African literature sets itself apart from every other type of literature ever published. Every single page of most, if not all, African literature and books are soaked with raw emotion and pure grit. African culture, tradition and beliefs color the pages of this form of literature, opening a new world to outsiders. A world that is nothing short of intriguing and stimulating.
Lending to its distinctive nature, this form of literature is blossoming across the globe. Nations worldwide recognizes authors such as the famous Kenyan Novelist, Ngugi wa Thiong’o and the late Nigerian Novelist, Chinua Achebe. Such names have certainly ingrained themselves in the influential world of African literature, and are here to stay.
If you wish to experience the rich African culture and history in all its glory, below are a few books that you should read. Please note, that the books mentioned below are some of the best selling or most reviewed books about Africa or African culture. Let us take a look.
Chinua Achebe, Things Fall Apart (1958)
A couple of decades later, and this magical book still holds its own. Admittedly, every word sprawled across the pages of this book will impact you in unimaginable ways. Chinua Achebe, the Author of this book, takes you on a journey to the pre- colonial days in Nigeria, Africa.
He tailors the story around a young man, Okonkwo, who sought to fight against the vagaries of colonialism. However, due to the divisions present in the Igbo community, Okonkwo’s heroic efforts are rendered useless.
The result? The young hero takes his own life, as the community gradually accepts colonial governance.
Tsitsi Dangarembga, Nervous Conditions (1988)
The story centres itself around the life of a Rhodesian girl determined to break away from what society expected of her. Society expected her to get married and raise children. Yet, she wanted to go to a missionary school and pursue her dreams and ambitions.
However, her cousin, Nyasha is wary of her ambition to go to school. Fully against it, Nyasha finds herself in a constant rebellion of the colonial rule.
Ngugi wa Thiong’o, Petals of Blood (1977)
Ngugi wa Thiongo has undeniably created a name for himself. Owing to his tremendous literature creations, he retains his title as one of Africa’s most prolific writers. After his first book, Weep Not Child (1964), his work won the hearts of millions across the globe.
He managed to do just the same with his book, Petals of Blood. The book, based on African socialism, brings together four main characters to paint to life communal history. Ngugi wa Thiong’o effortlessly describes colonial history and post-independence that take place in a capitalist society.
Ayi Kwei Armah, The Beautyful Ones are Not Yet Born (1968)
This list would not be complete if I did not mention the famous book by Ayi Kwei Armah, The Beautyful Ones are Not Yet Born. The book focuses on a young man who, despite the immoral and corrupt world around him, he maintains his stand. The story closes off with the fall of Nkrumah’s government, placing this man on the pedestal as the savior in a corrupt and crumbling world.