Africa Reading Challenge

In recent years I’ve become increasingly interested in reading books dealing with Africa, and so I present the Africa Reading Challenge.

Participants commit to read – in the course of 2008 – six books that either were written by African writers, take place in Africa, or deal significantly with Africans and African issues. (Read more if you like!)

You can read whatever you want, but of the six books, I recommend a mixture of genres. For example, you might select books from each of the following:

  1. Fiction (novels, short stories, poetry, drama)
  2. Memoir / autobiography
  3. History and current events

I also recommend reading books from at least 3 different countries. The challenge is for 2008, but if you feel like jumping in now: karibu sana!

If you would like to participate, here are the steps:

  1. Write a post on your blog with a preliminary (or final) list of books to read for the challenge. The list can be partial. Reply on this page with the name you would like to use and the link to the list (not to the blog in general). I will put the names and links on a list on this page. [If you don’t have a blog, you can give me the list by replying at the bottom of this page and – see step 2 – the reviews and I will post them on my blog.]
  2. When you read a book, write a review of it and post it on your blog. Then – once again – reply on this page with your blog-name and the book you are reviewing [e.g., “Dave (Things Fall Apart by Achebe / Nigeria)”] with a link to the review.

This is an exciting opportunity to share our experiences from a continent with a rich but often unread (in the West) literary tradition. Don’t worry if you live in a place without lots of African literature. Some authors are available in most places (Achebe, Coetzee), and there’s always inter-library loan.

If you are looking for ideas, here is a list of the 100 best African books of the 20th century, collected at the Zimbabwe International Book Fair (many of the books in other languages are available in translation; just search for the author). Here are some of my favorite books dealing with Africa. I will be posting regularly about my experience with the challenge on my main blog page. [If you don’t have a blog, people are also posting about the challenge over at Shelfari.]

If you care to venture into the heavier non-fiction (on average), Chris Blattman has two lists of recommended reading: one and two.

Participants and their reading lists

  1. Dave
  2. Ex Libris
  3. Caribousmom
  4. Alisia
  5. Pages turned
  6. Callista
  7. Sarah
  8. Logophile
  9. Filip
  10. Christine (no list yet, but committed)
  11. Equiano
  12. Saralee
  13. Beth (no list yet, but committed)
  14. 3M
  15. Rebekah
  16. John Ness
  17. Pernille
  18. Tumwijuke
  19. Tracy
  20. Scarlett Lion
  21. Bee
  22. Rob Crilly
  23. Chris
  24. Angela
  25. Amani
  26. JMac
  27. BloomLikeFlowers
  28. Zhiv
  29. Andrew
  30. Matthew
  31. Ms Four
  32. Tanya and her private list :)
  33. Joe
  34. Susan
  35. Nin
  36. Tiny’s Mom
  37. Sackrosanct
  38. The Wordy Gecko
  39. Belle
  40. elgoose
  41. Leslie
  42. Dave at Mumble Herder
  43. Hannah
  44. Everyday Idealist
  45. RaiderGirl3
  46. Natasha
  47. La Lucuma
  48. Judy – aka The Intergalactic Bookworm (committed but no list yet)
  49. Kate: The Friendliest Girl in Town
  50. Tristan
  51. Hedge
  52. Titilayo
  53. Mwesigye Gumisiriza
  54. Scavella
  55. You’re next!

Links to participant reviews (some of the participants haven’t posted their lists but are still posting their reviews: welcome either way!)

  1. Sarah (So Long a Letter / Senegal)
  2. Alisia (Links / Somalia)
  3. Beachlover (Mandela, Mobutu, and Me / Southern & Central Africa)
  4. Dave (Purple Hibiscus / Nigeria)
  5. Katie (Long Walk to Freedom / South Africa)
  6. Dave (A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier / Sierra Leone)
  7. Saralee (Emma’s War / Sudan) [she read it before the challenge, but she just wrote the review]
  8. Beachlover (The In-Between World of Vikram Lall / Kenya)
  9. Wendy (The Translator: A Tribesman’s Memoir of Darfur / Sudan)
  10. Wendy (The Life and Times of Michael K / South Africa)
  11. Alisia (The Translator: A Tribesman’s Memoir of Darfur / Sudan)
  12. Dave (The Beggars’ Strike / Senegal)
  13. Tracy (Half of a Yellow Sun / Nigeria)
  14. Logophile (Salt & Honey / southern Africa)
  15. Rob (The Pickup, by Nadine Gordimer / South Africa)
  16. Tracy (King Leopold’s Ghost, by Adam Hochschild / Democratic Republic of the Congo)
  17. Amani (Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight, by Alexandra Fuller / Zimbabwe)
  18. Sarah (Wizard of the Crow, by Ngugi wa Thiong’o / Aburiria)
  19. 3m (The Translator: A Tribesman’s Memoir of Darfur, by Daoud Hari / Sudan)
  20. 3m (The Life & Times of Michael K, by J.M. Coetzee / South Africa)
  21. Sarah (Last Orders at Harrods, by Michael Holman / Kuwisha) – Hey Sarah, how about reading a book that takes place in a real African country?!
  22. Ugandan Insomniac (The African Dream: The Diaries of the Revolutionary War in the Congo, by Ernesto Che Guevara)
  23. Ugandan Insomnica (Tips of Ugandan Culture: A Visitor’s Guide – renamed by the reviewer 30 Minutes of Agony, by Shirley Byakutaaga) – this review is pretty funny
  24. Amani (Untapped: The Scramble for Africa’s Oil, by John Ghazvinian)
  25. Rob Crilly (Warriors: Life and Death Among the Somalis, by Gerald Hanley)
  26. Lynn (West With the Night, by Beryl Markham)
  27. Things Fall Apart, by Chinua Achebe / Nigeria (Lynn from Sin City to Slaterville)
  28. 28 Stories of AIDS in Africa, by Stephanie Nolan (JMac)
  29. What Is the What, by Dave Eggers / Sudan (Natasha)
  30. Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust, by Immaculee Ilibagiza / Rwanda (Natasha)
  31. The Translator: A Tribesman’s Memory of Darfur, by Daoud Hari / Sudan (Natasha)
  32. Mugabe: Power, Plunder, and the Struggle for Zimbabwe by Martin Meredith / Zimbabwe (Amani)
  33. Abyssinian Chronicles, by Moses Isegawa / Uganda (Hannah)
  34. In the Country of Men, by Hisham Matar / Libya (Raidergirl3)
  35. 28 Stories of AIDS in Africa, by Stephanie Nolan (Raidergirl3)
  36. No Place Left to Bury the Dead: Denial, Despair, and Hope in the African AIDS Pandemic, by Nicole Itano / Lesotho, South Africa, and Botswana (Amani)
  37. Love in the Driest Season: A Family Memoir, by Neely Tucker / Zimbabwe (Amani)
  38. Sometimes When It Rains: Writings By South African Women / South Africa (Ugandan Insomniac)
  39. The Translator, by Leila Aboulela / Sudan (Sarah) – finally, a review of a book called The Translator that takes place in Sudan that isn’t about Darfur (see 9, 11, 19, and 31 above)
  40. Nervous Conditions, by Tsitsi Dangaremba / Zimbabwe (Nin Harris)
  41. Wizard of the Crow, by Ngugi wa Thiong’o / Aburiria (Magic Man)
  42. A Bend in the River, by V.S. Naipaul (Rob Crilly)
  43. Coconut, by Kopano Matlwa / South Africa (La Lucuma)
  44. The Syringa Tree, by Pamela Gien / South Africa (La Lucuma)
  45. Before I Forget, by Andre Brink / South Africa (La Lucuma)
  46. The Uncertainty of Hope, by Valerie Tagwira / Zimbabwe (La Lucuma)
  47. The Translator, by Leila Aboulela / Sudan (Kate)
  48. Measuring Time, by Helon Habila / Nigeria (Amani)
  49. Waiting for an Angel, by Helon Habila / Nigeria (Ms Four)
  50. Olive Schreiner, by Ruth First and Ann Scott / South Africa (Zhiv)
  51. Challenge of the Barons, by Lekan Are / Nigeria (Magic Man)
  52. The Wizard of the Nile: The Hunt for Africa’s Most Wanted, by Matthew Green / Uganda (Rob Crilly)
  53. Paradise, by Mike Resnick / Kenya (sort of) (La Lucuma)
  54. Heart of Darkness, by Joseph Conrad / Congo (elgoose)
  55. Chameleon Days, by Tim Bascom / Ethiopia (Kate)
  56. Things Fall Apart, by Chinua Achebe / Nigeria (elgoose)
  57. Mine Boy, by Peter Abraham / South Africa (Angela)
  58. Say You’re One of Them, by Uwem Akpan / Nigeria, Gabon, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Kenya (Amani): “If you are looking for a super depressing book to read, then look no further… It’s obvious that Mr. Akpan is a tremendous talent.”
  59. The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, by Alexander McCall Smith / Botswana (Alisia)
  60. The Yacoubian Building, by Alaa Al Aswany (tr. Humphrey Davies) / Egypt (Alisia)
  61. No Longer At East, by Chinua Achebe / Nigeria (elgoose)
  62. The Fate of Africa, by Martin Meredith (Hedgie)
  63. Measuring Time, by Helon Habila / Nigeria (Ugandan Insomniac)
  64. Mugabe: Power, Plunder, and the Struggle for Zimbabwe’s Future / Zimbabwe (Codrin)
  65. Things Fall Apart, by Chinua Achebe / Nigeria (Raider Girl)
  66. Road to Freedom, by Lucilda Hunter / Sierra Leone (Tristan)
  67. The Feud and Other Stories, by R. Sarif Easmon / Sierra Leone (Tristan)
  68. We Killed Mangy-Dog and Other Mozambique Stories, by Luis Bernardo Honwana / Mozambique (Heraclitean Fire)
  69. Mukiwa: A White Boy in Africa, by Peter Godwin / Zimbabwe (Ms. Four)
  70. A is for Africa, by Ifeoma Onyefulu (Callista)
  71. African Psycho, by Alain Mabancko / Congo-Brazzaville (Callista)
  72. Infidel, by Ayaan Hirsi Ali / Somalia, Ethiopia, Kenya (JMac)
  73. We Wish To Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families, by Philip Gourevitch / Rwanda (Angela)
  74. What Is The What, by Dave Eggers / Sudan (Sarah)
  75. I Didn’t Do It For You, by Michaela Wrong / Eritrea (Scarlett Lion)
  76. When Things Fell Apart: State Failure in Late-Century Africa, by Robert Bates (Dave)
  77. What Is The What, by Dave Eggers / Sudan (Angela)
  78. Purple Hibiscus, by Adichie / Nigeria (Scavella)
  79. Aya, by Abouet / Cote d’Ivoire (Scavella) I’ve wanted to read this since seeing an author interview on Bookslut
  80. Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits, by Lalami / Morocco (Scavella)
  81. Genocide by Denial: How Profiteering from HIV/AIDS Killed Millions, by Peter Mugyenyi / Uganda (Scarlett Lion)
  82. Beyond the Horizon, by Amma Darko / Ghana (Ms Four)
  83. The Libyan Paradox, by Luis Martinez / Libya (Codrin Arsene)
  84. Things Fall Apart, by Chinua Achebe / Nigeria (3m)
  85. The Only Road North, by Erik Mirandette / multiple countries (3m)
  86. The Heart of the Matter, by Graham Greene / Sierra Leone (Tristan)
  87. The Bang Bang Club: Snapshots from a Hidden War, by Greg Marinovich and Joao Silva / South Africa (Angela)
  88. African Philosophy: The Essential Readings, edited by Tsenay Serequeberhan (Nin Harris)
  89. Capitalist Nigger, The Road to Success: A Spiderweb Doctrine, by Chika A. Onyeani (D. Mwesigye Gumisiriza)
  90. The Translator, by Daoud Hari / Sudan (JMac)
  91. My Mercedes Is Bigger Than Yours, by Nkem Nwanko / Nigeria (Equiano)
  92. Toward an Angola Strategy: Prioritizing US-Angola Relations, from the Council of Foreign Relations / Angola (Codrin Arsene)
  93. All Things Must Fight To Live: Stories of War and Deliverance in Congo / DRC (Scarlett Lion)
  94. Apollo Milton Obote: What Others Say, edited by ?? / Uganda (Mwesigye Gumisiriza)
  95. Autumn Quail, by Naguib Mahfouz / Egypt (Equiano)
  96. Everything Good Will Come, by Sefi Atta / Nigeria (Ms Four)
  97. Mating, by Norman Rush / Botswana (Ms Four)
  98. The White Masai, by Corinne Hofmann / Kenya (Angela)
  99. All Things Must Fight to Live: Stories of War and Deliverance in Congo, by Bryan Mealer / DRC (Amani)
  100. Half of a Yellow Sun, by Adichie / Nigeria (Biafra) (Heraclitean Fire)
  101. The Wah-Wah Diaries, by Grant / Swaziland (Heraclitean Fire)
  102. Waiting for the Wild Beasts to Vote, by Kourouma / Republique du Golfe (fictional) (Heraclitean Fire)
  103. Told by Starlight in Chad, by Seid / Chad (Heraclitean Fire)
  104. An African in Greenland, by Kpomassie / Togo-Greenland (Heraclitean Fire)
  105. Into Africa: The Epic Adventures of Stanley and Livingstone, by Dugard / all over (Rob Crilly)
  106. Half of a Yellow Sun, by Adichie / Nigeria (Biafra) (D. Mwesigye Gumisiriza)
  107. God’s Bits of Wood, by Ousmane / Senegal and thereabouts (Hedgie)
  108. So Long a Letter, by Ba / Senegal (Nin Harris)
  109. An African Popular Literature: A Study of Onitsha Market Pamphlets, by Obiechina / Nigeria (Nin Harris)
  110. Song for Night, by Abani / Nigeria (Nin Harris)
  111. Harvest of Thorns, by Chinodya / Zimbabwe (Hedgie)


  1. caribousmom said

    What a great idea for a challenge! I have posted it on The Novel Challenges blog I own to give you some more exposure for this. I will be participating – but need a few days to come up with a reading list. Thanks for hosting!

  2. tukopamoja said

    Caribousmom, Welcome! and thanks for sharing the Challenge on your blog. I’ll be excited to see your (initial) list. (I suspect my list may be changing as time goes on…)

  3. Ex Libris said

    I’m in! Here’s a link to my blog post:

    This is really exciting! Thanks for hosting!

  4. caribousmom said

    I’ve come up with a list, Dave! Here it is on my main blog.

  5. caribousmom said

    Here is my list, Dave :)

  6. Katie R said

    I really enjoyed “What is the What” by Dave Eggers. I’m excited to learn more about Africa in 2008. Here’s a question for you, Dave — do the “Ladies Detective Agency” books fit the list? If so I have Botswana already covered. Also, I don’t have a blog so I’ll send you my reviews. Thanks for putting this together!

  7. tukopamoja said

    Yes, Ladies No 1 Detective Agency is okay (although you can’t count books you’ve _already_ read). Send me your list when you get it together and I’ll post it. By the way, I recently read a very funny review of the Detective Agency books:!8234535A7FECFC04!1166.entry.

  8. Alisia said

    This challenge fits right in with my reading plans! Here is my list:

  9. […] Africa Reading Challenge […]

  10. Callista said

    Okay here’s my list:

  11. Sarah said

    I’m looking forward to the challenge! I’ve posted my list here:

  12. […] Sarah over at Sarah’s Pensieve is the first to complete her first review for the Africa Reading Challenge: Mariama Ba’s So Long a […]

  13. Alisia said

    Here is the link to my first review:

  14. katie r said

    Hey dave — here is my first review. Can you add my goodreads feed here or should i just post directly to you?

    My review for Nelson Mandela’s autobiography: Long Walk to Freedom

    Wow. I am in awe. I just completed this book and am blown away at what an amazing man Mr. Mandela is. What can you say about the man who gave up his small freedoms, but nonetheless his life and his family’s life, and gave it all to his country to ensure that all who live there – black and white – can live there with freedom and equality?

    I did not know what to expect about his autobiography and definitely was not sure I could get through the entire book (it’s over 600 pages). I thought I would get through maybe a 1/3 of it – but the politics of it all would bore me by then and I’d put it down to read “another day”. Boy was I wrong! I read this book in less than a week! I could not put it down. I was totally moved by Mr. Mandela and his trials and struggles. I am amazed at how he is always able to find the best in people – even those who were trying to break him. His life is one of courage, determination and sheer will. What a sacrifice he and his cohorts made for their country.

    I highly recommend this book, and like other reviewers, feel that everyone should be required to read this. If we were all like Mr. Mandela – there would be a lot more peace and hard working people in the world. Did anyone else who read this feel inspired to work out after reading that even when jailed he ran in place for an hour, did fingertip push ups and sit ups to keep in shape? I love it. He is amazing in all sense of the word.

    Hope you and D and the boys are doing well. Miss you guys! – KT

  15. tukopamoja said


    Ha! I picked up on some of the same things in this amazing book. Now that i sometimes take the metro to work, i was tempted to try the mandela workout but friends warned that i might get arrested. and i really appreciated his candor about the sacrifices that he made with regard to his family in able to serve his country. I hope I can let his example change me as it should!

    We miss you too! I went to my new book club yesterday, and it just doesn’t compare to the old California crew.

  16. Logophile said

    Hi Dave, this is a great idea for a challenge! It fits really well with my reading aims for 2008, so I’d like to sign up for it. I’ve posted my list on my blog:
    Thanks for hosting and looking forward to reading other people’s reviews!

  17. Filip said

    Great challenge, I’m in!


  18. Ernesto said

    I just left a message in the post “One of my new favorite writers: Daina Chaviano”, recommending a new novel by this author to tukopamoja, who had enjoyed reading two novels by this Miami-based Cuban-American author.

    Now I discover you have this interesting group reading novels with African-related subjects. It just happens that the novel I recommended (La isla de los amores infinitos) deals with African migration/slavery/love issues. It will be released in English as “The Island of Eternal Love”, in June this year. Look for more info in Amazon and Wikipedia, searching for “The Island of Eternal Love”.

  19. Equiano said

    Definitely count me in. Thanks for hosting, Equiano

  20. Saralee said

    Great idea! Would love to join the challenge. This will definately keep me occupied for the coming months…

  21. Beth said

    Please add me to the challenge as well.

  22. Beth said

    Here’s my list. I’m going to be doing the challenge with my son, Ethan. He’ll be posting on my blog as he doesn’t have one and then we’ll link it here.

  23. […] from Siphoning Off A Few Thoughts is hosting the Africa Reading Challenge. He is encouraging participants to read a minimum of six books which: …either were written by […]

  24. 3m said

    I’ll join in! My list is here:

  25. Saralee said

    I know I am not supposed to leave reviews on books I have already read, but I just have to do it anyways (and it is not on my list, so I am not compromising the 6 books on the list). E

    mma’s War by Deborah Scroggins is a very fascinating and good introduction to Sudan, and in particular the long civil war between the north and the south, that ended with the Comprehensiv Peace Agreement in January 2005. Deborah Scroggins really know her Sudan and is a lot more tuned into Sudan than most Western readers trying to grip this huge and complex country, I think.

    Emma McCune was an English aid worker that went to Sudan to work on Operation Lifeline Sudan, one of the biggest humanitarian aid operations in the world. She started working with education and street children (that a war torn country is full of) and somehow met one of the leaders of the SPLM, the Southern Sudanese guerilla that was fighting the north/regime during the war, Dr Riek Machar and thus getting herself straight into the war and all its complexities.

    It is very exciting, even for someone who’s not been to Sudan, and it gives you a pretty good view of Sudan as well as the huge aid industry, with nothing being all black or white, no one being only perpetrator or victim. I read the book years ago, way before I started working with Sudan, so I just had to reread it. I enjoyed the read tremendously, knowing a lot more about the country, about the fighting, the intrigues, the cultures etc. Riek Machar is today the vice president of semi-autonomous soutehrn Sudan and one of the lost boys, the ones that walked to refugee camps in Ethiopia to get education and winded up in military camps, is a friend of mine. He keeps a copy of Emma’s war at home, to remind him of what really happened.

    Good night,

  26. Rebekah said

    This is a great idea. Thanks for the challenge! Here’s my list:

  27. JCN said

    Great idea, Dave. Here’s my list.

  28. Pernille said

    Cool idea!

    Here is my list:

    Greetings from Tanzania

  29. Anne-Marie said

    Love the list idea. Here’s mine in terms of recommendations:
    Will be trying to compile one in terms of my intention as well.


  30. tumwijuke said

    Great idea. I’ve joined the challenge here

  31. Wendy said

    Here is my review of The Translator: A Tribesman’s Memoir of Darfur

    Amazing book – set in Chad and Darfur and the Sudan.

  32. Wendy said

    I’m on a roll – Here is my review of Life and Times of Michael K, by J.M. Coetzee

  33. […] you want to learn more about the reading challenge visit Dave… and he will tell you all about […]

  34. tracy1314 said

    Ok, I am in… this gives me the perfect chance to do all the reading I have been saying I want to do… I LOVE this idea. :)

    Here is my list in its very rough 1st incarnation… I can promise that baby is going to change :)

  35. Alisia said

    I have my latest review for this challenge up…thanks Dave!

  36. […] you want to learn more about the reading challenge visit Dave… and he will tell you all about […]

  37. tracy1314 said

    Ok… 2nd draft of the list is up! Also open to feedback on this one. Yippeee! Can’t wait to start.

  38. Check out some of the recommended books on my website.

  39. kayiwa said

    You ca check and read the book called MASTERED SEED writeen by the current president of Uganda Museven

  40. deldiva said

    I am excited to be a part of this challenge and have already started to look at the books I will be reading or anticipate reading. I don’t have a blog and don’t feel I can get one started at this time(time restraints at the moment to keep one current or active). However, I do want to join in and will post my reviews at my Yahoo! group. Is that okay, along with the list of books I will be reading.

  41. tukopamoja said


    Of course, you are very welcome to participate in whatever capacity. If there is a way for me to link to your yahoo group, then that’s super. if not, then also feel free to post your list and reviews as comments here and I can link to those. (or both)


  42. […] article has prompted me to amend my Africa Reading Challenge list to include Achebe.  I have added “Anthills of the Savannah” which is currently on the […]

  43. Bee said

    Great idea! Here’s my partial list:

  44. […] Pamoja comes up with “Africa Reading Challenge” idea: “In recent years I’ve become increasingly interested in reading books dealing with Africa, […]

  45. robcrilly said

    Great idea. Count me in.

  46. Chris said

    Hey! I’m so excited by this challenge. I’ve started my own attempt:

  47. Angela said

    I like this – and am a little late getting into the swing of things, but I am on board none the less. My list is at

  48. tracy1314 said

    Just finished Half of a Yellow Sun…

    Here is my review!

  49. Logophile said

    I’m really enjoying this challenge so far, and I’ve posted a review of my first book (which didn’t actually appear on my original list, but looked too good to pass up!). I’m also enjoying checking out other people’s reactions to books.
    Salt & Honey by Candi Miller (South Africa)

  50. Amani said

    This is great! Sign me up! You’ll find my list at

  51. […] Africa Reading Challenge […]

  52. robcrilly said

    OK, here’s the first review:

  53. […] you want to learn more about the reading challenge visit Dave… and he will tell you all about […]

  54. tracy1314 said

    Just finished King Leopold’s Ghost.

    Here is my review!

  55. JMac said

    this is great! Here’s my list:

  56. Amani said

    Hi there! Here’s my review for Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight by Alexandra Fuller



  57. […] reading half this stuff, so why not jump into the Africa Reading Challenge started over on the Siphoning Off Thoughts blog? Discovered it via journalist Rob Crilly’s blog, who a little while ago posted about a book […]

  58. bloomlikeflowers said

    This is a great idea, plus I was already sort of doing it. Now there’s some structure, always helpful. Here is my list:

  59. […] at Siphoning Off A Few Thoughts is hosting The Africa Reading Challenge – read at least six books about Africa, set in Africa or dealing with African […]

  60. 3m said

    I’ve read 2 books so far, The Translator (Sudan/Chad) and Life & Times of Michael K (South Africa)

  61. zhiv said

    Love this. Here’s my list:

    And a link to a post on Mariama Ba’s “Scarlet Song”:

  62. Hi, here’s my list

  63. I’m joining in:

  64. […] African. So I was delighted today to learn, courtesy of Andrew at Meskel Square, about the African Reading Challenge, sponsored by … some guy with a […]

  65. Ms. Four said

    This is fantastic. I was already planning to blog about books by African authors I’ve been reading of late (I just finished Abani’s Graceland and Adichie’s Half of a Yellow Sun). I’m an expat in Egypt, plus my two kids were born in Ethiopia, so this is a particularly compelling challenge.

    Here’s my list:

  66. Tanya said

    I’m totally in. My blog is private, but I’m in for myself anyway!

  67. Joe Sherry said

    Count me in, too:

  68. Allen Wright said

    Cool idea! You might want to add some stranger stuff like Wizard of the Crow by Ngugi wa Thiong’o and The Shadow Speaker by Okorafor-Mbachu (I forget the author’s first name).

  69. What a great idea! I’m in, and my (preliminary, may change later) list is at <a href=”””.

  70. Sarah said

    Picky, picky on the “real Africa” comment. David, may I remind you that you were the one that passed on both of those recommendations :-)

    I’ll try to diversify a bit for my next one.

  71. Nin Harris said

    Count me in. Here’s the link to my list.

  72. tiny's mom said

    Here goes…

  73. […] Posted by sackrosanct on April 3, 2008 In the spirit of competitiveness (Hey Katie and Jayme: Game on!), I’m going to do the Africa Reading Challenge. […]

  74. […] back to the mothership at Siphonig Off A Few Thoughts who started me down this mad […]

  75. Belle said

    Readers Noir: Africa Reading Challenge

    Here’s my list, not in any particular order. I’ll be reading Beasts of No Nation first.

  76. Belle said

    The books aren’t in any particular order.

  77. Hello Dave,

    Terrific idea, here’s my list:


    Sue aka thewordygecko

  78. This is a book (you can read online) that has summaries and excerpts from 99 books about Africa. It might be a good resource for people trying to figure out which books to pick. It was published in 2007 so it might not include people’s favorite books from recent years.,M1

    My list is at:

  79. Sorry. This link is better.,M1.

    The link above went to the specific book I read.

  80. elgoose said

    How interesting!

    Here’s my list:

  81. amanii said

    Hi Dave,

    Here’s review #2. Kind of short. Couldn’t really summarize such an awesome and comprehensive book.

    Untapped: The Scramble for Africa’s Oil by John Ghazvinian/Nigeria, Congo, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Sao Tomé and Principe, Angola, Gabon, Chad, and Sudan


  82. Rob Crilly said

    So… review number two:

  83. Leslie said

    Very cool idea. Here’s my list:

  84. Geoff said

    Some of you may be interested in my new book “A Basket of Leaves: 99 Books That Capture the Spirit of Africa.” It’s available soon from and other fine booksellers.

  85. Hope it’s not too late to join in! Here’s my list:

    Thanks for the idea!

    – Dave

  86. hannah said

    This took me a little while to get together, but here’s my list. Reviews forthcoming. Thanks!

  87. bloomlikeflowers said

    Here’s the review for West with the Night:

  88. bloomlikeflowers said

    Oops and the one for Things Fall Apart, too. Have a good Sierra Leone weekend.

  89. […] Per the instructions on ’siphoning off a few thoughts’, here is my entry into the Africa Reading Challenge.  This list is also permanently lodged on the Reading […]

  90. I think I’d like to join in. I’ve a few on the old tbr list that would count, and even trying to read more set in Africa should count to, right?
    It might take me a bit to get a list posted, but I’ll start counting now any books I read, as I just started reading 28 Stories of AIDS in Africa, so it will count!

    I’ll come back with a linkable post when it’s ready.

  91. hannah said

    Here’s my review for West with the Night:


  92. ok, I’m back, with a list. I may count a book I’ve already read this year, if you don’t mind. I’m excited to get going.

  93. Trish said

    I just found out about this challenge–can we use books we’ve already read in 2008 for the challenge? Last month I read A Long Way Gone (Sierra Leone) and if I join I’d like to use it. :) Thanks.

  94. […] this year, I read Ousmane’s God’s Bits of Wood for the Africa Reading Challenge and have been hunting for any and all of his works ever […]

  95. JMac said

    Here’s my review for 28 Stories of AIDS in Africa:


  96. JMac said

    Oops, disregard my previous comment. Here’s a better link:

  97. amanii said

    A rather unhappy review #3:

    Amani (Mugabe: Power, Plunder, and the Struggle for Zimbabwe by Martin Meredith) Zimbabwe

  98. hannah said

    My review for Abyssinian Chronicles:


  99. […] just wanted to offer folks participating in the challenge a gratis copy of African Psycho, by Alain Mabanckou. I attach some of the reviews…Any blogger […]

  100. […] an interesting idea, the Africa Reading Challenge. Sign up to read six books that were either written by Africans, take place in Africa, or deal with […]

  101. Here’s a few reviews:

    In the Country of Men

    28 Stories of AIDS in Africa: here

  102. amanii said

    Hi Dave!

    Here’s review number four:

    Amani (No Place Left to Bury the Dead: Denial, Despair, and Hope in Africa’s AIDS Pandemic, Nicole Itano/Lesotho, South Africa, and Botswana)

  103. Sign me up. This will give me a great opportunity to get caught up with the #1 Ladies Detective Agency series and a few other books. Judy

  104. amanii said

    Hey Dave,

    Here’s review #5. I know, I know, Zimbabwe again. I couldn’t help myself. I will be branching out for my next read ;)

    Amani (Love in the Driest Season, Neely Tucker/Zimbabwe)

  105. […] Reporting back to the mothership at Siphoning Off A Few Thoughts whose list of Africa Reading Challenge participants has grown impressively.  It’s not too […]

  106. Nin Harris said

    Reviewed Tsitsi Dangarembga’s Nervous Conditions:

    I have not finished writing up my review for Amos Tutuola’s The Palm-Wine Drinkard but that will be next.

  107. […] 29, 2008 at 4:18 · Filed under Africa, Reading I just read the 40th review from the Africa Reading Challenge, and I have to say, this has been (and will surely continue to be) wonderfully illuminating.  I […]

  108. Wow, great idea- fits right in with what I hoped to do this summer. I posted my list on my blog, I’m excited! Thanks for the inspiration.

  109. Rob Crilly said

    Latest review: A Bend in the River by VS Naipaul

  110. Kate said

    Here’s my review for The Translator by Leila Aboulela!

  111. amanii said

    Hi Dave,

    Here’s review #6. Finally some fiction.

    Amani (Measuring Time, Helon Habila/Nigeria)

  112. […] by Ms. Four on 16 June 2008 The Africa Reading Challenge asks folks to read five books about Africa or by African authors in 2008 and then review each book […]

  113. Ms. Four said

    I just did my first (super lame) review, of Helon Habila’s Waiting for an Angel:

  114. zhiv said

    Review of “Olive Schreiner,” a biography by Ruth First and Ann Scott. Read most of this book during the winter, and read the (more depressing, but still interesting) last few chapters recently. Moving slowly–this is only #2, and it doesn’t even do a very good job of covering the whole book. But maybe this will get things going again…

  115. […] more!  That’s why we recommend reading books by African writers.  Lots of recommendations here (plus a few […]

  116. […] 18, 2008 at 0:33 · Filed under Uncategorized I’ve received ten more reviews for the Africa Reading Challenge.  Here they […]

  117. Rob Crilly said

    Number four:
    The Wizard of the Nile: The Hunt for Africa’s Most Wanted
    at the following unwieldly address

  118. My fifth review for the Africa Reading Challenge:

    Mike Resnick, Paradise

  119. elgoose said

    My first review for the Africa Reading Challenge (better late than never, right?)

    Heart of Darkness, by Joseph Conrad

  120. Tristan said

    I’m on board. Here’s my list. Also, I will be living in Freetown for the next year doing household survey work for the Jameel Poverty Action Lab. If you’re around we should meet for a drink.

    A list:

  121. Kate said

    number two! Chameleon Days, by Tim Bascom

  122. elgoose said

    My second review for the Africa Rading Challenge:

    Things Fall Apart, by Chinua Achebe

  123. Angela said

    Alright, Number one

    [Mine Boy/South Africa]

  124. amanii said

    Hi Dave,

    Here’s review #7. Shudder.

    Amani (Say You’re One of Them by Uwem Akpan) Kenya, Gabon, Nigeria, Ethiopia & Rwanda

  125. Alisia said

    Hey Dave –

    Here’s my latest review for The Yacoubian Building (Egypt) and the No.1 Ladies Detective Agency. That would be number 3 & 4.

  126. […] 3, 2008 at 19:16 · Filed under Africa, Development, Reading Wow!  When I posted the Africa Reading Challenge back in December 2007, I didn’t imagine so much interest.  50 people have now posted reading […]

  127. elgoose said

    My third review for the Africa Reading Challenge.

    No Longer at Ease, by Chinua Achebe

    As I explain in the review, this was not on my original list, but I got interested in reading it after I enjoyed Things Fall Apart so much. This challenge has already been its own reward to me.

  128. hedge said

    Is it too late to join in? I’ve just found this site and announcement, but it fits in perfectly with reading I’ve been doing recently.

  129. tukopamoja said

    Never too late! Please join!

  130. hedge said

    Thanks. My initial reading list is up here:

  131. hedge said

    My first review is here:

  132. […] back to the Mother Ship at Siphoning Off A Few Thoughts.  I’m done with the challenge of six, but still have plenty more to go. […]

  133. […] a local library. The review of this book is a response to the African Reading Challenge launched by Tukopamoja Share and […]

  134. […] Reviews. This section is my way of replying to the Africa Reading Challenge launched by another blogger. Also, I moved the section called Weekly Op-Ed under Current African Affairs as well since this is […]

  135. I’ve finished my fifth book, I’m flying along here.
    Things Fall Apart
    It was very good.

  136. titilayo said

    My list. Thanks for this challenge!

  137. I am entering the Africa Reading Challenge and I hereby submit my list of books that I will review.

    1. Capitalist Nigger, by Chika Onyeani (finished reading and wrote a review, which I will post my blog soon)

    2. Apollo Milton Obote: What Others Say. Obote the Hero…the Villain…the Victim…the Mixed Bag, edited by Omongole R. Anguria, xiv+211 pgs, Fountain Publishers, Kampala (finished reading, writing review)

    3. Half of a Yellow Sun, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, 541 pgs, Anchor Books, New York (just started reading)

    4. The Shadow of the Sun, by Ryszard Kapuscinski ( read it some time ago, will re-read it for this challenge)

    5 & 6 (to be determined)

  138. […] other Mozambique stories is one for the reading around the world challenge and also for the African Reading Challenge. I came across it when I was browsing through my bookshelves looking for books by people with […]

  139. Ms. Four said

    I just posted my second review, this one of Mukiwa: A White Boy in Africa, by Peter Godwin. The review is here:

  140. Callista said

    Here’s my reviews so far:

    African Psycho by Alain Mabanckou
    A is for Africa by Ifeoma Onyefulu

  141. JMac said

    Second report here:
    difficult to report on but easy to read.

    I have to say that I’ve read more books on Africa but haven’t been moved to write the report. These include, Angry Wind by Jeffrey Taylor, Sweetness in the Belly by Camilla Gibb, and War in Darfur and the Search for Peace by Julie Flint (which was great but in immense detail). Infidel was very moving and I enjoyed it truly.

  142. Angela said

    Angela (We Wish to Inform You that Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families / Rwanda)

  143. Glenna at Scarlett Lion checking in here with a book review of Micheala Wrong’s “I didn’t do it for you”

  144. Angela said

    Angela (What is the What / Sudan)

  145. Scavella said

    Gah! So I joined back in July, and commented (which didn’t show up)

    I’m reading too — relevant posts are here

  146. Scavella said

    My comments seem to have been intercepted by Akismet for too many links.

    I’ve posted one review, which you can find for yourselves (I have tried to link to it several times and the comments never show up) through my blog (linked in my name) and am writing another.

    Is there a group for this challenge on Library Thing?

  147. […] Posted on Sunday, September 7, 2008. Filed under: Literature | Tags: Africa, Africa Reading Challenge, African literature, Literature | Remember this? […]

  148. […] African Reading Challenge […]

  149. Another review – “Genocide by Denial”


  150. […] that I’m halfway through the Africa Reading Challenge, including the works of young female writers alongside the spaces filled in my mind by Ngugi and […]

  151. Ms. Four said

    My third review is posted. I read Beyond the Horizon by Amma Darko, a great little book.

  152. […] the challenge, well in advance of 2009, but planned for then (or anytime before).  As with Dave’s challenge, participants commit to read by the end of 2009 six books written by Caribbean writers or that deal […]

  153. I have reviewed a new book. It’s called The Libyan Paradox by Luis Martinez. The review has been posted on both my blogs. The link to it is this one:

  154. 3m said

    Here are my 3rd and 4th reviews. I finished them awhile ago but never came back to tell you. Sorry.

  155. Angela said

    The Bang-Bang Club
    I know it’s not one of my original reading list books – but I read it and I had to recommend it!

  156. Angela said

    Right probably would have helped if I’d put the link in

  157. Nin Harris said

    Hi, I’ve been a little behind in writing reviews and I kept modifying my list, but more reviews to come! Here’s a non-fiction review of African Philosophy: The Essential Readings, edited by Tsenay Serequeberhan. (yes, I cheated a little since it’s part of my readings for research, but anything I post will be cheating anyway considering my phd focus, heh)

  158. My first review [of Capitalist Nigger] is posted on my blog at

    and at this online publication at

  159. JMac said

    Hello, here’s my book report on The Translator by Daoud Hari

    great book, quick read

  160. Equiano said

    Having a baby has meant less time to post reviews, but of course I am still reading! Here’s my first Challenge review: (MY MERCEDES IS BIGGER THAN YOURS by Nkem Nwankwo/Nigeria) at

  161. […] This is a feedback to the African Reading Challenge. […]

  162. New Review!

    Scarlett Lion
    All Things Must Fight to Live

  163. My second review [of Apollo Milton Obote: What Others Say] is posted on my blog at

    and at this online publication at

  164. Equiano said

    My second title AUTUMN QUAIL by Naguib Mahfouz/Egypt

  165. Ms. Four said

    For my fourth review, I read Everything Good Will Come by Sefi Atta of Nigeria:

  166. Ms. Four said

    I just posted my fifth review, of Mating by Norman Rush, about Botswana.

  167. Angela said

    Angela (The White Masai / Kenya)


    I’m both excited and sad – only two books left after this one :(

  168. amanii said

    I’m back to blogging, and sorry to be redundant with this review:

    All Things Must Fight to Live: Stories of War and Deliverance in Congo, by Bryan Mealer/ Democratic Republic of Congo (Amani)

  169. […] occurred to me that I’ve now read six books from or about Africa since I learnt about the African Reading Challenge. Links to the […]

  170. Harry said

    I think my post just got eaten by your spam software (too many links, probably); my list is here:

  171. Rob said

    Number five… after something of a break

  172. I have completed Half of the Yellow Sun and embarked on reading They Built for the Future by Margaret MacPherson (a history of Makerere University 1922-1962) as my book #5

    A review of #3 will be up next week. May change book from Shadow of the Sun to something else. Keep you posted

  173. hedge said

    Here is (belatedly due to illness) my second post, my review of Sembene Ousmane’s “God’s Bits of Wood”:

  174. Nin Harris said

    My third review: So Long a Letter by Mariama Bâ (Senegal)

    I’m reading my last book for the challenge now (An African Popular Literature: A Study of Onitsha Market Pamphlets by Emmanuel Obiechina), and need to write reviews for the other two that I’ve read. Which means, 3 more reviews coming soon, hopefully.

    Oh, and I’ve managed to cover three or more countries, for this challenge. Yay! (Senegal, Zimbabwe and Nigeria, plus African Philosophy covers more than one nation)

  175. My third review is at
    My book #6 is “From Juliet to Julius: In Search of My True Gender Identity” by Julius Kaggwa

  176. Nin Harris said

    4th and 5th reviews:

    An African Popular Literature: A Study of Onitsha Market Pamphlets by Emmanuel Obiechina

    Song for Night by Chris Abani

    I will post my review of Amos Tutuola’s “The Palm-Wine Drinkard” sometime this week.

  177. […] December 10, 2008 at 5:41 · Filed under Africa, Reading As we draw near the close of the Africa Reading Challenge, I’m delighted to share another 11 reviews from across the continent.  You can read the other 100 here. […]

  178. hedgie said

    Here is my third review, of Shimmer Chinodya’s Harvest of Thorns:

    I’m struggling, but will get the other three done before year’s end.

  179. hedgie said

    Here is my fourth review, of Karen King-Aribisala’s “Kicking Tongues” (Nigeria):

  180. The review for the book I chose as #6 is up at my blog
    Instead of Shadow of the Sun, I have finished reading Delivered from the Powers of Darkness by Emmanuel Eni. I will post the review before xmas

  181. hedgie said

    Here is my fifth review, of Ayi Kwei Armah’s “The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born” (Ghana):

    One more to go.

  182. Sandra said

    I found this challenge late in the year but I have been doing it unofficially so to speak. I have read at least four books for the challenge but only been able to review one so far. A Guide to the Birds of East Africa ,it’s well written and a delightful read:

    Thank you

  183. hedgie said

    Here is my sixth and final review, of Bessie Head’s “When Rain Clouds Gather” (Botswana):

    thanks very much for the chance to take part in this reading challenge; I’ve definitely enjoyed it and will certainly be reading many more African works now that I’ve had an introduction to them.

  184. Filip said

    At the eve of the year I’m bundling all my “reviews” (snippets really) in one post. Thank you!!!

  185. Sandra said

    My wrap-up post is up with two reviews and 6 books read! Whew. Thank you.

  186. […] from Siphoning Off A Few Thoughts was the host for the Africa Reading Challenge.  The goal of the challenge was to read a minimum of six books which: …either were written […]

  187. Nin Harris said

    Gah. I’ve read everything already but have not put up my last review yet – “The Palm Wine Drinkard”. Which is so ironic because it was the first one I read. I’m pretty sick right now but I’m going to put it up soon. Just wanted to thank you for this fabulous challenge.

  188. JCN said

    I only managed four, but they’re all here:

    Playing the Enemy
    In the Land of Magic Soldiers
    A Bend in the River
    Don’t Let’s Go Down to the Dogs Tonight

    Thanks for inspiring me to tackle these.

  189. Reviews for “Delivered from the Powers of Darkness” by Emmanuel Eni and “They Built for the Future” by Margaret McPherson posted on the blog [] under 31st December 2008, which post will be published asap. So, I have successfully finished the Africa Reading Challenge….thanks for the initiative. What is there for 2009?

  190. hedgie said

    There’s a Caribbean Reading Challenge here:

  191. Rob said

    I know it’s too late, but finally done my sixth book:

    It’s been a blast so thanks for organising it

  192. […] taken time to update all the listing, but if you look at the links at the bottom of the ARC page, you will see a few more fascinating […]

  193. […] She links to numerous challenges out there, including The Short Story Reading Challenge, Africa Reading Challenge, and the sort of confusing What’s in a Name? Challenge (”read one book each that has a […]

  194. Wish I had come across this much, much earlier. I could have participated, as I tend to read at least one book per month either by an African writer, or about Africa. Another time, as we say here…

  195. […] by the Africa Reading challenge, which asks internet users all over the world to read books with an African thematic and review […]

  196. Is the challenge still open.

    I am willing to do reviews on
    -A grain of Wheat
    -Song of Lawino

    • tukopamoja said

      The challenge is no longer really active, I’m afraid. But if you do reviews, definitely post links to the reviews in comments here. We still get lots of hits on this page.

  197. […] book wasn’t on my original African Reading Challenge list, and I wrote this review for PlusNews, but, there was one thing I wanted to discuss here that […]

  198. […] African Reading Challenge 2008: the idea, posted here, is to read six books about Africa. Rebekah, Pernille, Tumwijuke and others have already started, […]

  199. Gracia said

    What is the purpose of the author for When Rain Clouds Gather? because I cannot find it. The author of When Rain Clouds Gather is Bessie Head. I need the information about that for my thesis.. Please help me.. ^^ thank you..

  200. […] book wasn’t on my original African Reading Challenge list, and I wrote this review for PlusNews, but, there was one thing I wanted to discuss here that […]

  201. Milton O.Esitubi said

    If you are still up dating your list, i request you to also include my title the was released last year, ‘Mary Anita and the Second Liberation in Kenya’ By Milton O. Esitubi

    • tukopamoja said

      Dear sir, I am not actively updating the list but it is still visited, so your comment will alert people to this interesting book.

  202. Thanks that will encourage African writers to write more books about Africa and current events happening on the continent.

  203. […] באיחור אופנתי – של שלוש שנים – גיליתי את פרוייקט רשימת הקריאה האפריקנית. בו בלוגרים מכל העולם קוראים ספר על אפריקה, או מאת […]

  204. Brook said

    I am a 7th grade teacher in NC and came across your site while researching some information about Africa for my history class this year. I just wanted to thank you for the great information and articles about Africa.

    We would love it if you could write a few articles for us, but I understand if your busy so a link to some of the current articles would be very helpful as well to help us spread trusted resources to other teachers. I have included a link to the site in case you would like to help us out by linking to it, tweeting it, or adding it to your Facebook profile.

    Thanks and keep the great resources coming

    Brook Sobey

    • tukopamoja said

      Dear Brook, Thanks so much for your comment. My interests have shifted such that now I am mostly working on Brazil and elsewhere in Latin America, although many countries in Africa are very dear to me. Best of luck! – Magic Man

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