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Africa’s 100 Best Books of the 20th Century

On occasion of the Zimbabwe International Book Fair 1998 in Harare the Kenyan scholar and political writer Ali Al’amin Mazrui initiated the compilation of a list of the best African books of the 20th century to make an international audience aware of the accomplishments of modern African writers. A jury under the direction of South African academic and fiction writer Njabulo Simakahle Ndebele was assembled to cut down a list of initially more than 1,500 nominations contributed by experts and institutions from all over the world. The final top 100 list was presented in Accra, Ghana, in 2002. An award ceremony took place in Cape Town the same year. The Best Books project was the main topic of the 2002 Zimbabwe International Book Fair. 

After settling on the final list, the jury made a selection of the top 12 African Books of the 20th Century. Here’s the complete list (with annotations by Michael K. Iwoleit):

 

Top 12 List

Chinua Achebe (Nigeria) Things Fall Apart, 1958

A breakthrough work and the first novel of what may be the most renowned African writer of the 20th century. An international bestseller with more than two million copies sold in the USA alone, translated into more than fifty languages.

Meshack Asare (Ghana) Sosu’s Call, 1997

Asare is a popular children’s author and the first African winner of the renowned Neustadt Prize for Children’s Literature which he received in 2014. This work received the UNESCO’s first Prize for Children’s Literature.

Mariama Bâ (Senegal) Une si longue lettre (So Long a Letter), 1979

A feminist writer, born in Dakar, raised as a muslim, writing in French, explored in this epistolary novel, winner of the the 1980 Noma Award for Publishing in Africa, the daily frustrations of a women’s life in a male dominated African society.

Mia Couto (Mozambique) Terra Sonâmbula (Sleepwalking Land), 1992

Set in a war-torn Mozambique at the end of the civil war it’s the magnum opus of one of Africa’s leading exponents of Magical Realism, winner of the 2014 Neustadt International Prize for Literature and thus possibly a future contender for the Nobel Prize in Literature.

Tsitsi Dangarembga (Zimbabwe) Nervous Conditions, 1988

The story of a family in post-colonial Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), first published in Great Britain, has catapulted its author into the first ranks of female African writers.

Cheikh Anta Diop (Senegal) Antériorité des Civilisations Nègres (The African Origins of Civilization: Myth or Reality), 1955

Historian, anthropologist, physicist and politican Diop presents in this book his theory that the civilization of ancient Egypt was Negroid in origin.

Assia Djebar (Algeria) L’Amour, La Fantasia (Fantasia: An Algerian Cavalcade), 1985

Throughout her long and distinguished career, acknowledged with prestigious awards such as the Neustadt International Prize for Literature 1996 or the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade 2000, Assia Djebar (1936-2015) – generally considered as one of her generation’s leading writers of the Mahgreb – has been a distinctly feminist voice in North African letters.

Naguib Mahfouz (Egypt) The Cairo Trilogy, 1945

Mahfouz, who played a major role in modernizing Arab literature, was almost unknown to the Western audience when he deservedly received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1988. These three novels about day-to-day life in contemporary Egypt are among his greatest works.

Thomas Mofolo (Lesotho) Chaka, 1925

A historical novel about the conquests of a Zulu emperor in the 19th century and his corruption thru power, by one of the greatest modern writers of the Bantu language area.

Léopold Sédar Senghor (Senegal) Oeuvre Poétique (Poetic Works), 1961

Senghor (1906-2001) was the first president of the independent Senegal from 1960-80 and also one of leading African poets of his time.

Wole Soyinka (Nigeria) Ake: The Years of Childhood, 1981

The well-known childhood account by Africa’s first winner of a Nobel Prize for Literature (1986).

Ngugi wa Thiong’o (Kenia) A Grain of Wheat, 1967

A village faces the struggles for independence in this early novel by what may be the greatest living writer in Africa.

 

Creative Writing

Abdel Rahman el-Abnudi (Egypt) al-Mawt  ‘ala al as-falt (Death on the Asphalt) 

A work by a popular Egyptian poet and children’s book writer who became known for writing in the Egyptian dialect instead of classical Arabic.

Chinua Achebe (Nigeria) Arrow of God, 1964

The third volume of Achebe’s successful African Trilogy that started with Things Fall Apart (1958) and No Longer At Ease (1960).

Ama Ata Aidoo (Ghana) Anowa, 1970

A play based on a Ghanaian legend by writer, poet and scholar Aidoo who for a short time became Ghana’s Minister of Education in 1982. A 2014 documentary film by Yaba Badeo has chronicled her life and work.

Gamal El-Ghitani (Egypt) Zayni Barakat, 1974

A work by a writer of historical and political novels and founding editor of the weekly literary magazine Akhbar Al-Adab. El-Ghitani (1945 – 2015) was awarded with the Egyptian National Prize for Literatur in 1980.

Germano de Almeida (Cape Verde) O testamento do Sr. Nepomuceno da Silva Araújo (The Last Will and Testament of Senhor da Silva Araújo), 1989

In this novel by writer and lawyer Almeida the testament opening of a merchant from Mindelo turns into a convoluted confession of his life’s secrets.

Ayi Kwei Armah (Ghana) The Beautiful Ones Are Not Yet Born, 1968

A famous novel by a fiction and TV writer, translator and publisher that explores the daily frustrations of an anonymous protagonist about the corruption and greed of societal elites in post-colonial Ghana.

Amadou Hampâté Bâ (Mali) L’étrange destin de Wangrin (The Strange Destiny of Wangrin), 1973

Born in what was then known as French Sudan to a aristocratic family of the Fula people, Bâ (1901-1991) received the Grand prix de littérature d’Afrique noire for this novel in 1974.

Tahar Ben Jelloun (Morocco) La nuit sacrée (The Sacred Night), 1987

Ben Jelloun, born 1944 in Fes, is one of the internationally best-known and most successful living writers of the Mahgreb and a regular contender for the Nobel Prize in Literature. Writing in French, he was the first Magreb writer to receive the renowned Prix Goncourt for this novel in 1887.

Mongo Beti (Cameroon) Le pauvre Christ de Bomba, 1956

The story of a missionary in the 1930s who starts to realize that the Africans have their own way to worship god.

Andre Brink (South Africa) A Dry White Season, 1979

Brink (1935 – 2015), who also wrote in English, was one of the leading proponents of a literary movement that intended the use of Afrikaans to speak against the apartheit regime. This early novel about a black activist who dies during detention was successfully filmed in 1889.

Ken Bugul (Senegal) Riwan ou le Chemin de Sable (Riwan or The Sandy Track), 1999

One of the best-known works of the French-writing Senegalese novelist Mariètou Mbaye who publishes under the pen name Ken Bugul.

Syl Cheney-Coker (Sierra Leone) The Last Harmattan of Alusine Dunbar, 1990

Born in Freetown in 1945, educated in the United States and exiled from Sierra Leone after the military coup in 1997 – partly due to the support of Nobel Prize laureate Wole Soyinka – Cheney-Coker is a poet, novelist and journalist who introduced the style of magical realism into African literature with this, his first and perhaps best-known, novel.

Driss Chraibi (Morocco) Le passé simple (The Simple Past), 1954.

The first novel of Moroccan writer Driss Chraibi (1926 – 2007) whose semi-autibiographical works deal with colonialism, cultural clashes, generation conflicts and the statue of women.

J. M. Coetzee (South Africa) Life and Times of Michael K, 1983

One of the best-known works of internationally acclaimed South African novelist, essayist, linguist and translator Coetze who was awarded with the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2003 and became an Australian citizen in 2006. It tells the story of a deformed man who sets out for a strenuous journey from Capetown to the rural birthplace of his mother, against the backdrop of a fictious civil war in South Africa.

José Craveirinha (Mozambique) Karingana ua Karingana, 1974

A poetry collection by a Mozambican journalist, fiction writer and poet (1922 – 2003) who is generally considered the greatest poet of his country.

Bernard Dadié (Ivory Coast) Climbié, 1956

Novelist, playwriter and poet Dadié, active in the fight for independence of his country and its Minister of Culture between 1976 and 1986, became internationally know when composer John Williams adapted one of his poems for the soundtrack auf Steven Spielberg’s 1997 movie Amistad.

Mohammed Dib (Algeria) La grande maison, L’incendie, Le métier à tisser, 1952/1954/1957

Dib (1920 – 2003) was perhaps the best-know and most prolific modern Algerian writer, writing in French and living in France for the later part of his life, member of the well-known Algerian writer group Generation of ’52, along with Albert Camus. This trilogy about an Algerian family chronicles life around World War II and the struggle for Algeria’s independence.

Birago Diop (Senegal) Les contes d’Amadou Koumba (Tales of Amadou Koumba), 1947

A collection of Senegalese folktales that Diop (1906 – 1989), a leading voice of the Négritude literary movement and hailed as an African renaissance man, compiled and retold from the rich tradition of the griot singers and storytellers.

Boubacar Boris Diop (Senegal) Murambi ou le livre des ossements (Murambi: The Book of Bones), 2000

A fictional account of a notorious massacre during the Rwandan genocide of 1994 by a well-known Senegalese novelist, journalist and screenwriter.

Buchi Emecheta (Nigeria) The Joys of Motherhood, 1979

Emechata (1944 – 2014) became one of the pioneers of African woman writing with a long line of novels, plays, children books and autobiographical and journalistic works. This novel tells the story of a woman who starts to question the traditional values her community has reserved for women when new ideas and values are introduced by colonial rule.

D. O. Fagunwa (Nigeria) Ogboju ode nimu Igbo irunmale (The Forest of a Thousand Daemons), 1938

The first full-length novel in the Yoruba language and one of the first novels in any African language, rich with supernatural elements and imaginary beings inspired by Yoruba folklore.

Nuruddin Farah (Somalia) Maps, 1986

Born in Somalia and having lived and taught in various countries from USA to Germany and India, Farah is among the greatest contemporary writers of African origin and a regular contender of the Nobel Prize in Literature. This novel is part of his Blood in the Sun trilogy, continued with Gifts (1993) and Secrets (1998)

Athol Fugard (South Africa) The Blood Knot, 1961

An early work by by South African playwright, actor, and director Athol Fugard, best known for his politcal plays and for his novel Tsotsi, filmed by Gavin Hood in 2005.

Nadine Gordimer (South Africa) Burgher’s Daughter, 1979

In this work novelist and playwriter, essayist and political activist Gordimer, awarded with the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1991, tells the story of a woman’s relationship with her father, a martyr of the anti-apartheid movement, while she is drawn into political activism herself.

Bessie Head (Botswana) A Question of Power, 1973

Though born in South Africa, Bessie Head (1937 – 1986) is generally regard as the most important und most influential modern writer of Botswana. This is the final volume of a trilogy begun with When Rain Clouds Gather (1968) and Maru (1971), like most of her best-known works set in Serowe, a small town and important commercial and trade center in Botswana’s Central District.

Luis Bernardo Honwana (Mozambique) Nos matamos o cão tinhoso (We Killed Mangy Dog and Other Stories), 1964

A story collection and the only book by a writer active in the struggle for Mozambique’s independence from Portugal, later a UNESCO politician and after his retirement a researcher in the arts, history and ethno-linguistics.

Chenjerai Hove (Zimbabwe) Bones, 1988

A poet, novelist and essayist writing both in English and in the widespread Buntu language Shona, Hove (1956 – 2015) has fused modernist writing with African oral storytelling traditions. This novel is among his best-known works.

Moses Isegawa (Uganda) Abessijnse kronieken (Abyssinian Chronicles), 1998

The first novel that gained Ugandan writer Isegawa nation-wide attention after his exile to the Netherlands in 1990.

A. C. Jordan (South Africa) Ingqumbo yeminyanya (The Wrath of the Ancestors), 1940

A classic novel in the Xhosa language by one of the pioneers (1906 – 1968) of African studies in South Africa, forced to an exile in the United States in 1961.

Elsa Joubert  (South Africa) Die swerfjare van Poppie Nongena (The Long Journey of Poppie Nongena), 1978

A novel that made Afrikaans writer Joubert, member of the influential writer group Sestigers, internationally known. It was translated into thirteen languages and later turned into a stage play.

Cheikh Hamidou Kane (Senegal) L’aventure ambiguë (Ambiguous Adventure), 1961

Using the example of a Senegalese boy who, while studying in France, loses touch with his Islamic faith and his African roots, Senegalese writer Kane explores in this well-known novel, awarded with the Grand prix littéraire d’Afrique noire in 1962, the relations and clashes between African and European culture.

Ungulani ba ka Kossa (Mozambique) Ualalapi, 1987

A collection of six loosely connected stories by a former high school teachers and employee of Mozambique’s Ministry of Education who was inspired to become a writer by his own experiences with poverty and poor education in the provinces Niassa and Cabo Delgado.

Ahmadou Kourouma (Ivory Coast) Les soleils des indépendances (The Suns of Independence), 1970

A fictional critique of the post-independence governments of Africa.

Camara Laye (Guinea) L’Enfant noir (The Dark Child), 1953

A pioneering work of Francophone African literature, based on its author’s own childhood experiences in colonial Guinea. A movie adaption from 1995 featured a number of Laye’s own relatives.

Sindiwe Magona (South Africa) Living, Loving and Lying Awake at Night, 1991

The second novel by female writer Sindiwe Magona who was repeatedly awarded for promoting the Xhosa culture and language and for her contributions to South African literature.

Dambudzo Marechera (Zimbabwe) House of Hunger, 1978

The hundered page central tale of this collection by one of Africa’s greatest literary talents of his generation, who died tragically young of AIDS in 1987, is said to have changed African literature forever.

Tierno Monénembo (Guinea) Un attieké pour Elgass, 1993

Forced to flee the Guinean dictatorship and living in France since 1973, Monénembo obtained a doctorate in biochemistry and published his first novel in 1979. He became internationally known as one of the African writers invited to document the Tutsi genocide in Rwanda in 1994.

Vusamazulu Credo Mutwa (South Africa) Indaba, My Children, 1964

The best-known novel of a writer trained as a traditional healer of the Zulu people and creator of the Kwa-Khaya Lendaba cultural village in Soweto whose writing mix Zulu folklore, personal experiences and science fictional imagery.

Ngugi wa Thiong’o (Kenya) Caitani Mutharaba-ini (Devil on the Cross), 1980

The fifth novel by Thiong’o who started writing in English but later made it a point to write in his native Gikuyu language.

Djibril Tamsir Niane (Senegal) Soundjata ou l’épopée mandingue,1960

A widely translated play by a historian, playwright, and short story writer who is best known for introducing the Epic of Sundiata to the West.

Sibusiso Nyembezi  (South Africa) Inkinnsela yase Mgungundlovu, 1961

The third novel, later turned into a television series, by a popular Zulu novelist, poet, scholar, teacher and editor (1919 – 2000).

Christopher Okigbo (Nigeria) Labyrinths with Path of Thunder, 1971

Okigbo (1932 – 1967) was a Nigerian poet, teacher, and librarian who died fighting for the independence of Biafra and is today regard as a major African poet.

Ben Okri (Nigeria) The Famished Road, 1991

Okri is one nof the leading proponents of postcolonial and postmodern writing in Africa today. This Booker Prize-winning novel became internationally famed as an outstanding work of Magical Realism.

Ferdinand Oyono (Cameroon) Le vieux nègre et la médaille (The Old Man and the Medal), 1956

Diplomat and politician Oyono (1929 – 2010) was only briefly active as writer in the late fifties but his anti-colonialist novels are considered classics of modern African literature. This, his second, novel has been characterized as expressing a deep disillusionment of Africans who were committed to the West yet rejected by their colonial rulers.

Okot p’Bitek (Uganda) Song of Lawino, 1966

An internationally recognized long narrative poem about a rural African woman whose husband is spoiled by his facination for the lifestyle of the European colonial rulers.

Alan Paton (South Africa) Cry, the Beloved Country, 1948

A major work by an author and anti-apartheid activist (1983 – 1988) that was filmed twice and also inspired the musical Lost in the Stars (1949) with music by Kurt Weill.

Pepetela (Angola) A Geração da Utopia,1992

Himself active as a guerilla fighter for Angola’s independence from Portugal, Artur Carlos Maurício Pestana dos Santos (better known by his penname Pepetala) has written about Angola’s political history in the 20th century and depicts in this novel the disillusionment of young Angolans in the early post-independence period.

Nawal el Saadawi (Egypt) Woman at Point Zero, 1973

El Saadawi, born in 1931, is a feminist writer and activist who has written extensively about women in Islam and especially against female genital mutilation and was characterized as “the Simone de Beauvoir of the Arab World”.

Tayeb Salih (Sudan) Mawsim al-Hijra ila al-Shamal (Season of Migration to the North), 1966

Salih’s (1929 – 2009) writing is influenced by his own experiences of village life in a northern province of Sudan and concerned with the cultral contrasts between Islamic Africa and the West. This classic novel, translated into more than twenty languages and hailed as one of the most important Arab novels in the 20th century, tells the story of a man who returns to his native village in Sudan after seven years of education in England.

Williams Sassine (Guinea) Le jeune homme de sable, 1979

Of mixed Chistian and Muslim heritage and exiled to France after Guinea gained independence, Sassine (1944 – 1997) wrote in French about marginalized people in Guinean society.

Ousmane Sembène  (Senegal) Les bouts de bois de Dieu (God’s Bits of Wood), 1960

Film director, producer and writer Sembène (1923 – 2007) is not just regarded as one of Africa’s greatest writers but also as one of the founding fathers of African cinema. This novel is about a railroad strike in colonial Senegal of the 1940s.

Mongane Serote (South Africa) Third World Express, 1992

A poetry collection by a South African poet and writer whose work is deeply connected with the political struggle against apartheit.

Shaaban bin Robert (Tanzania) Utenzi wa vita vya uhuru

Shabaan (1909 – 1962) was a poet, author, essayist and humanist who became known for preserving the Tanzanian poetry tradition and promoting the Swahili language.

Sony Labou Tansi (Congo) La vie et demie, 1979

The second novel of one of the leading proponents of what became known as New African Writing.

Aminata Sow Fall (Senegal) La grève des battus (The Beggars’ Strike), 1979

One of the best-known works by a writer regarded as the first published female novelist from francophone Black Africa.

Wole Soyinka (Nigeria) Death and the King’s Horseman, 1975

Nobel laureate Soyinka’s play about an incident during British colonial rule in Nigeria.

Tchicaya U Tam’si (Congo) Le mauvais sang – Feu de brousse – À triche-coeur, 1955 – 1957 – 1960

Tchicaya U Tam’si was the pen name of Congolese author born Gérald-Félix Tchicaya (1931 – 1988) who became known for his surreal poetry and for his work at UNESCO since 1961.

Amos Tutuola (Nigeria) The Palm Wine Drinkard, 1952

Tutuola (1920 – 1997) was praised of one of the greatest phantasts of modern world literature. His unique books – especially this one, his first and most famous novel – blend the rich tradition of Yoruba folktales with a heavily Africanized kind of English.

Yvonne Vera (Zimbabwe) Butterfly Burning, 1998

A phantastic love story of a construction worker who falls in love with a much younger woman, awarded with the German LiBeraturpreis in 2002.

Luandino Vieira (Angola) Nós os de Makulusu, 1974

A writer engaged in Angola’s struggle for indepence from French rule who writes in French interspersed with elements derived from  the Bantu language Kimbundu.

B. W. Vilakazi (South Africa) Amal’e Zulu, 1945

A poetry collection by an influential Zulu poet, novelist, and educator who was the first black South African to receive a Ph.D

Kateb Yacine (Algeria) Nedjma,1956

The first novel by a novelist and playwriter who wrote both in French and in the Algerian Arabic dialect.

 

Academic Writing

Samir Amin (Egypt) L’accumulation à l’échelle mondiale (Accumulation on a World Scale), 1970

A study by the Marxist economist best know for coining the term “Eurocentrism”.

Ifi Amadiume (Nigeria) Male Daughters, Female Husbands: Gender and Sex in an African Society,  1987

Amadiume, born 1947 to an Igbo family, is a poet and anthropologist and one of Africa’s leading explorers of gender and sexuality.

Mário Pinto de Andrade (Angola) Os nacionalismos africanos

Andrade (1928 – 1990) played a mojor role in the Popular Movement that lead to Angola’s independence from Portugal in 1975.

Kwame Anthony Appiah (Ghana) In My Father’s House: Africa in the Philosophy of Culture, 1992

Born in London, raised in Ghana, educated in England and teaching at various African and US American universities, Appiah has been influenced by cosmopolitan philosophical traditions and is an outspoken critic of Afrocentric worldviews.

Amilcar Cabral (Guinea Bissau) Unity and Struggle, 1979

A collection of speeches and writings by one of the leading voices of Africa’s anti-colonial struggle, assassinated 1973 shortly before his home country declared its independence.

J.E. Casely-Hayford (Ghana) Ethiopia Unbound: Studies in Race Emancipation, 1911

Disguised as a work of fiction, it’s actually a philosophical debate in favor of pan-African nationalism, by a journalist, lawyer and political activist against British colonial rule, historically also significant as one of the first works by an African written in English.

Rocha Chimera (Kenya) Kiswahili, Past, Present and Future Horizons, 1997

A major work by a Kenyan fiction writer and linguist specialized in the Swahili language.

Efua Dorkenoo (Ghana) Cutting the Rose: Female Genital Mutilation – the Practice and its Prevention, 1994

Dorkenoo (1949 – 2014), affectionately called “Mama Efua”, was best known for leading a global campaign against female genital mutilation in Africa.

Paulin Hountondji  (Benin) Sur la philosophie africaine (African Philosophy: Myth and Reality), 1976

In this work philosopher and politician Hontondji argues against Westernized views of African philosophy and for a recognition of genuine traditions of African thought.

Samuel Johnson  (Nigeria) The History of the Yorubas, 1921

In fear that his people might lose sense of their own history, Anglican Priest and historian Johnson (1846 – 1901) completeled this work in 1897. It was later, based on extensive notes, reworked and published by his brother.

Jomo Kenyatta (Kenya) Facing Mount Kenya, 1938

An activist against British colonial rule, imprisoned in 1952 for his alleged role in the notorious Mau Mau Uprising and independent Kenya’s first president from 1964 to 1978, Kenyatta was also a major writer. This work is an anthropological study of the Kikuyu people of central Kenya.

Joseph Ki-Zerbo (Burkina Faso) Histoire de l’Afrique noire (History of Black Africa), 1972

Hailed as a milestones of African historiography this work challenged the widespread believe that Africa prior to European colonization has been a continent without history and culture.

Antjie Krog (South Africa) Country of My Skull, 1998

Especially praised for her poetry, Krog is also a scholar who in this work examined the effects of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Amina Mama (Nigeria) Beyond the Mask – Race, Gender and Identity, 1995

Active as a feminist and scholar in Africa, Europa and the United states, married to renowned novelist Nurrudin Farah (Somalia), Mama has argued for a specific African origin of feminism.

Mamood Mamdani (Uganda) Citizen and Subject: Contemporary Africa and the Legacy of Late Colonialism, 1996

Ugandan academic, author, and political commentator Mamdani is specialized in African and international politics, colonialism and post‐colonialism and has explored in this – maybe his best-known – work the form of rule in African colonial states.

Nelson Mandela (South Africa) Long Walk to Freedom, 1994

Nelson Mandela’s (1918 – 2013) struggle against the racist South African regime has made him the stuff of legends and one of the world’s most famous human rights activists. This autobiographical work was published after he had become the first black president of South Africa.

Eugène Marais  (South Africa) Die siel van die mier (Soul of the White Ant), 1925

This work of the renowned South African lawyer, naturalist, writer and pioneer of literature in Afrikaans (1871 – 1936) became famous for being plagiarised by Nobel laureate Maurice Maeterlinck (Belgium).

Albert Memmi (Tunisia) Portrait du colonisé, précédé du portrait du colonisateur (The Colonizer and the Colonized), 1957

A study of the psychological effects of colonization on the colonized as well as the colonizer by a French writer and essayist of Tunisian-Jewish origin.

Eduardo Mondlane (Mozambique) The Struggle for Mozambique, 1969

Initially an anthropologist at the University of Syracuse, Eduardo Mondlane (1920 – 1969) resigned from his scholarship post, moved to Tanzania and became the founding president of the Mozambican Liberation Front in its guerilla struggle against Portugese colonial rule. He was assassinated in 1969

Ezekiel Mphahlele (South Africa) Down Second Avenue, 1959

The widely translated, though in South Africa initially banned, autobiography of a writer. artist and activist who grew up in the slums of Pretoria and became one of the founding figures of modern African literature.

V. Y. Mudimbe (Congo) The Invention of Africa: Gnosis, Philosophy and the Order of Knowledge, 1988

This book by Congolese philosopher, scholar and writer of fiction and poetry V. Y. Mudimbe is widely acknowledged as a fundamental work of African studies.

Kwame Nkrumah (Ghana) Ghana: Autobiography of Kwame Nkrumah, 1957

Nkrumah (1909 – 1972) was a Ghanaian politician and revolutionary who led his country to independence from Britain in 1957 and became Ghana’s first prime minister and first president.

Sol Plaatje (South Africa) Native Life in South Africa, 1914

Solomon Thekisho Plaatje (1876 – 1932) was a South African journalist, linguist, politician and writer and a founding member of the South African Native National Congress (SANNC) which later became the ANC.

Charles Van Onselen (South Africa)  The Seed is Mine: The Life of Kas Maine, a South African Sharecropper 1894 – 1985, 1996

In this book scholar and historian Van Onselen comprehensively chronicles the effects of the South African land laws using the example of a single man and his family.