Sunday, 28 August 2011

Art Punch Studios in Kampala - Four Emerging Artists Interviewed

Here is a video of four emerging artists from the Capital of Uganda, Kampala:

Click on this photograph of Wasswa Donald to see the video.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Technology Meet Africa! Wasswa Donald Curates | Opening Statement by Joe Pollitt

Technology Meet Africa! Wasswa Donald Curates

WELCOME TO OUR ONLINE MINI EXPO | A VISUAL UPRISING FROM KAMPALA, UGANDA.

The passion for this show stems from an overwhelming desire to create positive media for Artists from Africa via Social Media Networks. Working in collaboration with a young, dynamic Ugandan artist from Kampala, Wasswa Donald, together we have chartered out a different course in which to sail. Helped by our various friends around the world, we have tried to break the mould of those favoured few and open up the spectrum to a far greater audience; both from those participating and those observing. Presently, the artistic practitioners within the Continent have little, if any say in their own contemporary cultural development; with the slight exception of Nigeria, North and South Africa. Galleries, Private Collectors, Museums and Art Institutions throughout the western world are defining Africa without asking the Africans. Europe and America are developing highbrow exhibitions that have no reflection on Africa Now – A Continent of Artists working without sufficient patronage or adequate fiscal support. Wasswa and I are ambitiously creating platforms for the rejected, unaccepted African artistic elite. Together, we are all creating new ways of seeing and brand new waves of being an Artist in Africa. In this era of New Media things are about to change for the better and open up various avenues for those that dare to be an Artist!

Art is a powerful force; an energy that can inspire a generation. The spirit of art takes shape organically, creating common threads - a Riot in the making with direction but no director or dictator; setting fire to the hearts and minds of all those participating. It is the collective, voicing feelings long since silenced.  Sending clear messages out to those discontented masses to soothe their aching lives. No group on earth would know this better than those living in black Africa.  For those that live on the periphery, the marginalised and rejected majority: For those that work so thanklessly, pushing aside mediocrity and striving forward to fight for the right to have their say. Those courageous enough to continue despite years of neglect.  All in the same vein of being seen, in some affirmative way, as progressive.

The purpose of this exercise and its ultimate goal, is to create an authentic virtual mini artistic revolution by creating an active yet invisible Museum. A Museum without windows or doors; without ceilings or floors. Randomly posting: Online Mini-Shows; Mini-Group Exhibitions; Mini Expos and Solo Shows from all the overlooked and underseen artists of Africa. All the artists that are interested in participating are encouraged to self-publish a book on the Blurb website to be housed in the African Library | www.africanlibrary.blogspot.com. This will allow Institutions around the Globe a rare glimpse and a mesmerizing insight into Africa on a far more personal level; inevitably enlightening an alternative perspective on what Contemporary Africa Art truly is: a panoramic view, as seen from the artists living and working from within. Wasswa Donald and I, would like to thank all those who have supported us in both Kampala and the UK and to Wasswa Donald - thank you so very much for agreeing to be a little crazy with me – It takes great courage to expose yourself as we have done...so we ask you all to join us in our expose and enjoy the weeks ahead. Wish us luck and get involved in our Mini Artistic Revolution.

Ugandan Video Uprising | As Seen On Youtube.


Thank you all for watching! X

*N.B. Special thanks go out to Ceris Dien, Shiela Black, Kate von Achen, Paul Hardcastle, Kathy Goodell, Prince Babs Epega, Najet Belkhodja, Mona Douf, Joel Nankin, Miss Kitty, Octavio Zaya, Tracey Rose, Simon Wajcenberg, Bud Rose, Melonie Kastman and Emma Youngs for your constant love and support. Cheers Big Ears. X

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Technology Meet Africa | Curator Wasswa Donald



Click here to take a look at the book.


Here is a book attached to the first Online Mini Expo on African Artists Inc.Online Mini Expo into the Art of Uganda.

This is the first of many: An Online Expo into that artists of Uganda from the perspective of a young artist living and working in Kampala. Wasswa Donald.

The Mini Exhibition will be shown through The African Well on Youtube and through various other websites that focus on Contemporary African Art. The show outlines the expectations of the young artists of Uganda and gives a slight insight into the Contemporary History of Art of the country. The date is 18th August 2011 and will run for a month. A book will accompany the Mini show or Expo, that has been developed through the Blurb website.
Hopefully this will develop an effective way to show up-and-coming artists from within the Continent and educate all of us to History of Art of a Continent by those within it. The intent is to expose of the artistic heroes of Africa by the Africans.

Join in and watch the works and words of the artists from Kampala, Uganda on Facebook.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Chris Abani | Graceland

From Publishers Weekly

Abani's debut novel offers a searing chronicle of a young man's coming of age in Nigeria during the late 1970s and early 1980s. The vulnerable, wide-eyed protagonist is Elvis Oke, a young Nigerian with a penchant for dancing and impersonating the American rock-and-roll singer he is named after. The story alternates between Elvis's early years in the 1970s, when his mother dies of cancer and leaves him with a disapproving father, and his life as a teenager in the Lago ghetto, a place one character calls "a pus-ridden eyesore on de face of de nation's capital." Relating how an innocent child grows into a hardened young man, the novel also gives a glimpse into a world foreign to most readers-a brutal Third World country permeated by the excesses and wonders of American popular culture. Sprinkled throughout the book are recipes and entries from Elvis's mother's journal, as well as descriptions of the kola nut ceremony through which an Igbo boy becomes a man. These sections at first seem showy and tacked on, but by the end of the book their significance becomes clearer. The book is most powerful when it refrains from polemic and didacticism and simply follows its protagonist on his daily journey through the violent, harsh Nigerian landscape. Elvis must also negotiate troubles closer to home, including a drunk and ruined father and friends who cannot always be trusted. In this book, names are destiny, "selected with care by your family and given to you as a talisman." One of Elvis's friends is named Redemption, but in the end it is Elvis who claims this moniker, both literally and symbolically.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Elvis Oke, a teenage Elvis impersonator in Lagos, Nigeria, attempts to come of age in spite of an alcoholic father who beats him and a soul-crushing ghetto environment that threatens to engulf him. Beset by floods, vermin, and the ubiquitous Colonel, chief of military security in Lagos, Elvis lives from day to day, saturated by a bizarrely out of date, misunderstood version of American pop culture and remembering his life in the country before his mother died and his father lost his career. Immigration to the U.S. is Elvis' dream, shared by his underworld friend, Redemption, although their notion of America comes mainly from untranslated, decades-old movies, all of which are interpreted only in terms of the conflict between John Wayne (all good guys) and Actor (everyone else). The novel offers a vibrant picture of an alien yet somehow parallel culture, and while the plot runs off the rails from time to time, the mix of surrealistic horror and cross-cultural humor is irresistible. Abani is a first novelist with a very bright future. Bill Ott
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"Abani's intensely visual style--and his sense of humor--convert the stuff of hopelessness into the stuff of hope."--San Francisco Chronicle

"Extraordinary...This book works brilliantly in two ways. As a convincing and unpatronizing record of life in a poor Nigerian slum, and as a frighteningly honest insight into a world skewed by casual violence, it's wonderful...And for all the horrors, there are sweet scenes in Graceland too, and they're a thousand times better for being entirely unsentimental...Lovely." --The New York Times Book Review

"To say that this is a Nigerian or African novel is to miss the point. This absolutely beautiful work of fiction is about complex strained political structures, the irony of the West being a measure of civilization, and the tricky business of being a son. Abani's language is beautiful and his story is important."--Percival Everett

Book Description

"A richly detailed, poignant, and utterly fascinating look into another culture and how it is cross-pollinated by our own. It brings to mind the work of Ha Jin in its power and revelation of the new."--T. Coraghessan Boyle

The sprawling, swampy, cacophonous city of Lagos, Nigeria, provides the backdrop to the story of Elvis, a teenage Elvis impersonator hoping to make his way out of the ghetto. Nuanced, lyrical, and pitch perfect, this is a remarkable story of a son and his father, and an examination of postcolonial Nigeria, where the trappings of American culture reign supreme.

From the Back Cover

"A richly detailed, poignant, and utterly fascinating look into another culture and how it is cross-pollinated by our own. It brings to mind the work of Ha Jin in its power and revelation of the new."--T. Coraghessan Boyle

The sprawling, swampy, cacophonous city of Lagos, Nigeria, provides the backdrop to the story of Elvis, a teenage Elvis impersonator hoping to make his way out of the ghetto. Nuanced, lyrical, and pitch perfect, this is a remarkable story of a son and his father, and an examination of postcolonial Nigeria, where the trappings of American culture reign supreme.

"Abani's intensely visual style--and his sense of humor--convert the stuff of hopelessness into the stuff of hope."--San Francisco Chronicle

"Extraordinary...This book works brilliantly in two ways. As a convincing and unpatronizing record of life in a poor Nigerian slum, and as a frighteningly honest insight into a world skewed by casual violence, it's wonderful...And for all the horrors, there are sweet scenes in Graceland too, and they're a thousand times better for being entirely unsentimental...Lovely." --The New York Times Book Review

"To say that this is a Nigerian or African novel is to miss the point. This absolutely beautiful work of fiction is about complex strained political structures, the irony of the West being a measure of civilization, and the tricky business of being a son. Abani's language is beautiful and his story is important."--Percival Everett

Chris Abani was born in Nigeria. At age sixteen he published his first novel, for which he suffered severe political persecution. He went into exile in 1991, and has since lived in England and the United States. His last book, Daphne's Lot, is a collection of poetry for which he won a 2003 Lannan Literary Fellowship. He is also the recipient of the PEN USA West Freedom to Write Award and the Prince Claus Award. Abani lives and teaches in Los Angeles. 

About the Author

Chris Abani was born in Nigeria. At age sixteen he published his first novel, for which he suffered severe political persecution. He went into exile in 1991, and has since lived in England and the United States. His last book, Daphne's Lot, is a collection of poetry for which he won a 2003 Lannan Literary Fellowship. He is also the recipient of the PEN USA West Freedom to Write Award and the Prince Claus Award. Abani lives and teaches in Los Angeles. 

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Excerpt from GraceLand by Chris Abani. Copyright © 2004 by Christopher Abani. To be published in February, 2004 by Farrar, Straus & Giroux, LLC. All rights reserved.


Book I

It seemed almost incidental that he was African.
So vast had his inner perceptions grown over the years . . .
—BESSIE HEAD,
A Question of Power



ONE

This is the kola nut. This seed is a star. This star is life. This star is us.

The lgbo hold the kola nut to be sacred, offering it at every gathering and to every visitor, as a blessing, as refreshment, or to seal a covenant. The prayer that precedes the breaking and sharing of the nut is: He who brings kola, brings life.


Lagos, 1983

Elvis stood by the open window. Outside: heavy rain. He jammed the wooden shutter open with an old radio battery, against the wind. The storm drowned the tinny sound of the portable radio on the table. He felt claustrophobic, fingers gripping the iron of the rusty metal protector. It was cool on his lips, chin and forehead as he pressed his face against it.

Across the street stood the foundations of a building; the floor and pillars wore green mold from repeated rains. Between the pillars, a woman had erected a buka, no more than a rickety lean-to made of sheets of corrugated iron roofing and plastic held together by hope. On dry evenings, the smell of fried yam and dodo wafted from it into his room, teasing his hunger. But today the fire grate was wet and all the soot had been washed away.

As swiftly as it started, the deluge abated, becoming a faint drizzle. Water, thick with sediment, ran down the rust-colored iron roofs, overflowing basins and drums set out to collect it. Taps stood in yards, forlorn and lonely, their curved spouts, like metal beaks, dripping rain water. Naked children exploded out of grey wet houses, slipping and splaying in the mud, chased by shouts of parents trying to get them ready for school.

The rain had cleared the oppressive heat that had already dropped like a blanket over Lagos; but the smell of garbage from refuse dumps, unflushed toilets and stale bodies was still overwhelming. Elvis turned from the window, dropping the threadbare curtain. Today was his sixteenth birthday, and as with all the others, it would pass uncelebrated. It had been that way since his mother died eight years before. He used to think that celebrating his birthday was too painful for his father, a constant reminder of his loss. But Elvis had since come to the conclusion that his father was simply self-centered. The least I should do is get some more sleep, he thought, sitting on the bed. But the sun stabbed through the thin fabric, bathing the room in sterile light. The radio played Bob Marley's "Natural Mystic," and he sang along, the tune familiar.

"There's a natural mystic blowing through the air / If you listen carefully now you will hear . . ." His voice trailed off as he realized he did not know all the words, and he settled for humming to the song as he listened to the sounds of the city waking up: tin buckets scraping, the sound of babies crying, infants yelling for food and people hurrying but getting nowhere.

Next door someone was playing highlife music on a radio that was not tuned properly. The faster-tempoed highlife distracted him from Bob Marley, irritating him. He knew the highlife tune well, "Ije Enu" by Celestine Ukwu. Abandoning Bob Marley, he sang along:

"Ije enu, bun a ndi n'kwa n'kwa ndi n'wuli n'wuli, eh . . ."

On the road outside, two women bickered. In the distance, the sounds of molue conductors competing for customers carried:

"Yaba! Yaba! Straight!"

"Oshodi! Oshodi! Enter quickly!"

Elvis looked around his room. Jesus Can Save and Nigerian Eagles almanacs hung from stained walls that had not seen a coat of paint in years. A magazine cutting of a BMW was coming off the far wall, its end flapping mockingly. The bare cement floor was a cracked and pitted lunar landscape. A piece of wood, supported at both ends by cinder blocks, served as a bookshelf. On it were arranged his few books, each volume falling apart from years of use.

By the window was a dust-coated desk, and next to it a folding metal chair, brown and crisp with rust. The single camping cot he lay on was sunk in the center and the wafer-thin mattress offered as much comfort as a raffia mat. A wooden bar secured diagonally between two corners of the room served as a closet.

There was a loud knock, and as Elvis gathered the folds of his loincloth around his waist to get up, the lappa, once beautiful but now hole-ridden, caught on the edge of the bed, ripping a curse from him. The book he had fallen asleep reading, Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man, fell from his side to the floor, the old paperback cracking at the spine, falling neatly into two halves as precisely as if sliced by a sword.

"Elvis! Elvis! Wake up. It's past six in de morning and all your mates are out dere looking for work," his father, Sunday, said.

"What work, sir? I have a job."

"Dancing is no job. We all dance in de bar on Saturday. Open dis bloody door!" Sunday shouted.

Elvis opened the door and eyed him. The desire to drive his fist through his father's face was old and overwhelming.

"I'll just wash, then go," he mumbled, shuffling past Sunday, heading for the backyard, passing Jagua Rigogo, who stood in the middle of the backyard cleaning his teeth with a chewing-stick, preparing for his morning ablutions and the clients who would soon start arriving to consult him on spiritual matters. He reached out and squeezed Elvis's arm as he passed. Elvis turned to him, opening his mouth to speak.

"Before you speak, my friend, remember, a spiritual man contain his anger. Angry words are like slap in de face."

Elvis took in Jagua's dreadlocks, gathered behind him in a long ponytail by a twisted tennis headband, and the distant red glare of his eyes. He didn't have his python with him, and Elvis wondered where it was. Probably asleep in the cot Jagua had salvaged from one of the city dumps, and which sat in the corner of his room. Merlin, his python, slept in it, comfortable as any baby.

"Jagua. I . . ." Elvis began, then stopped.

Jagua smiled, mistaking Elvis's resignation for control.

"Dat's de way," he said.

Elvis just sighed and silently fetched water from the iron drum sunning in a corner of the yard. He snatched his towel off the line and entered the bathroom, trying not to touch the slime-covered walls and the used sanitary pad in the corner. How did they come to this? he wondered. Just two years ago they lived in a small town and his father had a good job and was on the cusp of winning an election. Now they lived in a slum in Lagos. Closing his eyes, he rushed through his morning toilet. On his way back inside to get dressed, he passed his father in the corridor again.

"Are you still here?"

Elvis opened his mouth to answer but thought better of it.

The road outside their tenement was waterlogged and the dirt had been whipped into a muddy brown froth that looked like chocolate frosting. Someone had laid out short planks to carve a path through the sludge. Probably Joshua Bandele-Thomas, Elvis thought. Joshua was the eccentric who lived next door and spent his days pretending to be a surveyor.

Elvis and his father lived at the left edge of the swamp city of Maroko, and their short street soon ran into a plank walkway that meandered through the rest of the suspended city. Even with the planks, the going was slow, as he often had to wait for people coming in the opposite direction to pass; the planks were that narrow.

While he waited, Elvis stared into the muddy puddles imagining what life, if any, was trying to crawl its way out. His face, reflected back at him, seemed to belong to a stranger, floating there like a ghostly head in a comic book. His hair was closely cropped, almost shaved clean. His eyebrows were two perfect arcs, as though they had been shaped in a salon. His dark eyes looked tired, the whites flecked with red. He parted his full lips and tried a smile on his reflection, and his reflection snarled back. Shit, he thought, I look like shit. As he sloshed to the bus stop, one thought repeated in his mind: What do I have to do with all this?

Sitting on the crowded bus, he thought his father might be right; this was no way to live. He was broke all the time, making next to nothing as a street performer. He needed a better job with a regular income. He pulled a book from his backpack and tried to read. It was his current inspirational tome, a well-thumbed copy of Rilke's Letters to a Young Poet. He read books for different reasons and had them everywhere he was: one in his backpack, which he called his on-the-road book, usually one that held an inspirational message for him; one by his bed; and one he kept tucked in the hole in the wall in the toilet for those cool evenings when a gentle breeze actually made the smell there bearable enough to stay and read. He opened the book and tried to read, sitting back as far as he could in the narrow seat. He hated the way he was being pressed against the metal side by the heavyset woman sitting next to him, one ample buttock on the seat, the other hanging in the aisle, supported against a standing stranger's leg. Elvis shifted, careful of the loose metal spring poking up through the torn plastic of the seat cover. Giving up on reading, he let his mind drift as he stared at the city, half slum, half paradise. How could a place be so ugly and violent yet beautiful at the same time? he wondered.

He hadn't known about the poverty and violence of Lagos until he arrived. It was as if people conspired with the city to weave a web of silence around its unsavory parts. People who didn't live in Lagos only saw postcards of skyscrapers, sweeping flyovers, beaches and hotels. And those who did, when they returned to their ancestral small towns at Christmas, wore...
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


Product Details:

  • Paperback: 321 pages
  • Publisher: Saint Martin's Press Inc.; 1st Picador Ed edition (8 Mar 2005)
  • Language English
  • ISBN-10: 0312425287
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312425289
  • Product Dimensions: 21.1 x 13.9 x 2.3 cm

Dambudzo Marechera | Black Sunlight


Book Description

In an unspecified setting, the stream-of-consciousness narrative of this cult novel traces the fortunes of a group of anarchists in revolt against a military-fascist capitalist opposition. The protagonist is photojournalist Chris, whose camera lens becomes the device through which the plot is cleverly unravelled. In Dambudzo Marechera's second experimental novel, he parodies African nationalist and racial identifications as part of an argument that notions of an 'essential African identity' were often invoked to authorise a number of totalitarian regimes across Africa. Such irreverent, avant-garde literature was criticised upon publication in Zimbabwe in 1980, and Black Sunlight was banned on charges of 'Euromodernism' and as a challenge to the concept of nation-building in the newly independent country.

About the Author

Dambudzo Marechera (1952-1987), an award-winning Zimbabwean author and poet, has been dismissed by some as mad and applauded by others as a genius. Famous for his unconventional life as much as for his work, more than 20 years after his death Marechera's work continues to inspire academic studies, biographies, films and plays.


Product Details:
  • Paperback: 130 pages
  • Publisher: The Penguin Group (SA) (Pty) Ltd (July 30, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0143026208
  • ISBN-13: 978-0143026204
  • Product Dimensions: 7.7 x 5 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5 ounces

Ng˜ugi wa Thiong’o | A Grain of Wheat


Book Description
Originally published in 1967, Ngugi's third novel is his best known and most ambitious work. A Grain of Wheat portrays several characters in a village whose intertwined lives are transformed by the 1952-1960 Emergency in Kenya. As the action follows the village's arrangements for Uhuru (independence) Day, this is a novel of stories within stories, a narrative interwoven with myth as well as allusions to real-life leaders of the nationalist struggle, including Jomo Kenyatta. At the centre of it all is the reticent Mugo, the village's chosen hero and a man haunted by a terrible secret. As events unfold, compromises are forced, friendships are betrayed and loves are tested.


About the Author
Kenyan novelist and playwright Ngugi wa Thiong'o is the author of WEEP NOT CHILD (1964), THE RIVER BETWEEN (1965), and PETALS OF BLOOD (1977). Ngugi was chair of the Department of Literature at the University of Nairobi from 1972 to 1977. He left Kenya in 1982 and taught at various universities in the United States before he became professor of comparative literature and performance studies at New York University in 1992.


Product Details:

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin in Association with Heinemann African (July 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141186992
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141186993
  • Product Dimensions: 7.6 x 5 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.8 ounces

Ng˜ugi wa Thiong’o | The River Between


Review

‘It has rare qualities of restraint, intelligence and sensitivity’
The Times Literary Suppliment

‘ A sensitive novel about Gikuyu in the melting pot that sometimes touches the granduer of tap-root simpliticity.’
The Guardian

Book Description

Explores life on the Makuyu and Kameno ridges of Kenya in the early days of white settlement. Faced with an alluring, new religion and "magical" customs, the Gikuyu people are torn between those who fear the unknown and those who see beyond it.

About the Author

Ngugi wa Thiong'o was born in Limuru, Kenya, in 1938,  was educated at the Alliance High School, Kikuyu, at Makerere University, Uganda and at the University of Leeds.
His novel, Weep Not, Child, was published in 1964 and this was followed by The River Between (1965), A Grain of Wheat (1967), and Petals of Blood (1977). Devil on the Cross (1980), was conceived and written during the author's one-year detention in prison, in Kenya, where he was held without trial after the performance by peasants and workers of his play Ngaahika Ndeenda (I Will Marry When I Want).  This was his first work to be published in his own language, Gikutu, and then translated into English and many other languages. His novel Matigari, was published in Gikuyu in Kenya in 1986.
The author has also written collections of short stories, plays and numerous essays. Ngugi is an active campaigner for the African language and form, and he writes, travels and lectures extensively on this theme. His work is known throughout the world and has made powerful impact both at home and overseas.

He now lives and works in the United States, writing and lecturing, and is a Professor at New York University.
Product Details:

  • Paperback: 152 pages
  • Publisher: Longman; 1 edition (August 11, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0435905481
  • ISBN-13: 978-0435905484
  • Product Dimensions: 7.7 x 5.1 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces

Ng˜ugi wa Thiong’o | Petals of Blood


Review

Ambitious, caustic, and impassioned. (The New Yorker) A mind-blowing political statement, an anguished cry of despair... a bombshell. (The Weekly Review, Kenya) The definitive African book of the twentieth century. (Moses Isegawa)

Book Description

The puzzling murder of three African directors of a foreign-owned brewery sets the scene for this fervent, hard-hitting novel about disillusionment in independent Kenya. A deceptively simple tale, Petals of Blood is on the surface a suspenseful investigation of a spectacular triple murder in upcountry Kenya. Yet as the intertwined stories of the four suspects unfold, a devastating picture emerges of a modern third-world nation whose frustrated people feel their leaders have failed them time after time. First published in 1977, this novel was so explosive that its author was imprisoned without charges by the Kenyan government. His incarceration was so shocking that newspapers around the world called attention to the case, and protests were raised by human- rights groups, scholars, and writers, including James Baldwin, Toni Morrison, Donald Barthelme, Harold Pinter, and Margaret Drabble.

About the Author

Ng˜ugi wa Thiong’o was born in Limuru, Kenya, in 1938. One of the leading African writers and scholars at work today, he is the author of many novels, short stories, essays, a memoir, and several plays, and recipient of numerous high honors. Currently he is Distinguished Professor in the School of Humanities and director of the International Center for Writing and Translation at the University of California, Irvine.
Moses Isegawa was born in Uganda and is the author of the novels Abyssinian Chronicles and Snakepit.



Product Details:

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics (February 22, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0143039172
  • ISBN-13: 978-0143039174
  • Product Dimensions: 7.7 x 5.1 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces

Chinua Achebe | Things Fall Apart


Review

One of the most widely read novels from Nigeria's most famous novelist, Things Fall Apart is a gripping study of the problem of European colonialism in Africa. The story relates the cultural collision that occurs when Christian English missionaries arrive among the Ibos of Nigeria, bringing along their European ways of life and religion. In the novel, the Nigerian Okonkwo recognizes the cultural imperialism of the white men and tries to show his own people how their own society will fall apart if they exchange their own cultural core for that of the English. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Review

'The first novel in English which spoke from the interior of an African character, rather than portraying the African as exotic, as the white man would see him' Wole Soyinka "The Founding Father of the African novel in English" - The Guardian

Book Description

Okonkwo is the greatest warrior alive, famous throughout West Africa. But when he accidentally kills a clansman, things begin to fall apart. Then Okonkwo returns from exile to find missionaries and colonial governors have arrived in the village. With his world thrown radically off-balance he can only hurtle towards tragedy. Chinua Achebe’s stark novel reshaped both African and world literature. This arresting parable of a proud but powerless man witnessing the ruin of his people begins Achebe’s landmark trilogy of works chronicling the fate of one African community, continued in Arrow of God and No Longer at Ease.

About the Author

Chinua Achebe was born in Nigeria in 1930. He was raised in the large village of Ogidi, one of the first centers of Anglican missionary work in Eastern Nigeria, and is a graduate of University College, Ibadan. His early career in radio ended abruptly in 1966, when he left his post as Director of External Broadcasting in Nigeria during the national upheaval that led to the Biafran War. Achebe joined the Biafran Ministry of Information and represented Biafra on various diplomatic and fund-raising missions. He was appointed Senior Research Fellow at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, and began lecturing widely abroad. For over fifteen years, he was the Charles P. Stevenson Professor of Languages and Literature at Bard College. He is now the David and Marianna Fisher University Professor and professor of Africana studies at Brown University. Chinua Achebe has written over twenty books – novels, short stories, essays and collections of poetry – and has received numerous honours from around the world, including the Honourary Fellowship of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, as well as honourary doctorates from more than thirty colleges and universities. He is also the recipient of Nigeria's highest award for intellectual achievement, the Nigerian National Merit Award. In 2007, he won the Man Booker International Prize for Fiction.


Product Details:

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; Re-issue edition (28 Jan 2010)
  • Language English
  • ISBN-10: 0141186887
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141186887
  • Product Dimensions: 19.2 x 12.8 x 1.6 cm

Ama Ata Aidoo | The Girl Who Can


Review

"- "Probably the best known African woman writer". Adeola James "expertly shifts the focus of both the characters & the audience reader's attention and perspectives through a range of emotional, intellectual and social registers, effectively keeping us slightly off balance." VINCENT ODAMTTEN - UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA "Her diverse literary achievements in drama, poetry, fiction and essays illuminate struggles and triumphs facing women and men in their post-independence Ghanaian society." KETU KATRAK, FEMINIST PRESS, NEW YORK.

Book Description

In The Girl Who Can, the irrepressible Ama Ata Aidoo looks at the roles and rules, and the games people find themselves playing, often unwillingly. She analyses African women's struggle to find their rightful place in society. Her stories raise issues of choice and conflict, teasing about the issues with disarming frankness. How do people behave in cross-cultural relationships? In the modern world, where a plastic label identifies us, what is our identity? Will African women be in the driving seat in the twenty-first century? With the zest and humour, Aidoo raises these questions and provides some challenging answers.
In this collection of short stories, Aidoo elevates the mundane in women's lives to an intellectual level in an attempt at challenging patriarchal structures and dominance in African society. Written from a child's perspective, Aidoo subverts the traditional beliefs and assumptions about the child's voice. Her inimitable sense of style and eloquence, explores love, marriage and relationships with all the issues they throw up for the contemporary African woman. In doing so, she manages to capture the very essence of womanhood.

About the Author

Ama Ata Aidoo has distinguished herself as a writer and as a consultant on education and gender issues. She graduated from the English Department of the University of Ghana, Legon, where she was immediately appointed Junior Research Fellow of Advanced Creative Writing Program at Stanford University and, in the early 1980s, a Minister of Education in Ghana. While lecturing in the Department of English at the University of Cape Coast in the 1970s she was also appointed to serve on the Board of Directors of the Ghana Medical and Dental Council. She has travelled widely, and has been appointed Visiting Professor and Distinguished Visiting Professor to the English, Theatre, African, and African American Studies departments in a number of universities and colleges in the United States. She is the Executive Director of Mbaasem, a foundation to support African American women writers and their work. Her publications include the dramas The Dilemma of a Ghost (Longman, Harlow, 1965) and Anowa (Longman, Harlow, 1970); the short stories No Sweetness Here (Longman, Harlow, 1970); the novels Our Sister Killjoy or Reflections from a Black-Eyed Squint (Longman, Harlow, 1977 and Changes (The Women's Press, London, 1991); the poetry Someone Talking to Sometime (College Press, Harare, 1985) and An Angry letter in January and Other Poems (Dangaroo Press, Coventry, 1992); and the children's books The Eagle and the Chickens and Other Stories (Tana Press, Enugu, 1986) and Birds and Other Poems (College Press, Harare, 1987). Ama Ata Aidoo's many awards include the Nelson Mandela Prize for Poetry in 1987 for Someone Talking to Sometime and the Commonwealth Writers' Prize for Africa for Changes in 1992.
Product Details:

  • Paperback: 151 pages
  • Publisher: Heinemann; 1 edition (11 Mar 2003)
  • Language English
  • ISBN-10: 0435910132
  • ISBN-13: 978-0435910136
  • Product Dimensions: 19.3 x 12.4 x 1.3 cm

Petina Gappah | An Elegy for Easterly: Stories


From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. In her accomplished debut, Gappah, a Zimbabwean writer and international trade lawyer, casts her compassionate eye on a diverse array of characters living, grieving, loving—and fighting to survive—under Robert Mugabe's regime. In the Heart of the Golden Triangle, the second-person narrative of a wealthy woman's tormented marriage, turns a mirror upon the reader: You worry because you have not found condoms in his pockets, the narrator muses of her husband's behavior, but in the cushioned comfort of your four-by-four, you don't feel a thing. Meanwhile, in The Cracked, Pink Lips of Rosie's Bridegroom, a village ponders a doomed marriage in which the groom, who has a history of buried... girlfriends, is clearly marked as being afflicted by the big disease with the little name. In The Mupandawana Dancing Champion, Gappah sets her sights on political absurdities with a cutting story about a coffin maker with some great dance moves and an unfortunate nickname. Gappah's deep well of empathy and saber-sharp command of satire give her collection a surplus of heart and verve. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

“Petina Gappah’s stories range from scathing satire of Zimbabwe’s ruling elite to earthy comedy to sensitive accounts of the sufferings of humble victims of the regime. Gappah is a fine writer and a rising star of Zimbabwean literature.” J. M. Coetzee
“In an era when a never-ending newsfeed lets crucial events slip into oblivion, Petina Gappah’s stories are particularly important. With great insight, humor, and energy, she brings us a world that, despite its differences at first glance, is not unlike our own: its people’s hopes and fears are our hopes and fears, their laughter and tears ours, too. Gappah is a powerful new writer worth celebrating.” Yiyun Li, author ofThe Vagrants
“In An Elegy for Easterly, Petina Gappah has written a vital and honest collection of stories that vividly capture the surreal personal tragedies of twenty-first-century Zimbabweans through a rich palette of wry, dark, and intimate voices.” Owen Sheers, author ofResistance and The Dust Diaries
“Death and disaster, while never glossed over, are handled with unexpected humor, as they often are in folktales, and this is a part of the book’s great charm… [One] story, about an elderly coffin maker who comes out of retirement and then dances himself to death on the floor of the “Why Leave Guesthouse and Disco-Bar” has a wild, cracked gallows humor reminiscent of Chekhov’s peasant stories. And “The Maid from Lalapanzi”, a wonderful tale structured partly as a chronicle of the various country girls hired and fired as maids in the narrator’s household, spreads out such a wealth of comedic social detail that you don't fully grasp the underlying brutality of the story until it’s over. All of these pieces depend on swiftness and lightness for their effect; flaring up into momentary life and then fading out before they acquire any burdensome solemnity, and this…seems true to the essential nature of the [short story] form.” James Lasdun, The Guardian
“A fine, soul-stirring debut presents 13 snapshots of life in desperate contemporary Zimbabwe. … Searing, but never over the top: Gappah holds the anger and horror in check with exemplary artistic discipline.”—Kirkus Reviews

“In her accomplished debut, Gappah, a Zimbabwean writer and international trade lawyer, casts her compassionate eye on a diverse array of characters living, grieving, loving – and fighting to survive – under Robert Mugabe’s regime. … Gappah’s deep well of empathy and saber-sharp command of satire give her collection a surplus of heart and verve.”—Publishers Weekly

“Many of the stories are written with humor and insight, and Gappah’s characters are so vivid that it’s easy to put aside the politics for a while and embrace the human factor … Perhaps it’s her love of people that has helped her to get under the skin of her characters and shape them so effortlessly on the page.”—Lauren De Beer, The Weekender (South Africa)

“A series of short, heartbreaking tales. … These stories are shot through with humor and empathy. And for anyone who has been in Zimbabwe in recent years, this book is full of closely observed local detail that will bring back memory.”—Geoff Wisner, The Christian Science Monitor

“It is the frequent humour in these stories that makes them remarkable, even if their outcomes can be tragic. Often satirical, occasionally lyrical, they are a delight.”—Tom Fleming, The Observer

“The book is an elegy in a broader sense – for the optimism and hope of 1980, beautifully evoked in ‘Aunt Juliana’s Indian.’ … Gappah’s language is crisp and clean, with a musical quality that frequently draws on her first language, Shona. An Elegy for Easter is a powerful debut from a fresh voice, with themes – from disappointment and betrayal to promise and love – that will resonate with readers everywhere.”—Susan Williams, The Independent

“Laced with deliciously dark comic undertones. … This hybridization of cultures assimilates the reader into the vibrant, prosperous home left behind, but preserved in Gappah’s hopeful imagination.”—Eachan Johnson, The Oxonian Review

Book Description

A woman in a township in Zimbabwe is surrounded by throngs of dusty children but longs for a baby of her own; an old man finds that his new job making coffins at No Matter Funeral Parlor brings unexpected riches; a politician’s widow stands quietly by at her husband’s funeral, watching his colleagues bury an empty casket. Petina Gappah’s characters may have ordinary hopes and dreams, but they are living in a world where a loaf of bread costs half a million dollars, where wives can’t trust even their husbands for fear of AIDS, and where people know exactly what will be printed in the one and only daily newspaper because the news is always, always good.
In her spirited debut collection, the Zimbabwean writer Petina Gappah brings us the resilience and inventiveness of the people who struggle to live under Robert Mugabe’s regime. She takes us across the city of Harare, from the townships beset by power cuts to the manicured lawns of privilege and corruption, where wealthy husbands keep their first wives in the “big houses” while their unofficial second wives wait in the “small houses,” hoping for a promotion.
Despite their circumstances, the characters in An Elegy for Easterly are more than victims—they are all too human, with as much capacity to inflict pain as to endure it. They struggle with the larger issues common to all people everywhere: failed promises, unfulfilled dreams, and the yearning for something to anchor them to life.

About the Author

Petina Gappah is a Zimbabwean writer whose work has appeared in ProspectA Public SpacePer Contra, and The Zimbabwe Times, and on the website of Granta. She holds law degrees from the University of Cambridge, the University of Graz, and the University of Zimbabwe, and works in Geneva as an international trade lawyer.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Chapter One

At the sound of the last post

The bugle call shatters the stillness of the shrine. Its familiar but haunting melancholy cannot fail to move. Even the president seems misty-eyed behind his glasses. Close to him in the widow's place of honor, I am aware of his every movement. I watch him without moving my eyes. Perhaps it is not mist in his eyes but the film of my own sudden tears. The badges sprinkled on his sash of office shimmer and recede against the green of the material.

He brings his hands together in a clasp that puts the sinews of both hands into relief. It makes him, for a fleeting moment, the very old man that he is. Unexpected pity wells up inside me. Half-remembered lines of poetry come unbidden to my mind: he grows old, he grows old; he shall wear the bottoms of his trousers rolled. There is a parting in his hair, where the white roots at his scalp show in the places that the dye has not reached. Does he count the years and maybe just months and days that remain until he, too, is sounded away by that bugle to lie beneath the blackness of polished marble in the empty space next to the grave of his first wife?

The faces of the pallbearers are half hidden by their olive berets. The sun glints on the metal insignias on their epaulettes. Their sabers are reflected on the polished surface of their shoes. They lift the coffin and hoist it upon their shoulders. The flag that covers the coffin slides on the smoothness to reveal the casket of white and gold. The soldiers in the front move their hands simultaneously to keep the flag from slipping away.

They march in a one-step pause two-step pause progression until they reach the grave that is lined in green felt. The white man from the funeral home is stiff in his top hat and tails. Where do they find them, these white men with their pinched faces above their funereal clothing?

There are almost no whites in the country now.

Everything is black and green and brown and white. Black is the marble of the polished gravestones and the mourning clothes. Green is the presidential sash and the olive colors of the berets on the heads of the soldiers and the artificial shining verdancy of the grave. Black is the dark of the gathered masses who listen to the youth choir dressed for battle in bottlegreen fatigues, voices hoarse in the August heat, singing songs from a war that they are not allowed to forget. Black and brown are the surrounding Warren Hills, the hills denuded, with stumps remaining where the trees were, the green trees now the brown wood that replaces the electricity that is not to be found in the homes.

The bugle is still as the coffin is lowered. The sudden silence unsettles me out of my thoughts of presidential mortality. I get ready to move forward to walk down to the grave. The president moves also, and I watch him, an old man still, but one who is Commander of the Armed Forces, Defier of Imperialism, and, as he was just moments ago, Orator at the Funerals of Dead Heroes.

Just under an hour ago, after the opening prayers and before the final salute, he gave his funeral oration.

"He was a fine man, a gallant soldier in the fight for our liberation, a loving husband and father. We condole with his family and his widow, Esther, and urge her to be brave at this time of inconsolable loss."

The cameras of the national broadcaster found my face. I was beamed into televisions in homes across the country, brave in my inconsolable loss. The cameras moved back to the president as he said, "I say to you today that, much like the gallant hero we bury here today, you too must guard against complacency. You must follow the example of our fallen comrade who lies here. We must move forward today and strive ahead in togetherness, in harmony, in unity, and in solidarity to consolidate the gains of our liberation struggle."

I could see around me eyes glazing over at this seventh oration at the seventh hero's funeral in four months. They are being culled, all of them, age and AIDS will do its work even among the most gallant of heroes; the vice president with the hooded eyes looks like he may be next to go. It must be easy pickings to be the president's speechwriter; all he seems to do to write a new speech is strike out the name of the previously fallen comrade and replace it with that of the newly dead.

The president spoke on. The chief justice nodded off. The police commissioner jerked to wakefulness as applause broke out. Only the governor of the Central Bank seemed to listen, face strained with avid attention. At the funeral of the third dead comrade of the year, just a week after the cabinet had finally agreed on the most patriotic figure at which the national currency should be exchanged against the pound and the euro and the dollar and the rand, the president had announced a different, even more patriotic figure.

I listened to the rhythm of his speech. Having addressed theme number one, the liberation struggle, it was time for the second theme. By the time I counted down from ten, he would have begun to attack the opposition.

As I reached six, his voice echoed out over the hills.

"Beware the puppets in the so-called opposition that are controlled from Downing Street. They seek only to mislead with their talk of democracy."

The microphone hissed slightly at puppets, making it sound like puppies. Downing Street was his cue to move to the next theme, the small matter of the country's sovereignty: "I say to Blair and to Bush that this country will never, a trillion trillion times never, be a colony again."

The microphone gave a piercing protest at the trillion trillion, making the phrase jump out louder than the other words. There was a nugget of newness in the use of trillion and not million as a measure of the impossibility of recolonization. It is three months since inflation reached 3,000,325 percent per annum, making billionaires of everyone, even maids and gardeners.

The coffin has been lowered.

Rwauya, the eldest son of my husband, guides me down to cast gravel into the grave. He has abandoned his usual dress of trousers of an indeterminate color and shirts which usually manage to exhibit both the lurid colors of the national flag and the president's face. Still, the raw smell of unwashed Rwauya seeps through his crumpled suit. I try not to flinch as he takes my elbow and we follow the president past the graves of the men and two women who are buried here. My handful of dirt makes a splattered brown on the white surface of the coffin.

The family follows behind us. My husband's sister Edna breaks into loud keening. "Brother," she wails as she kneels beside the grave. "Come back, my brother. Come back. You have not completed your tasks, brother. See how the nation longs for your return."

She makes as though to jump into the grave, and is stopped by her daughters. She stumbles into the president's wife, the second first lady, who soothes her with a perfumed hand to the shoulder. As Edna heaves dry sobs against the black silk of the second first lady's suit, my eyes travel down to Edna's shoes. She really should start investing more money in her shoes; her unshaped peasant's feet require something stronger than cheap zhing-zhong plastic leather shoes to contain them.

That Edna makes a spectacle of herself is not surprising. She is given to bursts of emotion calibrated for public consumption. She is always ready to be offended on behalf of others. When I told their family twenty-one years ago that I was leaving her brother, she spoke to her sister in a whisper of theatrical resonance, the better to reach my ears.

"Ngazviende," she said, "and good riddance. Real women were divorced to make place for a mhanje such as this one."

Thus my introduction to the word mhanje: their word for the lowest form of womanhood, womanhood without womanliness, mhanje being a barren woman, a woman without issue, unproductive, a fruitless husk. There was no question that it could be her brother who was infertile. He had proved his virility in the three children that he had with a woman he had been married to even as he was marrying me in London in a council office with no central heating before an official with mucus drip-dripping into his handkerchief.

I thought I loved him; but that was in another country.

I exulted to hear him say, "I want a wife who shares in my dreams; an equal, not a subordinate." I helped him to write furious letters of righteous indignation condemning the white-settler regime and the situation in his country. I forgot about the fight against apartheid in my own country as his battle seemed more urgent. We wrote letters and hosted exiles and through long nights we argued about Fanon and Biko and Marx and Engels. That was before we arrived in the country after independence. Before I found out that my husband already had a wife with three children, whose names were not gentle on the tongue.

Edna's grave-diving attempts are the only hitch in the choreographed order of the funeral procession. After the immediate family, the important personages scatter earth over the coffin, the members of the politburo file past, then the heads of the army and the air force, then the police commissioner and the director of prisons, then the parliamentarians and the judges according to seniority.

In the end, my words to Edna and my husband's family were no more than empty threats. I was persuaded to stay, although I can no longer remember what empty promises I believed. I came to know the subtlety of the intonations of their language, that chimbuzi with the voice lowering over the middle and last syllable was a toilet, while chimbudzi with the extra d and the voice rising on the middle and the...
--This text refers to the Paperback edition.


Product Details:

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber (May 26, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0865479062
  • ASIN: B0046LUR2K
  • Product Dimensions: 7.6 x 5.3 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces


African Love Stories | An Anthology

This anthology is a radical collection of love stories from African women. The collection combines the quiet confidence of established and award winning writers with the tentativeness and originality of budding writers from Africa and the African Diaspora. The collection is a radical departure from conventional anthologies and the love theme is aimed at debunking the myth that African Women are poor and helpless victims whilst showing their strength, complexity and diversity. The stories deal with a range of challenging themes including taboo subjects such as homosexuality, domestic violence, female circumcision, ageism amongst others to produce a melting pot of narratives from interesting and informed perspectives. Contributors include Sindiwe Magona and Antjie Krog from South Africa, Veronique Tadjo from Cote d'Ivoire, Leila Aboulela from the Sudan, Tess Onwueme, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Sarah Manyika, Sefi Atta and Helen Oyeyemi from Nigeria, Amma Darko and Yaba Badoe from Ghana, Wangui wa Goro from Kenya, and Doreen Baingana from Uganda et al.


Product Details:

  • Paperback: 249 pages
  • Publisher: Ayebia Clarke Publishing Ltd (2 Jun 2006)
  • Language English
  • ISBN-10: 0954702360
  • ISBN-13: 978-0954702366
  • Product Dimensions: 19.4 x 13 x 2.2 cm

Ama Ata Aidoo | No Sweetness Here and Other Stories



Library Journal
LJ's reviewer dubbed Aidoo "unusually gifted and creative" when praising this collection of 11 short stories. The aggregate theme of the work is the conflict between traditional rural customs and modern urban Westernized culture. This remains "highly recommended for its literary quality" (LJ 7/71).
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review

Eleven stories explore postcolonial life in Ghana for women and men, from African women returning home from the West to others confronting independence and all its ramifications. Varied characters and encounters mark an involving and unusual presentation of varied West African experiences. -- Midwest Book Review

Book Description

   No Sweetness Here, Ama Ata Aidoo's early volume of short fiction, is now available in the U.S. Set in West Africa, these stories chart a geography of consciousness during a period of transition from a colonial society through independence into a postcolonial world still in progress today. The characters-as many men as women come alive on these pages-enjoy good fortune and suffer pain in a tradtional African manner: through brilliant, witty, defiant, image-laden speech. The style of these stories renders African orality dramatically; characterization emerges as much through the unique voice as through physical appearance.
   The special strength of these stories lies in Aidoo's sensitivity to men's as well as women's lives. Sometimes one can feel even more compassion for the men who are often set in ways counter-productive to living in an African-controlled but tightly-hierarchical society. Even the most critical consciousness-the Western-educated African living abroad or returning home-sometimes doesn't "get it," for the changes are too vast, the future too uncharted.
   The title story suggests more than meets the eye. If there is no "sweetness," there is the salt essential to life, even if it comes from tears, and the strength that comes from a history of endurance. There is also the wit of the word and the compassion of family and friends. The volume is at once entertaining and deeply instructive not only about a changing Africa, but about such universal themes as love, marriage, work, family, sacrifice, privilege, and hierarchy.

About the Author

Ama Ata Aidoo is a native of Ghana, West Africa, where she has been Minister of Education and an activist for human rights, women's rights, and African unity. One of Africa's most distinguished writers, she is the author of fiction, poetry, drama, essays, and political and cultural commentary.


Product Details:

  • Paperback: 170 pages
  • Publisher: The Feminist Press; New Ed edition (Jan 1995)
  • Language English
  • ISBN-10: 1558611193
  • ISBN-13: 978-1558611191
  • Product Dimensions: 21.5 x 14 x 1.3 cm

Ama Ata Aidoo | The Dilemma of a Ghost and Anowa



Book Description:
These two witty and perceptive social dramas are sympathetic and honest explorations of the conflicts between the individualism of westernised culture and the social traditions of Africa. Both plays have been performed throughout the world.


About the Author:
Ama Ata Aidoo is Ghana's foremost playwright, poet and novelist, and has published many works. She has held distinguished appointments in Ghana and the USA and is currently Executive Director of Mbaasem, a foundation to support African women writers and their work.


Product Details:
Paperback: 124 pages
Publisher: Longman; 1st edition (June 15, 1995)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0582276020
ISBN-13: 978-0582276024
Product Dimensions: 7.3 x 5 x 0.3 inches
Shipping Weight: 1.4 ounces