1. Things Fall Apart
Every time I meet an African that has not read this book, I honestly judge them. Things fall Apart by Chinua Achebe was one of my earliest reads growing up. I love this book because of its writing style and how it clearly reflects the pre-colonial times showing its effects on individuals, families, and communities. The protagonist in this book “Okonkwo” a famous wrestling champion is obsessed with his masculinity and the need to escape his father’s tainted legacy.
As the title would suggest this and more cause things to fall apart. I loved the chronology of events in this book and how in a way Chinua Achebe penned down the effects of toxic masculinity on African men. I also loved that much as its a Nigerian book, I had no problem connecting to it as a child because it represented some of the experiences we had been told in stories here in Uganda.
2. KINTU – Jennifer Makumbi
I want to think that Kintu by Jennifer Makumbi is probably my favorite Ugandan novel at the time. Mostly because I had always longed to read content in which Ugandan and African authors as a whole document their local languages and cities with the same authorities authors write French or about Paris. To the ordinary Uganda Kintu echoes the mythological first man but to Makumbi he is just a governor of the Buganda kingdom whose reckless act births a curse that torments the Kintu clan.
In this epic multi-generational tale Makumbi dramatizes the power of the curse in the African society and the struggles of the Kintu clan to wriggle from its grip. I really loved how she questions popular conceptions on gender, religion, mental illness, and the burden of patriarchy on African men.
3. The River Between – Ngūgī Wa Thiong’o
I don’t think we can talk about African literature and not mention Ngūgī. In this book, he pens the struggle of an African village and their quest to survive an influx of outside influence. Two neighboring villages of Kenya are at loggerheads because of differences in faith and a young leader, Waiyaki, attempts to unite them through sacrifice and pain.
For me, Waiyaki was a reflection of the burden front liners in every movement or so-called “saviors” have to endure. Reading this book made me think about how even in our present time we rest the burden of enacting change and changing the status quo on just a few people. It also showed how the very people you seek to liberate could turn their backs on you.
Laker Fiona is a Medical Student, health & Lifestyle blogger, and occasional book reviewer.