Guess who hasn’t completed the post on high-ranking women of Dahomey? (**me**)
I didn’t even realise it went live today, oops. If you’ve seen that post know it’s nothing but research notes and jumbled opinions, the real one will be up later. In the meantime, just so something goes up today, I’m sharing the books I’ve read so far this year.
Africa Hot by Nnenna Marcia – West African erotica, several stories and one novelette by Nnenna Marcia. I read all the stories, some of them made me go wtf (e.g. the one with watersports likeeeee) and the novelette to me was kinda strange because it had cousins having sex. Either way I’ll like to see more from Nnenna Marica.
How to cook your husband the African way by Calixthe Beyala – Read this last week. Aissatou has her eyes on her neighbour Mr Bolobolo. When all else fails to attract his attention, Aissatou decides to cook her way to her love’s heart. I don’t think I’ve disliked a protagonist the way I disliked Aissatou and it’s written in her voice (her fatphobia was too much for me for one). Then Mr. Bolobolo is not really an ideal, I mean he has other girlfriends. Also the “African way”? I did not know half of the foods talked about in this book but it’s all good I bookmarked the recipes that interested me. Can’t wait to start cooking.
In Search of Happiness by Sonwabiso Ngcowa – A cute story about teenage love. Two girls, neighbours fall in love in the township, one is Zimbabwean. It covers so much in a simple and easy to read manner, growing up, homophobia, xenophobia, poverty, living in the village, death, peer pressure… I think this is the first book I’ve read that has two Afican girls in love. (Also thanks to this book I finally know what ngoku means)
Long Hidden: Speculative Fiction from the Margins of History by various – This is a collection of short stories each of which are historical and elements of speculative fiction. Oh the “margins” implies history that is not mainstream, so a lot feature people of colour. I read some stories, skipped others for later. All in a good, a great add to my library.
Loving You Wasn’t Enough by Fatima Warsame – This one is kind of like In Search of Happiness above, two girls fall in love, the difference is here both are Muslim. One is Somali, the other is Indian, one is very devout, the other isn’t, both are conflicted due to the love they have for each other and both deal with it in very different ways. I wrote a review for Muslimah Media Watch.
Night of the Pontianak by Cara d’Bastian/KS Augustin – Currently reading this, it’s book IV in the urban paranormal series by Cara d’Bastian (pen name for KS Augustin) set in Singapore and Malaysia. It follows investigator Ursula Formosa as she deals with natural and supernatural phenomena while coming to terms with her own ability to communicate with ghosts and encounter otherworldly beings from the spirit world. Of course there’s love thrown in the mix making things more complex, in this one she has to meet her boyfriend’s parents while dealing with not-so-friendly spirits. I have
Wrath of the Harimau Five Card Draw, Jinn Are High up next, which I think is the last part of the series 🙁
The Good House by Tananarive Due – Another book I just finished (had to read How to cook your husband the African way because I needed to read something light after this amazing horror book). It’s about a haunted house, and has vodoun and ancestors leading the way. Enough said imo.
The Madams by Zukiswa Wanner – A light read following the lives of three friends. It looks at the ups and downs of their relationships with themselves and their husbands and lovers.
The Sculptors of Mapungubwe by Zakes Mda – How I love this book! I’m not sure if my love for it has to do with the writer or just the fact that this is a piece of historical fiction set in Mapungubwe. The Sculptors of Mapungubwe follows the sibling rivalry between Rendani and Chata. It has bits of intrigue, trouble in the palace, religious tensions and much more, including of course art.
Mother is Gold, Father is Glass by Lorelle D. Semley – Rereading this one as you may know from reading the posts on high-ranking women in Oyo and (upcoming) Dahomey.
Senseisha: Memoirs of the Caribbean Woman by various – Senseisha was “born out of a need for more honest sexual and sensual stories from Caribbean women”. It features real stories and journeys from women covering a variety of topics linked to sexuality (first time experiences, coming out, love and intimacy…). Once again, when I read such books (I’ve read a few from India) I wish for a Nigerian one.
The Autobiography of an African Princess by Fatima Massaquoi – The autobiography of an African elite in the colonial era. Fatima Massaquoi was born Vai royalty, the daughter of Momo IV who wore the crown of the Gallinas. She grew up in southern Sierra Leone, went to school in Liberia, came of age in Nazi Germany, and later lived in the United States before returning to Liberia where she died. From the first time I heard of Fatima Massaquoi, I knew I had to have The Autobiography of an African Princess in my library. It provides amazing insight into that part of West Africa at that time, she also leaves a bit on the history of her people (there were female rulers so expect a post soon, I already have my eyes on Gender and Power in Sierra Leone: Women Chiefs of the Last Two Centuries by Lynda Day)
Ewé: The use of plants in Yoruba Society by Pierre Fatumbi Verger – A fascinating tome that details different herbs used by Yoruba, particularly by traditional healers. This book has ingredients and methods! As in ingredients and methods to various “spells” for lack of a better term. Example,
To have sexual relations with a woman
Leaf of Adenia Lobata
Leaf of Uraria Picta
Take a ring, rub it with plenty of yagá leaves. Pound the leaves. Choose a leaf from each of the plants and tear them in two. Make a hole in the egg. Fold the right halves of the torn leaves into the hole in the egg and put the ring inside. Cover the preparation with the left halves of the torn leaves. Add more pounded leaves. Fasten with black and white threads. Bury in the bathroom, recite the incantation. Put the ring on a left finger and touch the woman you desire.
There’s also; to have a good memory, to win the heart of a man, to call back an unfaithful wife, to get children, to marry women and be loved by them, so much more. Oh did I mention the book is bilingual in Yoruba and English?
The Politics of Passion: Women’s Sexual Culture in the Afro- Surinamese Diaspora by Gloria Wekker – Rereading, a very informative book on women’s sexuality in Surinam. It’s kinda historical, and looks at mati work, the practice among Afro-Surinames working-class women which features same-sex relations. We see the lives of the women who do mati work, that mati work is not limited to Western labels (that’s the part I found particularly interesting the idea of sexuality being something you do and not what you are at least the way I understood Wekker’s research, she links mati work to West African roots too, when I stop being lazy I’ll do a post on this). I need to have this in paperback too.
Tommy Boys, Lesbian Men and Ancestral Wives: Female Same-Sex Practices in Africa by Ruth Morgan and Saskia Wieringa – Research based on interviews with/talking to women in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Namibia, Swaziland and South Africa. It looks at same-sex desire, politics and social contexts in the countries mentioned, gender identity, views on gender and sexuality in traditional contexts as well as traditional female marriages. I especially enjoyed the chapter written by Saskia Wieringa which looks at existing research on women’s same-sex relations and practices in Africa and the gaps therein.
Wives of the Leopard: Gender, Politics, and Culture in the Kingdom of Dahomey by Edna G. Bay – Found this in the footnotes of Mother is Gold, Father is Glass I knew I had to read it too. It’s a very informative account of women in the Dahomey Kingdom. I’m about halfway through there’s so much knowledge. Dahomey was no joke wallahi.
I have a feeling I forgot some and I’ve added others that I read last year, my brain likes jumbling up details. Anyway, enjoy!