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International Education Week 2019: Africa

A Question of Power

by Bessie Head | Botswana

Elizabeth was conceived out-of-wedlock; her mother was white and her father black a union outlawed in apartheid South Africa. Elizabeth eventually leaves with her young son to live in Botswana, a country less oppressed by colonial domination, where she finds stability for herself and her son by working on an experimental farm.


by Thomas Mofolo | Lesotho

A mythic retelling of the story of the rise and fall of the Zulu emperor-king Shaka.

Weeding the Flowerbeds

by Sarah Mkhonza | Swaziland

A memoir of boarding school at Manzini Nazarene High School in Swaziland, a country in Southern Africa. The author explores life in an educational institution where growing up is takes place under strict hostel rules in the seventies.

The Book of Happenstance

by Ingrid Winterbach | South Africa

A middle-aged lexicographer, Helena Verbloem, travels alone to Durban to assist in the creation of a dictionary of Afrikaans words that have fallen out of use. Shortly after her arrival, her apartment is burglarized, and her collection of precious shells, shells that she had been collecting for a lifetime, is stolen. Meeting with indifference from the local police, she decides to investigate the crime on her own, with the help of her new friend from the Museum of Natural History.

The Purple Violet of Oshaantu

by Neshani Andreas | Namibia

This is the story of a woman who refuses to mourn her husband's death. The village knew she was an unhappy wife, but she is still expected to weep and speak the praises of her husband. Her story reveals the value of friendship between women, based on liking rather than traditional beliefs.

Sleepwalking Land

by Mia Couto | Mozambique

An old man and a young boy, refugees from a civil war, seek shelter in a burnt out bus. Among the belongings of a dead passenger, they discover a set of notebooks that tell of his life. As the boy reads the story to his elderly companion, the tale gradually becomes part of their own lives.

The Sacred Night

by Tahar Ben Jelloun | Morocco

Mohammed Ahmed, a Moroccan girl raised as a boy in order to circumvent Islamic inheritance laws regarding female children, remains deeply conflicted about her identity. Now calling herself Zahra, she renounces her role as only son and heir after her father's death and journeys through a dreamlike Moroccan landscape.

The Jive Talker

by Samson Kambalu | Malawi

The author introduces us to his country of birth, Malawi, an impoverished nation in which no dissent is tolerated, where political opponents are "disappeared" and where a portrait of Life President Dr. Hastings Kamuzu Banda is always guaranteed to be watching. It's also a place in which a little boy obsessed with Michael Jackson, Footloose, Nietzsche, girls, fashion and football can move beyond his station to become a rising star in international pop culture, creating a life-affirming expressionist philosophy, "Holyballism," along the way.

Stray Truths

by Euphrase Kezilahabi | Tanzania (Swahili)

Even as these poems jettison the constraints of traditional Swahili forms, their use of metaphor connects them to traditional Swahili poetics, and their representational strategies link them to indigenous African arts more broadly.

Harare North

by Brian Chikwava | Zimbabwe

This novel tackles the realities of life in London for Africa’s dispossessed in this fearlessly political and very funny story of an illegal Zimbabwean immigrant seeking a better life in England — with a past he is determined to hide.

A Cowrie of Hope

by Binwell Sinyangwe | Zambia

Nasula dreams of a better life for her daughter, Sula, free from poverty and independent of marriage. But when Nasula finds herself unable to pay for Sula's education, her hopes seem to have been extinguished - until a friend advised her to go to Lusaka and sell her last sack of highly sought-after Mbala beans. Nasula makes the journey, but in the city she finds herself exposed to new, and predatory, dangers.

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