African History

This Collection highlights the rich tapestry of cultures, traditions,and historical events that have shaped the continent of Africa. Through fictional narratives and real-life accounts, authors explore the diversity of cultures across the continent, as well as the ways they have been shaped by imperialism, apartheid, and conquest.

Publication year 2011Genre Graphic Novel/Book, NonfictionThemes Values/Ideas: Equality, Society: ColonialismTags History: African , Race / Racism

Publication year 1963Genre Play, FictionThemes Society: ColonialismTags Play: Postcolonial, Allegory / Fable / Parable, History: African , Politics / Government, African Literature, Colonialism / Postcolonialism

Written and first performed in 1960 as part of the national celebrations of Nigeria’s independence from Britain, A Dance of the Forests features a unique combination of classically European dramatic elements and traditional Yoruba masquerade traditions which make the play resistant to both staging and traditional Western criticism. Since 1960, few attempts have been made to perform the play, due to its complexity and ambiguity. A Dance of the Forests presents an allegorical criticism of... Read A Dance of the Forests Summary


Publication year 1962Genre Poem, FictionThemes Society: Colonialism, Natural World: Nurture v. Nature, Society: War, Identity: Language, Society: Politics & Government, Emotions/Behavior: ConflictTags Lyric Poem, History: African , Afro-Caribbean Literature

Publication year 1967Genre Novel, FictionTags Historical Fiction, Heinemann African Writers, History: African

Published in 1967 by Kenyan writer Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o (who also published under the name James Ngugi), A Grain of Wheat takes place in Kenya on the brink of its Uhuru (independence from British colonial rule) in December 1963. The novel considers the effects of British rule on several residents of the fictional village of Thabai, many of whom suffered enormously after the real life rebellion by the Mau Mau, or the Kenya Land and... Read A Grain of Wheat Summary


Publication year 2010Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: FamilyTags Modern Classic Fiction, Auto/Biographical Fiction, Children's Literature, History: African

The middle grade novel A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park follows the life of one of the Lost Boys from South Sudan during the Second Sudanese Civil War. Based on a true story, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt published the bestselling novel in 2010, and Park later wrote a companion picture book, Nya’s Long Walk. The story follows Salva Dut, based on a family friend of Park’s, who is chased from his village and... Read A Long Walk to Water Summary


Publication year 2007Genre Autobiography / Memoir, NonfictionThemes Society: WarTags History: African

A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Solider is a memoir published in 2007 by the Sierra Leonean author and activist Ishmael Beah. The book recounts the author’s experiences as a 12-year-old boy in war-torn Sierra Leone. Forced to serve as a child soldier for three years in the 1990s during the Sierra Leone Civil War, Beah wrote the book to highlight the horrific impact of war on children. Nominated for a 2007 Quill... Read A Long Way Gone Summary


Publication year 2002Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Society: WarTags WWII / World War II, History: U.S., Military / War, History: African

An Army at Dawn is a nonfiction military history book published in 2002 by American author and journalist Rick Atkinson. Subtitled The War in North Africa, 1942-1943, the book chronicles the successful Allied invasion of North Africa during World War II. The first installment of Atkinson's Liberation Trilogy, An Army at Dawn received the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for History.This study guide refers to the 2002 edition published by Henry Holt and Company.Plot SummaryOn September 1... Read An Army at Dawn Summary


Publication year 2006Genre Book, NonfictionTags Immigration / Refugee, History: African

An Ordinary Man is 2006 the autobiography of Paul Rusesabagina, the manager of a Belgian-owned Rwandan hotel. Rusesabagina’s story, written with the aid of journalist Tom Zoellner, centers on the struggles Rusesabagina and his family overcame to survive the inhumane, racially motivated genocide that occurred in Rwanda in 1994—a story later turned into the 2004 film Hotel Rwanda. The narrative uses a conversation tone, unembellished language, and an unostentatious style. After describing Paul's past and... Read An Ordinary Man Summary


Publication year 1964Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: FathersTags Heinemann African Writers, African Literature, History: African

Chinua Achebe’s 1964 novel Arrow of God portrays an Ibo leader as he confronts the British administrators and missionaries in his town. The text, Achebe’s third novel, is part of a series of books called The African Trilogy. Arrow of God won the first ever Jock Campbell/New Statesman prize for African Literature.The novel focuses on Ezeulu, who is the High Priest of Ulu. Ulu is the most important deity in the town of Umuaro, and... Read Arrow of God Summary


Publication year 2018Genre Biography, NonfictionThemes Values/Ideas: Justice & Injustice, Values/Ideas: Power & Greed, Relationships: Family, Emotions/Behavior: Determination / Perseverance, Emotions/Behavior: Memory, Identity: Language, Identity: Race, Society: CommunityTags Historical Fiction, Harlem Renaissance, History: U.S., Race / Racism, African American Literature, Anthropology, Black Lives Matter, Civil Rights / Jim Crow, Grief / Death, History: African , Social Justice, Trauma / Abuse / Violence

Originally written in the late 1920s and early 1930s, Barracoon: The Story of the Last “Black Cargo” (2018) is the transcribed posthumous autobiography of the life of Oluale “Cudjo Lewis” Kossola (1841-1935), written by Zora Neale Hurston (1891-1960). Known for her involvement in the Harlem Renaissance, Hurston was a writer, anthropologist, folklorist, and filmmaker. In all her work, she held a special appreciation for Black life and Black culture of the US South. Her works... Read Barracoon: The Story of the Last "Black Cargo" Summary


Publication year 2016Genre Autobiography / Memoir, NonfictionThemes Identity: Race, Society: Colonialism, Life/Time: Coming of AgeTags Coming of Age / Bildungsroman, Race / Racism, History: African

Born a Crime is a comedic autobiographical work chronicling Trevor Noah’s childhood growing up in South Africa. Published in 2016, it became a New York Times Bestseller, and it’s currently being adapted into a film. Born a Crime doesn’t follow a linear timeline; rather, the narrative jumps around, offering anecdotes from Noah’s past. Before each chapter begins, there’s a prologue that’s related to the content of the upcoming chapter. Usually, these sections provide historical facts... Read Born a Crime Summary


Publication year 1998Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Values/Ideas: Truth & LiesTags History: African , African Literature

Country of My Skull: Guilt, Sorrow, and the Limits of Forgiveness in the New South Africa (1998) is a work of narrative nonfiction by Antjie Krog originally published in South Africa. This guide refers to the American edition of the text (1999) that includes an epilogue, glossary, Cast of Characters, and introduction not included in the South African edition, as well as the addition of the subtitle. Krog, an Afrikaner poet-turned-journalist who covered the Truth... Read Country of My Skull Summary


Publication year 1986Genre Book, NonfictionTags History: African

Decolonising the Mind: the Politics of Language in African Literature is a nonfiction book published in 1986 by the Kenyan author Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o. In the Introduction, titled “Towards the Universal Language of Struggle,” Ngũgĩ writes: “This book, is a summary of some of the issues in which I have been passionately involved for the last twenty years of my practice in fiction, theatre, criticism and in teaching literature” (1). Decolonising the Mind is a... Read Decolonising the Mind Summary


Publication year 2005Genre Autobiography / Memoir, NonfictionThemes Values/Ideas: Power & Greed, Society: ColonialismTags Coming of Age / Bildungsroman, History: African , African Literature

Dreams in a Time of War was originally published in 2010. This study guide uses the 2011 Anchor Books edition, a division of Random House, Inc. A multilayered and faceted coming-of-age memoir of family, community, and Kenyan society, Dreams in a Time of War details the childhood and early adolescent years of acclaimed writer Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o. Set in mid-twentieth century colonial Kenya, the book offers an intimate portrait of Ngũgĩ’s life as it unfolds... Read Dreams in a Time of War Summary


Publication year 1994Genre Autobiography / Memoir, NonfictionThemes Values/Ideas: BeautyTags History: African

First published in 1994, Dreams of Trespass: Tales of a Harem Girlhood is Fatima Mernissi’s memoir of her experience growing up in a harem in Fez, Morocco, in the 1940s. Mernissi, who received her PhD in political science from Brandeis University and won the Prince of Asturias Award and the Erasmus Prize for her feminist writing, was the author of several nonfiction works examining women’s place in the Islamic world.Dreams of Trespass encompasses Fatima’s life... Read Dreams of Trespass Summary


Publication year 2007Genre Autobiography / Memoir, NonfictionThemes Relationships: FamilyTags Military / War, Immigration / Refugee, History: African

God Grew Tired of Us, published in 2007, is a Christian memoir that chronicles John Bul Dau’s 1,000-mile journey from his home village of Duk Payuel in Sudan to the Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya. This study guide refers to the 2008 first paperback printing edition.In the Introduction Dau states that although he is just one of thousands of Lost Boys, he wanted to tell his story in hope of using his education and experiences... Read God Grew Tired of Us Summary


Publication year 1971Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Society: Colonialism, Society: Economics, Society: Politics & GovernmentTags Business / Economics, History: African , Politics / Government

Publication year 1964Genre Essay / Speech, NonfictionThemes Values/Ideas: Justice & Injustice, Identity: Race, Life/Time: Mortality & DeathTags Politics / Government, History: African , Race / Racism

Publication year 1983Genre Short Story, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Loyalty & Betrayal, Values/Ideas: Truth & Lies, Society: WarTags Historical Fiction, Coming of Age / Bildungsroman, History: African

“In the Shadow of War,” a fictional short story by Nigerian author Ben Okri, was first published in the London magazine West Africa in 1983. Five years later, Okri included a revised version in his collection Stars of the New Curfew, which has been out of print since 2004. This anthology marked a point in Okri’s career during which he began to incorporate more magical and fantastical elements into his otherwise realist writing. Okri was... Read In the Shadow of War Summary


Publication year 2019Genre Autobiography / Memoir, NonfictionThemes Life/Time: Coming of Age, Identity: Race, Society: Colonialism, Values/Ideas: Justice & InjusticeTags Humor, Coming of Age / Bildungsroman, History: African , Social Justice

Publication year 1978Genre Biography, NonfictionThemes Identity: Race, Values/Ideas: Justice & Injustice, Society: Politics & Government, Society: Community, Society: ColonialismTags Race / Racism, History: African , Politics / Government, Social Justice

Publication year 1986Genre Autobiography / Memoir, NonfictionTags History: African

Kaffir Boy: The True Story of a Black Youth's Coming of Age in Apartheid South Africa is the true account of the life of Mark (born Johannes) Mathabane, a South African tennis player who grew up during apartheid. The autobiography, published in 1986, describes Mathabane’s poverty-stricken childhood in Alexandra, a black ghetto into which hundreds of thousands of blacks were crammed into sub-standardized housing. During his childhood, the author’s family is subjected to constant police... Read Kaffir Boy Summary


Publication year 2006Genre Autobiography / Memoir, NonfictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Forgiveness, Relationships: FamilyTags History: African

Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust, by Immaculée Ilibagiza is an autobiography published in 2006. Immaculée is a survivor of the 1994 Rwandan genocide, which lasted from April to July that year. During this 100-day period, it is estimated that nearly a million Tutsis were killed by Hutus, the tribe that comprised the majority of Rwanda’s population at that time. Immaculée is a Tutsi and a 22-year-old college student when the genocide... Read Left To Tell Summary


Publication year 2007Genre Autobiography / Memoir, NonfictionTags History: African

Lose Your Mother: A Journey Along the Atlantic Slave Route is a non-fiction work in which US literature scholar Saidiya Hartman journeys to Ghana to explore the history of slavery and her own ancestry. The book is unique because it is an admission of failure as much as a description of her findings. She concludes that, as an African-American, one cannot return to one’s roots because slavery has erased them.She emphasizes that slavery began as... Read Lose Your Mother Summary


Publication year 2003Genre Biography, NonfictionTags History: African

Machete Season: The Killers in Rwanda Speak (2003), by French journalist Jean Hatzfeld, presents ten accounts of ordinary contributors to the Rwandan genocide, which killed 800,000 Tutsis in just two months in 1994. Each survivor is from the same relatively small city and goes into depth about the neighbors they murdered (or helped murder). The work was first translated into English by Linda Coverdale.Its themes include personal responsibility, the horrors of groupthink, and mass dehumanization... Read Machete Season Summary


Publication year 2009Genre Biography, NonfictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Forgiveness, Emotions/Behavior: Shame & Pride, Values/Ideas: Justice & InjusticeTags History: African , Politics / Government, Social Justice, Race / Racism, African Literature

Originally published in 1999, No Future Without Forgiveness is the memoir of Desmond Mpilo Tutu. Tutu won the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1984 for his efforts to end apartheid in South Africa. He served as Archbishop of the Anglican Church in Cape Town and later chaired the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), which President Mandela established to help address the atrocities of apartheid.Although Tutu’s memoir focuses on his work with the TRC between 1995... Read No Future Without Forgiveness Summary


Publication year 2005Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Society: Politics & Government, Society: Economics, Society: Colonialism, Society: Class, Society: Globalization, Society: Nation, Values/Ideas: Justice & Injustice, Values/Ideas: Power & GreedTags Politics / Government, Business / Economics, Urban Development, Poverty, Finance / Money / Wealth, History: Asian, History: African , History: European, History: U.S., Social Justice, Class

Planet of Slums is a non-fiction book published in 2006 by American author and urban theorist Mike Davis. It chronicles the spread of poverty in cities around the world at a time when more than a billion people live in what the United Nations (UN) classifies as "slums."SummaryIn 1950, only 86 cities around the world had populations of one million people or more. When Davis wrote this book in 2005, he predicted that by 2015... Read Planet of Slums Summary


Publication year 2022Genre Biography, NonfictionThemes Society: Colonialism, Identity: Race, Emotions/Behavior: Determination / Perseverance, Natural World: Place, Emotions/Behavior: Hate & Anger, Values/Ideas: Fame, Values/Ideas: Loyalty & BetrayalTags History: African , Action / Adventure, Travel Literature

Publication year 2003Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Society: Politics & Government, Society: Globalization, Society: War, Society: ColonialismTags History: African , Politics / Government, Military / War, Trauma / Abuse / Violence

Lt. General Roméo Dallaire is a Canadian officer who was assigned as the force commander in the United Nations Assistance Mission to Rwanda (UNAMIR), a UN peacekeeping mission to facilitate negotiations after the Rwandan Civil War. He wrote about his experiences witnessing the breakdown of the peace process and the Rwandan Genocide in Shake Hands With The Devil: The Failure of Humanity in Rwanda. Published in 2003, the book won the 2004 Governor General’s Award... Read Shake Hands with the Devil Summary


Publication year 1979Genre Novel, FictionTags History: African , Auto/Biographical Fiction, Gender / Feminism, African Literature, Heinemann African Writers

So Long A Letter follows the story of two women from Senegal, Ramatoulaye and Aissatou. They are childhood friends whose paths diverge in adulthood when Aissatou immigrates to America, leaving Ramatoulaye behind in Senegal. The novel is told in the epistolary style—that is, it is structured as a very long letter, written by Ramatoulaye to her friend, recounting the latest events in her life and reminiscing about their shared childhood and adolescence.The novel opens as... Read So Long a Letter Summary


Publication year 2000Genre Biography, NonfictionTags History: African , Immigration / Refugee

Strength in What Remains is a nonfiction book by Pulitzer Prize-winning nonfiction writer Tracy Kidder. It chronicles the story of a Burundian man named Deogratias (Deo). Deo, a Tutsi, survived a genocide that embroiled Burundi and Rwanda—especially in 1993-94. Deo fled the hospital where he had a medical school internship. Without any resources, he made his way to Rwanda only to be forced to escape violence there, return to Burundi, and finally travel to America... Read Strength in What Remains Summary


Publication year 2010Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Society: Economics, Society: Colonialism, Values/Ideas: Power & GreedTags History: World, History: African

Sugar Changed the World: A Story of Magic, Spice, Slavery, Freedom, and Science is a non-fiction history book written for young adults that was first published in 2010. It is primarily about how the cultivation of sugar has impacted societies across the world socially, economically, and culturally. The book is written by historian Marc Aronson and novelist Marina Budhos. It was a finalist for both the Los Angeles Times Book Award and the YALSA Excellence... Read Sugar Changed the World Summary


Publication year 1200Genre Novel, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Literature, Values/Ideas: Fate, Values/Ideas: Good & EvilTags Mythology, Narrative / Epic Poem, History: African , African Literature

Sundiata (also known as Sunjata) is an epic poem of the West African Mandinka (or Malinke) people. There is no single definitive source or version of this story, which originated in oral traditions of the 13th century and was passed down by griots, Mandinka poet-historians and regal advisors. Sundiata is a quasi-mythological biography of King Sundiata Keita, who founded the Mali Empire, which lasted from 1235 to 1400. The poem is also a central cultural... Read Sundiata (Sunjata) Summary


Publication year 2016Genre Novel, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Shame & Pride, Identity: Femininity, Life/Time: Coming of Age, Life/Time: Childhood & Youth, Relationships: Mothers, Self Discovery, Society: Colonialism, Values/Ideas: Art, Values/Ideas: Beauty, Values/Ideas: Loyalty & BetrayalTags Music, Realistic Fiction, British Literature, Arts / Culture, Class, Finance / Money / Wealth, Gender / Feminism, History: African , History: European, Love / Sexuality, Race / Racism, Social Justice

Swing Time (2016) is renowned author Zadie Smith’s fifth novel. Inspired by classic movie musicals and Smith’s childhood passion for musical theater, Swing Time is a story about women, how forms of privilege warp our worldviews, and the ways in which history informs our present. The novel is divided into seven parts, each narrated by the same unnamed protagonist sometimes as a child and sometimes as an adult.One of the most respected literary voices of... Read Swing Time Summary


Publication year 1938Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Identity: Race, Society: Community, Society: Politics & Government, Values/Ideas: Religion & Spirituality, Values/Ideas: Truth & LiesTags Anthropology, History: African , Religion / Spirituality, Travel Literature, Fairy Tale / Folklore

Publication year 2007Genre Novel, FictionThemes Society: Immigration, Identity: Race, Life/Time: The PastTags Realistic Fiction, Immigration / Refugee, History: African

Dinaw Mengestu’s 2007 debut novel, The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears, is a NYT Notable Book, a recipient of the Guardian First Book Award, and the LA Times Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction. Originally published in the UK under the title Children of the Revolution, the story takes place across three days in the life of Sepha Stephanos, an Ethiopian refugee living in Washington, DC. In his New York Times review of the book... Read The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears Summary


Publication year 2022Genre Novel/Book in Verse, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Conflict, Emotions/Behavior: courage, Emotions/Behavior: Determination / Perseverance, Emotions/Behavior: Fear, Emotions/Behavior: Grief, Emotions/Behavior: Guilt, Natural World: Place, Relationships: Family, Relationships: Siblings, Relationships: Grandparents, Relationships: Friendship, Relationships: Mothers, Values/Ideas: Equality, Values/Ideas: Power & Greed, Values/Ideas: Justice & Injustice, Values/Ideas: Loyalty & Betrayal, Values/Ideas: Good & Evil, Values/Ideas: Literature, Values/Ideas: Safety & Danger, Values/Ideas: Order & Chaos, Values/Ideas: Truth & Lies, Values/Ideas: Win & Lose, Identity: Language, Identity: Masculinity, Identity: Race, Emotions/Behavior: Love, Life/Time: Coming of Age, Life/Time: Childhood & Youth, Society: Colonialism, Society: Community, Life/Time: Mortality & Death, Society: Nation, Society: Education, Self Discovery, Relationships: FathersTags Historical Fiction, Children's Literature, Free verse, Coming of Age / Bildungsroman, Race / Racism, History: African , African American Literature

Publication year 2020Genre Autobiography / Memoir, NonfictionThemes Identity: Gender, Relationships: Family, Society: ImmigrationTags Immigration / Refugee, Relationships, History: African , Gender / Feminism, Women's Studies (Nonfiction)

Publication year 2018Genre Autobiography / Memoir, NonfictionTags Military / War, History: African , Immigration / Refugee

The Girl Who Smiled Beads: A Story of War and What Comes After is a 2018 memoir by Clemantine Wamariya, who at age six escaped the Rwandan genocide of 1994 with her older sister Claire. The memoir, which is co-authored by Elizabeth Weil, follows a dual narrative that alternates between scenes from Wamariya’s journey through seven African countries and from her life in America, where she moved in 2000. Wamariya describes the dehumanization of refugees... Read The Girl Who Smiled Beads Summary


Publication year 1948Genre Novel, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Guilt, Emotions/Behavior: Shame & Pride, Values/Ideas: Religion & SpiritualityTags Classic Fiction, Historical Fiction, Christian literature, Religion / Spirituality, History: African , British Literature, Colonialism / Postcolonialism

Graham Greene’s The Heart of the Matter was published in 1948 and is one of his most famous Catholic-themed novels. These novels comprise the majority of his literary oeuvre and underscore a recurring theme in Greene’s works: moral crisis and true faith. Greene’s iconoclastic views of Catholicism are explored through complex protagonists like Henry Scobie, the flawed hero of The Heart of the Matter, who are torn between passion and faith.The Heart of the Matter... Read The Heart of the Matter Summary


Publication year 1789Genre Autobiography / Memoir, NonfictionThemes Values/Ideas: Equality, Values/Ideas: Good & Evil, Identity: Race, Values/Ideas: Literature, Society: ColonialismTags Race / Racism, History: African

Originally published in 1789, Olaudah Equiano’s The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa, the African. Written by Himself is a slave narrative in which the author recounts his childhood, capture, life as an enslaved person, and emancipation. With its descriptions of life among the Igbo and the author’s experience of the Middle Passage, the book is a key text for studying the transatlantic slave trade and lives of people of... Read The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, Or Gustavus Vassa, the African Summary


Publication year 1902Genre Poem, FictionThemes Society: Class, Society: War, Society: ColonialismTags Poetry: Dramatic Poem, Victorian Period, Military / War, Class, History: African , History: European, Psychology, Grief / Death, Trauma / Abuse / Violence

Publication year 1921Genre Poem, FictionThemes Identity: Race, Emotions/Behavior: Determination / Perseverance, Emotions/Behavior: Shame & Pride, Emotions/Behavior: MemoryTags Free verse, History: African

Publication year 2021Genre Novel, FictionThemes Identity: Race, Values/Ideas: Justice & Injustice, Society: ColonialismTags Drama / Tragedy, Historical Fiction, History: African , Social Justice, Race / Racism, African Literature

Publication year 2014Genre Novel/Book in Verse, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: courage, Emotions/Behavior: Determination / Perseverance, Emotions/Behavior: Grief, Emotions/Behavior: Hope, Life/Time: Childhood & Youth, Relationships: Family, Society: War, Values/Ideas: Art, Life/Time: Coming of AgeTags Historical Fiction, Realistic Fiction, Military / War, Arts / Culture, Education, Gender / Feminism, Coming of Age / Bildungsroman, African Literature, History: African

Publication year 1987Genre Short Story Collection, FictionThemes Society: Colonialism, Relationships: Daughters & Sons, Values/Ideas: Religion & SpiritualityTags History: African , Religion / Spirituality, Race / Racism, African Literature, Colonialism / Postcolonialism

The Setting Sun and the Rolling World is a short story collection published in 1987 by Zimbabwean author Charles Mungoshi. Across 17 stories, Mungoshi explores profound cultural divides in his native country between tradition and modernization, rural and urban life, and colonialism and African nationalism. Although the characters are different in each piece, taken together the stories comprise a coming-of-age narrative, as the protagonist of each tale is generally a little older and more experienced... Read The Setting Sun and the Rolling World Summary


Publication year 2019Genre Poem, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Determination / PerseveranceTags Children's Literature, History: African , Black Lives Matter, Civil Rights / Jim Crow, History: U.S., Race / Racism

“The Undefeated” (2019) is a free verse children’s poem by poet and novelist Kwame Alexander. The poem, published as a picture book, celebrates Black Americans, highlighting the struggles the Black community has endured and overcome throughout America’s history, with particular attention on great figures from history, including artists, athletes, and civil rights activists. While the poem’s target audience is children, Alexander and the book’s illustrator, Kadir Nelson, address serious topics like slavery and police brutality... Read The Undefeated Summary


Publication year 1989Genre Poem, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Science & TechnologyTags Race / Racism, Trauma / Abuse / Violence, Gender / Feminism, History: African

Publication year 1958Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: Daughters & Sons, Society: ColonialismTags Colonialism / Postcolonialism, African Literature, History: African , Heinemann African Writers

Things Fall Apart, published in 1958, is Nigerian novelist Chinua Achebe’s first novel. Simultaneously portraying the traditions and beliefs of Nigerian Ibo culture and engaging with the narrative of European colonialism in Africa, Things Fall Apart uses one man’s story to speak for many.Achebe’s plot centers on Okonkwo, a passionate man focused on reaching the apex of masculine virtue in his home village, Umuofia. As a child, Okonkwo notices his father’s “feminine” and dishonorable behaviors:... Read Things Fall Apart Summary


Publication year 2019Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: Friendship, Life/Time: Coming of Age, Identity: Race, Emotions/Behavior: Guilt, Emotions/Behavior: Fear, Values/Ideas: Power & Greed, Emotions/Behavior: Grief, Emotions/Behavior: Determination / PerseveranceTags Fantasy, Fairy Tale / Folklore, Children's Literature, History: African , Race / Racism, African American Literature, Action / Adventure

Publication year 2006Genre Autobiography / Memoir, NonfictionThemes Natural World: EnvironmentTags History: African , African Literature

Unbowed, written by Wangari Maathai, is a memoir of the Kenyan politician and environmental activist who founded the Green Belt Movement. In 2004, Maathai became the first African woman and environmentalist to win the Nobel Peace Prize. First published in 2006, the memoir describes Maathai’s path to activism, which was fueled by a familiarity with and fondness for the Kenyan landscape of her childhood, as well as an early awareness of social injustice. Maathai was born... Read Unbowed Summary


Publication year 1998Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Values/Ideas: Loyalty & Betrayal, Society: Colonialism, Society: Class, Emotions/Behavior: Hate & Anger, Emotions/Behavior: Fear, Society: Politics & GovernmentTags History: African , Journalism, Military / War, Politics / Government, Trauma / Abuse / Violence

We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed with Our Families: Stories from Rwanda (1998) describes the Hutu majority’s slaughter of at least 800,000 Tutsis in 100 days in 1994—with author and journalist Philip Gourevitch documenting the meticulous planning behind the genocide. Gourevitch chastises the international community, especially the United States and France, for failing to stop the genocide in accordance with obligations under the Genocide Convention. Visiting Rwanda one year after... Read We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed with Our Families Summary


Publication year 2017Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Identity: Race, Society: Class, Society: Politics & GovernmentTags Race / Racism, Gender / Feminism, Politics / Government, Social Justice, Black Lives Matter, History: African , Sociology

Publication year 1973Genre Novel, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Shame & Pride, Identity: Masculinity, Society: ColonialismTags Heinemann African Writers, Satire, Realistic Fiction, Allegory / Fable / Parable, Class, History: African , Politics / Government, Love / Sexuality, Colonialism / Postcolonialism

Xala: A Novel was written by the Senegalese writer and filmmaker Ousmane Sembène. The satirical work was originally published in France in 1974 and released in the United States in 1976. In 1975, it was adapted into a film directed by Sembène. The postcolonial novel deals with the aftermath of Senegal’s formal independence from France on August 20, 1960—two years after the country had become a republic. Senegal celebrates its Independence Day on April 4... Read Xala Summary