Two Kings of Uganda, or Life by the Shores of Victoria Nyanza, Being an Account of a Residence of Six Years in Eastern Equatorial Africa – By Robert Pickering Ashe.

Allowing for the biased lenses of a British missionary, this is a very informative account of Buganda in the period 1883-86. Originally published in 1889, the copy I have is a Second Edition (1971) with a very good introduction by John Rowe, a historian, which is itself a concise overview of that period. Highly recommended. […]

Sir Apolo Kaggwa Discovers Britain – By Ham Mukasa

Sir Apolo Kaggwa, the Katikkiro of Buganda from 1890 to 1926 was one of the most consequential leaders of the Twentieth Century. Ham Mukasa, his personal secretary, was one of the earliest people to receive formal education by the British. When he accompanied the Katikkiro to attend the coronation of King Edward VII of Britain […]

King Leopold’s Ghost – By Adam Hochschild (1998)

This is the history of the Congo Free State from first contact with the Europeans. It is  a gripping and thorough account of how King Leopold II of Belgium turned that territory into the Heart of Darkness. Greed, human enslavement, a holocaust, extraordinary bestiality by the King’s agents and other fortune hunters, the corruption and […]

Song of Lawino and Song of Ocol – by Okot p’Bitek

Here on your left Are the grinding stones The big one Ashen and dusty And her daughter Sitting in her belly Are the destroyers of millet Mixed with cassava And sorghum.       The mother stone Has a hollow stomach A strange woman She never gets pregnant And her daughter Never gets fatter She […]

Heart of Darkness – By Joseph Conrad

At once infuriating and thrilling, this is Joseph Conrad’s most famous and controversial novel. First published in 1902, Heart of Darkness  paints an image of a tranquil Europe and a terrifying Africa, with an unmissable contrast between life on the safe River Thames and the dangerous River Congo.  Chinua Achebe considered Conrad to have been […]

Things Fall Apart; No Longer At Ease; Arrow of God -By Chinua Achebe

Things Fall Apart (1959): Repeated reading has not lessened my joy of opening the first page of Chinua Achebe’s masterpiece and getting immersed in the life of Okonkwo and his people in Umuofia. No Longer At Ease (1960): Obi. Western education. Africa in transition from colonial rule. Corruption. Masterfully told. Arrow of God (1964): Ezeulu, […]

God’s Bits of Wood – by Ousmane Sembene

This is my top choice among the great novels from Africa. “The last rays of the sun filtered through a shredded lacework of clouds,” reads the first sentence of the novel. What follows is a brilliant telling of a story, based on the 1947-48 strike by the workers on the Dakar-Niger railway. Ousmane Sembene brings […]

A love of books –

  I grew up in houses where books were everywhere. In my early teens, my father, a bibliophile, told me to read “everything.”  I took him literally.  My passion for reading gained momentum at King’s College, Budo, Uganda, where the Main Library was very well stocked with books, magazine and local and international newspapers. Besides […]

Under the Jacaranda – by Joy Odera

A great story about Serene, a modern woman that lives between Nairobi and Johannesburg. She recounts her present and recalls her past, effortlessly switching between the two periods. She reflects on her family, with its multiple challenges, including sibling tension and a secret half-sister. Joy Odera succeeds in telling a story that one immediately identifies […]

MOODY AWORI: An Autobiography – Riding on a Tiger

  This is a magisterial presentation of a man’s own story. Moody Awori, who served as Kenya’s Vice-President from 2003 t0 2009, bares all in this very well-written and detailed account of his triumphs and failures, pleasures and disappointments. A well-known businessman, Awori is also a philanthropist whose work to improve the conditions of prisoners […]