African Literature Book Club – 14th March

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We are happy to introduce Small Country” by Gaël Faye (originally written in French as: Petit Pays) as our text for discussion in the forthcoming book club meeting to be held on the 14th of March, 2020.

Gabriel turns 33 at the beginning (or perhaps, the end) of the story.  An immigrant in Paris, on his 33rd birthday, he recalls how often he is asked: ‘where are you from?’ by women he meets on dating sites.  This existential question preludes the story in the novel. Gabriel takes a trip down memory lane to his 11-year-old self – a middle class son of a Rwandan mother and French father, never quite fitting in.  An innocent and perhaps spoilt child of a marriage on the brink of crisis, Gabriel tells us about his childhood, stealing mangoes in the city of Bujumbara, as the events of the most devasting carnage of the genocide unfolds.  At the time Gabriel experiences this heartbreaking conflict, he is still 11 years old but no longer a child.

Set in Burundi-Rwanda and exploring themes of hate, identity, childhood, loss and memory, Faye’s Small Country is pure poetry and will touch you deeply.  The author, Gaël Faye, is a Rwandan-French rapper and poet based in Paris.  This is his debut novel – it has been well received and was the winner of the 2016 Prix de Goncourt de Lycéens.

The novel is less than 200 pages long and in big print.  We hope that you can read the text (it is absolutely rewarding) and we look forward to hosting you at the Centre of African Studies Library and listening to your wonderful contributions during the book discussion.

Please join us 15:00-16:30(ish) on Saturday 14th March, on the third floor of the Alison Richard Building, 7 West Road.

Please sign up via our Eventbrite page:

Or do get in touch with Jenni Skinner for more information:

eBook on iDiscover:

Purchase a copy:

Print copies at the University:

After this, we will read Mia Couto’s “A River Called Time” at our first meeting after the Easter break, scheduled for May 9th, 2020.

Diekara Oloruntoba-Oju – current MPhil in African Studies student, and organiser.

African Literature Book Club – 15th February

We are delighted to invite you to the maiden edition of the Cambridge University African Literature Book Club series, 3:00-4:30 (ish) on the 15th of February, 2020, in the African Studies Library, up on the third floor of the Alison Richard Building, 7 West Road.

Who are we?

This book club is an initiative of the African Studies Library and our members. Inspired by the simple idea that stories are important – in their variance; connections with pasts; relevance to present dilemmas; their prophetic meanings, the book club seeks to create an informal space where people at Cambridge can engage with a myriad of African stories. The book club will hold monthly meetings, during which a book by an African writer – on the continent and in the diaspora – will be discussed. Members of the general public who are interested in African literature are welcome to join us. In subsequent meetings, people will also be encouraged to pitch books they are interested in for the club to read and engage with.

Why is this important?

The book club creates a space to celebrate African Literature over casual conversations, to privilege the multiple genres and themes that make up African stories and by extension, African experiences. As Toni Morrisson has noted, however, the former is not a substitute for the latter but what we celebrate in language is ‘its reach for the ineffable’.  The book club thus provides a relaxed context for book lovers to interact and engage with exciting African texts. It encourages participants to engage the specific issues that each chosen example of literature raises. It also broadly allows participants to engage the more overarching questions of what African Literature is, and what perspectives it offers to contemporary debates about Africa.


The friendly Centre for African Studies and its library opens its doors for these meetings. At the heart of CAS, the library offers a warm environment for interactive and intellectual pursuits. Home to over 30,000 books on Africa ranging diverse subject areas and genres and home to a diverse number  of students interested in Africa, it is a welcoming environment for book lovers to hangout once monthly.

The Maiden Edition

This edition will feature Lola Shoneyin’s The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives

Short Synopsis

In the vibrant city of Ibadan, Bolanle a young university graduate marries into a polygamous family to her ambitious mother’s dismay. Baba Segi, the proud patriarch, comfortable in riches and surrounded by wives and children is convinced he has it all, but does he? Things begin to fall apart when Bolanle cannot have a child (or can’t she?). What revelations might threaten years of imagined stability for the patriarch? Profoundly poetic and extremely witty, this book by Lola Shoneyin is a commentary on the meanings of family life, parenting and how issues of gender and class shape these meanings and experiences.

Lola Shoneyin is a Nigerian poet and novelist. Her novel, The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives was published in 2010 and has since received awards and has been adapted into stage performances. She is the creative director of the Ake Arts and Book Festival in Nigeria.

eBook on iDiscover (Cambridge University members):

Print copies on iDiscover:


Please sign up using Eventbrite here:

We look forward to welcoming you on Saturday 15th February.

Instagram: @afrlib

Twitter: @AfrStudiesLib


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Best 50 Events African Londoners can look forward to in October 2016


As part of Black History Month Special – and because i’m in the mood; attached within this article are 50+ Events spanning from African-themed Poetry, Networking, Art, Training Courses, Workshops and Investment Summits that you may want to check out this month. This month we have networking events, high scale investor workshops, lots of food pop-ups and West African and Sahel musicals to keep you occupied this month. Enquiries on how to be listed should be forwarded to

Our Africa-themed Events are split into the following categories:

cropped-12039018_1011893805499362_9122087854774533416_o-2.jpg Want your event listed in our Monthly Events Guide? Enquiries:

A) Future Generations: Events for Kids and Young People

B) Film Screenings: Black History Month Showcases + Debates

C) Seminars, Debates and Workshops

D) Book Launch

E) Business & Networking

F) Food, Supperclubs & Dining

E) Live Music

F) Art, Fashion and Poetry

G) Community Showcase

H) Outside London



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A Space of One’s Own – A summary of a conversation between the 2016 Caine Prize shortlisted writers

AiW Guest: Katarzyna Kubinmilky-way-1023340_960_720

With only days left before the winner of the 2016 Caine Prize for African Writing is announced on 4th July, the five short-listed writers have been on a whirlwind circuit of public events throughout London, from a panel discussion at the Piccadilly Waterstones, to a “relaxed evening” at the Royal Overseas Offices and appearances at the Africa Writes festival. The first of these events took place at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) on 28June, 2016. The event was a friendly yet rigorous conversation between the authors, chaired by Dr. Gus Casely-Hayford, a cultural historian and curator broadly known for his “Lost Kingdoms of Africa” series on the BBC and currently a Research Associate at the Centre of African Studies (SOAS).

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Event: Book Discussion on ‘City of Thorns: Nine Lives in the World’s Largest Refugee Camp’ 27 April 2016, London

Book Discussion on ‘City of Thorns: Nine Lives in the World’s Largest Refugee Camp’

Wednesday, 27 April 2016, 7:15pm to 8:45pm

Khalili Lecture Theatre, SOAS, Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, London, WC1H 0XG
SpeakersBen Rawlence (author of City of Thorns) & Nadifa Mohamed (author of The Orchard of Lost Souls and Black Mamba Boy)

City of thorns_small

aquotesCity of Thorns is a vivid and powerful account, bringing together stories of nine individuals living in the Dadaab refugee camp, northern Kenya. Created 25 years ago to hold 90,000 Somalian refugees, the camp has since expanded to hold around half a million people from several nations. This book interweaves stories of its residents within the wider forces of regional politics and humanitarian aid.

‘Situated hundreds of miles from any other settlement, deep within the inhospitable desert of northern Kenya where only thorn bushes grow, Dadaab is a city like no other. Its…

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Event: An Evening of New African Fiction, University of Bristol, 20 April 2016

Butterfly-FishBOAT_largetf_final_front_largethe-true-story-of-david-munyakeiAn Evening of New African Fiction:
With Doreen Baingana, Elnathan John, Billy Kahora & Irenosen Okojie

5pm, Wednesday 20 April 2016
University of Bristol, 43 Woodland Road, LT1
Free (no booking required) & refreshments will be provided

Nikesh Shukla hosts a series of literary readings by some of the most exciting voices in African literature today.

Doreen Baingana is the author of short story collection Tropical Fish, which won the 2006 Commonwealth Writers First Book Prize and the AWP Award for Short Fiction.

Elnathan John is one of Nigeria’s best-known satirists.  His first novel Born on a Tuesday was launched to critical acclaim earlier this month by Cassava Republic Press.

Billy Kahora, is Managing Editor of leading literary journal Kwani?.  He is the author of The True Story Of David Munyakei and the screenplays Soul Boy and Nairobi Half Life.

Irenosen Okojie’s debut novel Butterfly Fish

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Event: Teju Cole: Black on All Sides, 22 March 2016, London

Teju Cole: Black on All Sides

22 March 2016 19:00-21:30
Logan Hall, Institute of Education, 20 Bedford Way, London WC1H 0AL


aquotesDecolonising Our Minds are pleased to welcome Teju Cole, world-renowned writer, art historian and photographer, for a talk at the Institute of Education on March 22nd, entitled “Black on All Sides”. We’re delighted to have the SOAS Palestine Society and Spoken Word Society co-hosting and supporting the event.

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