The Day of the Orphan

51g5xxvv6gl« Everyone called him Saga, though that was not what his parents had named him. He was fidgeting at his wooden government- issue desk in his very good-for-Africa sized classroom of only 30 students. His teachers were lucky; many had to cope with as many as a 100 students or more in each class. (…) Taken separately, the features that made up his face could not be individually tagged as remarkable or chiselled or outstanding. But put together, most people tended to do a pleasant double-take of his appearance. It was as though, united, his individual facial objects blended quite well, but divided, they seemed to pose quite another matter. »

In an imaginary country called Zimgania, leading a quiet life, Saga, the son of an ordinary family leading a quiet life, is living his typical adolescent experiences with his friends. However, when he sees his closed ones affected by the conflict and seriously threatened, he decides to join the resistance. When the government in power spreads fear throughout the country and students start to react against the oppression, his fight will take proportions that he would never have imagined.

In this satirical and witty novel, Dr Nat Tanoh gives a vivid picture of what young people’s life is like in oppressive regimes ; what their aspirations, dreams, leasure and fears are ; what, finally, their lives look like. The violence with which the political authority unfolds in everyday life and influences human relations makes Saga act.

In his first novel, Dr Nat Tanoh captures a modern, yet tense African world, in which coming of age is never easy ; becoming a man overnight is, therefore, not easy for Saga either, especially that love is an inevitable passage to adulthood. And love has Zara’s face, a beautiful, kind and witty image, but also a frightening one in a world in which nothing seems to be what is looks like.

It is in this world that Saga’s rite of passage occurs under the form of the resistance to an oppressive regime, but which is never totally shown in a dark or dramatic light. Laughter and puns, as well as dramatic scenes and conflicts, populate Tanoh’s novel to reveal a world much like our own, wherever it may be.

The Day of the Orphan by Dr Nat Tanoh

978- 1912145560/ Acorn Independent Press (25th May 2018)

Review by Ioana Danaila

Ioana Danaila was born in Romania. She graduated from University Lyon 2 Lumière with a Masters in African Postcolonial Literature and a First degree in French for Non-Francophone people. She is the author of a collection of short stories and a translator of books from French to Romanian. She is trilingual in Romanian, French and English, and teaches English language and literature to highschool students in France.

The Bead Collector

9781623719852« ‘Would you say that being caught between traditional and Western cultures causes the domestic problems you’ve observed ?’

‘I’m not sure. Our cultures evolve. They change, you know, and you can hardly call the Western cultures we’ve adopted modern. I mean, sitting at home and playing wife would be old-fashioned to some women in Nigerian villages. If you ask them what they look for in a husband, they will give you a list of functions. If ask an educated woman in Lagos, she might give you a list of attributes. You can walk away from a husband who doesn’t fulflill his functions. You’re expected to accept attributes when you’re married, aren’t you ?’ »

In today’s posh side of Lagos, Remi, a card shop owner, meets Frances at a party. It is an ordinary day, at an ordinary mundane event- maybe too ordinary not to be suspect. Could she be the CIA agent that Tunde, Remi’s husband, suspects her of being, an agent trying to collect information about the social and political situation in Nigeria ?

In the highlife atmosphere of the sophisticated places of the Nigerian metropolis, the political turmoil and ghosts of Biafra War still haunt people’s spirits- such is the background of this unexpected encounter which, in a slow and deeply insightful way, takes out the several aspects from in Remi’s own life, her childhood, her family, her deep connection to her native country.

After A Bit of Difference and News From Home, Sefi Atta’s refined narrative highlights how relations between people from different cultures can make us question our own past, life experience or principles. The multi-layered discussions between the protagonists, embedded in the main story, underline the complex approach to one’s own culture and country that is only made possible through a foreign perspective.

The Nigeria depicted in Sefi Atta’s novel is not just conflicted, fragile or immensely diverse. It is also an image of anyone’s country that, just like individuals, has its own skeletons in the cupboard as well as its own moments of grace. What Remi is faced with, finally, is, apart from all the consequences of interculturality, a new view of her own country and the political turmoil it faces, a view of her place within her own community and family because, for Remi, no man, or woman, is an island.

The Bead Collector by Sefi Atta

978- 1623719852 / Interlink Books (to be released in 2019)

Review by Ioana Danaila

Ioana Danaila was born in Romania. She graduated from University Lyon 2 Lumière with a Masters in African Postcolonial Literature and a First degree in French for Non-Francophone people. She is the author of a collection of short stories and a translator of books from French to Romanian. She is trilingual in Romanian, French and English, and teaches English language and literature to highschool students in France.

Biafra’s War: A Tribal Conflict in Nigeria That Left a Million Dead

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Almost half a century has passed since the Nigerian Civil War ended. But memories die hard, because a million or more perished in that internecine struggle, the majority women and children, who were starved to death.

Biafra’s war was modern Africa’s first extended conflict. It lasted almost three years and was based on largely ethnic, by inference, tribal grounds. It involved, on the one side, a largely Christian or animist south-eastern quadrant of Nigeria which called itself Biafra, pitted militarily against the country’s more populous and preponderent Islamic north.”

In this vast picture of the Nigerian-Biafran War showing a comprehensive portrait of Nigeria and, to a larger extent, of West Africa in the 1960s, Al J. Venter not only writes about the war in all its complexity, but also makes the reader live the war. Through his incredible account in which personal experience mingles with historical facts, the multiples faces of the first fully mediatized war in the 20th century become more and more visible to the public as they mix with individual stories about it.

Al J. Venter also accompanies his book with numerous rare photographies of people’s dialy life during the war, from atrocities to domestic scenes. What is also enriching is the enormous number of testimonies and witness accounts from many war pilots and journalists of the time. The personal touch and experience, as well as the insightful analysis of the events and atmosphere of the time, give the book a deeply human dimension- it is, eventually, what makes History an everyday experience and collective contribution.

More than “just another” history book, Venter’s account is a true historical document which allows older as well as younger generations to understand a bit more about this complex ethnic civil war that largely shaped the political present situation of Nigeria.

Biafra’s War: An Tribal Conflict In Nigeria That Left A Million Dead by Al J. Venter

978- 19121747020 / Helion & Company, 2015

Review by Ioana Danaila

Ioana Danaila was born in Romania. She graduated from University Lyon 2 Lumière with a Masters in African Postcolonial Literature and a First degree in French for Non-Francophone people. She is the author of a collection of short stories and a translator of books from French to Romanian. She is trilingual in Romanian, French and English, and teaches English language and literature to highschool students in France.

Hearts of Clay

'Hearts of Clay' cover« Shortly after I was born, my dad relocated to the UK, leaving my mum and I behind. Apart from pictures and telephone calls, I didn’t really know my dad. My mum, however, was my world until I turned five-years-old and my dad came to take her away from me. She dropped me off at my grandparents’ house in Ibadan and relocated to the UK with my dad. Mama, as I used to call my grandma, was so happy to have me, in fact it was a dream come true for her but a nightmare for me. Despite loving Mama to bits, I found it difficult to adjust to my new life, and her efforts to fill in the void proved abortive (…) As days turned into weeks and months into years, Mama became the centre of my world, with only occasional reminiscence of Mummy’s love. »

Grace, a young independent woman living in the UK, comes to Lagos only to embark on a thrilling adventure that starts in the streets of Lagos and ends up in London, in a totally different picture.

Dosun Adeleye’s novel is the story of this character’s life: a fearless, ambitious character nevertheless dominated by the fear of being abandoned as well as by the longing of being cared for. From a complicated childhood spent mostly in her grandparents’ house and far from her parents, to a busy and accomplished professional life, Grace also carries with her a haunting secret.

The motif of the baby “stolen” from its biological father, central in Dosun Adeleye’s novel, is questioned as it refers to the “bigger picture” of this socio-cultural element often present in popular literature and cinema. This bigger picture offers us the portrait of a complicated and sometimes painful love life, in which destiny doesn’t often match the idea of life one had in the first place. What is more, it is not only the notion of destiny that is challenged, but also a certain cliché about “genetic” predestination.

What the reader discovers instead is a dynamic story of a quest for love, whatever the cost, whatever the sacrifices, whatever the obstacles. Almost like a modern fairytale, the novel draws not a sweet or overromanticized portrait of the main character, but a story full of fearless hope.

Hearts of Clay by Dosun Adeleye

978- 1916466302 / E-book version

Review by Ioana Danaila

Ioana Danaila was born in Romania. She graduated from University Lyon 2 Lumière with a Masters in African Postcolonial Literature and a First degree in French for Non-Francophone people. She published a collection of short stories and translated books from French to Romanian. She speaks Romanian, French, English, and Spanish, and teaches English language and literature to highschool students in France.

War of Intervention in Angola (Volume 1: Angolan and Cuban Forces at War, 1975-1976)

Angolan war pictureOver time, a more comprehensive picture began emerging, indicating that a series of three successive wars were fought in Angola in the period from 1961 until 2002. The first of these- variously known as the ‘Angolan War of Independence’, or ‘I Angolan War’- went on from 1961 until 1974, saw insurgencies by multiple Angolan nationalist movements fighting against the Portuguese colonial rule. It ended with the Portuguese withdrawal and nominal independence of Angola. Even before that conflict was over, a ‘civil’ war erupted between three major Angolan insurgent movements and their foreign backers. Lasting until 1992, and including military interventions by Cuba and South Africa, and discrete meddling by the United States of America (USA) and even China, this war is colloquially known as ‘II Angolan War.’”

Out of Africa’s twentieth century wars, this book reconstructs the story of a war that seems to have been too little documented over the last decades. From the analysis of the situation of Angola in the 1960s (in the larger context of the Cold War) to a detailed overview of the allied troops in 1975-1976, this historic insight concentrates more on Operation Carlotta, or the intervention of Cuban forces, during these years.

The analyses also help us understand the complex situation of many African countries at the time who, after independence, went through civil wars, alimented by long-term local rivalries and interests. With a detailed insight on the Angolan context, over 100 rare pictures, and its historical past, especially the period of the Portuguese rule, the authors give the reader a wide perspective on a complex historical phenomenon engaging several internal parties and coalitions as well as several foreign military forces.

Adrien Fontanellaz and Tom Cooper’s book is an interesting and enriching reading, destined not only to historians, but also to non specialists who want to understand one of the most complex historical events in the mid- twentieth century Africa, as well as its implications outside Angola. More than history, War of Intervention in Angola is food for thought.

War of Intervention in Angola by Adrien Fontanellaz and Tom Cooper

978-1911628194 / Helion and Company, Africa@War Series, August 15, 2018.

Review by Ioana Danaila

Ioana Danaila was born in Romania. She graduated from University Lyon 2 Lumière with a Masters in African Postcolonial Literature and a First degree in French for Non-Francophone people. She published a collection of short stories and translated books from French to Romanian. She speaks Romanian, French, English, and Spanish, and teaches English language and literature to highschool students in France.

The African Piper of Harlem

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Every citizen in this district is filled with hope. (…) New immigrants have seen the realization of that hope for the African-American icons. And they are here to participate in that dream, including the fictional characters discussed in the following chapters. The family comes from Nigeria- the most populous country in Africa, containing at least 300 ethnolinguistic groups (…) Perhaps this family may have had ancestors who were middle-men in facilitating the trans-Atlantic slave trade. But that, and skin pigmentation are the only physical similarities they conceivably share with the American descendants of slaves. Thus, begins the age-old dance of assimilation, exchanging old stories and acquiring new ones. In a bygone era, connections formed in ethnic enclaves over time, perhaps a generation or more, would have eased these transitions in a welcoming and appropriate manner. ”

When Ola, a Nigerian sixteen-year old girl who just moved to Harlem, finds out that she is pregnant with twins, she knows that she is at a crossroads and that she will have to make it on her own for her family. What she doesn’t know is that she is not as alone as she thinks and that the events in her life will sometimes be the fruit of fate and magic.

The story of Ola’s family is also the story of her coming of age, from a sixteen-year old young girl who wakes up into a tough, unknown world to the mother who, despite her stubbornness and her desire to control everything, discovers that not everything is controllable and that magic is as much a part of life as everyday reality. Above all, she will learn that, to quote one of the chapter titles, “life is a team sport”.

In this novella, Zeena Nackerdien explores the rich cultural identity of the mythical district of Harlem starting with a sensible and beautifully written introductory chapter called “Hope” in which we discover the roots of the multi-ethnic community living there. This district, which is a micro-universe in itself and home to a remarcable diversity of cultures and individual (hi)stories, is the setting of the story of Ola’s family that witnesses how magic can intrude unsurprisingly in daily life.

This “tale of bullies and deception” combines fantasy elements with Yoruba traditions and realistic descriptions in modern-day Harlem to show an extraordinarily diverse yet tough world, in which fantastic fairies sing their pipes to clear the world from bullies, and bring love back to life.

The African Piper of Harlem by Zeena Nackerdien

9-781725911109 / Createspace Independent Publishing Platform (to be published on September 15, 2018)

Review by Ioana Danaila

Ioana Danaila was born in Romania. She graduated from University Lyon 2 Lumière with a Masters in African Postcolonial Literature and a First degree in French for Non-Francophone people. She published a collection of short stories and translated books from French to Romanian. She speaks Romanian, French, English, and Spanish, and teaches English language and literature to highschool students in France.

The Promise That We Made

40771567You and I are from different worlds, Patrick Keen. You call It giving up. I think I’ve had enough. You have no idea what I’ve had to do to survive; the terrible life I’ve had to live. I’ve had to go forty-eight hours without food because I couldn’t afford it. I know poverty and poverty knows me. We breathe the same air. So, don’t sit here and blame me if I decide to leave all that behind and go back to a life I am certain is better.”

A straight-forward, determined girl from a poor village. A rich handsome man, coming from no where.

So begins a story between two people who live in two different worlds and who only cross each other’s path by accident. Omotara struggles against a life of poverty in her beloved village which now represents a serious menace for her. Patrick struggles to hold back the layers of his own identity, and also to win Omotara’s heart. When they come across each other several times, Omotara understands that she is at a crossoards in her life and that radical decisions await her.

In a world where nothing is what it looks like, where no place is truly safe, however familiar it looks, Omotara goes from Lagos back to her village where her people struggle to resist starvation under a newly-instaured dictatorial regime. Her determination to free her village from corruption and terror is also a way for fight her own destiny and to take back her own chance to become a doctor.

Aderonke Moyinlorun’s book is a pleasant reading that takes you across several places and genres almost at the same time, from the classical first encounter of a romance to an espionage novel. The alert style, both inward-oriented and accurate about the outside world, is doubled by a dynamic plot. The result is an interesting book with strong characters, an insightful first person narrative voice, and an unexpected mix of romance, thriller and political fable.

The Promise That We Made by Aderonke Moyinlorun

978-1722191658 / CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (July 14, 2018)

Review by Ioana Danaila

Ioana Danaila was born in Romania. She graduated from University Lyon 2 Lumière with a Masters in African Postcolonial Literature and a First degree in French for Non-Francophone people. She published a collection of short stories and translated books from French to Romanian. She speaks Romanian, French, English, and Spanish, and teaches English language and literature to highschool students in France.

Nigeria: A Failed State? (UPCOMING RELEASE IN SEPTEMBER 2018)

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« Scapegoating has not helped any nation to evolve ; Nigeria won’t be the exception. The best approach is to search for the cause of the failures and confront it. A country where politics is the chief means of livelihood is sitting on a time bomb. This perception brings about « national cake syndrome » ; national cake brings equity in public office ; equity in public office reinforces rotational presidency ; and rotational presidency, in turn, nurtures the agitation for national conference. »

Robert Nwadiaru introduces us to the present-day Nigeria, the African Giant, a country with infinite riches, both natural and human, yet which still struggles after more than half a century after the independence.

The book that critics have compared to Chinua Achebe’s The Trouble with Nigeria from 1983 transports its reader to Nigeria and  makes him feel like he knows it intimately ; the fine geographical details, as well as the constant references to the political, historical, and economical context in the past 50 years, offer a large view of what Nigeria is and, more, of what it could be. Understanding Nigeria’s present is a way to understand Africa’s development in the larger context of the contemporary world.

If the book analyses closely the reasons of the country’s failure, the blame is put on the political caste: corruption, poverty, poor infrastructure are all consequences of the bad political organization of Nigeria. However, far from being merely pessimistic, the book also analyses possible solutions, therefore making the politicians even more reponsible for the direction in which the country evolves.

Acclaimed by Kirkus Rieviews in 2015 for its first edition and released again in September 2018 by Mascot Books, Robert Nwadiaru’s book is sharp, critical and realistic. It is the lucid account of an author and citizen who knows the true potential of his country.

Is Nigeria a failed state? The question is open to discussion making the book a necessary reading in the contemporary world. We are therefore invited to meditate on the burning issues it raises.

You can read more on Robert Nwadiaru’s book and order your copy here:

https://mascotbooks.com/mascot-marketplace/buy-books/nonfiction/business-and-political/nigeria-a-failed-state-treatise-on-a-crippled-giant/

https://www.amazon.com/Nigeria-Failed-Profound-Treatise-Crippled/dp/1684015766/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1531841010&sr=8-1&keywords=Nigeria%3A+a+failed+state 

Review by Ioana Danaila

Ioana Danaila was born in Romania. She graduated from University Lyon 2 Lumière with a Masters in African Postcolonial Literature and a First degree in French for Non-Francophone people. She published a collection of short stories and translated books from French to Romanian. She speaks Romanian, French, English, and Spanish, and teaches English language and literature to highschool students in France.

Acacia Road

“Memoacacia-road-cover-art_origry Palace”

In my father’s house there are rooms, where I might wander,

Finding in each the rubble of childhood- a reading chair,

maroon rug, cluttered toys-

things on which I could place a memory, if only I could return-

(…) I articulate all memories into one: a toy gun, unstrung bow,

desk with owl feathers, cabinet spilling blood, the spines of books

I never had the time to read. If I lose the way back to this place,

lose it at a wrong turn and into a wrong room, it will never be for the lack

of things to stand in place of other things, but for the will to look.”

In this poetry book full of images and memories willing to bring back the time, the poet tries to capture the most powerful moments of sharing, love, friendship and tolerance: family, friends, loved ones, anonymous people, all are immortalized in the poet’s personal geography.

From the raw violence on the military fronts during the civil war to the quiet of a friend’s house, Aaron Brown takes the reader on a journey into a space and time that belong to a longed-for past: the Chad of his childhood, Ati the town of his growing-up years, almost a lost Paradise -even if this Paradise is also violent, tough and unforgiving.

Encapsulating space and time within words, Aaron Brown’s poetry rushes across a land of vivid colours and people. It also depicts a world belonging to another time and place, to another age, to another person; in this poliphonic poetry where French, Arabic and English sometimes mingle and almost echo each other, the poet creates the “memory palace” of his adult life.

Aaron Brown’s poetry is beautifully written and has a strong sense of description, thus transforming the ordinary into exquisite, blissful bits of writing. From the precious time spent with friends come these poems in which not a particular geographic region, but the land of youth, generosity and love is the true mother country so longed for.

Acacia Road by Aaron Brown

978-1878851697 / Silverfish Review Press (May 15, 2018)

Review by Ioana Danaila

Ioana Danaila was born in Romania. She graduated from University Lyon 2 Lumière with a Masters in African Postcolonial Literature and a First degree in French for Non-Francophone people. She published a collection of short stories and translated books from French to Romanian. She speaks Romanian, French, English, and Spanish, and teaches English language and literature to highschool students in France.

Trazer: Kids of Stolen Tomorrow

39725298The time is 1215 hours, Central Union Base Time. Updating progress on Program Irunmole: attempt to synthesize igioyin cure from antibodies of individuals possessing extranormal ability. There’s been a setback. Extranormals’ perceived immunity to igioyin appears to be limited by a range of variables; most notably, use of their abilities. Usage results in a rapid acceleration of the virus’ maturity. Resultant mortality rate is far greater than baseline for highly vulnerable Normals. We believe the selection of antibodies from higher usage Extranormals may be the root cause for the failure of the current iteration of the formula S1-91-978. After the initial success of trials with patient set 11.1 without the adverse effects seen in prior Normal groups, it appeared we had a viable treatment for the igioyin virus. ”

What would happen if the world was no longer the place you thought it was?

How would one encounter change your life and reveal a destiny larger than your own life?

In the year 93.O.O, Dara Adeleye is a gifted ambitious artist whose goal is to overcome her modest origin by being the best in class. Her life is focused on succeeding at school to provide a better life for her family. Yet when she meets Kris Arvelo, a trazer or a graffiti writer, her life will change forever as she understands that her mission may be much larger than she had initially envisaged. On the brink of extinction, the world as Dara used to know it is now in danger- and she might be just the person to help save it.

Situated in a world where technology and mythology meet, Joseph Adegboyega-Edun’s first book of the Trazer series is boldly written in a language scattered with words and images from the Yoruba mythology to show how harmoniously spirituality and technology can coexist; as the author himself states it, “Yoruba religion has a lot of lore related to travel in between worlds and traveling great distances instantly through secret portals.

Acclaimed by critics, Trazer: Kids of Stolen Tomorrow is one of the important works of contemporary Sci-Fi literature that both cherish their African traditional heritage, and look ahead for new forms and modes of representing our over-technologized world. Inspired by authors like Ray Bradbury, Isaac Asimov and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Joseph Adegboyega-Edun’s novel is a powerful read in which Yoruba language, US slang and scientifc utopia weave the literary image of our globalized world.

Trazer: Kids of Stolen Tomorrow by Joseph Olumide Adegboyega-Edun

978-0692995037 / YorubaBoy Books; 1st edition (October 19, 2017)

Review by Ioana Danaila

Ioana Danaila was born in Romania. She graduated from University Lyon 2 Lumière with a Masters in African Postcolonial Literature and a First degree in French for Non-Francophone people. She published a collection of short stories and translated books from French to Romanian. She speaks Romanian, French, English, and Spanish, and teaches English language and literature to highschool students in France.