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10 Young African authors making Africa proud7 min read

Take a look at 10 young African authors doing our continent proud

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10 Young African authors making Africa proud
One of Africa's most promising writers, Warsan Shire at the Girl Rising and International Rescue Committee's special screening of Documentary Film "Brave Girl Rising" for International Women's Day

For more than a century, Africans have employed writing as a means to tell their stories. Be it stories of our daily lives, our societies, or our displeasure with their governments and their policies. Writing particularly took shape and form in Africa during the colonial era. Young African elite found writing to be a great tool in challenging the ideals of colonialism and the subsequent fight for independence.

African Nationalists like Nnamdi Azikiwe, Kwame Nkrumah, Obafemi Awolowo, Patrice Lumumba, Julius Nyerere and Sédar Senghor all fought colonialism through writings and newspaper publications. 

Later colonial and post-colonial era-authors such as Ngugi Wa Thiong’o, Kenneth Kaunda, Wole Soyinka, Kofi Awoonor, Chinua Achebe and Ayikwei Ama reinforced literature in telling the African story. With these literary icons setting the pace, African literature took shape and form and has improved immensely over the years.

Let’s take a look at the new generation of African writers that have taken the mantle and are doing it big on the continent and beyond: 

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Biyi Bandele

Bandele is a Nigerian novelist, playwright and filmmaker. He grew up in the Northern part of Nigeria from where he started writing at a tender age. He writes for journals, theatre, television and radio. Bandele‘s works include plays such as Rain; Marching For Fausa, Two Horsemen, Death Catches The Hunter and Me And The Boys. His novels include The Man Who Came In From The Back Of Beyond, The Street, and Burma Boy which was reviewed on The Independent.

Biyi Bandele, Nigerian writer in 2009
Biyi Bandele, Nigerian writer in 2009. Credit: Ulf Andersen / Aurimages.

Bandele’s works are notable for their mixture of surrealism and phantasm. He has won awards like the International Students Playscript Competition (1989), London New Play Festival Award (1994), and the Wingate Scholarship Award (1995) amongst others. 

Maaza Mengiste

Mengiste is an Ethiopian writer whose published works focus on migration, the Ethiopian revolution and the plight of sub-Saharan immigrants in Europe. Her works are inspired by her personal experience. Her family migrated from Ethiopia during the Ethiopian revolution when she was only 4 years old. She completed her childhood in Nigeria, the United States and Kenya.

Maaza Mengiste - 1 author making Africa proud

Her first novel, Beneath The Lion’s Gaze, was named one of the 10 best contemporary African books by The Guardian. Her awards, honours and nominations include the Creative Capital Award for Literary Fiction in 2019. Beneath The Lion’s Gazewas named one of The Best Books of 2010. She was a Puterbaugh Fellow in 2013, received a literature fellowship in 3028 and has been recognized by the National Empowerment for the Arts aside from others.  

Warsan Shire – African author and teacher

10 Young African authors making Africa proud
Writer Warsan Shire attends Girl Rising and International Rescue Committee’s special screening of Documentary Film “Brave Girl Rising” for International Women’s Day at West Hollywood City Council Chamber on March 08, 2019 in West Hollywood, California. Rodin Eckenroth/Getty Images/AFP

Shire is a Somali writer, poet and teacher. Her poetry centres on journey and trauma. In 2013, Shire won the first Brunei University African Poetry Prize. In the same year, she also won the Young Poet Laureate for London. The American singer, Beyonce employed Shire’s poetry in her film Lemonade produced in 2016.

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Uwem Akpan – author of ‘Say you are one of them’

He became popular after his work ‘Say You Are One Of Them’ won the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and was chosen by Oprah Winfrey as her 65th book club selection. The book also won the PEN Open Book Award. ‘Say You Are One Of Them’ is a collection of 5 stories which is set in different African countries. The New Yorker has published two of his stories. One was about a family living in Nairobi and the other was “The Communion.” 

Writer Uwem Akpan, also making Africa proud

Dinaw Mengetsu – novelist and writer from Ethiopia

Dinaw is an Ethiopian writer and novelist. He has written 3 novels and at one time wrote for Rolling Stone on the war in Darfur. He also wrote for Jane Magazine on the conflict in northern Uganda. His works have been published in Harper’s, The Wallstreet Journal and other publications. His first book The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears was published in 2007.

Dinaw Mengetsu - an African writer

He was selected to be a McArthur Fellow in 2012. His works have won the following awards: New York Times Notable  Book, 2007; Guardian First Book Award, 2007; Vilcek Prize for Creative Promise in Literature, 2011; Los Angeles Times Book Prize, 2008 and Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence, 2012. He has many other awards, honours and nominations to his name. 

Nii Ayikwei Parkies – African author and publisher

Nii Ayikwei Parkies is a Ghanian poet, writer and publisher. Parkies made the list of the 39 writers aged under 40 from sub-Saharan Africa who in April 2014 were named as part of Hay Festival’s Africa39 project. He has performed his poetry works in Ghana, England and America.

He was among the three youngest writers featured in the Poems On The Underground Programme in London. He was featured for his poem Tin Roof. Parkies is loved much in his country for his devotion to helping young writers grow. To this end, he set up a writers’ fund to help promote writing among Ghanian youths.

Nii Ayikwei Parkies - African & Ghanian writer

He has been nominated and won awards both in Ghana and beyond. His awards include the Farrago Best Performance Poetry Award, 2003 in and 2004. He also won Ghana’s National ACRAG Award for Poetry and Literary Advocacy.

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Chimamanda Adichie – World-renowned African author

Adichie is a celebrated Nigerian writer whose works range from novels and short stories to non-fiction. She has written 3 well-received novels: Purple Hibiscus, Half of a Yellow Sun and Americanah. She also has a collection of short stories titled “The Thing Around Your Neck” among other literary works. Adichie has won many awards and received several nominations for her works.

Nigerian writer Chimamanda Adichie poses prior to the start of the Christian Dior Women's Fall-Winter
Nigerian writer Chimamanda Adichie poses prior to the start of the Christian Dior Women’s Fall-Winter 2019/2020 Haute Couture collection fashion show in Paris, on July 1, 2019. (Photo by Christophe ARCHAMBAULT / AFP)

The awards include The Commonwealth Writers Prize, Best First Book (Africa and Overall), 2005; MacArthur Foundation Genius Grant, 2008, and the PEN Beyond Margins Award. She has also received the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, the International Nonino Prize, 2008, the O. Henry Prize in 2003 among others. 

Chika Unigwe – African author of On Black Sisters’ Street

Unigwe is an award-winning Nigerian Writer. She is the author of On Black Sisters’ Street. The novel was first published in Dutch in 2008 with the title Fata Morgana before it was translated to English, Spanish, German, Hebrew, Hungarian and other languages. The highly successful novel tells the stories of African prostitutes living in Belgium.

Writer Chika Unigwe during the Jaipur Literature Festival 2018 at Diggi Palac
Writer Chika Unigwe and Abeer Y. Hoque during the Jaipur Literature Festival 2018 at Diggi Palace in Jaipur, Rajasthan, India on 29 Jan 2018. (Photo by Vishal Bhatnagar/NurPhoto)

She has won many awards including the 2003 BBC Short Story Competition and the 2012 NLNG Prize for Literature. In 2012, she was rated by Zukiswa Wanner in The Guardian as one of the “top five African writers”. Her short story Happiness won a Pushcart Prize Special Mention. 

Ahmed Alaidy – Scriptwriter, poet and novelist

Portrait Ahmed Alaidy, egyptian novelist
Portrait Ahmed Alaidy, Egyptian novelist, May 2009 ©Effigie/Leemage

Alaidy is an Egyptian poet, novelist, scriptwriter and editor. He is the author of the novel Being Abbas El Abd. In 2006, the novel was awarded the Sawiris Foundation’s 2nd Prize in Egyptian Literature. He writes as a freelancer for the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung. He has also authored a political comic strip. He has written for the Egyptian opposition newspaper al-Dostour.

Mohale Mashigo – African Author and Songwriter

Mohale Mashigo

Mashingo is a South African novelist and songwriter. She is the writer of the widely acclaimed novel The Yearning, which is her debut novel. In 2016, The Yearning won the University of Johannesburg Prize for South African Debut Writing. It was also listed for the International Dublin Literary Award in 2016. She recently published a collection of short stories titled Intruders. She also writes comic books and has won awards in songwriting.

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East Africa News

Madagascar paddy farmers against ‘new city’ relocation

Tempers flare in Antananarivo over plans to relocate Madagascar’s capital

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MADAGASCAR-DEMOSTRATION-URBAN PLANNING
Protestors damage construction equipment after clashes between the inhabitants of Ambohitrimanjaka and police broke out over the protest against the Tana-Masoandra project in the Ambohitrimanjaka suburbs of Antananarivo on October 17, 2019. - Clashes broke out overnight in Madagascar after protesters stormed a company tasked with a controversial urban expansion project, prompting a violent police response. (Photo by Mamyrael / AFP)

Anger is boiling over in the hills surrounding Antananarivo over plans to relocate part of Madagascar’s choked capital to emerald-green farmland.

Hundreds of farmers in Ambohitrimanjaka village are facing off with the authorities over a presidential scheme that threatens to engulf a thousand hectares (2,500 acres) of rice fields.

“We will not swap our land for money and we will not accept being moved,” said Jean Desire Rakotoariamanana, 57, who took part in protests last month.

“These rice paddies provided for our ancestors.”

The unrest has been sparked by a scheme to unclog Antananarivo, a polluted city of three million people wedged in the hills of the central highlands.

If the Tana-Masoandra (“Tana Sun”) project comes to fruition, the area will house all of the government’s ministries, the Senate, a university, a conference centre, hotels and homes for 100,000 people.

Its backers claim that relocation — to what is the city’s distant outskirts — will cost the equivalent of $600 million (542 million euros) and create 200,000 jobs — a major economic boost in the impoverished Indian Ocean island nation.

Construction is scheduled to be completed by 2024.

Choked capital –

Tana-Masoandra stems from President Andry Rajoelina’s vow on the election campaign trail last year to ease the capital’s chronic problems.

“Antananarivo was built to house between 300,000 and 500,000 people, but today there are 3.25 million,” said project manager Gerard Andriamanohisoa, who is also an advisor to Rajoelina.

According to UN projections, the capital’s population could double within the next 15 years, he said.  

Only 36 per cent of Madagascar’s 26 million people live in urban areas, but the majority of these are congregated in Antananarivo.

Overcrowding has bred monster traffic jams, garbage pile-ups and slums which become routinely flooded.

Air pollution, caused by exhaust fumes and bush fires, is sky-high. On one day last month, a monitoring group found that levels of fine particulates were eight times higher than guidelines set by the World Health Organization (WHO). 

But the capital’s problems gain little sympathy in the village of Ambohitrimanjaka, which lies around 12 kilometres (eight miles) from the capital.

And the government’s offer of relocating the farmers 700 kilometres (435 miles) away in the town of Bevoay, spiced by the promise of a five-for-one land swap, has gained little traction.

Sacred heritage –

“We are not opposed to development and progress,” said 60-year-old paddy farmer Dada Leba. 

“But let the president set up his project somewhere else. It is not land that we’re short of in Madagascar.”

Referring to a revered 18th-century monarch, Leba added: “King Andrianampoinimerina himself awarded these rice paddies to our ancestors and bequeathed to us the responsibility of farming them.

“Going against this wise king’s wish will cast a curse on the president,” he said darkly.

“If they take our land away from us, we’ll have nothing to live from,” declared Dede Antsahamarina, 60. “This new city is not intended for uneducated farmers like us.”

Violent clashes broke out between police and protesters last month over the building of a bridge designed to link the planned complex with Antananarivo.

One civilian and four officers were injured before police fired warning shots to disperse the crowd.

The government has tried to ease the mood by offering around 700 families the equivalent of around $20 million (18 million euros) in compensation.

“We are going to implement support measures to provide retraining for the farmers or to relocate their activities to other places,” said Andriamanohisoa.

The president has sent envoys to try to talk the farmers around and made a direct pitch to them on the airwaves.

“If you’ve got a one-hectare (2.5-acre) rice paddy… listen, I’ll give you five hectares in Bevoay,” Rajoelina said on TV.

But rather than backing down, the farmers say they are considering filing a lawsuit against the grand plan.

The Battle of the Rice Fields, it seems, has only just begun.

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Business

The growth of digital and online marketing in Africa

Is Digital Marketing for Africa? How have businesses gained by marketing online?

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Growth of digital marketing

Innovative changes have over the years, proven to be a constant. Ways of doing things are changing globally at a rather fast pace; things that affect the way we live, the way we travel, study, do business, run homes and families, interact with others etc.

The influence of innovation is simply overwhelming! One sector that has been touched by the transformative wind of innovation is the business sector. In this article, we are going to evaluate the growth of digital marketing in Africa. Before we dissect the topic, let us first look at the meaning of digital marketing.

What is digital marketing? 

Wikipedia defines digital marketing as the marketing of products or services using digital technologies, mainly on the internet, but also including mobile phones, display advertising, and any other digital medium. From the definition provided by Wikipedia, one may sum up the meaning of digital marketing as the use of technologies in marketing as opposed to the traditional ways of marketing we all know.

Before the digital era, marketing and advertisements were only done using traditional methods such as public announcements, newspaper, radio, television, billboards, posters and flyers. Digital marketing on the other hand employ methods such as social media marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), search engine marketing (SEM), e-Commerce marketing, content marketing among other methods.

Advertising has been taken to a whole new level through the help of online marketing. Business owners, especially startups in Africa now save millions hitherto used in running newspaper advertisements and paying for sessions on television channels that expire after a short time. They now spend less than half of that amount to advertise on various digital platforms, which enjoy more audience than the traditional means, including television and newspapers. 

The state of online marketing in South Africa

 In South Africa, a study by World Wide Worx in collaboration with Cisco Internet Business Solutions Group found that as at the year 2010 the number of South African internet users have grown beyond 5 million. Ever since figures continued to advance upwardly.

By 2016 the number of internet users stood a little below 29 million. That was more than half of South Africa’s 52 million population. With that number of internet users, digital marketing will continue to grow in leaps and bound in South Africa.

Kenya and Digital Marketing

In Kenya, the story is pretty much the same as in South Africa. If you are familiar with Kenya’s marketing terrain, you will understand how big it has grown in a very short period.  Just a couple of years ago, expensive traditional methods of marketing still thrived in the country but today the story has changed as around 22% of all media consumption in Kenya is digital.

What is more, this number is growing fast! The German online portal, Statista reported that Internet advertising spending in Kenya is expected to grow from US$72 million in 2015 to US$151 million in 2020.

Digital marketing in Nigeria

Digital Marketing started to gather momentum in Nigeria around 2012 with the entry of e-commerce platforms such as Jumia and Konga in the country. The period between 2015 to 2019 saw a massive increase of Small & Medium Enterprises in the country with a population of 190 million people.

According to Statista, Nigeria had 92.3 million internet users in 2018 and it is projected to grow to 187.8 million internet users in 2023. This was 47.1 per cent of the population in 2018. It is expected to climb to 84.5 per cent in 2023. With 92.3 million people using the internet, the place of digital marketing in Nigeria’s business space has been secured. The prospect for the growth of digital marketing in Nigeria seems pretty good.

From the situation reports in South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria – three of the largest economies in Africa, digital marketing is growing really fast in the continent. The future of Businesses in Africa can now be viewed better through the lens of the digital.

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East Africa News

Mauritians go to polls in first post-Anerood ballot

He faces two opponents who say his appointment to the country’s top job amounted to little more than nepotism

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Mauritians go to polls in first post-Anerood ballot
Mauritian women check their names on a list before casting their votes for the parliamentary election at Soopaya Soobiah Government School in Reduit, Mauriitus, on November 7, 2019. - Nearly a million voters are registered for the parliamentary election in Mauritius, a stable democracy in the Indian Ocean. (Photo by Beekash ROOPUN / L'Express Maurice / AFP)

Mauritians on Thursday have their first chance to decide if Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth should continue to rule since he was hand-picked for the job when his father stepped down more than two years ago.

Nearly a million voters are registered for the parliamentary election in Mauritius, a stable democracy in the Indian Ocean. The more than 300 polling stations opened at 0600 local time (0200 GMT) and are due to close at 1800.

Jugnauth succeeded his father Anerood Jugnauth as Prime Minister without a popular vote when the older man stood down in 2017, two years ahead of schedule.

The 57-year-old is asking voters to judge him on his short time in office, pointing to his record on modernising public infrastructure and economic reforms in the former British colony.

But he faces two opponents who say his appointment to the country’s top job amounted to little more than nepotism.

The ballot marks the first opportunity for Mauritians to choose whether he deserves a mandate. Counting begins Friday, with results expected later that day. 

Observers expect a smooth election in the prosperous country of 1.3 million that has evolved from a poor, agriculture-based economy, to one of Africa’s wealthiest nations and financial services hub.

Campaigning lasted for a furious two weeks, with Mauritius bedecked in the flags and colours of the warring parties.

Mauritius, comprised of four volcanic islands roughly 1,800 kilometres (1,100 miles) off the eastern coast of Africa, is predominantly Hindu but has sizeable Christian and Muslim minorities.

New alliances –

For the first time in decades, three distinct political blocs will vie for power in the legislative elections. New alliances could be likely if none can clinch an absolute majority.

READ: Mauritius sets legislative elections for November 7

Jugnauth heads the centre-right Morisian Alliance, Navin Ramgoolam, a two-time former premier leads the centre-left National Alliance and one of his former allies, Paul Berenger, is going out alone with his Mauritian Militant Movement.

Berenger, who briefly served as prime minister between 2003 to 2005, has also denounced dynastic politics and accused Jugnauth of presiding over “scandals of all kinds”.

The Prime Minister has banked on the strength of the Mauritius economy — it grew 3.8 per cent in 2018 — and key reforms such as introducing a minimum wage and hiking pensions.

Mauritius has increasingly come under fire for helping global companies avoid paying taxes and was until October on a European Union watch list.

General unemployment, while low compared to the rest of the continent, also remains high among youth at 22 per cent, and inequality is seen to be rising.

Voters have to choose 62 MPs — 60 from the main island of Mauritius, and two from Rodrigues, a small island some 600 kilometres to the east.

The Electoral Commission then appoints eight other representatives from among those not elected, but who received a high number of votes, to rebalance the distribution of seats between parties and communities in the national assembly.

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