Category Archives: BOOK CLUB

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.

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.

If You Want to Make God Laugh by Bianca Marais

BOOK CLUB September 2021 selection.

Members who attended one of Bianca’s talks, either the one sponsored by UJAMAA GRANDMAS or another, may be particularly interested in this book.

Bianca grew up and worked in South Africa before moving to Canada, and thus has an intimate perspective on the beauty and the struggles of that country.

Homegoing, by Yaa Gyasi

BOOK CLUB July 2021 selection.

Homegoing is a novel about race, history, ancestry, love and time, charting the course of two sisters torn apart in 18th century Africa through to the present day.
Two half sisters, Effia and Esi, unknown to each other, are born into two different tribal villages in 18th century Ghana. Effia will be married off to an English colonist, and will live in comfort in the sprawling, palatial rooms of Cape Coast Castle, raising “half-caste” children who will be sent abroad to be educated in England before returning to the Gold Coast to serve as administrators of the Empire. Her sister, Esi, will be imprisoned beneath Effia in the Castle’s women’s dungeon, before being shipped off on a boat bound for America, where she will be sold into slavery.

Road Trip Rwanda: A Journey into the New Heart of Africa  by Canadian Will Ferguson.

BOOK CLUB June 2021 selection.

This non-fiction memoir has the author travelling in Rwanda 20 years after the genocide with his friend and cohort Jean-Claude Munyezamu, a man who escaped Rwanda just months before the killings began.

From the legendary Source of the Nile to Dian Fossey’s famed “gorillas in the mist,” from innovative refugee camps along the Congolese border to the world’s most escapable prison, from tragic genocide sites to open savannahs and a bridge to freedom, from schoolyard soccer pitches to a cunning plan to get rich on passion fruit, Ferguson and Munyezamu discover a country reborn.
Funny, engaging, poignant, and at times heartbreaking, Road Trip Rwanda is the lively tale of two friends, the open road, and the hidden heart of a continent.

This Mournable Body, by Tsitsi Dangarembga of Zimbabwe

BOOK CLUB April 2021 selection.

This book was among those recommended by the Lonely Planet in a post shared in the January E-News, and was long-listed for the 2020 Man Booker Prize. The Calgary Public Library calls it “a searing novel about the obstacles facing women in Zimbabwe, by one of the country’s most notable authors”.
Availability: The book is available at the Library, at Pages on Kensington and Shelf Life Books.

28 Stories Of AIDS In Africa by Stephanie Nolen

When we think of the grandmothers we are working to help in Africa, their children, grandchildren, families and friends, how much can we grasp of the impact of HIV/AIDS on their lives from our sheltered viewpoint?
Stephanie Nolen was the Globe and Mail correspondent inAfrica for six years and wrote this very readable book of personal encounters with 28 different lives.
The book was written in 2007 and many advances have been made in the ensuing years but along with miracle drugs has also come worldwide economic turmoil which has meant the situation and root causes remain largely unchanged. The book is available in the Calgary Public Library.

We Are All the Same by Jim Wooten

Nkosi Johnson was the face of children with AIDS in South Africa.  Given a home by a white South African family, he was given the opportunity to speak about living with AIDS at a time when the South African leaders were ignoring the crisis in their midst.  Articulate and self-possessed, he talked about our shared humanity and needs.  ‘We are all the same’.
Wooten interweaves the story of Nkosi with the history of blacks in South Africa and the stories of other Africans with AIDS.  By giving AIDS in South Africa a face, Nkosi makes it impossible for the reader not to feel compassion for all the children suffering like this.
This book provides the stories to humanize the crisis in Africa.

Heaven Shop by Deborah Ellis

Binti, a thirteen year-old girl in Malawi, is very happy with her life.  The youngest of three children, she stars in a radio show called ‘Gogo’s Family’, attends a private school and mocks her older sister for being madly in love with her boyfriend.  Her mother has died some years earlier and her father runs ‘The Heaven Shop’, a coffin-making business which shows no sign of ever being short of work.
Her world is turned upside-down by the illness and subsequent death of her father.  Her family is separated and it is only when she goes to live with her grandmother that things begin to improve.
This is a Young Adult book which deals honestly with some of the ways that young girls can be infected with AIDS and the consequences of this devastating disease.  It’s a quick read which explains why the Stephen Lewis Foundation is doing all it can to help the grandmothers of Africa.

Recommended for those who want an introduction to AIDS in Africa.