Menu Home Search

Get Lost in the Pages of Africa

April 8th, 2020, by Claudia Santino

Since the dawn of time, stories have offered the perfect escape. If you’ve been meaning to catch up on your reading, here are ten books set in Africa that will transport you into the lives of some incredible fictional and real people and animals. Some are suitable for children and young adults, all will teach something about the great continent we’d love you to know more about.

 

We may not be able to take you on a real African safari right now, so we’re bringing a bit of the wild kingdom into your hands with this magical recommendation. Safari: A Photicular Book is a stunning work of art created with something called Motion Viewer design that brings the images on the page to life. This eye-catching book is a great educational tool for children or a great escape for anyone who loves animals. It might even inspire you on to make the dream of Africa a reality and how cool would that be?

 

Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight: An African Childhood, a New York Times Bestseller, is Alexandra Fuller’s candid memoir about growing up in Rhodesia in the 1970s. Her unflinching look back on her family’s life as they tried to stubbornly make their way against African independence is unsentimental and captivating. The continent is a central character, another is her mother, a headstrong woman who nurtured the young Fuller and her sister by teaching them self-reliance and resilience, instead of doting on them.  Fuller’s writing crackles and she doesn’t skimp on details or her love and passion for Africa. She’ll make you feel like you’re walking on rich red dirt road right alongside her, which is perfect in these days of self-isolation.

 

If you’re looking for an adventure, you’ll get one in West With the Night, Beryl Markham’s memoir about growing up in East Africa. Born in England, she and her father moved to Kenya when she was a young girl. Raised around wild things, she had a love and respect for Africa’s lands and creatures and her best friend was a Nandi tribes boy who taught her to hunt. Her father raised horses and she became an expert horsewoman and racehorse trainer. Mostly, she was a woman who was unafraid to try new things, leading her to become a great adventurer and aviatrix and bush pilot, which ultimately led her to becoming the first person to fly nonstop from Europe to America. We’d follow her star any day!

 

One of the greatest memoirs of all time, Long Walk to Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela might just be the one book we need to get through these hard times. He endured 10,000 days of imprisonment and when he was released at the age of 71, the freedom fighter showed the world that his spirit hadn’t been broken, going on to become the president of South Africa. Mandela wasn’t just the greatest leader the country ever had but he was an international hero and one of the greatest moral and political leaders of all time. His lifelong dedication to fight against racial oppression in South Africa won him the Nobel Peace Prize and his life continues to serve as a guiding light for oppressed people around the world and anyone going through struggles and setbacks.

 

If you’ve got time on your hands (and who doesn’t these days?) then step back in time to an Egypt that once was with The Alexandria Quartet. This masterpiece by Lawrence Durrell made up of four small novels is a lush and seductive tale of friends and lovers in Alexandria before WWI. Its central theme is love conveyed across the different viewpoints and experiences of the characters that make up these stories and whose common ground is the city.

 

It seems like most stories that take place in Africa are epic and Cutting for Stone proves it.  The story of twin brothers, Marion and Shiva Stone born of a secret union between a beautiful Indian nun and a brash British surgeon unfolds across five decades in India, Ethiopia, and America. Orphaned by their mother’s death and their father’s disappearance, their coming of age story is one of love and betrayal, compassion and redemption.

 

If you’re an animal lover, you’ll fall in love with this book.  If you’re not, prepare to become one if you read it.  The Elephant Whisperer is the heartwarming story of conservationist Lawrence Anthony who relents to accepting a herd of rogue elephants on his Thula Thula game reserve in South Africa, deep in the heart of Zulu country.  The alternative to him not accepting them is that they would be killed because of their dangerous behavior.  No sooner does he take them on when these delinquents start planning their escape and Anthony has to work fast to build a bond with them in order to rehabilitate and save them.  In the process, the naughty herd teaches him about life, too.

 

The Power of One is a suspenseful novel that takes you on the epic journey of Peekay, a boy born during the birth of apartheid in 1939 South Africa. This coming-of-age story deals with his abandonment, experiences with racism and what it takes to survive in an unforgiving environment.  Ultimately, it is about the power of hope and resilience we can all have as individuals.  

 

To date, there are 21 novels in Alexander McCall’s No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency. If you’re new to this highly acclaimed series, then you’ve got some catching up to do on Precious Ramotswe, Botswana’s best (and only) female detective. Known for her wisdom and street smarts, this good-hearted detective is an example of girl power in action.  These short novels offer a perfect escape right now and are great reading (or audio) material for young and older adults looking for lighthearted but uplifting stories.

 

“The Kabara groups taught me much regarding gorilla behavior. From them I learned to accept the animals on their own terms and never to push them beyond the varying levels of tolerance they were willing to give. Any observer is an intruder in the domain of a wild animal and must remember that the rights of that animal supersede human interests.” – Dian Fossey was a young woman and an occupational therapist when she traveled to Africa in 1963.  Visiting Uganda, she came into contact with Virunga’s mountain gorillas and it changed her life.  Gorillas in the Mist is her riveting account of the research she conducted in the remote rain forests in Rwanda studying the great apes. Her great understanding, bond and unlimited love for these misunderstand creatures destroyed the myths that had been built around them and changed the way we view gorillas. Her research studying their group behavior provided her with a life of adventure and friendship, but it also entailed hardship and heartbreak.  It’s Fossey’s passion, dedication and determination that we have to thank for the protections the endangered gorillas in the Congo, Rwanda and Uganda have today.  A must-read for anyone who’s ever had a desire to see these incredible creatures who we share 98% of our DNA.

 

 

© 2021 AFRICAN TRAVEL,INC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
CST #2071444-20