The first time I went to see Malam Garba, his house was crowded. His many wives and his numerous children were all around. He had invited us for a visit (and offcourse ) a meal. His wives were busy preparing this meal for all of us.

I thought of this visit when I was reading this book about the four wives of Baba Segi (or his official name Iyanda Alao). They live in one compound in the city of Ibandan.  We meet all of his wives and their backgrounds. We see how they interact with one another, especially when wife number four appears. Her name is Bolanle. She is an university trained woman, and this causes some controversy in the household of Baba Segi (named after his first child and daughter by his first wife  Iya Segi). Bolanle has different attitudes and different pleasures and she seems to please Baba Segi very much. The three other women work together to make life hard for this young woman. In the midst of this scheming  all the children of the first three wives have to find their own position and attitude in the new balance in the extended household.

An immense shift in the many mutual relationships starts when Bolanle visits a medical doctor to find out what causes her barrenness. In her younger years she has been raped. The result of tests has a shocking effect on everyone in this household. The unity (superficial ?) of the household balances on the brink of disaster. What will be the effect on every member of the household, adults and children?

Shoneyin has written a very readable book, that is at times funny. At other times it shows the complications of a polygamous household. The phrase ‘One man, one wife’ (the title of another book from Nigeria, but it from a much older date) came to my mind, next to my visit to Malam Garba.

I hope Lola will write more books with her lucid style. 

Lola Shoneyin – The secret lives of Baba Segi’s wives – 2010

Afbeeldingsresultaat voor baba segi lola shoneyin

Nigeria / Cameroon exchange

Sometimes neighbours do have hardly any contacts. Maybe they see one another, but they hardly ever meet. Let alone they visit one another.

Now Nigerians and Cameronians have decided to settle for an exchange in literary ways. Ten writers have been selected by the organizing organisations (Goethe Institutes and others) in these two countries.

Read more about the names here.  

How book piracy

Some people think of ships and boats when they come across the word ‘piracy’. But in the worlds of words and books we come across piracy as well. What does this piracy entail?

Read about it here.

Assorted pirated books marked for destruction at the Kamongo Waste Paper Limited in Industrial Area on March 31st 2017. Thousands of books were recycled into paper in Nairobi’s Industrial Area. Copyright board officials, the media, publishers, authors and other booklovers gathered for the sombre ceremony. PHOTO | FRANCIS NDERITU

Ogude’s book new light on Achebe legend

The debate still rages on. The debate about the position of the Nigerian author Chinua Achebe. Is he the greatest African writer? Is he the father of African literature?

Many do not see him as the greatest? Other African writers were awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature, but Achebe never did receive this Prize. Achebe did much work to promote African writers in the African Writer’s Series (this collection of books helped me to discover many good writers).

Is he the father of African literature? In this article the writer looks at this question and he mentions three writers who were there before Achebe. Unfortunately he does not mention the South African writer Sol T. Plaatje.  

Nigerian novelist Chinua Achebe, the revered


Shortly after Richard Rive finished this book, he was stabbed to death near his house in Cape Town. Cape Town was the town of his life. He lived there, his books reflect the town and especially the places where he lived and worked. I wonder if his book and the story it tells about his life was a lane that led to his final destination. But this is just speculation 0n my part.

The book is set in the year 1985 and divided in three parts.  The first part is about the Mandela March on Wednesday, August 18, 1985. The second part is dated September 17, 1985 and tells about the decision of the government to close schools in the West Cape. The third part and date is October 15, 1985 and is named The Trojan Horse, about the violence of the government, targetting protesting students and teachers. 

The main character of the books is Andrew Dreyer. He is a teacher at Eastridge Secondary School in Cape Town. In his younger years he was involved in political activities, but these days he wants to keep quiet. His son Brad does not understand the present attitude of his father, for he does not know about the political past of his father. Andrew prefers the solitude of his study. His wife Mabel finds her strength in her faith and her church activities. His daughter Ruth was named after the first love of Andrew, the cultural divide between Ruth and Andrew was too big.  

From his study Andrew writes long letters to his old comrade Abe Hanslo, who has left South Africa and found refuge in Canada where he teaches at a university. Andrew recounts the events of the days and digs into their common past. The other activity of Andrew is to write notes about the ongoing events. Next to that is his attempt to write a book about what is going on. He sends copies of his text to Abe with the hope of receiving comments. These three independent streams of words are flowing towards unity and the question what is who and who is what. Where is reality and where is the attempt to describe that very same reality?  

How long will it be possible for Andrew Dreyer, former activist, to stay in his study and his classroom without taking sides, or making a statement. Will he be able to be a man of words and words in letters and in a future book or will he be a man of action as well? His son disappears, without a trace. He starts a search, he gets into contact with his girlfriend Lenina (daughter of another former comrade), he attends meetings. All in an attempt to find his son who might be in danger. 

Richard Rive has written another captivating book, written with clarity, with hidden depths. A beauty.

Richard Rive – Emergency continued – 1990

Afbeeldingsresultaat voor richard rive emergency continued

Albie Sachs in conversation

Some years ago I read the book written by Fatima Meer about Nelson Mandela. Now Fatima Meer herself is the subject of a new book. Her daughter Shamim has written this book and in South Africa there are now several occasions for a launch of this book. At this one Albie Sachs is present as well and will be interviewed.

Read more it here

ALT 36 Queer theory in film and fiction

There is another possibility for submission. 

An editor is looking for articles. The articles should be about the diversity of sexual expression, as it happens in Africa these days. All focused on books and films. What do our books show? What is the impression our films give about sexual diversity?

Read more about your submission possibilities here.

Boydell & Brewer