Category Archives: BOOK CLUB

Tea, Scones and Malaria

BOOK CLUB July  2024 Selection

This month our  book is Tea, Scones and Malaria by Katlynn Brooks.

This book is a phenomenal true account of one girl’s extraordinary upbringing in the rough and feral bushveld of 1950s and 60s Rhodesia. Moving from one makeshift camp to the next, the family follows Dad, a bridge builder for the government, deep into the heart of elephant and cheetah country.

“We ran barefoot in the bush, and swam in crocodile-infested rivers. We shared our camps with snakes, scorpions, and jerrymunglums. There was no electricity, no hospitals, and no schools in the bush. How I survived it all, I will never know.”

Hilarious, touching, raw, and deeply honest, this memoir records the journey from child to teenager to woman against the backdrop of a vanishing world, as Rhodesia begins its long and tumultuous transition into the independent country of Zimbabwe.

 This Child Will Be Great

BOOK CLUB April  2024 Selection

This month our  book is This Child Will Be Great, a memoir by Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. Sirleaf shares the story of her rise to power, including her early childhood; her experiences with abuse, imprisonment, and exile; and her fight for democracy and social justice. She reveals her determination to succeed in multiple worlds, from her studies in the United States to her work as an international bank executive, to campaigning in some of Liberia’s most desperate and war-torn villages and neighborhoods. It is the tale of an outspoken political and social reformer who fought the oppression of dictators and championed change. By telling her story, Sirleaf encourages women everywhere to pursue leadership roles at the highest levels of power, and gives us all hope that we can change the world.

Sirleaf became the first elected head of state of an African country (in this case, Liberia, in 2006) She  won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011.

Burger’s Daughter

BOOK CLUB March  2024 Selection

Burger’s Daughter by Nadine Gordimer (winner  of the Nobel Prize for Literature) was published in 1979. This novel is modelled after real people involved in the struggle against apartheid in South Africa.

This is the moving story of the unforgettable Rosa Burger, a young woman from South Africa cast in the mold of a revolutionary tradition. Rosa tries to uphold her heritage handed on by martyred parents while still carving out a sense of self. Although it is wholly of today, Burger’s Daughter can be compared to those 19th century Russian classics that make a certain time and place come alive, and yet stand as universal celebrations of the human spirit.

Most of our books to date have been written by contemporary young, black African authors and we thought it would be interesting to go back to this earlier period in history.

What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours

BOOK CLUB January  2024 Selection


 What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours by Helen Oyeyemi is a collection of short stories and 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.
Oyeyemi’s tales span multiple times and landscapes as they tease boundaries between coexisting realities. Is a key a gate, a gift, or an invitation?

Things Fall Apart

BOOK CLUB September 2023 Selection

Things Fall Apart by Nigerian author Chinua Achebe, was written in 1958 and is considered a classic in African literature and has inspired many African authors of today.
THINGS FALL APART tells two overlapping, intertwining stories, both of which center around Okonkwo, a “strong man” of an Ibo village in Nigeria.
The first  storiy traces Okonkwo’s fall from grace with the tribal world in which he lives, and in its classical purity of line and economical beauty it provides us with a powerful fable about the immemorial conflict between the individual and society.
The second story is as modern as the first is ancient, and elevates the book to a tragic plane,
 These twin dramas are perfectly harmonized, and they are modulated by an awareness capable of encompassing at once the life of nature, human history, and the mysterious compulsions of the soul.

Toufah: The Woman who Inspired an African #MeToo Movement

BOOK CLUB July 2023 Selection
An incandescent and inspiring memoir from a courageous young woman who, after she was forced to flee to Canada from her home in The Gambia, became the first woman to publicly call the country’s dictator to account for sexual assault—launching an unprecedented protest movement in West Africa.
Join us to share this powerful story. Toufah: The Woman who Inspired an African #MeToo Movement by Toufah Jallow with Kim Pittaway.

I Am a Girl From Africa

BOOK CLUB June 2023 Selection

Eizabeth Nyamayaro is from Zimbabwe. At the age of 8, she nearly died of starvation during a famine. Her rescue by a United Nations aid worker inspired her with a dream to work for the UN. This memoir recounts her early life in a small village and her career working for a variety of causes at the UN, including HIV/AIDS, child marriage, domestic violence, and women’t rights. It is an inspirational read.

Glory

BOOK CLUB May 2023 Selection

Glory is a new book from NoViolet Bulawayo, the award-winning author of the Booker-prize finalist We Need New Names.
NoViolet Bulawayo’s bold new novel follows the fall of the Old Horse, the long-serving leader of a fictional country, and the drama that follows for a rumbustious nation of animals on the path to true liberation.

Powered By Love

BOOK CLUB April 2023 Selection

Powered by Love is  the book written for the Stephen Lewis Foundation by Joanna Henry and Ilana Landsberg-Lewis. Many of us have this book but we thought it would be interesting to read it from cover to cover (instead of using it as a reference) and talk about it together.

How Beautiful We Were by Imbolo Mbue

BOOK CLUB February 2023 Selection

On February 24, we will be discussing the novel “How Beautiful We Were” by Cameroonian-American author Imbolo Mbue.

This book is about a fictional African village that is suffering from pollution and environmental degradation caused by an American oil company, and how they decided to fight back. We have also read Mbue’s previous novel, Behold the Dreamers, and loved it.

Unbowed by Wangari Maathai

BOOK CLUB January 2023 Selection

This month we will be  discussing Unbowed,  a memoir by Wangari Maathai, founder of the Green Belt Movement and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize for her environmental and social justice work.

We are looking forward to what promises to be an inspirational life story.

This is a remarkable memoir of courage, faith, and the power of persistence; about one woman’s extraodinary journey from her childhood in rural Kenya to the world stage. “[Maathai’s] story provides uplifting proof of the power of perseverance–and of the power of principled, passionate people to change their countries and inspire the world.”

Behold the Dreamers 

BOOK CLUB November 2022 Selection

 Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue tells the  tale of a young couple from Cameroon who come to the US in search of a better life.Their precarious legal status makes their lives very difficult. Interestingly, the author portrays the struggles of their wealthy employer at the time of the 2008 stock market crash as well, and  in an empathetic manner. It’s a novel that’s hard to put down, so you would still have time to read it by November 11 if you’d like to join us! New members are always welcome. Just write to message@ujamaagrandmas.doc and we’ll send you the Zoom link.

Wife of the Gods by Kwei Quartey

BOOK CLUB September 2022 Selection

Kwei Quartey is a Ghanaian author of detective fiction who has written a couple of series featuring two different detectives. We thought this might be a nice change from the ‘heavier’ books we have been reading, good and important as they are.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The first book will likely be a quick read and so we will also read Alexandra Fuller’s “Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness”, a beautifully written memoir by a white author who grew up in Africa.

New members are always welcome. If you are interested, write to message@ujamaagrandmas.com – attention Book Club

We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo of Zimbabwe

BOOK CLUB July 2022 Selection

The main character of the novel is Darling, a 10-year old girl who at the beginning of the story hangs around with her gang of friends in a shanty town called Paradise. Later she goes to live with an aunt in Detroit, Michigan, and comes face to face with the reality of America, about which she had only dreamed. In a review from NPR in 2013, Ellah Allfrey writes, “In Bulawayo’s steady hands, what could be a tale of woe becomes a story of resilience.” We look forward to reading this novel and continuing our journey towards better understanding African people, their challenges and their strengths.

Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adich

BOOK CLUB May 2022 Selection.

The novel takes place in Nigeria prior to and during the Nigerian Civil War (1967–70). It follows five main characters, including the twin daughters of an influential businessman, a professor, a British expat, and a Nigerian houseboy. After Biafra’s declaration of secession, the lives of the main characters drastically change and are torn apart by the brutality of the civil war and decisions in their personal lives.

The book was published in 2006 and has been on many “best books” lists.

The Son of the House by Cheluchi Onyemelukwe-Onuobia

BOOK CLUB April 22 Selection.

This novel was long-listed for the 2021 Giller Prize, as the author, originally from Nigeria, is now a Canadian.

The story is a tale of two women from different circumstances who become friends, and then are thrown together during a kidnapping, during which they tell each other their life stories.  The book is a quick read and is a fascinating account of culture and traditions in Nigeria, particularly as they affect the lives of women.

 

The Shadow King by Maaza Mengiste

This is a historical novel about women soldiers in Ethiopia during the 1935 Italian invasion.  The book is a gorgeously crafted and unputdownable exploration of female power, with Hirut as the fierce, original, and brilliant voice at its heart. In incandescent, lyrical prose, Maaza Mengiste breathes life into complicated characters on both sides of the battle line, shaping a heartrending, indelible exploration of what it means to be a woman at war.

A Long Walk To Water

BOOK CLUB January 2022 Selection

Long Walk to Water, by Linda Sue Park is based on a true story about one of the Lost Boys,a  refugee  from the civil war in the Sudan, who from the age of 11 walked thousands of kilometres across a desert landscape in search of his family and of safety. The story follows the main character into adulthood, when he founded a charitable organization that helps African communities build and maintain their own wells.

No Future Without Forgiveness by Desmond Tutu

The establishment of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission was a pioneering international event. Never had any country sought to move forward from despotism to democracy both by exposing the atrocities committed in the past and achieving reconciliation with its former oppressors. At the center of this unprecedented attempt at healing a nation has been Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Chairman of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. In this book, Archbishop Tutu offers his reflections on this painful experience.

In No Future Without Forgiveness, Tutu argues that true reconciliation cannot be achieved by denying the past. But nor is it easy to reconcile when a nation “looks the beast in the eye.” In this book, he recognizes the horrors people can inflict upon one another, and yet retains a sense of idealism about reconciliation, showing readers how to move forward with honesty and compassion to build a newer and more humane world.

Stay With Me by Nigerian author Ayobami Adebayo

BOOK CLUB October 2021 selection.

The unforgettable story of a marriage as seen through the eyes of both husband and wife, Stay With Me asks how much we can sacrifice for the sake of family.  Ever since they first met and fell in love at university, Yejide and Akin have agreed: polygamy is not for them. But four years into their marriage Yejide is still not pregnant. She assumes she still has time – until her in-laws arrive on her doorstep with a young woman they introduce as Akin’s second wife. Furious, shocked, and livid with jealousy, Yejide knows the only way to save her marriage is to get pregnant.