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Top FREE African Novels, Books of Poetry, and African folk tales, African books for students and learners and adults
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#2 - Pan-African Poetry - 1960's Collection


The selection is of 13 classic poems by African poets from the 1960's, a period of liberation and transformation and high hopes and struggles on the continent. The poems illustrate the great diversity of African poetry at the time, and its rarity, preserved here at AfroStory and by AfroStory. Poets come from countries including Ghana, Kenya, South Africa, Sierra Leone and Ethiopia.

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#3 - Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o - Weep Not, Child


Weep Not, Child is celebrated Kenyan author Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o's first novel, published in 1964. It was the first English novel to be published by an East African author. Thiong'o's work deals with the relationship between Africans and the British colonists in Africa, and is heavily critical of British colonial rule. Specifically, 'Weep Not, Child' deals with the Mau Mau Uprising, and "the bewildering dispossession of an entire people from their ancestral land."

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#4 - Sol Thekiso Plaatjie - Native Life in South Africa


An epic of South African 'Native' life a hundred years ago. The first known published novel by a black South African writer. The novel documents legal changes and  the harsh outcomes on black people long before Apartheid officially begin. The history is told with conviction and clear sightedness. For example, from 1936, Black People lost all land ownership, while Apartheid 'started' in 1948...


#5 - Peter Abrahams - Mine Boy


A young black man, fresh from the countryside, becomes a mine worker in Johannesburg, adjusts to his harsh environment, and learns to fend himself from police and and combat racial injustice. A South African classic that pulls you into the world of early apartheid and the slums of Johannesburg at the time. A gripping novel that should not be missed or forgotten, ever. As relevant today as ever.

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#6 - Harriet Jacobs - Life of a Slave Girl...


The book documents Jacobs' life, starting as a slave, and how she gained freedom for herself and for her children. Jacobs' narrative uses the techniques of sentimental novels "to address race and gender issues" based on her own experiences. She explores the struggles and sexual abuse that female slaves faced as well as their efforts to protect their children from sale!

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#7 - Richard Wright - Black Boy.


Richard Wright’s Black Boy was written in 1943 and published 2 years later (1945) in the early years of his career. Wright wrote Black Boy as a response to the experiences he had growing up. Given that Black Boy is partially autobiographical, many of the anecdotes stem from real experiences throughout Wright’s childhood.

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#8 - Alan Paton - Cry the Beloved Country


Kumalo undertakes the difficult and expensive journey to the city of gold in the hopes of aiding Gertrude and of finding his son, Absalom, who traveled to Johannesburg from Ndotsheni and never returned. In Johannesburg, Kumalo is warmly welcomed by Msimangu, the priest who sent him the letter, and given comfortable lodging by Mrs. Lithebe, a Christian woman who feels that helping others is her duty. Kumalo finds Gertrude, who is now a sex worker who sells liquor...

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#9 - Ashia Nkontse - Baluxanduva Lwam


A 2019 extract of a Xhosa and English version (in one children's book) about a young girl living in a township (slum area) who is responsible for her brothers and sisters in a parent-less household. This is a very common occurrence in South Africa, and a dangerous situation, yet the author brings a message of hope in the chapters donated here. The hero of the book is Zama, who finds a way to use her talents to earn money for her family. A Radio Zibonele publication.

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#10 - Thomas Mafolo - Shaka


Hailing from Lesotho, Thomas Mafolo trained as a minister and then teacher (graduating in 1898). Some of the missionaries encouraged Mafolo, and others with literary talent, to write books, thus starting one of the first literary movements in southern Africa. Chaka, or Shaka, was written in 1925, about the eventful and dramatic life of Shaka Zulu. Shaka was a conqueror who built a mighty empire and highly effective army, but ultimately was a tragic figure whose cruelty brought demise.

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#11 - Marcus Garvey - Philosophies & Opinions


Marcus Garvey was the leader of the largest Pan-African movement of all time. 'As we approach the centennial of Garvey's birth, the time seems appropriate for the US and Jamaican governments to declare null and void the legal proceedings that unjustly sent him to jail in both countries. Nor should a mere 'pardon' suffice, presupposing as it does, the presence of guilt to begin with' - from an international inspirational African leader. Garvey is on the same level as Du Bois.

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#12 - Cameron Duodu - The Gab Boys


A wonderful piece of Ghanaian literature that grabs you from the start, about the 'Gaberdine Boys' - immaculately dressed yet shunned by British-educated locals who fill post-colonial government positions in the early 1960's after independence. The Gab Boys are doomed to spotty employment, run-ins with the law, but also adventure and romance. Full of life even as the author tackles the political and racial issues of the day. A masterpiece.

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#13 - Mbella Sonne Dipoko - Love Poems


The author of this book came from Cameroon, traveled extensively, and was a successful novelist as well as poet. The poems deal with issues such as love, doubt, hope and anger, while traveling the world. Dipoko dated a white Norwegian woman - a theme explored that occupies much of the collection; along with his struggle with identity and his revolutionary (early 1970's) ideas. Unapologetically wild, in parts (understandably) ranging all the way to his mystical future visions. 

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#14 - WEB Du Bois - Darkwater...


The overarching theme of this magnificent book is the unifying character of labour, and its contrast with traditional conflict between historical identities. The book has a subtitle, 'Voices From Within The Veil,' a metaphor for the hidden struggles of African Americans in late 19th Century USA. Other forms of hatred are touched upon, including antisemitism. The book tackles 'the shadow of hunger' in a world where there need be no hunger. Du Bois was the African-American intellectual of his time.

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#15 - Nadine Gordimer - Not for Publication


Fifteen short stories from world-renowned South African Author Nadine Gordimer. The title of the book speaks to the fact it would almost certainly be banned in 1960 Apartheid South Africa, landing its (white) author in trouble with the fascist government of the time. Many of the stories are of people coping with alien environments, including a gifted Black Young Man whom white sympathizers are coaching for a university scholarship in Europe.

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