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


Glass cabinet

CfP – SCOLMA 2018 Things come together?: literary archives from, in and for Africa


Things come together?: literary archives from, in and for Africa
Monday 10 September 2018, University of Birmingham


This conference will explore African literary archives, their creation, preservation, digitisation and use in research and teaching.

African literature is multi-faceted and multi-lingual. Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart (1958) not only signalled the first stages of a new outpouring of literary creativity in Africa, but also built upon long literary traditions, both oral and written. This conference will look at archives generated by novelists, poets and dramatists, whether in oral or written form and whether in modern or ‘traditional’ genres.

Papers are invited on archives in private ownership, and those held in institutions. What is being lost, and what is preserved? How are these resources made available, and how are they being used to engage with African publics? What is the role of literary heirs as guardians of these archives? How are these records managed in public and institutional archives? What are the problems and opportunities of preserving such recent material?
A further set of questions includes the role of these archives in helping to bring about change in the teaching of literature; the linguistic content and context of this material; and special considerations relating to oral archives.

Subjects might include, but are not limited to:

  • Availability/accessibility of literary archives
  • Literature in African languages
  • Translation
  • Oral archives
  • Street literature
  • The impact of new media on African literary archives
  • Engagement with communities
  • The archives of individual writers

Researchers, writers and their family members, archivists and librarians are invited to submit abstracts of up to 500 words for consideration for this conference to Sarah Rhodes ( by 31 March 2018. Please include your institutional affiliation and/or a short (one paragraph) biography.

This conference is held in association with the African Studies Association (UK).
The biennial conference of ASAUK will be held at the University of Birmingham 11–13 September 2018.

For more details see:

Events: African Literature at the London Literature Festival, 5 -16 October 2016, London

London Literature Festival

Living in Future Times

Wednesday 5 October 2016 – Sunday 16 October 2016

Picture courtesy of Picture courtesy of

The world today increasingly resembles the realm of science fiction. From satellites which map our every movement to robots in the workplace, the stuff of fantasy is becoming reality. And beneath the surface of modern life, winds of change are coursing through every part of society, politics and beyond.

In uncertain times, how can the imagination give us access to other worlds which cast light back on our own? And what role can writers play in showing us better worlds to come?

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Call for Abstracts: ALA conference 2017 – Africa and the World, deadline 15 November 2016

Call for Abstracts

African Literature Association Conference 2017

Africa and the World: Literature, Politics, and Global Geographies

ALA2017The theme chosen for the June 14-17, 2017 conference at Yale seeks to engage with and interrogate recent shifts in critical and theoretical frameworks from regional, national, and “postcolonial” models towards “world literature” as a framework for understanding the literatures of the Global South. How useful is the category of world literature in our ongoing contestation of Eurocentrism in the interpretation of African literatures and cultures? What possibilities are offered by African literatures and cultures for (re)imagining the world, including the “world” posited by recent theorizations?

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Call for Nominations: African Literature Association (ALA) Awards Announcement 2017, Deadline: 1 September 2016

The African Literature Association is currently accepting nominations for the following awards. Please note the deadlines and the specified individual to whom and all nominations and materials should be addressed. The awards will be presented at the ALA 43rd Annual Meeting and Conference, June 2017, Yale University, New Haven, CT, USA.

Graduate Student Best Essay Award (Deadline: Thursday, September 1, 2016)
For an outstanding paper in African literary studies by a graduate student. Authors must be current members of the ALA. The paper must have been presented at the preceding ALA conference (i.e. in 2016). (The expectation is that authors have had the benefit of comments at the conference and have revised the paper).

Send the following by email to: Marie Kruger (
(1) the paper and an abstract, in Word document, with no name or any other identifying mark anywhere;
(2) a pdf file of the 2016 ALA conference Program…

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Event: Jeremy Corbyn and Ben Okri, 15 July 2016, London

Jeremy Corbyn and Ben Okri
In Conversation

Royal Festival Hall, South Bank Centre, London

15 July 2o16


aquotesPoetry and politics meet in a conversation between Ben Okri and Jeremy Corbyn.

On 12 September 2015 Jeremy Corbyn was elected leader of the Labour Party in a landslide victory.

On that day he spoke of some of the people who have inspired him on his extraordinary journey. He said ‘The most authentic thing about us is our capacity to create, to overcome, to endure, to transform, to love.’ The author of those words was Ben Okri.

Okri responded with a poem dedicated to Corbyn, titled A New Dream of Politics.

Now, join us as these two men meet for the first time live on stage. United by a desire to make our world a kinder, fairer place, they discuss the forces that have made them who they are, the state of…

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Q&A with Ernest Emenyonu on African Children’s Literature

ALT 33At the recent African Literature Association conference in Atlanta, Africa in Words had the opportunity to speak with Ernest N. Emenyonu, Professor and Chair of the Africana Studies department at the University of Michigan-Flint, about African Literature Today’s latest issue, “Children’s Literature and Story-telling” (ALT 33). 

Stephanie Santana for AiW, with questions provided by Tamara Moellenberg

What inspired you to feature children’s literature in the latest issue of African Literature Today? Why children’s literature now?

It’s really because it has been a very important genre that has consistently been ignored. I did a random survey—teachers, critics who came to conferences—about their feelings, attitudes, and perceptions of African children’s literature, and I was horrified that they continued to put it down as not being a serious genre. I also had contacted a number of publishers, and I found out that books for children were actually at the bottom of their budget…

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CfP: African and Diasporan African Literature: Imaginings, Modernities and Visions, 5-6 October 2016, Pretoria, Deadline: 30 May 2016

Call for Papers

Second Call

Tydskrif vir Letterkunde and the Southern Modernities Project

present a conference on

“African and Diasporan African Literature:

Imaginings, Modernities and Visions”

5-6 October 2016

University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa

Deadline for Proposals: 30 May 2016


Tydskrif vir Letterkunde (TL), a journal for African Literature, celebrates its 80th anniversary in September 2016. The editorial collective in conjunction with the Southern Modernities Project at the University of Pretoria issue the following Call for Papers: “African and Diasporan African Literature: Imaginings, Modernities and Visions”.

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Q&A with Toni Stuart: Poetry gives people the power to make their voices heard

AiW Guest: Matthew Lecznar

Toni Stuart photo 1 Toni Stuart – image by Amaal Said

Toni Stuart is a South African poet, performer and spoken word educator, who presently works between Cape Town and London. Her work has been published in anthologies, journals and non-fiction books in South Africa and internationally. In 2013, she was named in the Mail and Guardian’s list of 200 inspiring Young South Africans for her work in co-founding I Am Somebody! – an NGO that uses storytelling and youth development to build integrated communities. In 2014/2015 she was a Chevening Scholar in the UK where she graduated with an MA Writer/Teacher from Goldsmiths, University of London.

Toni is currently in London, performing, speaking, and undertaking a number of inter-disciplinary collaborations with a range of artists. For a full list of Toni’s performances in London, you can visit her blog. For updates and live info, follow her on Twitter: @nomadpoet and Instagram: @tonistuart83

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Event: Manchester Literature Festival Presents: Marlon James, 27 May 2016, Manchester

Manchester Literature Festival Presents:

Marlon James

27 May 2016, 7pm, Manchester

Photo Credit Jeffrey Skemp Photo Credit Jeffrey Skemp

One of the most exciting voices to emerge from the Caribbean, Marlon James won the 2015 Man Booker Prize with A Brief History of Seven Killings. A fictional account of the attempted assassination of Bob Marley in 1976, A Brief History is an ambitious and exhilarating masterpiece that spans three decades. Narrated in multiple voices including killers, con-men, drug dealers and CIA agents, the story captures the tensions, politics, culture and characters of Jamaica with style and energy.

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