There has never been a better time to be a reader of African literature than right now, especially in the United States, to whom Africa is an underdeveloped country in this regard (catch the sarcasm). In actual fact, many of these novels have already been published in South Africa, Nigeria, or the United Kingdom, or in their native language. However, this simply means that ancient classics are suddenly becoming available alongside budding new talents. So, if you’re looking for something to read that has the term “African” in it, here are some must-reads for our readers. And guess what? We offer free places where you can read or download them!! All you have to do is click on each of the listed books to be taken to a page where you can download them for free. These are some of the best works of African literature. Try them out and come back to thank us afterwards.
1.Waiting by Goretti Kyomuhendo
The novel, published in 2007, is set during the fight to depose tyrant Idi Amin. The main character, Alinda, an adolescent, and her family must flee from escaping soldiers. It’s a tense atmosphere laced with excitement for the coming of the liberators, a combined force of Ugandan exiles and Tanzanian soldiers. This short tale deftly tackles the Lendu woman, the Indians, and the Tanzanian soldiers with a mix of skepticism and optimism for the unknown and mystery suggested by strangers.
This is a novel that depicts post-independence internal and cross-border warfare. It is a worth reading!
2. Purple hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Kambili, fifteen, and her older brother Jaja live a comfortable life in Enugu, Nigeria. They live in a lovely home with a loving family and attend a prestigious missionary school. They are fully protected from the world’s problems. However, as Kambili admits in her tender testimony, things are not as wonderful as they appear. Although her Papa is kind and well-liked, he is fanatically devout and despotic at home—a quiet and oppressive home.
As the country begins to break apart as a result of a military coup, Kambili and Jaja are transferred to their aunt, a university professor outside of town, where they find a life outside their father’s power. The bookcases are crammed with books, curry and nutmeg pervade the air, and their cousins’ laughter reverberates throughout the house. When they return home, family tensions rise, and Kambili must find the strength to keep her loved ones together.
Purple Hibiscus is a lovely tale about adolescent emotional struggle, the strong links of family, and the bright promise of liberation.
3. The Famished Road by Ben Okri
The Famished Road, published by Jonathan Cape in London in 1991, follows Azaro, an abiku or spirit child residing in an unknown African, most likely Nigerian, city, specifically a Yoruba village. The work adopts a distinct narrative style that integrates the spirit realm with the “real” world, which some have labeled as Animist Realism. It will introduce you to an intriguing aspect of Yoruba culture and traditions.
4. Weep not, child by Ngugi Wa thiong’o
Weep Not, Child is a compelling tale about the consequences of the Mau Mau revolt on regular men and women’s lives, and in particular on one family. Njoroge and Kamau, two brothers, stand on a garbage heap, looking into their futures: Njoroge will go to school, while Kamau will train to be a carpenter. But this is Kenya, and the odds are stacked against them: The Mau Mau is fighting the white government in the forests, and the two brothers and their family must decide where their loyalty lie. The option is obvious for Kamau the practical, but for Njoroge the scholar, the ideal of progress via learning is difficult to give up.
5. Paradise by Albdurazak Gurnah
The tale is set in Colonial East Africa, when English conquerors force indigenous off the land and Germans construct a railway across the continent, and concentrates on Yusuf, a youngster sold into indentured service by his father at the age of 12 to pay off a debt. Working in his exploitive Uncle Aziz’s shop and subsequently journeying with a trade caravan, young Yusuf learns the ways of the world as he confronts tribal warfare, superstition, disease, and child slavery in Africa. He also falls deeply in love with Amina, the adoptive sister of another indentured worker; she was forced to marry the much older Aziz, who, we find, may not be Yusuf’s real uncle.
6.The Promise by Dalmon Galgut
The judges praised this well-deserved Booker Prize winner for South African novelist Dalmon Galgut, who had previously been shortlisted twice, as “a strong, unambiguous commentary on the history of South Africa and of humanity itself that can best be summed up in the question: does true justice exist in this world?”
7. Children of blood and bones by Tomi Adeyemi
The main character Zelie, and her diviner class have been persecuted, most violently by the tyrant King Saran. He kills the maji class (adult diviners) including Zelie’s mother. The teens go on a quest to return magic so diviners can become maji and discover their own ashe. The story, in part, explores the meaning, responsibility and controversies of having ashe (an authentic Yoruba concept).
Zelie, the main heroine, and her diviner class have been oppressed, most notably by the dictator King Saran. He assassinates the maji class (adult diviners), which includes Zelie’s mother. The teenagers embark on a journey to restore magic so that diviners might become maji and uncover their own ashe. Part of the story delves into the significance, responsibilities, and controversies surrounding having ashes (an authentic Yoruba concept).
This is, arguably the best African YA fantasy novel ever written. It will keep you reading till you never become weary of it.
Let us know your opinions in the comments section