Great Girls in African Literature that Your Daughter Should Know


This post was inspired by a one entitled "Great Girls Your Daughter Should Know (Before She Reads Twilight)" by Molly of the blog, Molly Makes Do, recommending strong, relatable female characters. While Molly's list does indeed include some inspiring heroines that I recall from reading lists in my youth, it's missing the diversity that girls from world literature can offer us. My contribution to filling that gap is the following list of great girls and young women, from African literature, that all girls, young and old, should get to know. 


In alphabetical order:

  1. Beatrice from Anthills of the Savannah by Chinua Achebe
  2. Dikeledi from The Collector of Treasures by Bessie Head
  3. Kainene from Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  4. Mhudi from Mhudi by Sol T. Plaatje
  5. Nyasha and Tambu from Nervous Conditions (and Tambu again in The Book of Not) by Tsitsi Dangaremba
  6. Phephelaphi from Butterfly Burning by Yvonne Vera
  7. Sissie from Our Sister Killjoy by Ama Ata Aidoo
  8. Efuru from Efuru by Flora Nwapa (thanks for sharing Belinda!)


Continue reading “Great Girls in African Literature that Your Daughter Should Know”

Inspired: Chinua Achebe Book Covers

1 Chinua-Achebe-Things-Fall-Apart-A-Man-of-the-People


Since Chinua Achebe's passing last Thursday, my Facebook feed has been inundated with great quotes from the inspirational writer. There is a particular statement that I love and that resonates so perfectly with philosophy behind this blog:

"Nobody can teach me who I am. You can describe parts of me, but who I am, and what I need, is something I have to find out myself.”

Chinua Achebe's literary works inspired great book cover designs and this post showcases some of my favourites. 

Continue reading “Inspired: Chinua Achebe Book Covers”

Buy African: The South Is Blooming – an Online “Mixstore” for Cosmopolitans

Oftentimes the desire to support African design – and production in general – is there but, the products aren't always very accessible. In this "Buy African" series, I'll be highlighting various outlets to help you turn your intentions into action. 


The South is Blooming shares the creative talent of contemporary makers in southern Africa with the world. The online boutique showcases an eclectic range of craft and design including fashion accessories, books, music, toys and more. 

Continue reading “Buy African: The South Is Blooming – an Online “Mixstore” for Cosmopolitans”

Week in review and protecting time

Last week's plans to make more of a conscious effort to make time for myself were seriously thwarted this week. One result being that I didn't get to post as much as I usually do. I accept that I'm the kind of person who finds it very hard to say no and a lot of it has to do with overestimating my capacity for doing. I've decided on a new strategy as a solution to all of the above: if unsure as to whether to say "yes", I should simply just say "no". It's going to be hard but, it's absolutely necessary if I'm going to be able to continue creating, blogging and devoting time to being healthy and to continued self-discovery.

I'm always interested in exploring different approaches to jump-start my momentum and  and this week I'll be trying out Katie Tallo's Life Cleanse Starter Kit – a one week guide to gathering momentum (check it out here. Bonus: it's free). She quotes The Road Less Travelled author, M. Scott Peck, M.D.: 

"Until you value yourself, you won't value your time.
Until you value your time, you will not do anything with it."

How appropriate! What strategies have you used to protect your time?


On the lookout

This week I had the honour of being interviewed by Kathryn Buford, one of the founders of Live Unchained, a collaborative art project for black women across the African Diaspora. Kathryn and her co-founder, Miriam, have great ambitions for creating a rich platform for black female artists to express their diverse talents, identities and perspectives. One that will live online as well as through physical showcases and in print.

Not only is Kathryn such a positive, inspired  and inspiring person but, her questions were so valuable in that they reminded me why I do what I do, and reignited again, my passion for it. I think us human beings can be very forgetful this way so, it's great to give ourselves opportunities to check in with our hearts and remember our dreams and visions.

Support this great initiative by voting for Kathryn and Miriam to win support to develop Live Unchained as a non-profit organization.

I'll let you know when the interview is up and in the meantime check out their blog.


Last week on the blog


Here is a quick recap, in case you missed anything:


Thanks as always for taking the time to read and to share comments, facebook appreciation and tweet love. Remember, you can also get blog updates as well as extra links, ideas, news and info via facebook (afriloveblog) and twitter (@afrilove).

Have a great week everybody, be proud and be inspired!

Lulu x


Image above: designs by Lola Faturoti (see post for more details)



Quote of the week – keeping it local


"If the herb we seek in the bush grows in the very backyard, are we not saved a journey?"

— from Chinua Achebe's A Man of the People

This week I'm going to try to be especially conscious of looking inward rather than outward for all things.

(I'm digging the book cover design above! It so well captures the era that the book is set in. I did not enjoy this sequel to Things Fall Apart as much as I have other Achebe books but, it is worth reading, if at least to understand that particular moment in our history, from the individual's perspective and experience.)

Week in review and people power

I hope you've all had a good week. It's been quite a momentous one for Tunisia with the ousting of dictator, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, after  more than two decades in power. Powered by the people, the revolt that led to this result is a reminder that we, the people, can stand up and be heard. That we, African people, do not have to endure our so-called leaders disregard of our humanity. The questions that remain though are to do with the how. How do we best and most effectively campaign for what we deserve? Can we avoid violence?

I read a great article by Kate Bomz this week that I recommend to all: "Isle of Peace into Peaces: A Call to Disarm." Two of our continents most peaceful nations, Tunisia and Tanzania, have been sites of unprecedented violence this year (as "new" as it is). Bomz investigates the meaning of patriotism, apathy and challenges us to get up off our fences.

Interesting also, are discussions around how media was instrumental in the cause of the Tunisian people, including social media such as Twitter, and how US media networks were AWOL in covering such an important event.


On the lookout
Speaking of campaigning for the change we desire, I came across this children's book, again in Essence magazine:

  Mama Miti

Mama Miti: Wangari Maathai and the Trees of Kenya by  Donna Jo Napoli, with illustration by Kadir Nelsontells the tale of Kenyan, Nobel Prize-winning, environmental and political activist, Wangari Maathai.

I don't remember reading children's book much as a child so it's going to be a whole new experience when I have kids of my own. It will be interesting seeking out books that show characters that look like them and heroic, inspiring ones at that. I do remember my parents telling me bedtime stories (rather than reading books to me). What particularly stands out in my memory is my Dad's re-telling of the adventures of the heroic Abunuwasi.


Afri-love on Tumblr
Following last week's foray into the wider world of online social network with the set up of an Afri-love YouTube channel, this week I set up an Afri-love Tumblr site (yes I do make a lot of time for internetting!). I thought it was about time to see what all this Tumblr hype is about. 


Last week on the blog
Here is a quick recap, in case you missed anything:



Thanks as always for taking the time to read and to share comments, facebook appreciation and tweet love. Remember, you can also get blog updates as well as extra links, ideas, news and info via facebook (afriloveblog) and twitter (@afrilove).

Have a great week everybody, be proud and be inspired!

Lulu x


Image above: collage by Jasmine Rose

You be my witness: personal reading challenge


Greatly inspired by Kinna Reads, "a blog of books,reading and world literature," I've decided to do something about my desire to make more time for reading again. I'm setting myself a (humble) challenge and sharing it with you all for extra accountability: to read 24 books in 2011.

Below is my growing list. The books are not exclusively by African writers or about Africa, but I've highlighted, in bold, the ones that are "Africa interest." This is often largely subjective. If you have any suggestions, please do share them, preferrably with a reason why it's a good read. Please have mercy on me and not too many tomes 🙂

  1. I Write What I Like – Steve Biko
  2. Self-Reliance and Other Essays – Ralph Waldo Emerson
  3. Africa: The Politics of Suffering and Smiling – Patrick Chabal
  4. I Wonder – Marian Bantjes
  5. The Thing Around Your Neck – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  6. African Love Stories: An Anthology – Ama Ata Aidoo (Ed.)
  7. Bury the Chains: The British Struggle to Abolish Slavery – Adam Hochschild
  8. The Palm-Wine Drinkard – Amos Tutuola
  9. Walden: Or, Life in the Woods – Henry David Thoreau
  10. The Rebel – Albert Camus
  11. The Satanic Verses – Salman Rushdie
  12. Mrs Dalloway – Virginia Woolf
  13. A Mercy – Toni Morrison
  14. It's Our Turn to Eat – Michela Wrong
  15. The Memory of Love – Aminatta Forna (thanks to @sciculturist for the recommendation!)
  16. The Secret Lives of Baba Segi's Wives – Lola Shoneyin (thanks Zahra)
  17. Powder Necklace – Nana Ekua Brew-Hammond
  18. Eat, Pray, Love – Elizabeth Gilbert
  19. The Secret – Rhonda Byrne
  20. The Year of the Flood – Margaret Atwood
  21. Ordinary Women, Extraordinary Wisdom: The Feminine Face of Awakening – Rita Marie Robinson
  22. Dead Aid – Dambisa Moyo
  23. Talent is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else – Geoff Colvin
  24. The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment – Eckhart Tolle
  25. Zenzele: A Letter for my Daughter – Nozipo Maraire (thanks Selali)
  26. Tropical Fish: Stories out of Entebbe – Doreen Baingana (another from Selali, expanding my list! :-S)

An extended ‘quote’ of the week: water, spirit & journeying home


Long ago, before I owned a computer and when the internet was not yet a part of my daily life, I kept an A6-sized 'quote' book. In would go everything from inspiring quotes to song lyrics that delighted me in some way, from things overheard and seen scribbled on walls to sketches of interesting images and art ideas. I was leafing through one of these books today and was reminded of all the wonderful things I collected (and amused by some of the concerns of my youth, that I will not share!).

Below is one find: a piece of poetry from the book, Of Water and the Spirit: Ritual, Magic, and Initiation in the Life of an African Shaman, by Malidoma Patrice Somé. Abducted at the age of four and sent to a French missionary school, the book is an account of the Burkinabe Somé's journey back to his people, his culture and himself. I'll be looking for it at the library for a re-read…

I had a date in the bush
With all the gods,
So I went.

I had a date in the bush
With all the trees
So I went.
I had a date in the mountain with the Kondomblé
I went because I had to go.

I had to go away to learn
How to know.
I had to go away to learn
How to grow.
I had to go away to learn
How to stay here.

So I went and knocked at doors
Locked in front of me.
I craved to enter.
Oh, little did I know
The doors did not lead outside.

It was all in me.
I was the room and the door.
It was all in me.
I just had to remember.

And I learned that I lived
Always and everywhere.
I learned that I knew everything,
Only I had forgotten,
I learned that I grew
Only I had overlooked things.
Now I am back, remembering,

I want to be what I know I am
And take the road we always
Forget to take.
Because I heard the smell
Of the things forgotten
And my belly was touched.

That's why I had a date with the bush
That's why I had a date with the hill.
That's why I had a date with the world
Now, Father, I'll take you home.
I am back.