in Space, defies categorization—a story of international intrigue that tackles deeper questions about exile, identity, and the need to answer an elusive question: what exactly is brain gain? --Ricochet
Vitabu: What inspired you to write "Nigerians in Space"?

Deji Olukotun: I'm Nigerian-American, so I have always been interested in Nigerian history and culture—but also the country's future. I traveled to Nigeria at the beginning of the tech boom, and I heard the phrase "Brain Gain&q…

Spring, Rebellion and Books

There's a dirty war in Mali: Crowds gathered round amputated limbs which have been hacked of as an act of terror and/or revenge remind me of gory days in Sierra Leone. The west African nation is at peace now but Arab rebellions are in the news again.

Three days ago, Aljazeera ran a commentary headlined "In the Arab world's deepest state, the revolution continues" by Mark Levine.

A professor of Middle Eastern history at UC Irvine, Levine is also the author of a soon-to-be-released book about revolutions in the Arab world.

Al Jazeera was probably one of the first outlets to report on the Arab Spring. About this time early 2011, my eyes (probably all eyes) were trained on rapidly unfolding events. First, Hosni Mubarak was forced out by a groundswell of protest in Egypt, then there was the Bahraini uprising followed by the unstoppable opposition to Muammar al-Gaddafi's rule in Libya.

24/7 media coverage on the Arab world set me on a virtual voyage of discovery.

She…

Vitabu | As seen on Facebook

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Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, the award-winning author of Half of a Yellow Sun, writes on Facebook:

Coming May 14, 2013:  a powerful new novel: A story of love and race centered around a young man and woman from Nigeria who face difficult choices and challenges in the countries they come to call home.

As teenagers in a Lagos secondary school, Ifemelu and Obinze fall in love. Their Nigeria is under military dictatorship, and people are fleeing the country. Ifemelu--beautiful, self-assured--departs for America to study. She suffers defeats and triumphs, finds and loses relationships and friendships, all the while feeling the weight of something she never thought of back home: race.

Obinze--the quiet, thoughtful son of a professor--had hoped to join her, but post-9/11 America will not let him in, and he plunges into a dangerous, undocumented life in London.

Fifteen years later, Obinze is a wealthy man in a newly democratic Nigeria, while Ifemelu has achieved success as a writer of an eye-ope…

Beth Fish Reads hosts sixth What's in a Name Challenge

Beth Fish Reads is hosting the sixth What's in a Name challenge. On her blog, she writes that the challenge was originally started by a young blogger named Annie, who hosted it for two years. But when Annie decided to give up on being the host, Beth Fish Reads took over the challenge.

Here's How It Works:

Between January 1 and December 31, 2013, read one book in each of the following categories:

A book with up or down (or equivalent) in the title: Deep down True, The Girl Below, The Diva Digs up the Dirt
A book with something you'd find in your kitchen in the title: Loose Lips Sink Ships, The Knife of Never Letting Go, Breadcrumbs
A book with a party or celebration in the title: A Feast for Crows, A Wedding in Haiti, Cocktail Hour under the Tree of Forgetfulness
A book with fire (or equivalent) in the title: Burning for Revenge, Fireworks over Toccoa, Catching Fire
A book with an emotion in the title: Baltimore Blues, Say You're Sorry, Dreams of Joy
A book with lost o…