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Summer Reading 2012


As music festivals fill our weekends for the next few months, here's to unwinding and relaxing in the summer sun...with a good book! Check out OKA's start of summer reading list.

First up is the debut novel of Nana Ekua Brew-Hammond, Powder Necklace. A fascinating coming of age story about a young girl, Lila, who's mother sends her away to boarding school in Ghana. A journey through womanhood, family, and tradition molds young Lila and gives her a deeper understanding of life and love. Funny, sweet, and beautifully told, this story will warm your heart and leave you smiling long after the last page!

Teju Cole's debut novel, Open City follows Julius, a German-Nigerian graduate student, as he treks through the foreign streets of NYC during his residency at a psychiatric clinic. Through all of his encounters, relationships, and travels, this politically infused story grips the conscience and as the title implies, opens the reader to the experiences of New York.

Revered novelist, Bessie Head contrasts eloquently the struggle between holding onto tradition and allowing the need for progressive change in When Rain Clouds Gather. When Makhayo escapes imprisonment in his homeland of South Africa, he finds refuge with other exiled villagers as they struggle to improve farming methods amid the harsh climate (politically and atmospheric) in pre-independence Botswana. As visual as allegory can be, Head paints a picture of all our consciences in this novel.

For those of us with a shorter attention span, fear not. Here's a collection of twenty, just as enriching, stories from the continent. Edited by our beloved Chinua Achebe & CL Innes, this anthology includes (in 4 parts for each continental region) "Gentleman of the Jungle", "The Bride Groom" and "Certain Winds of the South". It's definitely a must have.

So chill some Rooibos Tea, find a cozy spot in the park or even a rooftop, and curl up to one of these novels...or short stories ;-). Happy Reading!

Interview

Interview: The Awakening of Bas

We talk to Bas about The Messenger, Bobi Wine, Sudan, and the globalized body of Black pain.

The first thing you notice when you begin to listen to The Messenger—the new investigative documentary podcast following the rise of Ugandan singer, businessman and revolutionary political figure Bobi Wine—is Bas' rich, paced, and deeply-affecting storytelling voice.

Whether he is talking about Uganda's political landscape, painting a picture of Bobi Wine's childhood, or drawing parallels between the violence Black bodies face in America and the structural oppression Africans on the continent continue to endure at the hands of corrupt government administrations, there is no doubt that Bas (real name Abbas Hamad) has an intimate understanding of what he's talking about.

We speak via Zoom, myself in Lagos, and him in his home studio in Los Angeles where he spends most of his time writing as he cools off from recording the last episode of The Messenger. It's evident that the subject matter means a great deal to the 33-year-old Sudanese-American rapper, both as a Black man living in America and one with an African heritage he continues to maintain deep ties with. The conversation around Black bodies enduring various levels of violence is too urgent and present to ignore and this is why The Messenger is a timely and necessary cultural work.

Below, we talk with Bas aboutThe Messenger podcast, Black activism, growing up with parents who helped shape his political consciousness and the globalized body of Black pain.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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