Africa: Stories in the 55 - South African novelist Mphuthumi Ntabeni shines a light on the Xhosa narrative
In this month's Africa: Stories in the 55, South African writer Mphuthumi Ntabeni describes his twenty-year journey into the mind of Maqoma, a chief in the Xhosa community who lived in the 1800s. Ntabeni uses Maqoma's lifelong struggle against the British as the backdrop for his novel The Broken River Tent, as Maqoma guides modern-day character Phila through the realities of fighting for their land.
Writer Mphuthumi Ntabeni speaks of the difficulty in writing about such a painful time in Xhosa history, but he says inspiration came from the fact that there are no books that speak of the land invasions in the Eastern Cape in the 1800s from a Xhosa point of view.
"I put psychological emotions and thinking behind the actual historical events," says Ntabeni.
Also included in this podcast: Nigerian writer Nnamoi Ehirin, author of Prince of Monkeys, his debut novel out in April, speaks about his favorite book from the Heinemann African classics series.
Africa: Stories in the 55 - Life and sensuality in a refugee camp in Suliaman Addonia's "Silence is My Mother Tongue"
In "Silence is My Mother Tongue", the latest novel by Eritrean-Ethiopian writer Sulaiman Addonia, teen Saba and her brother Hagos arrive at a refugee camp in Sudan, where she is determined to continue her studies, while he is content to take care of her. The other Eritrean refugees bring their conservative views to the camp, especially when it comes to women. Addonia brings Saba to life through her fight to determine her own future, refusing the traditional restrictions imposed on her gender.
"We need to take responsibility and accountability for the war we commit, especially against women," says Addonia, speaking of the struggle Saba has to assert herself, and her quest to finish her educaiton. "If there are crimes committed by women, or seem to be committed by women, they are extremely highlighted," he adds.
Also included in this podcast: Helon Habila, Nigerian author of "Travelers", a novel coming out in June, speaks about his favorite book from the Heinemann African classics series.
Africa: Stories in the 55 - Somali writer Ubah Cristina Ali Farah speaks of trauma intertwined with beauty in her story "Jujube"
In this month’s Africa: Stories in the 55, Somali-Italian writer Ubah Cristina Ali Farah speaks about her character, Ayan, a Somali refugee seeking asylum. Ayan tells part of her own story that may not be clear, or true, due to the trauma she had suffered.
Ayan’s tale is featured in “Jujube”, one of the short stories in Banthology, a compilation of short stories of writers from the seven Muslim-majority countries banned by the United States: Somalia, Iraq, Iran, Yemen, Libya, Syria, and Sudan.
“Even if you are in a different place, you can explain things though the different tales of your culture, with other imagery,” says Farah, who speaks of how the Jujube tree, an important symbol in Somalia, featured in her story.
Listen to Farah's interview here as she reads an excerpt of "Jujube".
Africa: Stories in the 55 - Zimbabwean novelist Tsitsi Dangarembga explores post-war trauma in "This Mournable Body"
The lasting aftereffects of the Liberation War on Zimbabwe's society creates the backdrop for Tsitsi Dangarembga's new novel, "This Mournable Body". The story is set in 1999, 10 years after the war, taking a look at the daily life of Tambudzai Sigauke, a Zimbabwean woman who is trying to get ahead. It is part of Dangarembga's groundbreaking trilogy that began with her award-winning novel "Nervous Conditions", but can be read as a standalone book. Dangarembga spoke to Africa: Stories in the 55 about this poignant look at Tambudzai, a Zimbabwean everywoman.
Life is tough for university graduateTambudzai Sigauke-- she is sick of being taken advantage of at work, but she can't seem to catch a break... and then there is her living situation and rural family putting pressure on her. But societal pressure related to the aftermath of the Liberation War seems to ultimately undermine Tambudzai. Will she recover?
Novelist and filmmaker Tsitsi Dangarembga speaks to Africa:Stories in the 55 about her strong female characters, and the lasting effects of war on society.
Africa: Stories in the 55 - The perils for Zimbabweans crossing the border into South Africa personified in Sue Nyathi's new novel, The Gold-Diggers
In this month's Africa: Stories in the 55, Zimbabwean author Sue Nyathi delves into the dangers of crossing into South Africa illegally in the hopes of finding work and a better life. The Gold-Diggers explores the lives of six people who illegally cross the border in a combi, or van, and how their hopes and dreams-- independently from each other-- are thwarted as they try to start their lives in South Africa.
For characters like Portia and her son Nkosi, life is a struggle, but finding the right people to help you makes a difference. Lindani, a young woman, uses her body to get to South Africa, becoming a vulnerable migrant as she struggles to live. Guglethu, a little girl sent by her grandmother to find her mother, never makes it to the meeting point.
"When people come in illegally, there's so many dangers that they face, and I wanted to highlight this as well, in terms of the desperation that propels people to come into a country using this kind of method," says Nyathi, a Zimbabwean writer based in South Africa.
Listen to Sue Nyathi speak about developing her characters and reading an excerpt from The Gold-Diggers.