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Africa: Stories in the 55

RFI France

A monthly program on African authors, book publishing and news throughout the 55 countries on the continent, hosted by RFI's Laura Angela Bagnetto.

A monthly program on African authors, book publishing and news throughout the 55 countries on the continent, hosted by RFI's Laura Angela Bagnetto.
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RFI France


A monthly program on African authors, book publishing and news throughout the 55 countries on the continent, hosted by RFI's Laura Angela Bagnetto.




Zimbabwean novelist Tsitsi Dangarembga explores post-war trauma in "This Mournable Body"

The lasting aftereffects of the Liberation War on Zimbabwe's society creates the backdrop for Tsitsi Dangarembga's new novel, "This Mournable Body". The story is set in 1999, 10 years after the war, taking a look at the daily life of Tambudzai Sigauke, a Zimbabwean woman who is trying to get ahead. It is part of Dangarembga's groundbreaking trilogy that began with her award-winning novel "Nervous Conditions", but can be read as a standalone book. Dangarembga spoke to Africa: Stories in the...


The perils for Zimbabweans crossing the border into South Africa personified in Sue Nyathi's new novel, The Gold-Diggers

In this month's Africa: Stories in the 55, Zimbabwean author Sue Nyathi delves into the dangers of crossing into South Africa illegally in the hopes of finding work and a better life. The Gold-Diggers explores the lives of six people who illegally cross the border in a combi, or van, and how their hopes and dreams-- independently from each other-- are thwarted as they try to start their lives in South Africa. For characters like Portia and her son Nkosi, life is a struggle, but finding the...


Honoring those who lived through Zimbabwe's Gukurahundi in Novuyo Rosa Tshuma's novel, House of Stone

In Novuyo Rosa Tshuma's debut novel, House of Stone, readers are regaled with a story of the Mlambo family, as told by Zamani, their lodger and a master manipulator. In his quest to re-write his own personal history, he delves into the lives of 'surrogate parents' Abednego and Mama Agnes, and unravels their family secrets that are seemingly tightly wound amidst the backdrop of the post-liberation massacre in Ndebeleland, the Gukurahundi. Zimbabwean author Tshuma speaks to RFI's Africa:...


Kenyan writer Kiprop Kimutai's short story speaks about the privilege of wealth in a queer environment

In his short story "The Man at the Bridge", Kenyan writer Kiprop Kimutai explores the conflicted feelings of a closeted gay man-- a story that has garnered the 2018 Gerald Kraak Fiction prize. RFI's Africa: Stories in the 55 speaks to Kimutai about his inspiration for this piece.


Does trauma define the person? Aminatta Forna's latest novel, Happiness, explores love and loss

The chance meeting of a Ghanaian psychiatrist and an American urban biologist tracking foxes in London sets the pace for Happiness, the latest novel by award-winning writer Aminatta Forna. Does experiencing a traumatic event damage a person forever? Dr. Attila Asare, bucking traditional trauma research, examines his theory partially through flashbacks for the reader, as well as his attention to a case that he is indirectly tied to. Noted trauma specialist Dr. Attila Asare comes to London for...


Musician examines his integrity in Nigerian magical realism novel Taduno's Song

In this month's Africa: Stories in the 55, Nigerian writer Odafe Atogun, author of the novel Taduno's Song, discusses how he believes the arts, which are usually undervalued, could be the key to saving humanity. Taduno, his main character, is afraid of losing his values after making a pact with the despotic government. He explains how society as a whole suffers when an artist is compromised. Modelled on the legendary Nigerian musician Fela Kuti, Taduno, the main character in Nigerian writer...


The struggle in Ethiopia continues - there's no stopping half way, says political poet Hama Tuma

For Ethiopians, the struggle continues, veteran exiled poet Hama Tuma says in this month's Africa: Stories in the 55 literature program. Banned by three Ethiopian governments, Tuma talks about how new momentum is boosting the country. He speaks through his poetry, reading his poems entitled "Perserverance" and "Their Ethiopia". Ethiopian poet Hama Tuma reads his poetry in English and Amharic for listeners, reflecting on the various regimes, including the abolishment of the monarchy in...


Tense, compelling Zimbabwean tales in Behind Enemy Lines short stories

In this month's Africa: Stories in the 55, Zimbabwean author Joe Ruzvidzo explores coming-of-age in the years after the Liberation War, in his short story collection, Behind Enemy Lines. Ruzvidzo writes on the cutting edge-- his characters pawns or kings, depending on the readers' perception. In "The Order", set in 2023, Ruzvidzo's story of a military takeover of the country reveals some interesting parallels to Zimbabwe's own recent history and new president. His characters live through...


Naivo's Beyond the Rice Fields crafts an epic historical tale set in the highlands of Madagascar

This month is Africa: Stories in the 55, Malagasy author Naivo, speaks about his historical saga, Beyond the Rice Fields, which weaves the beauty of Hainteny, a traditional form of Malagasy poetry, with the coming-of-age story of Tsito, a young slave, and his one love, Fara. Set in volatile 19th century Madagascar, both characters try to find their way amidst genocide and religious persecution. Malagasy author Naivo talks about of the traditions of highland culture in Madagascar, and the...


Karim Miské dazzles readers with award-winning crime novel "Arab Jazz"

In this month's Africa: Stories in the 55, we sit down with Karim Miské, author of Paris-set crime thriller "Arab Jazz". The Franco-Mauritanian writer and documentarian speaks about his Paris, why keeping an open mind is crucial when formulating characters, and how his upbringing has influenced his work. In this extended interview, Miské reads an excerpt of his novel, "Arab Jazz" and talks about his current work-in-progress:


Characters haunted by memories, prejudice in Nigeria novel "Crocodile Girl"

In this month's Africa: Stories in the 55, Nigerian novelist Sam Omatseye talks about his book Crocodile Girl, a modern tale steeped in oral tradition. He tells the story of Alero, a woman too beautiful to be accepted by her village and the pain and suffering carried through the generations. Omatseye also addresses prejudice and stigma through his American character, Tim, who is on a quest to discover his family's controversial past and how it connects to Orogun village near Warri, Nigeria....


A glimpse into the lives of Lagosians in Nigerian Ayo Sogunro's short story collection

In this month's Africa: Stories in the 55, we speak with Nigerian novelist Ayo Sogunro, who brings to life- and death - the spirit of Lagos and Lagosians in his collection of short stories and poetry "The wonderful Life of Senator Boniface and other Sorry Tales." From beleagured politicians to self-proclaimed prophets, bridge touts to sentimental thieves, Sogunro weaves stories about the Lagosian spirit in "The Wonderful Life of Senator Boniface and other Sorry Tales." Original poetry breaks...


Love and infertility issues in "Stay with Me", a new novel by Ayòbámi Adébáyò

The pain of infertility for a couple is just the tip of the iceberg in Stay with Me, a new novel by Nigerian writer Ayòbámi Adébáyò, published by Cannongate Books. The book, short-listed for the 2017 Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction, is a complex web of family politics, Yoruba culture and a number of crippling health issues makes this a rich, event-filled piece of literature. Is the love between the two main characters Yejide and Akin enough? Set in Ilesa, Osun State, Nigeria, against the...


Young Congolese man trying to deal with life and school in JJ Bola's new novel; Nommo Awards for African Speculative Fiction

In this month's Africa: Stories in the 55, we take a look at the new Nommo Prize for African Speculative Fiction, which includes fantasy, sci-fi, the supernatural and even horror. We also talk to JJ Bola, whose debut novel, "No Place to Call Home" about a Democratic Republic of Congolese family living in London, shows how the main character Jean struggles to fit in at school and home. Young Congolese boy Jean is growing up in a cramped household in London full of TonTons (uncles), aunties,...


South Africa's WWI tragedy immortalised in new novel; Rwandan genocide as seen by Djiboutian writer

In this month's Africa: Stories in the 55, we speak to the authors of two historical novels, both set in the 20th century. Fred Khumalo's "Dancing the Death Drill" deals with the South African ship the S.S. Mendi, which was sunk in the waters off of the UK, killing 618 black South African soliders. In "Harvest of Skulls", Abdourahman Waberi, a Djiboutian writer, goes to Rwanda after the 1994 genocide and writes his novel based on the stories of the people he meets. Spanning nearly 60 years,...


Surviving the outbreak of the Somali civil war; academic finds modern-day parallels to 19th century Muslim leader

In this month's Africa: Stories in the 55, we take a look at two award-winning writers - Somali author Nadifa Mohamed, and Leila Abulela, Sudanese novelist - who speak about the influences on their craft. Life in Somalia becomes increasingly difficult before the start of the country's civil war. The lives of two women and a girl intertwine in the final days before chaos breaks out in The Orchard of Lost Souls by Nadifa Mohamed. Partially inspired by her own grandmother, Mohamed speaks to...


Dynamic Duo of Bahati e-books for 2017; Congo-Brazzaville author speaks on identity in The Heart of the Leopard Children

It's Africa: Stories in the 55's first anniversary, and we are starting off the year with a look at Bahati Books, a dynamic e-book publisher, and what they have to offer readers on the continent and beyond. We also welcome into our studios Republic of Congo author Wilfried N'Sondé, who tells us about his latest project, a historical novel. Wilfried N'Sondé speaks to Stories in the 55 about how identity, or perceived identity, is at the core of his novel, The Heart of the Leopard Children,...


Life lessons shared in Ghanaian writer Ayesha Harruna Attah's novel, Saturday's Shadows

In this month's program, Africa: Stories in the 55 speaks to Ghanaian author Ayesha Harrunah Attah, author of Saturday's Shadows about creating tackling issues from infidelity to illness and learning how to read, set against a backdrop of a fictional West African dictatorship.


Two Nigerian authors hit bookstores with tales of Lagosian living and a poignant, humorous memoir

For this month's Africa: Stories in the 55, we have the special treat of two accomplished Nigerian authors, Okey Ndibe, whose poignant, yet humorous memoir, Never Look an American in the Eye, is out now with Soho Press, and Anietie Isong's satirical Radio Sunrise, published by Jacaranda books, which will hit bookstores in January 2017. In his new book, Never Look an American in the Eye, Nigerian author Okey Ndibe shares ancedotes from growing up during the Biafran war in Nigeria, to modern...


Writing for Black Sparkle millennials from a Nigerian perspective; and Botswana trans poetess brings individuality to the fore

This month, Africa: Stories in the 55 discusses millennial romance and short story mastery with Nigerian writer Amara Okolo, and we speak with a Matswana transgender poetess and activist who is changing the way we think of diversity and difference. Nigerian writer Amara Okolo, author of "Son of Man" and "Black Sparkle Romance", speaks about her inspiration and writing for African millennials. Transgender poet from Botswana Kat Kai Kol-Kes speaks about her poetry and #BerekaMosadi, part of...