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Ousmane Sembene

Ingmar Bergman

Akira Kurosawa

Federico Fellini

Krzysztof Kieslowski

Tunde Kelani


Adire Eleko


All My Friends by Marie NDiaye








Timbuktu by Abderrahmane Sissako

CafeAfricana is about Culture, Arts, News, Lifestyle, Politics, and Community.






Member: Los Angeles Press Club




running splash of rust

and gold-flung and scattered

among seven hills like broken

china in the sun.

J.P. Clark

Helen Oyeyemi What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours by Helen Oyeyemi

From the award-winning author of Boy, Snow, Bird and Mr. Fox comes an enchanting collection of intertwined stories.

Playful, ambitious, and exquisitely imagined, What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours is cleverly built around the idea of keys, literal and metaphorical. The key to a house, the key to a heart, the key to a secret—Oyeyemi’s keys not only unlock elements of her characters’ lives, they promise further labyrinths on the other side. In “Books and Roses” one special key opens a library, a garden, and clues to at least two lovers’ fates. In “Is Your Blood as Red as This?” an unlikely key opens the heart of a student at a puppeteering school. “‘Sorry’ Doesn’t Sweeten Her Tea” involves a “house of locks,” where doors can be closed only with a key—with surprising, unobservable developments. And in “If a Book Is Locked There’s Probably a Good Reason for That Don't You Think,” a key keeps a mystical diary locked (for good reason).

Oyeyemi’s creative vision and storytelling are effervescent, wise, and insightful, and her tales span multiple times and landscapes as they tease boundaries between coexisting realities. Is a key a gate, a gift, or an invitation? What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours captivates as it explores the many possible answers.

Editorial Reviews

Praise for Boy, Snow, Bird:

“Gloriously unsettling . . . The greatest joy of reading Oyeyemi will always be style: jagged and capricious at moments, lush and rippled at others, always singular, like the voice-over of a fever dream.” —The New York Times Book Review

“Superbly inventive . . . examines the thorniness of race and the poisonous ways in which vanity and envy can permeate and distort perception.” —O, The Oprah Magazine

“By transforming ‘Snow White’ into a tale that hinges on race and cultural ideas about beauty . . . Oyeyemi finds a new, raw power in the classic. In her hands, the story is about secrets and lies, mothers and daughters, lost sisters and the impossibility of seeing oneself or being seen in a brutally racist world. . . . [Oyeyemi] elegantly and inventively turns a classic fairy tale inside out.” —Los Angeles Times

“The outline of Oyeyemi’s remarkable career glimmers with pixie dust. . . . The atmosphere of fantasy lingers over these pages like some intoxicating incense.” —Ron Charles, The Washington Post

Praise for Mr. Fox:

“Oyeyemi has an eye for the gently perverse, the odd detail that turns the ordinary marvelously, frighteningly strange.” —The Boston Globe

“Startling, beautiful . . . [Mr. Fox] should not be ignored.” —Chicago Sun-Times

About the Author:

Helen Oyeyemi is the author of five novels, most recently Boy, Snow, Bird, which was a finalist for the 2014 Los Angeles Times Book Prize. She received a 2010 Somerset Maugham Award and a 2012 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award. In 2013, she was named one of Granta's Best Young British Novelists.


Tram83 Tram 83 by Tram by Fiston Mwanza Mujila (Author), Roland Glasser (Translator), Alain Mabanckou (Foreword)

Two friends, one a budding writer home from abroad, the other an ambitious racketeer, meet in the most notorious nightclub—Tram 83—in a war-torn city-state in secession, surrounded by profit-seekers of all languages and nationalities. Tram 83 plunges the reader into the modern African gold rush as cynical as it is comic and colorfully exotic, using jazz rhythms to weave a tale of human relationships in a world that has become a global village.

About the author:

Fiston Mwanza Mujila (b. 1981, Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of Congo) is a poet, dramatist, and scholar. Tram 83 is his award-winning and much raved-about debut novel that caused a literary sensation when published in France in August 2014.

Ladivine Ladivine by Marie NDiaye

From the hugely acclaimed author of Three Strong Women—“a masterpiece of narrative ingenuity and emotional extremes” (The New York Times)—here is a harrowing and subtly crafted novel of a woman captive to a secret shame.

On the first Tuesday of every month, Clarisse Rivière leaves her husband and young daughter and secretly takes the train to Bordeaux to visit her mother, Ladivine. Just as Clarisse’s husband and daughter know nothing of Ladivine, Clarisse herself has hidden nearly every aspect of her adult life from this woman, whom she dreads and despises but also pities. Long ago abandoned by Clarisse’s father, Ladivine works as a housecleaner and has no one but her daughter, whom she knows as Malinka.

After more than twenty-five years of this deception, the idyllic middle-class existence Clarisse has built from scratch can no longer survive inside the walls she’s put up to protect it. Her untold anguish leaves her cold and guarded, her loved ones forever trapped outside, looking in. When her husband, Richard, finally leaves her, Clarisse finds comfort in the embrace of a volatile local man, Freddy Moliger. With Freddy, she finally feels reconciled to, or at least at ease with, her true self. But this peace comes at a terrible price. Clarisse will be brutally murdered, and it will be left to her now-grown daughter, who also bears the name Ladivine without knowing why, to work out who her mother was and what happened to her.

A mesmerizing and heart-stopping psychological tale of a trauma that ensnares three generations of women, Ladivine proves Marie NDiaye to be one of Europe’s great storytellers.

Translated from the French by Jordan Stump

Editorial Reviews

Hypnotic…NDiaye writes profoundly disturbing novels in such riveting prose that one cannot look away. —Library Journal (starred review)

Mysterious…Eerie…[a] beautifully crafted novel —Publisher’s Weekly

Elegant … bizarrely lovely… NDiaye's gift with language…[is] exquisite. She reveals only as much reality as she wants to at any given moment—and therein lies her magic.—Kirkus

About the Author

MARIE NDIAYE was born in Pithiviers, France, in 1967; spent her childhood with her French mother (her father was Senegalese); and studied linguistics at the Sorbonne. She was only eighteen when her first work was published. In 2001, she was awarded the prestigious Prix Femina for her novel Rosie Carpe; in 2009, the Prix Goncourt for Three Strong Women; and, in 2015, the Gold Medal in the Arts from the Kennedy Center International Committee on the Arts.


Beauty is a Wound by Eka Kurniawan (Annie Tucker-Translator)

The epic novel Beauty Is a Wound combines history, satire, family tragedy, legend, humor, and romance in a sweeping polyphony. The beautiful Indo prostitute Dewi Ayu and her four daughters are beset by incest, murder, bestiality, rape, insanity, monstrosity, and the often vengeful undead. Kurniawan’s gleefully grotesque hyperbole functions as a scathing critique of his young nation’s troubled past:the rapacious offhand greed of colonialism; the chaotic struggle for independence; the 1965 mass murders of perhaps a million “Communists,” followed by three decades of Suharto’s despotic rule.

Beauty Is a Wound astonishes from its opening line: One afternoon on a weekend in May, Dewi Ayu rose from her grave after being dead for twenty-one years.... Drawing on local sources―folk tales and the all-night shadow puppet plays, with their bawdy wit and epic scope―and inspired by Melville and Gogol, Kurniawan’s distinctive voice brings something luscious yet astringent to contemporary literature.

About the Author:

Born in 1975, the author of novels, short stories, essays, movie scripts, and graphic novels Eka Kurniawan has been described as “one of the few influential writers in Indonesia” (The Jakarta Post).

Annie Tucker is a recipient of a 2013 PEN/Heim Translation Fund Award

Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine

A provocative meditation on race, Claudia Rankine's long-awaited follow up to her groundbreaking book Don't Let Me Be Lonely: An American Lyric.

Claudia Rankine's bold new book recounts mounting racial aggressions in ongoing encounters in twenty-first-century daily life and in the media. Some of these encounters are slights, seeming slips of the tongue, and some are intentional offensives in the classroom, at the supermarket, at home, on the tennis court with Serena Williams and the soccer field with Zinedine Zidane, online, on TV-everywhere, all the time. The accumulative stresses come to bear on a person's ability to speak, perform, and stay alive. Our addressability is tied to the state of our belonging, Rankine argues, as are our assumptions and expectations of citizenship. In essay, image, and poetry, Citizen is a powerful testament to the individual and collective effects of racism in our contemporary, often named "post-race" society.

About the Author:

Claudia Rankine is the author of four previous books, including Don't Let Me Be Lonely: An American Lyric. She currently is a chancellor of the Academy of American Poets and teaches at Pomona College.


Chigozie The Fishermen by Chigozie Obioma

In a Nigerian town in the mid 1990's, four brothers encounter a madman whose mystic prophecy of violence threatens the core of their close-knit family.

Told from the point of view of nine year old Benjamin, the youngest of four brothers, THE FISHERMEN is the Cain and Abel-esque story of an unforgettable childhood in 1990's Nigeria, in the small town of Akure. When their strict father has to travel to a distant city for work, the brothers take advantage of his extended absence to skip school and go fishing. At the ominous, forbidden nearby river, they meet a dangerous local madman who persuades the oldest of the boys that he is destined to be killed by one of his siblings.

What happens next is an almost mythic event whose impact-both tragic and redemptive-will transcend the lives and imaginations of its characters and its readers. Dazzling and viscerally powerful, The Fishermen never leaves Akure but the story it tells has enormous universal appeal. Seen through the prism of one family's destiny, this is an essential novel about Africa with all of its contradictions-economic, political, and religious-and the epic beauty of its own culture.

With this bold debut, Chigozie Obioma emerges as one of the most original new voices of modern African literature, echoing its older generation's masterful storytelling with a contemporary fearlessness and purpose.

Editorial Reviews

"Obioma writes with gorgeous restraint reminiscent of the intricate prose in a Tolstoy novella. Every sentence delivers a precise and heartfelt blow. Hardly anyone writing today is delivering this level of intricacy, lyricism and control. Add to that, the urgency and importance of his message. It just doesn't get better than this. Get used to the name: Obioma is here to stay."—Alexandra Fuller, author of Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness

"Awesome in the true sense of the word: crackling with life, freighted with death, vertiginous both in its style and in the elemental power of its story. Few novels deserve to be called 'mythic,' but Chigozie Obioma's THE FISHERMEN is certainly one of them. A truly magnificent debut."—Eleanor Catton, author of The Luminaries (Man Booker Prize)

"I find the author Chigozie Obioma formidably articulate and with great talent. I believe that he has it in him to become one of the best writers of the upcoming crop of young African authors."—Nuruddin Farah, author of Maps and Hiding in Plain Sight

"Obioma's remarkable fiction is at once urgently, vividly immediate, yet simultaneously charged with the elemental power of myth."—Peter Ho Davies, author of The Welsh Girl

"Chigozie Obioma's gift and the authenticity of his voice are immediately apparent. What makes the narrative of THE FISHERMEN so striking and seductive is that it broaches magic realism yet stays entirely, and convincingly, in the realm of real life. Magic believed in is stark reality. One finds oneself in full suspension of disbelief that old legends and myths persist in perpetual reincarnation in present-day lives so that every character, scenes, and imagery jump off the page, firmly to lodge in the reader's mind."—Irini Spanidou, author of Before

"A striking, controlled and masterfully taut debut... The tale has a timeless quality that renders it almost allegorical and it is the more powerful for it." —Financial Times

"Part Bildungsroman, part Greek tragedy, THE FISHERMEN may be the most interesting debut novel to emerge from Nigeria this year.... In a first novel full of deceptive simplicity, lyrical language and playful Igbo mythology and humour, [Obioma] uses the madman's apocalyptic vision for the family as a way of conjuring up Nigeria's senseless body politic. Even a child can tell that this is no way to run a country. And yet for Benjamin, a narrator caught up in tragedy, there is also redemption. This is an impressive and beautifully imagined work."—The Economist

About the Author:

CHIGOZIE OBIOMA was born in 1986 in Akure, Nigeria. His short stories have appeared in the Virginia Quarterly Review and New Madrid. He was a Fall 2012 OMI Fellow at Ledig House, New York. He has lived in Nigeria, Cyprus and Turkey, and currently resides in the United States, where he has completed an MFA in Creative Writing at the University of Michigan. The Fishermen is his first novel.


Life of a Counterfeiter by Yasushi Inoue (Author), Michael Emmerich (Translator)

A master forger lives in obscurity and disappointment, oppressed by the shadow of the artist whose work he copies. Unglamorous, unadorned lives such as this form the focus of Yasushi Inoue's tenderly observed, elegantly distilled short stories - two of which are appearing in English for the first time. With a haunting emotional intensity, they offer glimpses of love lost and lives wasted.

These three luminous, compassionate tales showcase the mastery and exquisite talent of one of Japan's most beloved writers.


Reading List: Cafeafricana:

Helen Oyeyemi: What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours by Helen Oyeyemi

Ladivine by Marie NDiaye


Hiding in Plain Sight by Nuruddin Farah

When Bella learns of the murder of her beloved half brother by political extremists in Mogadiscio, she’s in Rome. The two had different fathers but shared a Somali mother, from whom Bella’s inherited her freewheeling ways. An internationally known fashion photographer, dazzling but aloof, she comes and goes as she pleases, juggling three lovers. But with her teenage niece and nephew effectively orphaned – their mother abandoned them years ago—she feels an unfamiliar surge of protective feeling. Putting her life on hold, she journeys to Nairobi, where the two are in boarding school, uncertain whether she can—or must—come to their rescue. When their mother resurfaces, reasserting her maternal rights and bringing with her a gale of chaos and confusion that mirror the deepening political instability in the region, Bella has to decide how far she will go to obey the call of sisterly responsibility.  

About the Author:

Nuruddin Farah is the author of eleven previous novels, which have been translated into more than twenty languages and have won numerous awards. Born in Baidoa, Somalia, he lives in Cape Town, South Africa, and Annandale-on-Hudson, New York, where he is Distinguished Professor of Literature at Bard College. 


A Little Lumpen Novelita by Roberto Bolano

A Little Lumpen Novelita percolates with a young writer's fierce ambitions and intensely tender love of women.

“Now I am a mother and a married woman, but not long ago I led a life of crime”: so Bianca begins her tale of growing up the hard way in Rome in A Little Lumpen Novelita. Orphaned overnight as a teenager—“our parents died in a car crash on their first vacation without us”—she drops out of school, gets a crappy job, sees a terrible brightness at night, and drifts into bad company. Her little brother brings home two petty criminals who need a place to stay. As the four of them share the family apartment and plot a strange crime, Bianca learns she can drift lower…

Electric, tense with foreboding, and written in jagged, propulsive short chapters, A Little Lumpen Novelita—one of the first novels Roberto Bolano ever published—delivers a surprising, fractured tale of taking control of one’s fate.


The Hunting Gun by Yasushi Inoue (Author), Michael Emmerich (Translator)

A tragedy in three letters: The masterpiece of one of Japan's greatest writers

The Hunting Gun follows the consequences of a tragic love affair. Told from the viewpoints of three different women, this is a story of the psychological impact of illicit love. First viewed through the eyes of Shoko, who learns of the affair through reading her mother's diary, then through the eyes of Midori, who had long known about the affair of her husband with Saiko, and finally through the eyes of Saiko herself. This novella is incredibly powerful, with universal resonance and a true modern classic of the 20th century.


Dust by Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor

From a breathtaking new voice, a novel about a splintered family in Kenya—a story of power and deceit, unrequited love, survival and sacrifice.

Odidi Oganda, running for his life, is gunned down in the streets of Nairobi. His grief-stricken sister, Ajany, just returned from Brazil, and their father bring his body back to their crumbling home in the Kenyan drylands, seeking some comfort and peace. But the murder has stirred memories long left untouched and unleashed a series of unexpected events: Odidi and Ajany’s mercurial mother flees in a fit of rage; a young Englishman arrives at the Ogandas’ house, seeking his missing father; a hardened policeman who has borne witness to unspeakable acts reopens a cold case; and an all-seeing Trader with a murky identity plots an overdue revenge. In scenes stretching from the violent upheaval of contemporary Kenya back through a shocking political assassination in 1969 and the Mau Mau uprisings against British colonial rule in the 1950s, we come to learn the secrets held by this parched landscape, buried deep within the shared past of the family and of a conflicted nation.

Here is a spellbinding novel about a brother and sister who have lost their way; about how myths come to pass, history is written, and war stains us forever.

About the Author
Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor was born in Kenya. Winner of the Caine Prize for African Writing, she has also received an Iowa Writers’ Fellowship. Her work has appeared in McSweeney’s and other publications, and she has been a TEDx Nairobi speaker and a Lannan Foundation resident. She lives in Brisbane, Australia.


An Unnecessary Woman by Rabih Alameddine

One of the Middle East’s most celebrated voices, Rabih Alameddine follows his international bestseller, The Hakawati, with an enchanting story of a book-loving, obsessive, seventy-two-year-old “unnecessary” woman.

Aaliya Saleh lives alone in her Beirut apartment, surrounded by stockpiles of books. Godless, fatherless, childless, and divorced, Aaliya is her family’s “unnecessary appendage.” Every year, she translates a new favorite book into Arabic, then stows it away. The thirty-seven books that Aaliya has translated over her lifetime have never been read—by anyone.

In this breathtaking portrait of a reclusive woman’s late-life crisis, readers follow Aaliya’s digressive mind as it ricochets across visions of past and present Beirut. Colorful musings on literature, philosophy, and art are invaded by memories of the Lebanese Civil War and Aaliya’s own volatile past. As she tries to overcome her aging body and spontaneous emotional upwellings, Aaliya is faced with an unthinkable disaster that threatens to shatter the little life she has left.

A love letter to literature and its power to define who we are, the prodigiously gifted Rabih Alameddine has given us a nuanced rendering of one woman's life in the Middle East.

About the Author
Rabih Alameddine is the author of the novels Koolaids, I, the Divine, and The Hakawati, and the story collection The Perv.


All AllOur Names by Dinaw Mengestu

From acclaimed author Dinaw Mengestu, a recipient of the National Book Foundation’s 5 Under 35 award, The New Yorker’s 20 Under 40 award, and a 2012 MacArthur Foundation genius grant, comes an unforgettable love story about a searing affair between an American woman and an African man in 1970s America and an unflinching novel about the fragmentation of lives that straddle countries and histories.

All Our Names is the story of two young men who come of age during an African revolution, drawn from the safe confines of the university campus into the intensifying clamor of the streets outside. But as the line between idealism and violence becomes increasingly blurred, the friends are driven apart—one into the deepest peril, as the movement gathers inexorable force, and the other into the safety of exile in the American Midwest. There, pretending to be an exchange student, he falls in love with a social worker and settles into small-town life. Yet this idyll is inescapably darkened by the secrets of his past: the acts he committed and the work he left unfinished. Most of all, he is haunted by the beloved friend he left behind, the charismatic leader who first guided him to revolution and then sacrificed everything to ensure his freedom.

Elegiac, blazing with insights about the physical and emotional geographies that circumscribe our lives, All Our Names is a marvel of vision and tonal command. Writing within the grand tradition of Naipul, Greene, and Achebe, Mengestu gives us a political novel that is also a transfixing portrait of love and grace, of self-determination and the names we are given and the names we earn.

About the Author
Dinaw Mengestu is the award-winning author of two novels, The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears (2007) and How to Read the Air (2010). He is a graduate of Georgetown University and of Columbia University’s M.F.A. program in fiction and the recipient of a 5 Under 35 award from the National Book Foundation and a 20 Under 40 award from The New Yorker. His journalism and fiction have appeared in such publications as Harper’s Magazine, Granta, Rolling Stone, The New Yorker, and The Wall Street Journal. He is a recipient of a 2012 MacArthur Foundation genius grant and currently lives in New York City.


BooksBetween Parentheses by Roberto Bolano: Translated by Natasha Wimmer

Between Parentheses collects Roberto Bolaño’s nonfiction: fiercely opinionated articles, speeches, essays, and talks, as well as most of the newspaper columns he wrote during the last five years of his life, when fame had come to him at last. Here we have a tender account of his return to Chile, reflections on family life, impassioned takes on books by writers Bolaño admired (or vehemently despised), and advice on how to write a short story. Between Parentheses fully lives up to Bolaño’s own demands: “I ask for creativity from literary criticism, creativity on all levels.”

Roberto Bolaño (1953-2003) was born in Santiago, Chile. At fifteen, he moved with his family to Mexico and there became a Trotskyite and a journalist. In 1973, he returned to Chile and enlisted in Allende’s party but was imprisoned for a week after the military coup. He then went to El Salvador, where he knew the poet Roque Dalton, then to Mexico, and finally Spain where he worked as a dishwasher, waiter, night watchman, garbageman, longshoreman, and salesman until the 80’s when he could make enough money to support himself by writing, and publishing. In 1999 he won the extremely prestigious Herralde & el Rómulo Gallego Award, considered the Latin American Nobel Prize (García Márquez and Vargas Llosa have been other winners.) He died of liver failure in Barcelona, and is survived by his wife and two children.

"A book must be the ax for the frozen sea within us." Franz Kafka.

Javier Marias

The Infatuations by Javier Marias (Author), Margaret Jull Costa (Translator)


From the award-winning Spanish writer Javier Marías comes an extraordinary new book that has been a literary sensation around the world: an immersive, provocative novel propelled by a seemingly random murder that we come to understand—or do we?—through one woman’s ever-unfurling imagination and infatuations. At the Madrid café where she stops for breakfast each day before work, María Dolz finds herself drawn to a couple who is also there every morning. Though she can hardly explain it, observing what she imagines to be their “unblemished” life lifts her out of the doldrums of her own existence. But what begins as mere observation turns into an increasingly complicated entanglement when the man is fatally stabbed in the street. María approaches the widow to offer her condolences, and at the couple’s home she meets—and falls in love with—another man who sheds disturbing new light on the crime. As María recounts this story, we are given a murder mystery brilliantly reimagined as metaphysical enquiry, a novel that grapples with questions of love and death, guilt and obsession, chance and coincidence, how we are haunted by our losses, and above all, the slippery essence of the truth and how it is told.

About the Author

Javier Marías is an award-winning Spanish novelist. He is also a translator and columnist, as well as the current king of Redonda. He was born in Madrid in 1951 and published his first novel at the age of nineteen. He has held academic posts in Spain, the US (he was a visiting professor at Wellesley College) and Britain, as a lecturer in Spanish Literature at Oxford University. He has been translated into 34 languages, and more than six million copies of his books have been sold worldwide. In 1997 he won the Nelly Sachs Award; the Comunidad de Madrid award in 1998; in 2000 the Grinzane Cavour Award, the Alberto Moravia Prize, and the Dublin IMPAC Award. He also won the Spanish National Translation Award in 1979 for his translation of Tristram Shandy in 1979. He was a professor at Oxford University and the Complutense of Madrid. He currently lives in Madrid.

Alain Mabanckou

Tomorrow I'll Be Twenty by Alain Mabanckou

Tomorrow I'll Be Twenty by Alain Mabanckou

From the winner of the Grand Prix de la Litterature - Mabanckou's trademark humour and surrealism combine in an autobiographical novel. Michel is ten years old, living in Pointe Noire, Congo, in the 1970s. His mother sells peanuts at the market, his father works at the Victory Palace Hotel, and brings home books left behind by the white guests. Planes cross the sky overhead, and Michel and his friend Lounes dream about the countries where they'll land. While news comes over the radio of the American hostage crisis in Tehran, the death of the Shah, the scandal of the Boukassa diamonds, Michel struggles with the demands of his twelve year old girlfriend Caroline, who threatens to leave him for a bully in the football team. But most worrying for Michel, the witch doctor has told his mother that he has hidden the key to her womb, and must return it before she can have another child. Somehow he must find it. "Tomorrow I'll Be Twenty" is a humurous and poignant account of an African childhood, drawn from Alain Mabanckou's life.


"'Africa's Samuel Beckett... Mabanckou's freewheeling prose marries classical French elegance with Paris slag and a Congolese beat' (Economist) 'Mabanckou's irreverent wit and madcap energy have made him a big name in

France' (Giles Foden, author of the Last King of Scotland) 'A dizzying combination of erudition, bawdy humour and linguistic effervescence' (Financial Times)"

About the Author

Alain Mabanckou was born in 1966 in the Congo. He currently lives in LA, where he teaches literature at UCLA. He is the author of six volumes of poetry and six novels. He is the winner of the Grand Prix de la Litterature 2012, and has received the Subsaharan African Literature Prize and the Prix Renaudot. He was selected by the French journal Lire as one of the fifty writers to watch out for this coming century.


rom the winner of the Grand Prix de la Litterature - Mabanckou's trademark humour and surrealism combine in an autobiographical novel. Michel is ten years old, living in Pointe Noire, Congo, in the 1970s. His mother sells p

Zadie Smith

NW: A Novel by Zadie Smith


This is the story of a city.

The northwest corner of a city. Here you'll find guests and hosts, those with power and those without it, people who live somewhere special and others who live nowhere at all. And many people in between.

Every city is like this. Cheek-by-jowl living. Separate worlds.

And then there are the visitations: the rare times a stranger crosses a threshold without permission or warning, causing a disruption in the whole system. Like the April afternoon a woman came to Leah Hanwell's door, seeking help, disturbing the peace, forcing Leah out of her isolation.

Zadie Smith's brilliant tragi-comic new novel follows four Londoners - Leah, Natalie, Felix and Nathan as they try to make adult lives outside of Caldwell, the council estate of their childhood. From private houses to public parks, at work and at play, their London is a complicated place, as beautiful as it is brutal, where the thoroughfares hide the back alleys and taking the high road can sometimes lead you to a dead end.

Depicting the modern urban zone familiar to town-dwellers everywhere Zadie Smith's NW is a quietly devastating novel of encounters, mercurial and vital, like the city itself.

About the Author

ZADIE SMITH was born in north-west London in 1975. She is the author of White Teeth , The Autograph Man , On Beauty , and the essay collection Changing My Mind .

Funmi Tofowomo Photography on Flickr

Funmi Tofowomo Photography on tumblr

Assia DjebarLinks

SisterA Sister to Scheherazade: By Assia Djebar


The story of how Isma and Hajila, wives of the same man, escape from the traditional restraints imposed upon the women of their country.

Isma and Hajila are both wives of the same man, but they are not rivals. Isma - older, vibrant, passionate, emancipated - is in stark contrast to the passive, cloistered Hajila. In alternating chapters, Isma tells her own story in the first person, and then Hajila's in the second person. She details how she escaped from the traditional restraints imposed upon the women of her country - and how, in making her escape, she condemns Hajila to those very restraints. When Hajila catches a glimpse of an unveiled woman, she realized that she, too, wants a life beyond the veil, and it is Isma who offers her the key to her own freedom.

About the Author:

Algerian novelist, translator, and filmmaker, one of North-Africa's best-known and most widely acclaimed writers. Assia Djebar has also published poetry, plays, and short stories, and has produced two films. Djebar has explored the struggle for social emancipation and the Muslim woman's world in its complexities. Several of her works deal with the impact of the war on women's mind. Her strong feminist stance has earned her much praise but also considerable hostility from nationalist critics in Algeria.

"Assia Djebar is a genius....Her prose flows like a quiet river within a garden."--Cafeafricana

African JournalsLinks

African JournalsImage:Writers 2008: By Funmi

"These men are not merely evil, I thought. They are the mindlessness of evil made flesh. One should not ever stumble into their hands but seek the power to destroy them. They are pus, bile, original putrescence of Death in living shapes. They surely infect all with whom they come in touch and even from this insulation here I smell a foulness of the mind in the mere tone of their words. They breed themselves, their types, their mutations. To seek the power to destroy them is to fulfil a moral task."--Wole Soyinka. Excerpt from The Man Died (1972), Pg. 225: The Prison Notes of Wole Soyinka.

"It was a bit of a lie that universities were self-governing institutions. Nevertheless, what universities, suffered during the 1980s and 1990s was pretty shameful, as under threat of having their funding cut they allowed themselves to be turned into business enterprises, in which professors who had previously carried on their enquiries in sovereign freedom were transformed into harried employers required to fulfil quotas under the scrutiny of professional managers. Whether the old powers of the professoriat will ever be restored is much to be doubted."--J. M. Coetzee. Excerpt from Diary of a Bad Year (2007), Pg. 38.



African Cooking and RecipesLinks

African Food"The African kitchen is traditionally outside or in a separate building apart from the sleeping and living quarters. By far the most traditional and to this day the most common sight in an African kitchen is a large swing blackpots filled with meat, vegetables, and spices simmering over a fire. The pot usually sits on three stones arranged in a triangle, and the fire slowly consumes three pieces of wood that meet at a point under the pot"--Africaguide.com. Photo: Unknown Artist



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Wangari Maathai (b: 1940 - d.2012 )

Wangari Muta Maathai was born in Nyeri, Kenya, in 1940. She is the founder of the Green Belt Movement, which, through networks of rural women, has planted 40 million trees across Kenya since 1977. In 2002, she was elected to Kenya's Parliament in the first free elections in a generation, and in 2003, she was appointed Deputy Minister for the Environment and Natural Resources, a post she held until 2007, when she left the government. The Nobel Peace Prize laureate of 2004, Matthai has been honored around the world for her work, including a recent  appointment to the Legion d'Honneur by France and the Order of the Rising Sun by Japan. She is the author of two previous books: The Green Belt Movement and Unbowed , a memoir, and she regularly speaks to organizations around the world. Maathai has three grown children and lives and works in Nairobi.



Leopold Leopold Sedar Senghor

Also: Olayimika by Toyin Adewale, Ode to James Baldwin: By Andrene Bonner, Black Woman: By Leopold Sedar Senghor, Requiem: 5: By Wole Soyinka, Love Apart: By Christopher Okigbo, Art Santuary: By Nikki Giovanni, Olokun: By J.

Funmilayo Ransome KutiFunmilayo Ransome Kuti

FRK Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti.

'Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti was a Nigerian feminist who fought for suffrage and equal rights for her countrywomen long before the second wave of the women's movement in the United States. She also joined the struggle for Nigerian independence as an activist in the anticolonial movement'--Odim and Mba.

Kwame NkrumahFunmilayo Ransome Kuti

NkrumahThe Late Kwame Nkrumah

OSAGYEFO DR. KWAME NKRUMAH (1909-72) Founder and Father of the Nation Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, the first Prime Minister and President of Ghana, stands out not only among the Big Six but also among the greatest statesmen of history. It was he who canalized the discontent of the people of the Gold Coast Colony into the highly organized movement of protest against British rule, and within a relatively short period won political independence for Ghana on March 6, 1957. With Ghana independent, Nkrumah worked to liberate the whole of the African Continent. He supported and financed liberation struggles and nationalist movements throughout the continent. His efforts soon yielded dividends as the majority of countries on the continent gained independence. Then he turned his efforts to forging a common union of African states--NiicaAfrica.

Capt. Mbaye DiagneKen Saro Wiwa

MbayeCapt. Mbaye Diagne

He was a hero.

'From literally the first hours of the genocide, Capt. Mbaye simply ignored the U.N.'s standing orders not to intervene, and single-handedly began saving lives.' PBS "Ghosts of Rwanda'. Photo: Unknown artist: Courtesy of PBS.

Captain Mbaye Diagne of Senegal. Diagne was a Senegalese army officer deployed to Rwanda as a U.N. military observer during the 1994 genocide. The U.N. peacekeeping mission operated under a mandate limiting troop intervention in the conflict. But Diagne chose instead to single-handedly rescue as many as 600 ethnic Tutsi. Ferrying three to five individuals in his vehicle at a time, Diagne employed great courage and persuasion in repeatedly crossing roadblocks manned by genocidal killers and depositing his passengers at safe locations in and around Kigali. He was later killed by a stray mortar shell while driving back to U.N. headquarters in Kigali. His widow, Yassine Mar Diop, his mother, Fatou Ndour, and his two children accepted the honor via live video link from the U.S. Embassy in Dakar Senegal.--US Embassy

Ken Saro WiwaKen Saro Wiwa

Ken Saro Wiwa Ken Saro-Wiwa: 1941-1995.

'Nigerian television producer, writer of satirical novels, children's tales, and plays. In 1994 Saro-Wiwa was imprisoned by order of the dictator Sani Abacha. He had strongly defended the rights of the Ogoni people and criticized the government's oil policy with Royal Dutch/Shell. Despite wide international protests, Saro-Wiwa was hanged after a show trial with other eight Ogoni rights activists in Port Harcourt, on November 10, 1995'--www.kirjasto.com

'My lord, we all stand before history. I am a man of peace, of ideas. Appalled by the denigrating poverty of my people who live on a richly endowed land, distressed by their political marginilization and economic strangulation, angered by the devastation of their land, their ultimate heritage, anxious to preserve their right to life and to a decent living, and determined to usher to this country as a whole a fair and just democratic system which protects everyone and every ethnic group and gives us all a valid claim to human civilization, I have devoted my intellectual and material resources, my very life, to a cause in which I have total belief and from which I cannot be blackmailed or intimidated. I have no doubt at all about the ultimate success of my cause, no matter the trials and tribulations which I and those who believe with me may encounter on our journey. Nor imprisonment nor death can stop our ultimate victory.'--KEN SARO-WIWA'S CLOSING STATEMENT TO THE NIGERIAN MILITARY APPOINTED TRIBUNAL. Photo: unknown artist.

Exclusive InterviewsExclusive Interview

AsanteM.K. ASANTE, JR.

Exclusive Interview with Poet, M.K. Asante, Jr.

Q: What is central to your poetry?

A: Struggle is central. I struggle to write, grapple with ideas, and fight with the pen. For me this is the only way. The poet Lamont Steptoe once told me that if I'm not struggling with my work, then I'm wasting everyone's time and mine own included. So there is a genuine sense of struggle there. Another thing which I hold central is the duality of being alive. The title speaks to this to some extent; the dual nature of existence. It can even be related to Duboisian idea of Double Consciousness.

Image: Courtesy of M.K. Asante, Jr.

For more information on M.K. Asante, Jr., visit www.asante.info.


African MusicAfrican Music

CesariaAfrican Music Around the World...Research, Library, Archives....

Cesaria Evora ( Portuguese pronunciation: born; 27 August 1941- 17 December 2011) was a Cape Verdean popular singer. Nicknamed the "Barefoot Diva" for performing without shoes, she was also the "Queen of Morna "Wikipedia.

Cesaria Evora, Rokia Traore, Oumou Sangare, Asa, Haruna Ishola, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, Yusuf Olatunji, Miriam Makeba, Agidigbo, Apala, Madam Comfort Omoge, Madam Mujidat Ogunfalu, King Sunny Ade, Angelique Kidjo....



Excerpt of speech from my film James Baldwin Anthology

By: Claire Burch


Jazz LegendsJazz Legends

ColtraneJohn Coltrane

John Coltrane was, after Charlie Parker the most revolutionary and widely imitated saxophonist in jazz. Coltrane grew up in High Point, North Carolina, where he learned to play E-flat alto horn, clarinet, and (at about the age of 15) alto saxophone. After moving to Philadelphia he enrolled at the Ornstein School of Music and the Granoff Studios; service in a navy band in Hawaii (1945-46) interrupted these studies. He played alto saxophone in the bands led by Joe Webb and King Kolax, then changed to the tenor to work with Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson (1947-48). He performed on either instrument as circumstances demanded while in groups led by Jimmy Heath, Howard McGhee, Dizzy Gillespie (with whom he made his first recording in 1949), Earl Bostic, and lesser-known rhythm-and-blues musicians, but by the time of his membership in Johnny Hodges's septet (1953-54) he was firmly committed to the tenor instrument. He performed infrequently for about a year, then leaped to fame in Miles Davis ' quintet with Red Garland, Paul Chambers, and Philly Joe Jones (1955-57)--PBS.


Classical MusicClassical Music

Classical MusicAkin Euba

"Akin Euba was born in Lagos, Nigeria on April 28, 1935 and spent his early years there. He is a member of the Yoruba ethnic group. His biography is Akin Euba: An Introduction to the Life and Music of a Nigerian Composer by Joshua Uzoigwe. It is a 1992 publication of the Bayreuth African Studies Series, edited by Prof. Eckhard Breitinger. It explains that his father was an amateur musician:    

Akin Euba's father, Alphaeus Sobiyi Euba, was in his youth an active musician (although music was not his profession). He was a chorister at the Olowogbowo Methodist Church (now Wesley Cathedral) Lagos and also played the clarinet in the Triumph Orchestra, a Lagos dance band in which Fela Sowande (who later became internationally famous as a composer)was the pianist. Akin Euba's mother, Winifred Remilekun Euba, n¨¦e Dawodu, was a teacher by profession."-AfriClassical.com

African Heritage in Classical Music


Museums Olu Oguibe: Wall

'African art embodies one of humanity's greatest achievements--fusing visual imagery with spiritual beliefndocial purpose. Its technical achievements and artistic perfection bear witness to the creative ingenuity of its makers'"Zambian artist Hannah Uzor's works have exciting and unique themes that depict her view of life, social interactions and spirituality. Her African heritage is evident in her works from her use of vibrant earthy colours.'-Africancolors.com

oto: Unkno

Country ProfileCountry Profile

Country ProfileFrom Algeria to Zimbabwe:

Botswana, one of Africa's most stable countries, is the continent's longest continuous multi-party democracy. It is relatively free of corruption and has a good human rights record-BBC

Image:Unknown artist.


Carnegie Corporation of New York.

Carnegie Corporation of New York is a general-purpose, grantmaking foundation established in 1911 by Andrew Carnegie "for the advancement and diffusion of knowledge and understanding among the people of the United States." Subsequent charter amendments have allowed the Corporation to use 7.4 percent of its income for the same purposes in countries that are or have been members of the British Commonwealth. Overseas grants are currently concentrated in Commonwealth Africa. Grants in "noncharter" countries are occasionally made when their substantial purpose is the advancement and diffusion of knowledge and understanding among the people of the United States.--Carnegie Photograph/Logo: Property and Courtesy of Carnegie Foundation of New York.

About About

AboutThe main objective of CafeAfricana is to showcase the best of Africa and Africans in the Diaspora. CafeAfricana is about culture, arts, politics, news, community and lifestyle.

Member: Los Angeles Press Club

 Obafemi AwolowoObafemi Awolowo

AwolowoObafemi Awolowo ( March 6, 1909 - May 9, 1987 )

Chief Awolowo, a lawyer, publisher and politician, served as Premier of the self-governing Western region from 1954 until Nigeria achieved full independence from Britain in 1960. He played a major role in the constitutional conferences in London and Lagos that paved the way for independence.

Chief Awolowo was opposition leader in the first post-independence Parliament and came to be regarded as leader of the Yoruba tribe. The Yorubas are one of the West African nation's three major ethnic groups and live mainly in the south and west.

In 1979 and 1983, Chief Awolowo was the Unity Party's presidential candidate, losing to the northern-based National Party of Shehu Shagari. When the Shagari Government was overthrown by a military coup Dec. 31, 1983, Chief Awolowo returned to private life.---The New York Times.

Obafemi Awolowo Foundation



AboutThe Art of Living: Watching art-house films on MUBI and Criterion Collection

Image: Touki Bouki (1973)

Director: Djibril Diop Mambety


Senegalese director Djibril Diop Mambety's story of two young lovers who long to escape to Paris is a legend in African cinema. Like their New Wave counterparts in France, young Mory and his girlfriend Anta are alienated form their own society and imagine freedom far from the dusty streets of their hometown Dakar. Living at the edge of the heaving, crystal-blue ocean, their dream city doesn't seem so far away, and the lovers embark on an exhilarating picaresque adventure as they try to hustle the money for their passage. They try gambling but lose; they steal the receipts of a charity wrestling match, but take the wrong strongbox. Finally, they manage to rob a rich, predatory man and escape in his roadster. Flushed with victory, Mory imagines himself riding triumphantly into Dakar like a Wolof prince, and suddenly Paris and all its mysteries are within their reach. A rueful parable about fear and freedom, Touki Bouki has the restless energy of modernity and all the power of traditional African symbolism. Mory's motorbike is accessorized with a pair of cattle horns mounted on the handlebars, and Josephine Baker's sweet voice leads them on through their journey. But the rift between these two worlds is all too real. Though both Mory and Anta board the ocean liner that will take them to their destination, only one of them will stay on to face the truth of realizing a dream.

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Ali Farka Toure and Toumani Diabate


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