Africa's 100 Best Books of the 20th Century
An initiative of the Zimbabwe International Book Fair
Over the last hundred years African writers have written of their lives, experiences, culture, history and myth; they have written in diverse forms, styles and in many languages. They have been published widely on the African continent, in Europe, the Americas and Asia. They have written in English, French, Portuguese, Arabic, Swahili, and in many other indigenous languages. And they have written with extraordinary originality, flair and great integrity. Nonetheless, their work as a corpus deriving from the African continent remains largely unknown and uncelebrated.
To mark the beginning of the 21st century, and encouraged by Professor Ali Mazrui, the Zimbabwe International Book Fair launched the international compilation Africa's 100 Best Books. Nominations were sought throughout the African continent and internationally. A comprehensive list of all nominations was published at the ZIBF in August 2001, and during the course of the following year regional panels compiled their own short-lists of 100 best books.
The closing date for nominations was 30 September 2001 A panel of judges made the final decision from the short list and the final list of Africa 100 Best Books was announced in February 2002.
The aim of this endeavour is:
- to celebrate the achievements of African writers over the last century
- to stimulate debate, discussion, reading, criticism and analysis of African writing
- to foster the publication and development of new titles and those that are currently out of print
- to encourage translation of different texts
- to promote the sale and exchange of books continent-wide and throughout the world
- above all, to increase awareness and knowledge of books and writing by African authors.
Definition of an African
Only books written by Africans were eligible. After extensive discussion and debate the ZIBF, for the purpose of this project, identified an African as: "someone either born in Africa or who became a citizen of an African country".
This definition incorporates those African writers who have moved from their countries of birth to other continents. The issue of authors who are not by this definition deemed African but who consider themselves to be, or of those who have made a notable contribution to African scholarship and literature, will be addressed on their merit should their books be nominated.
What you can do
- Use this project to generate discussion among your colleagues and friends, with your teachers or students, and in the media.
- Use it as a basis for having African writers in your own cities and countries interviewed, or given a platform to speak and to debate their own work.
- Use it as a positive vehicle for analysis, serious criticism, debate and scholarship.
- Use it as an excuse to buy, lend or borrow books and to extend the breadth of your knowledge and understanding of the great wealth of fiction and non-fiction written by Africans about their lives and societies.
Organized in collaboration with
The African Publishers Network (APNET), the Pan-African Booksellers Association (PABA),
African writers' associations, book development councils, library associations and acad
Africa 100 Best Books of the 20th Century--Final List
Arranged in the tables below is a copy of the final list of 100 titles announced by the panel of judges in Accra, Ghana, 18 February 2002.
The jury selected books in 3 main categories:
In the table below, ** indicates a top twelve title.
Literature for children
Asare, Meshack Ghana **Sosu's Call Sub-Saharan Publishers Al-Homi, Hayam Abbas Egypt Adventures of a Breath Atfalna Mungoshi, Charles Zimbabwe Stories from a Shona Childhood Baobab Books Tadjo, Veronique Côte d'Ivoire Mamy Wata et le monstre Nouvelles éditions ivoriennes
Abnudi, `Abd al-Rahman Egypt al-Mawt `ala al-asfalt Atlas Achebe, Chinua Nigeria Arrow of God Heinemann Achebe, Chinua Nigeria **Things Fall Apart Heinemann Aidoo, Ama Ata Ghana Anowa Longman Almeida, Germano Cape Verde O testamento do Sr. Napumoceno da Silva Araújo Ed. Caminho Armah, Ayi Kwei Ghana The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born Heinemann Bâ, Amadou Hampâté Mali L'étrange destin de Wangrin Union générale d'éditions Bâ, Mariama Senegal **Une si longue lettre Nouvelles éditions africaines Ben Jelloun, Tahar Morocco La nuit sacrée Seuil Beti, Mongo Cameroon Le pauvre Christ de Bomba Présence africaine Brink, André South Africa A Dry White Season Penguin Bugul, Ken Senegal Riwan, ou le chemin de sable Présence africaine Cheney-Choker, Syl Sierra Leone The Last Harmattan of Alusine Dunbar Heinemann Chraibi, Driss Morocco Le passé simple Gallimard Coetzee, J.M. South Africa Life and Times of
Secker & Warburg Couto, Mia Mozambique **Terra sonâmbula Ed. Caminho Craveirinha, José Mozambique Karingana ua Karingana Academica Dadié, Bernard Côte d'Ivoire Climbié Editions Segiers Dangarembga, Tsitsi Zimbabwe **Nervous Conditions Women's Press Dib, Mohammed Algeria Algérie, La grande maison, L'incendie, Le métier à tisser Le Seuil Diop, Birago Senegal Les contes d'Amadou Koumba Présence africaine Diop, Boubacar Boris Senegal Murambi ou le livre des ossements Stock Djebar, Assia Algeria **L'amour, la fantasia J.C. Lattes Emecheta, Buchi Nigeria The Joys of Motherhood Alison and Busby Fagunwa,
Nigeria Ogboju ode ninu igbo irunmale Nelson Farah, Nuruddin Somalia Maps Pan Books Fugard, Athol South Africa The Blood Knot Simondium Publishers Ghitani, Jamal al- Egypt Zayni Barakat GEBO Gordimer, Nadine South Africa Burgher's Daughter Jonathan Cape Head, Bessie South Africa A Question of Power Heinemann Honwana, Bernardo Mozambique Nos matamos o cão tinhoso Academica Hove, Chenjerai Zimbabwe Bones Baobab Books Isegawa, Moses Uganda Abessijnse Kronieken Uigeverij De
Jordan, Archibald Campbell South Africa Ingqumbo yeminyanya Lovedale Press Joubert, Elsa South Africa Die Swerdjare van Poppie Nongena Tafelberg Kane, Cheikh Hamidou Senegal L'aventure ambiguë Editions Juillard Khosa, Ungulani Ba Ka Mozambique Ualalapi AEMO Kourouma, Ahmadou Côte d'Ivoire Les soleils des indépendances Le Seuil Laye, Camara Guinea L'enfant noir Plon Magona, Sindiwe South Africa Living, Loving and Lying Awake at Night David Philip Publishers Mahfouz, Naguib Egypt **The Cairo Trilogy Maktabet Misr Marechera, Dambudzo Zimbabwe House of Hunger Heinemann Mofolo, Thomas Lesotho **Chaka Morija Sesuto Book Depot Monenembo, Tierno Guinea Un attieké pour Elgass Le Seuil Mutwa, Vusamazulu Credo South Africa Indaba, My Children Blue Crane Books Ngugi wa Thiong'o Kenya Caitaani Mutharaba-ini Heinemann Ngugi wa Thiong'o Kenya **A Grain of Wheat Heinemann Niane, Djibril Tamsir Senegal Soundjata ou l'épopée mandingue Présence africaine Nyembezi, Sibusiso South Africa Inkinnsela yaseMgungundlovu Shuter and Shooter Okigbo, Christopher Nigeria Labyrinths Heinemann Okri, Ben Nigeria The Famished Road Spectrum Books Oyono, Ferdinand Cameroon Le vieux nègre et la médaille Editions Juillard P'Bitek, Okot Uganda Song of Lawino Heinemann Pepetela Angola A geração da utopia Dom Quixote Saadawi, Nawal El Egypt Woman at Point Zero Zed Books Salih El Tayyib Sudan Season of Migration to the North Heinemann Sassine, Williams Guinea Le jeune homme de sable Présence africaine Sembene, Ousmane Senegal Les bouts de bois de Dieu Le livre contemporain Senghor, Léopold Sédar Senegal **Ouevre poétique Le Seuil Serote, Mongane South Africa Third World Express David Philip Publishers Shabaan,
Tanzania Utenzi wa vita vya uhuru East African Literature Bureau Sony Labou Tansi Dem. Rep. of Congo La vie et demie Seuil Sow Fall, Aminata Senegal La grève des battus Nouvelles éditions africaines Soyinka, Wole Nigeria Death and the King's Horsemen Spectrum Tchicaya U Tam'si Congo Le mauvais sang - feu de brousse - à trisse-coeur P.J. Swald Tutuola, Amos Nigeria The Palm-wine Drinkard Faber Vera, Yvonne Zimbabwe Butterfly Burning Baobab Books Vieira, José Luandino Angola Nós os do Makulusu [União dos Escritores Angolanos] Vilakazi, B.W. South Africa Amal'eZulu Witwatersrand University Press Yacine, Kateb Algeria Nedjma Le Seuil
Amin, Samir Egypt Accumulation on a World Scale Monthly Review Press Amadiume, Ifi Nigeria Male Daughters, Female Husbands Zed Books Andrade,
Angola Os nacionalismos africanos Sa da Costa Appiah, Anthony Ghana In My Father's House Oxford University Press Cabral, Amilcar Guinea-Bissau Unity and Struggle Monthly Review Press Chimera, Rocha Kenya Kiswahili, past, present and future horizons Nairobi University Press Diop, Cheikh Anta Senegal **Antériorité des civilisations nègres Présence africaine Doorkenoo, Efua Ghana Cutting the Rose Minority Rights Group Hayford, J.E. Casely Ghana Ethiopia Unbound Cass Hountondji, Paulin Benin Sur la philosophie africaine François Maspero Johnson, Samuel Nigeria The History of the Yorubas G. Routledge & Sons Kenyatta, Jomo Kenya Facing Mount Kenya Secker & Warburg Ki-Zerbo, Joseph Burkina Faso Histoire de l'Afrique noire Hatier Krog, Antjie South Africa Country of My Skull Jonathan Cape Mama, Amina Nigeria Beyond the Mask, Race, Gender and Identity Routledge Mamdani, Mahmood Uganda Citizen and Subject James Currey Publishers Mandela, Nelson South Africa Long Walk to Freedom Little Brown Marais, Eugene South Africa Die Siel van die Mier J.L. van Schaik Memmi, Albert Tunisia Portrait du colonisé suivi de portrait du colonisateur L'Etincelle Mondlane, Eduardo Mozambique The Struggle for Mozambique Penguin Mphahlele, Ezekiel South Africa Down Second Avenue Faber & Faber Mudimbe, V.Y. Dem. Rep. of Congo The Invention of Africa Indiana University Press Nkrumah, Kwame Ghana Ghana: The Autobiography of Kwame Nkrumah Nelson Plaatje, Sol South Africa Native Life in South Africa P.S. King Soyinka, Wole Nigeria **Ake: The Years of Childhood Rex Collings Van Onselen, Charles South Africa The Seed is Mine David Philip Publishers