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Friday, August 17, 2012

The Known World of African Literature

I have been an avid reader since childhood. I was one of those kids who signed up for the summer reading program at the library once school let out.... My passion for literature shows because it turned out that I became an English teacher. I am somewhat of a dreamer and very dramatic so books allow me to enrich that personal side of me. I would say I say I enjoy fiction of all sorts. At times I get into series phase, then I get into a genre phase but overall it's always fiction. One genre I never got into until high school was African Literature. As much as I read as a youth, that was one textual area that I never thought of. I was very much immersed in my Ghanaian background through music, film, food, etc.. but I never thought to put literature and Africa together. The closest we got to African stories in school was through folktales and even then we never read that part of the English textbook. In 10th grade, on our school reading list for IB was Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe. My dad took me to Waldenbooks to pick it up and nonchantly mentioned that he read the book when he was in secondary school.

And you never thought to suggest it me dad?
As much as you see me reading here everyday?

I blamed him and my momma because they both read the book and never recommended it to me... I was reading every thing under the sun except for African texts because I didn't realize it existed and my parents themselves didn't think much to suggest it at all.
Well, once you know better, you read better. And I have read a plentitude of texts written by African authors. And I find a way to sneak a short story or two in my classroom curriculum though they probably don't give a damn and read Hunger Games under their desk instead.

Either way African fiction has a way of sweeping you off your feet and placing you in a dusty path of imaginative goodness. I have been to many countries in Africa through numerous books; I have learned phrases, foods, behaviors through amazing writing. I believe everyone should read at least one contemporary African text in their lifetime-- in addition to Things Fall Apart!!

Reading allows me to get away and learn more about myself and the world. Reading about Africa reminds me that there is so much that continent has to offer the world and so much more that I want to experience there.

My girlfriends and I are reading "Half of a Yellow Sun" for our monthly book club. Read their "shorter" comments on African Lit here and here.

Some of my favorite African texts (by African authors)

Half of a Yellow Sun, Purple Hibiscus, and That Thing Around Your Neck by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
The Famished Road by Ben Okri
The Secret Lives of Baba Segi's Wives by Lola Shoneyin
Changes by Ama Ata Aidoo
The Poisonwood Bible (not by an African author but a worthy and important read...) by Barbara Kingsolver
Measuring Time by Helon Habila (my English professor at Mason!)
Nervous Conditions by Tsitsi Dangaremba
The Joys of Motherhood by Buchi Emecheta
Voice of America by E.C. Osondu

Trust me, they are good books. I'm an English teacher.

I'm reading this again because I finished rereading "Yellow Sun" Sorry girls!

Give me another suggestion to add to my collection:)


Anonymous said...

Omg! I'm snatching up the motherhood book!

janet said...

I feel like such a goober for not picking up African lit books much sooner. You are right, "once you know."

stephanie gyamfi said...

Hi Mabel, we havent met bc you were in Ghana when I married your cousin Kofi/Cliff Gyamfi and when we had your grandfather's service in Bmore, but I have met your dad many times :) Kofi absolutely loves the book The Two Hearts of Kwasi Boachi, even though the author is Dutch. The book tells the story of an Ashanti king's son and nephew (so two Ashanti princes). I think it is his favorite. I havent read it yet...stuck on the Girl w the Dragon Tattoo trilogy myself!

Ama Kyei said...

@ Yedei- boy will that book tug at your heart. The title plays with ya though:) Enjoy!
@Janet- now you can have a whole year and more dedicated to reading new books! You'll enjoy it all the more!
@Stephanie- I've heard about you and I am sure the wedding was lovely:) I have never heard of "The Two Hearts", I'm amazoning it right now! Once you get off the "Dragon Tattoo" try "Yellow Sun"! Hope to see you soon, and my regards to Kofi and the fam!

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