In recent times, I have developed an interest in the history of the Group Area Acts that were instruments of the Apartheid government in South Africa. This recent interest was rekindled by the book Buckingham Palace, District Six which I read earlier this year. It is difficult to rank the heinousness of the instruments deployed by the apartheid government for their evil but the Group Area Acts must be at the top of any list.
How people were uprooted from the area they had lived for generations to satisfy the racist urges of others is evil in its entirety. Having enjoyed Buckingham Palace, District Six, I was on the lookout for fiction or memoirs that depicted a similar theme. Allied with my love for South African Jazz, it was no surprise that Sophiatown was my next stop. This vibrant suburb was a cultural hub that despite the violence and poverty, was the epicentre of politics, jazz and blues. I found two titles that will hopefully further educate me while entertaining me.
Exclusive Books are my usual plugs for these rare South African titles. I had copies of Requiem for Sophiatown
by Can Themba, Mandela’s Ego by Lewis Nkosi and Talk of the Town by Fred Khumalo. Requim for Sophiatown is a collection of short stories, Mandela’s Ego is a novel by the irrepressible Lewis Nkosi and Talk of the Town is Fred Khumalo’s latest (also a collection of short stories). Lewis Nkosi’s books are so rare to find, so I was elated to find this one and on sale too. This is the second of his works that I own and I feel special. I found the second Sophiatown themed book on Amazon; Gone with the Twilight: A Story of Sophiatown by Don Mattera. It was a second-hand copy I got from some America based seller.
Every now and then, you see a tweet or read an interview and decide to buy a particular book or just anything written by the interviewee. Soon after Lesley Nneka Arimah won the Caine Prize, I read this article and suddenly remembered that I did not have her book in my shelf. So I went out and got What it means When A Man Falls from The Sky. The same week, I read this interview and also picked up Hundred Wells of Salaga. Both books were gotten from the Terra Kulture bookshop.
Talking of interviews, it was while reading this interview where a different book was being discussed that I remembered that while I was uninterested in the book in question, the author’s other books seemed more appealing, so I ended up buying Rusty Bell.
The final book Oil, Politics and Violence by Max Siollun is a classic Nigerian history book. One of those rare well written and properly researched books on Nigerian history. I recently recognised that it was missing from my library and decided to remedy it. I really have very little appetite for such these days, so I really wonder why I bought it.