African women writers and stories that raise awareness

Writing down some of my new year’s resolutions earlier this year inspired me so much I’ve been maintaining the practice by making ‘new month’s resolutions’. In March my goal was to sleep more and as a result feel more energetic and reconnected with mother and father earth but I failed miserably. Instead March was a month of work and exams, being scolded by the librarian @SOAS  for repeatedly not allowing him to lock up on time, and unhealthy eating and sleeping patterns.
Not much time for peaceful reflection, in other words.

Over the years, my NYE resolutions have become increasingly abstract, with concrete ‘sub-goals’. So for example, this year my journal entry on January 1st started, “My goal is for 2011 to be yet another space in time where I continue a journey towards the spirit, bearing in mind that spirituality and awareness are synonymous. To not neglect awareness, is to become more spiritual. But awareness in itself is a journey, you grasp it one moment and it slips from you the next, however, the residue of understanding which it leaves is what matters.”

Anyway, despite the non-accomplishment for March, I’m entering April with equally ambitious hopes. Next month, my grand task is to catch up with reading novels; I’ve missed reading fiction. The writings of Chris Cleave, Pettina Gappah, Teju Cole, Sofi Oksanen and Nii Parkes await promisingly.

Last October I co-hosted the African Writer’s Evening, the only reading that regularly features African Writers outside Africa. In fact, AWE is usually hosted by author Nii Parkes whose book Tail of the Blue Bird is on my reading list for April. Here I am in what looks like an empty room, but it was quite busy.

We discussed the novel Bitter Leaf by Chioma Okereke. I enjoyed the book a lot. The love story, which it unfolded around was romantic rather than realistic, the latter being favourable in my opinion, but throughout I found myself taking pauses to chew and regurgitate thoughts on Okereke’s poetic form of writing. The book is set in a fictitious village called Mannobe, a bit like the Africa I have saudade, kaiho and longing for. The main characters, Allegory and Jericho, and all the many others you get to know are all distinctly entertaining and the language they occasionally speak is a seeming mix of Yoruba, Spanish and Portuguese. There’s a great interview with Okereke on Belinda Otas’ blog.

Okereke was on the ‘commonwealth prize for literature’ long list,  and other African women authors receiving well deserved recognition are Aminatta Forna, Lola Shoneyin and Leila Aboulela on the Orange Prize for Fiction long list. I’m folowing the Orange Prize awards with excitement, and I also have made the long list my reading list for the year.

Probably yet another ambitious plan.

How are you doing with your 2011 resolutions?

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  • Roschelle

    Welllllll… I’m not a complete failure…lol! One thing I resolved to do was to read one book a month. The Help, a superbly written novel set in 1960s Mississippi, has been on my night stand since January. Thanks for the motivation. I’m picking it back up today :)

  • fabladyH

    feel you. haven’t kept up with my resolution this year as other years.

  • beeladonna

    LOL!!! I am even too tired to laugh out loud!!
    Last year I decided to start a “Novel Sunday” where I was meant to read a novel every Sunday till the end.
    I started reading Zadie Smiths White teeth but I never finished.
    I might have stopped after the second Sunday LOL!
    In March I picked up The thing around your neck,
    but I still haven’t finished!!
    Life just has a way of butting in!!!
    But Good Luck :-D!!!!!!!!
    African Writers evening sounds really interesting.
    I didn’t make any resolutions or maybe I did and just cant remember LOL!!!
    Will add Bitter Leaf to my collection of unread novels hopefully soon.
    HAPPY APRIL and take it easy!!!!

  • POTO

    I was reading a spiritual book on Training the Mind earlier! Now I am actually planning on reading a book by Louis L’Amour, called The Walking Drum. The story is set in 12 century and takes place in Europe and Middle East. Anyways book is about a guy who grows talented in ways unique in history and even in fiction. He becomes a sailor; a horseman; a fierce warrior; a merchant with caravans; a fluent linguist in Arabic, Frankish, Greek, Hindi, Latin, Persian, and Sanskrit; a versatile scholar and scientist mastering botany, chemistry, explosives, geography, history, literature, medicine, military tactics, music, philosophy, and theology; not to mention he was strong lover.

    I’m not so big on fiction though (but I like micro-fiction) mainly because fictional characters actually have rights greater than real characters do these days. Mostly because they can accumulate wealth faster than living people and they don’t have to be fed. Legally they can transfer assets from one generation to the next without any hassle. It’s as if they can reincarnate and regain all of their assets, without being forced into probate. Fictional characters have rights greater than living human beings do today. If you ask who are the people’s direct competitors it is fiction. Not an issue. Nobody’s really complaining.

    • POTO

      Sorry, was just my two cents and a book that came to mind. My mouth will be kept shut. Women writers, right…

  • African Mami

    Never believed in New Years Resolutions. Just roll with life’s punches and keep it moving.

  • Myne Whitman

    I try to read a book a week, and making that decision has really helped me keep on top of things. Our women writers are indeed doing great.

  • Ibou

    I promised myself to work out more and that I have done. I also wanted to sleep better (more) and eat more vegetarian food. I also made a promise that I should travel to the African continent during 2011 and one month from now I will actually do that. I will travel to East Africa! I’m excited.

  • Ankhesen Mié

    Thanks for the names. I’ll have to look into some of these ladies.

    Your blog is exquisite, by the way.

    • MsAfropolitan

      Thank you so much for stopping by and for the blog love :)

  • Chic Therapy

    I had three major resolutions and i have almost achieved one.Not a bad start.

    I want to read Bitter Leaf.Maybe i’ll find it on Amazon.