Traditions of the Continent:
Must Reads books by African and Black writers.

In Discover, list by Ola Idris

For as long as we have existed, Africans have been storytellers. It goes beyond the simple concept of sharing of information or telling a story. It is about carrying forward the ways of our ancestors, of assuring a transferring of culture and rites of passage. It is an ingrained part of our tradition and so without further ado here are seven books written by Black and African writers on the stories of our people. 

  1. A Grain of Wheat by Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o

Thiong’o takes us through the journey of Kenyan villagers living through the 1952-1960 emergency during the famous Mau Mau rebellion. We get a peek into the emotional rollercoaster of reaching freedom and how the relationships evolve as secrets come into the light and political tension unfolds. 

  1. The World and Africa, Color and Democracy  by W.E.B Du Bois 

In this first volume of the World and Africa, W.E.B. Du Bois gives us an insightful exploration into the tangles of those left out of recorded history. He breaks down the evils of colonialism worldwide and the importance of recognizing Africa and Africans contributions to the world at large. This is only the first volume and it sets the stage right for the compelling works of W.E.B Du Bois. 

  1. Precolonial Black Africa by Cheikh Anta Diop

Diop gives us this comprehensive patchwork  recount of precolonial Africa, its history and the societal structures of some of the most impactful old empires in Africa. He focused on the West African dynasties with brief commentary on Nubia and Zimbabwe. 

  1. The Testimony of Steve Biko: Black Consciousness in South Africa by Steve Biko 

Steve Biko was a South African leader who founded the Black Consciousness movement, which called for the psychological and cultural liberation of the Black mind as a precondition to political freedom. The book explores Biko’s testimony on almost every issue in South Africa and brilliantly depicts his vision and quickness of mind before he was murdered in a South African jail. 

  1. Daughters of Africa by multiple contributors 

Daughters of Africa is a collection of stories written by African women from all over the continent and the African diaspora. It is the first installation of its kind and even has essays from ancient egyptian and ethiopian writers. Check out the New Daughters of Africa too that has more contemporary Black writers.  

  1. So Long a Letter by Mariama Ba

So long a letter is a series of letters written by Ramatoulae to her American friend, Aissatou after her husband’s death. She expresses her devastation with him marrying another woman, being young and in love and how she is working through her grief. Ba writes through Ramatoulae about the frustration of being a woman in Senegal and her life living in that balance. 

  1. African Women’s Theologies, Spirituality, and Healing: Theological Perspectives from the Circle of Concerned African Women Theologians by Mercy Oduyoye 

It is no secret that African women have been healers for a long time and this theological recount, Mercy Amba Oduyoye discusses her experiences with healing at the intersection of spirituality and Christianity in Ghana. The book wonderfully focuses mainly on diseases that are predominantly had by women and so it becomes a space for women, by women.