Books about Africa, set in Africa and African books


Jan 25th, 2009, 11:55 PM
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Books about Africa, set in Africa and African books

I have a couple of titles to add to the 'What are you reading right now' thread which has grown quite long. I've taken the liberty of beginning a new thread and linking back to the original.

Here is the link to the original thread

and another bibliophile thread called 'Books for the long plane flight'

I highly recommend a recent novel called A Guide to the birds of East Africa by Nicholas Drayson which is a charming read. The main plot involves a competition between two characters who both want to take the same woman to the Hunt Ball. It is agreed that the one who spots the most birds within a set time will be the one to issue the invitation. Great fun. This novel will appeal to fans of the No. 1 ladies detective agency.

The second book is called Stealing water by Tim Ecott part of which is set in 1970s Johannesburg.

I have kept a list of the Africa related titles that I have read (about 200 now) and am happy to share with others - email me at treepolatgmaildotcom if you would like a copy.

Happy reading to all (between safaris)

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Jan 26th, 2009, 07:02 AM
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On our trip I red Paul Theroux's Dark Star Safari - Overland from Cairo to Capetown and found it fascinating, a book I could not put down. I found it fascinating. I particularly liked his take on development in Africa, which he says is part of the problem, not part of the solution. I also found interesting his take on tourists only seeing a small, sanitized version of Africa. Condescending maybe, but I thought it had a ring of truth. I would recommend it to anyone going to Africa.

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Jan 26th, 2009, 08:43 AM
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Wow where to start? “The Tree Where Man was Born” by Peter Matthiessen is the reason I went from wanting to visit to Africa to moving there when I got out of college. “Don’t let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight” by Amanda Fuller – an extremely well written and amazing book about her childhood in Rhodesia/Zimbabwe. And of course the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series by Alexander McCall-Smith – a sweet look at Botswana – and not really that far off the real thing. Anything by Bessie Head. And – if you’re into safari – “Safari” by Bartle Bull is a must with great insight into the history of safari.
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Jan 26th, 2009, 05:33 PM
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I just finished a very sweet, funny and smart book, "Little Boys Come From the Stars", by Emmanuel Dongala, about a young boy growing up in postcolonial Congo. It's a quick and enjoyable read.
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Jan 26th, 2009, 05:38 PM
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thanks for the new thread and the link.
I have just purchased Cry of the Kalahari, which others recommended to me, and am particularly interested in the Paul Theroux book, as i like his writing so will probably buy that as well.
I am going on my first safari in May-Botswana, so not only do i want books to read while on the plane and while there, but am eager to start now (though i was saving Cry of the Kalahari for the plane- as it seems very special)
so keep those titles coming all you helpful fodorites
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Jan 27th, 2009, 01:25 AM
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I just had to climb in on this one! Here are just a few of my favourites:
Mukiwa - Peter Godwin
When the Crocodile Eats the sun (tragically sad and true, especially as I am a Zimbabwean) - Peter Godwin
The Power of One - Bryce Courtney
Hold my Hand I'm Dying - John Gordon Davis
Barefoot Over the Serengeti - David Read (plus the 2 follow ups which I can't remember the titles of right now
Zanzibar Chest - Aidan Hartley
Sometimes when it rains; The sand in the Wind; Between the Sunlight and the Thunder - all by Kieth Meadows

I could carry on all day! There are GREAT african writers.
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Jan 27th, 2009, 10:43 AM
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I recommend "Wildlife Wars: My Fight to Save Africa's Natural Treasures" by Richard Leakey. He worked during the late 80s and into the 90s as the first director of the Kenya Wildlife Service. The book is his version of that work. I am sure there is some controversy about his version, but if even half of it is true it provides a good insight of what it has taken in terms of effort, money and even human lives to secure the wildlife and national parks of Kenya. And good insight into developing countries economic, political and cultural challenges. Anyone considering an African safari would do well to have such background of what has gone into -- in the positive and negative sense -- what their experience will be there.
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Jan 28th, 2009, 04:42 AM
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Treepol, Thanks for sharing your list of 200 Africa related books.
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Jan 28th, 2009, 06:28 AM
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hi all
now, you feel like ordering one of those books about africa
order through Better World Books
and you make a contribution to Africa's and other 3rd world countries' literacy

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Jan 28th, 2009, 04:50 PM
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thanks for the info on Better World Books. I will use them.
i also wanted to get this post back up to the top
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Mar 24th, 2009, 03:31 AM
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a few more recent reads for the thread.

Firstly, The Bolter by Francis Osborne is an interesting biogaphy of her gandmother who was at one time Lady Idina Hay, wife of Jos Hay aka the Earl of Erroll who was murdered in Nairobi during the Second World War. The book dwells on both colonial Kenya and the Happy Valley crowd.

Secondly, The Voluptuous delights of peanut butter and jam is a disturbing novel set in Rhodesia during the bush war. Two sisters have an idyllic life despite the long absences of their father due to the 'war' until a cousin moves to the farm and all of a sudden the cosy family life they have enjoyed to date is overshadowed by a menacing presence.

Thirdly, Mark of the lion by Suzanne Arruda is the first in a fiction series to feature feisty heroine Jade Del Cameron. Jade travels to Kenya to fulfil a dying wish of someone who was important to her and along the way is introduced to a lively cast of settlers, some of whom are recognisable. Close encounters with large creatures, a couple of seemingly 'magical' murders and more than a hint of witchcraft make for a fast read. The book was a thoroughly enjoyable 'ripping yarn' and I'm looking forward to the others in the series.


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Mar 24th, 2009, 04:18 AM
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I just started reading Mark of the Lion last night. Suzanne Arruda was in Houston this week and DH surprised me with three autographed books(Stalking Ivory and The Leopard's Prey).

Last week’s read was Rainbow’s End by Lauren St. John (really enjoyed it) and Don’t Lets go to the Dogs Tonight (Alexandra Fuller).
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May 3rd, 2009, 12:40 AM
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i've recommende elsewhere on this forum:
Facing Mount Kenya by Jomo Kenyatta

from Wikipedia:
Facing Mount Kenya, written in 1938, is an anthropological book about the Kikuyu people of central Kenya. It was written by native Kikuyu and future Kenyan president Jomo Kenyatta.

The book's introduction was written by anthropologist Bronisław Malinowski, who mentored Kenyatta while both were at the London School of Economics.
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May 3rd, 2009, 02:18 AM
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Here are 3 more recent African reads.

Firstly, Innocent victims : rescuing the innocent victims of Zimbabwe's farm invasions

This book is about the courageous and humane work of Meryl Harrison, the Chief Inspector of the ZSPCA and her tireless efforts to free pets and livestock (even poultry!) from invaded farms. A very inspirational read.

Secondly, Stalking ivory by Suzanne Arruda, the second novel in the Jade del Cameron series and another 'ripping yarn' set in Marsabit NP. This time, Jade tackles ivory poachers and slavers in the Kenyan wilderness.

Thirdly, Ive just started Wilbur Smith's latest novel Assegai which although slow at the beginning is developing his familiar 'boys own' style. I'm not enjoying it as much as Blue horizon, the most recent of his works that I've read.

Happy reading,

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May 3rd, 2009, 03:03 PM
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Does anyone know of a recent book about the Rift Valley?
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May 3rd, 2009, 03:12 PM
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many thanks for all suggestions-

I bought and finished Don't Let's Go To The Dogs Tonight- which i highly recommend

I am in the midst of Dark Star Safari- which while I am finding very interesting, i would really like to wring his neck at times when he is so condescending about anyone who is in Africa as a tourist. But I am very interested, though not completely in agreement with his thoughts about African aid. And would be interested in more information about this from anyone, be it other books ( I did jot down a couple of writers he mentions) or websites on this topic.

21 more days till my first safari ( and I decided to bring Cry the Beloved Country for my son to read while we are there as well as Cry of the Kalahari for both of us- then he gets to bring some books for me to read, but I told him they did not need to be Africa related.

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May 3rd, 2009, 04:08 PM
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Say You're One of Them by Uwem Akpan

A new book (copyright 2008) of short stories. The stories take place in Kenya, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Nigeria and a few other places.

The cover has a picture of a running child. After reading several of the stories, I can understand why that picture was chosen.
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May 3rd, 2009, 06:01 PM
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Anup Shah has a new book out this year called Great Rift Valley.


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May 3rd, 2009, 07:12 PM
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Anup Shaw!! Brings back memories!!! I just happened to run into him and his father Manoj last year in camp (Olare Safari Camp) when he was photographing for this book. He missed Honey's cubs making their first zebra kill.

His pictures are amazing. I picked up his book "African Odyssey, 365 days", which is amazing as well. This is his website:

The video of Honey's cubs making their first ever zebra kill can be found here:

this is my original post:
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May 3rd, 2009, 08:09 PM
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The Keith Meadows books are a crazy price on Amazon so they'll have to wait.

I've read quite a few. The asterick is for having read it more than once.
My Heart Is Africa: A Flying Adventure
Place of Reeds
Botswana Time
Jambo, Mama
*The No. 1 Ladies Detective Series
Whatever you do, don't run
Twenty Chickens For A Saddle
Stalking the Wild Dik-Dik: One Woman's Solo Misadventures Across Africa
The Worlds of a Maasai Warrior: An Autobiography
*Africa House
*West With the Night, Beryl Markham
*I Married Adventure by Osa Johnson
*Four Years in Paradise by Osa Johnson
*Safari; A Saga of the African Blue by Martin Johnson
*Cry of the Kalahari (I've read it 4 or 5 times.)
*The Eye of the Elephant
The Secrets of the Savanna
Traversa by Fran Sandham
Africa In My Blood, Jane Goodall
Rainbow's end by Lauren St John
Mukiwa - A White Boy in Africa, by Peter Godwin
When a Crocodile Eats the Sun: A Memoir of Africa
Dead Men Don't Leave Tips: Adventures X Africa

And not only about Africa is Honeymoon with My Brother. Fun book.

Another book not about Africa but about an African elephant that I really love is The Cowboy and His Elephant: The Story of a Remarkable Friendship
by Malcolm MacPherson

I know I've read more but can't remember them right now.
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