M&M trot the globe

Books on Africa – Our Top Picks

During our long travel days in Africa we had a lot of time to catch up on reading, and more specifically, to read about the continent which we were travelling through. Luckily, we were able to get our hands on some excellent titles which really helped us to delve deeper into the recent history of the continent, its current challenges and the possibilities which the future holds for the 1 Billion people who live in its 62 territories. Below we would like to recommend five of the best titles we read with you.

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind – William Kamkwamba

The true story of a young Malawian boy whose scientific curiosity transforms the lives of his family and fellow villagers. After seeing a picture of a windmill in a science book, William begins a quest to build his very own turbine from scrap metal. This is a gripping account of triumph over adversity told with honesty and simplicity.

Six Months in Sudan: A Young Doctor in a War-torn Village – James Maskalyk

 An excellent combination of blog, diary and personal reflections, this is the true story of a young Canadian doctor who decides to spend six months working at a rudimentary hospital in Abyei, Sudan with decins Sans Frontières. This is a warts and all account of working on the front line in a place which is off the radar for most westerners.

The Shadow of the Sun: My African Life –  Ryszard Kapuscinski

An insightful collection of non-fiction accounts of the experiences of Poland’s only foreign correspondent in Africa in the 1950s-1980s. A great read if you want to dip into the varying cultures of Africa from Angola to Zanzibar and beyond.

When a Crocodile Eats the Sun – Peter Godwin

A history of modern Zimbabwe, interwoven with the biography of Godwin’s parents, who moved to Zimbabwe shortly after WWII. Godwin, a former National Geographic correspondent, charts the decline of the country over the past 50 years. The beauty of this book is its ability to use personal anecdotes to make the events of a distant, and largely forgotten, corner of Africa resonate so powerfully.

We Are All the Same: A Story of a Boy’s Courage and a Mother’s Love – James T. Wooten

This book tells the story of the AIDS epidemic in South Africa through the experiences of a young boy and his adoptive mother. In this short volume we learn an incredible amount about the two worlds which exist in modern South Africa: that of the rich and the poor, the sick and the healthy, the educated and the uneducated. A fantastic book which although sad, is ultimately inspiring.

Other Suggested Titles:
Ja, No, Man: Growing Up White in Apartheid-Era South Africa – Richard Poplak
We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will be Killed with Our Families – Philip Gourevitch
A Long Walk to Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela – Nelson Mandela
Do They Hear You When You Cry? – Fauziya Kassindja
The theme tune of our journey through Africa:

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