The 2015 Africa Reading Challenge

It’s easy for us all to get stuck in a rut – and a reading rut is just like all those other ruts we find ourselves flailing at the bottom of. For me, I tend to chose books that are either well-reviewed and popular (for example, I am currently reading The Miniaturist) or non-fiction accounts of contemporary events I am interested in.

I thought it was time I tried something new. And browsing through the blogging events list on WordPress I came across the 2015 African Reading Challenge. With us moving to (South) Africa this year, I thought this would be perfect. I’m already ahead of the game, as towards the end of last year I read two books about Africa – The Africa House  by Christina Lamb (an account of a magnificantly eccentric building project undertaken by a British colonial army officer in the last century, the ruin of the house in the middle of the tropical environment mirrored by the ruin of his marriage and relationships with most of the people around him) and Under our Skin by Donald McRae (the true story of McRae’s upbringing as a white South African during the apartheid years). I am also currently reading (and enjoying) – Lauren St John’s books The White Giraffe and Dolphin Song to my seven and nine-year-old daughters.

Some of my African reading

Some of my African reading

The challenge suggests listing those books you intend to read, but at the moment I haven’t had time to research what they will be. For me personally, there is no point in chosing any books that are so thick, complicated or just plain dull that I won’t get through them. I like a good story or a good true-life account, so I will be on the look-out for that. I know there are plenty of brilliant writers in Africa and have heard good things about Half a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche so have a thought that I might start with that one.

After that – well, I would welcome recommendations! The rules are the book has to be either by an African author or written about Africa (I guess both would be ideal), and if possible I would love to branch out into all corners of the continents.

I will be reviewing the books as I go along so do check back to see how I get on!


So, I’ve travelled a lot. I’ve lived in many countries on many continents and feel I know the world reasonably well. To the point that we almost came fourth in the school PTA quiz because I knew most of the answers in the geography round (and we played our joker).

But today I learned there is a country in the world I had previously never heard of. Today I came across Mayotte.

Okay, maybe country is stretching it a bit because according to Wikipedia it is in fact an “overseas department and region of France”, off the coast of Africa.


Why have I never heard of this place? Granted, it’s pretty small (pop. 212,000 according to Google facts), but I thought I was clued up on the world. What else do I now know about Mayotte? It’s capital is Mamoudzou,  it has 93km of highway, of which just 72km are paved, and “approximately 25% of the adult population, and five times as many women as men, enter trance states in which they believe they are possessed by certain identifiable spirits who maintain stable and coherent identities from one possession to the next” (more Wikipedia info).

A beautiful Mayotte scene

The reason I heard about Mayotte today was because someone from that tiny island visited this site. I am now a little bit fascinated by this country – it’s not too far from South Africa, maybe we’ll even get to go there one day. If you’re my visitor from Mayotte  please come and say hi, I’d love to hear more about your home.

And in the meantime, I’m on the look out for more unknown countries….