The best books on political resistance

Why am I passionate about this?

As a teenager in the 80s, I witnessed the evils of dictatorship up to the 90s. And it was at that time that I became fascinated with the late iconic Afrobeat musician Fela Kuti, who used his music as a weapon against tyranny. I read books such as The Man Died by Wole Soyinka, Animal Farm by George Orwell and Cry, The Beloved Country by Alan Paton, and my love for protest literature was formed. Growing up, Fela Kuti’s philosophy shaped me and I found myself identifying with the downtrodden. And then I began to explore universal themes such as love, courage, and sacrifice through my writing.    


I wrote...

Taduno's Song

By Odafe Atogun,

Book cover of Taduno's Song

What is my book about?

The stunning debut from a fresh Nigerian literary voice: a mesmerizing, deceptively simple, Kafkaesque narrative, resonant of the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice and lightly informed by the life of Nigerian musical superstar Fela Kuti—a powerful story of love, sacrifice, and courage.

The day a stained brown envelope is delivered from Taduno’s homeland, he knows that the time has come to return from exile. Arriving full of hope, the musician discovers that his people no longer recognize him, and no one recalls his voice. His girlfriend, Lela, has disappeared, abducted by government agents. Taduno wanders through his house in search of clues, but all traces of his old life have been erased. As he becomes aware that all that is left of himself is an emptiness, Taduno finds new purpose: to unravel the mystery of his lost life and to find his lost love. But soon he must face a difficult decision: to fight the power or save his woman, to sing for love or for his people.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Trial

Odafe Atogun Why did I love this book?

I think this book aptly portrays the power of the state to control its people and the sinister ways in which this power can be put to use in the face of resistance. The story attests to the perpetual struggle between the ruled and the ruler. And much as Josef K’s gruesome murder, in the end, is symbolic of the ruthlessness of the state, his last words, “Like a dog!”, spoken in defiance, could well be meant to inspire the victims of political oppression never to surrender even in the face of death.

By Franz Kafka,

Why should I read it?

8 authors picked The Trial as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"Someone must have been telling lies about Josef K., he knew he had done nothing wrong but, one morning, he was arrested." From its gripping first sentence onward, this novel exemplifies the term ""Kafkaesque." Its darkly humorous narrative recounts a bank clerk's entrapment — based on an undisclosed charge — in a maze of nonsensical rules and bureaucratic roadblocks.
Written in 1914 and published posthumously in 1925, Kafka's engrossing parable about the human condition plunges an isolated individual into an impersonal, illogical system. Josef K.'s ordeals raise provocative, ever-relevant issues related to the role of government and the nature of…


Book cover of Long Walk to Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela

Odafe Atogun Why did I love this book?

For me, this book gives hope to every struggle because it shows that, in the end, it is possible for the oppressed to outlive the oppressor. The story chronicles the early life of Nelson Mandela and the 27 years he spent in prison on Robben Island under the apartheid regime of South Africa. While he would later rise to become president, his prison experience shows the resilience of a man whose spirit remained unbroken under one of the most oppressive regimes ever. Mandela teaches us that the struggle against injustice and oppression must be unrelenting until total freedom is attained.

By Nelson Mandela,

Why should I read it?

10 authors picked Long Walk to Freedom as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

2018 is the centenary of Nelson Mandela's birth

'The authentic voice of Mandela shines through this book . . . humane, dignified and magnificently unembittered' The Times

The riveting memoirs of the outstanding moral and political leader of our time, A Long Walk to Freedom brilliantly re-creates the drama of the experiences that helped shape Nelson Mandela's destiny. Emotive, compelling and uplifting, A Long Walk to Freedom is the exhilarating story of an epic life; a story of hardship, resilience and ultimate triumph told with the clarity and eloquence of a born leader.

'Burns with the luminosity of faith in…


Book cover of Cry, the Beloved Country

Odafe Atogun Why did I love this book?

This book is protest literature that highlights the unjust social and political structures in our world, as had existed in apartheid South Africa. It reminds us of the existing dangers so long as such structures remain. And it is also a warning that much as there are punishments for crimes committed by the individual, as in the case of Absalom Kumalo, there also are unpleasant consequences for failure of leadership.

By Alan Paton,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Cry, the Beloved Country as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A novel depicting the racial ferment in the beautiful country of South Africa in 1948.


Book cover of Animal Farm

Odafe Atogun Why did I love this book?

I think this book portrays the true state of human society today and is arguably the most important protest literature of the last century. Animal Farm is the allegorical story of the rebellion staged by a group of farm animals against their human farmer in their quest for a free, fair, and just society. “All animals are equal”, the most important of their seven commandments of animalism, promotes fairness. But as the years passed, the rebellion is gradually betrayed and the animals find themselves living in a state as bad as it was before. In a card game celebrating a new alliance between the animals and the farmers, both sides cheated, a fight ensues, creating such chaos that makes it impossible to distinguish between man and animal, an allusion to the state of any society that fails to uphold the principle of fairness.      

By George Orwell,

Why should I read it?

13 authors picked Animal Farm as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The perfect edition for any Orwell enthusiasts' collection, discover Orwell's classic dystopian masterpiece beautifully reimagined by renowned street artist Shepard Fairey

'All animals are equal. But some animals are more equal than others.'

Mr Jones of Manor Farm is so lazy and drunken that one day he forgets to feed his livestock. The ensuing rebellion under the leadership of the pigs Napoleon and Snowball leads to the animals taking over the farm. Vowing to eliminate the terrible inequities of the farmyard, the renamed Animal Farm is organised to benefit all who walk on four legs. But as time passes, the…


Book cover of The Man Died: Prison Notes of Wole Soyinka

Odafe Atogun Why did I love this book?

I think this book is very important because Soyinka shows that the right of the people to protest cannot be restricted by walls or chains. That the oppressor is totally helpless against the will of the people, as also shown in Taduno’s Song by the protagonist Taduno and Kongi, a character modelled on Soyinka. Imprisoned without trial by the authorities at the start of the Nigerian civil war, Wole Soyinka’s prison notes provide records of the twenty 27 months he spent in solitary confinement, the very basis of the words that would cement his place as a prisoner of conscience and give rise to a body of work that would illuminate the world.

By Wole Soyinka,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Man Died as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

. Shipped from the U.K. All orders received before 3pm sent that weekday.


You might also like...

Alpha Max

By Mark A. Rayner,

Book cover of Alpha Max

Mark A. Rayner Author Of Alpha Max

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Human shaped Pirate hearted Storytelling addict Creatively inclined

Mark's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

Maximilian Tundra is about to have an existential crisis of cosmic proportions.

When a physical duplicate of him appears in his living room, wearing a tight-fitting silver lamé unitard and speaking with an English accent, Max knows something bad is about to happen. Bad doesn’t cover it. Max discovers he’s the only human being who can prevent the end of the world, and not just on his planet! In the multiverse, infinite Earths will be destroyed.

Alpha Max

By Mark A. Rayner,

What is this book about?

★★★★★ "Funny, yet deep, this is definitely worth venturing into the multiverse for."

Amazing Stories says: "Snarky as Pratchet, insightful as Stephenson, as full of scathing social commentary as Swift or Voltaire, and weirdly reminiscent of LeGuin, Alpha Max is the only multiverse novel you need this month, or maybe ever."

Maximilian Tundra is about to have an existential crisis of cosmic proportions.

When a physical duplicate of him appears in his living room, wearing a tight-fitting silver lamé unitard and speaking with an English accent, Max knows something bad is about to happen. Bad doesn’t cover it. Max discovers…


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Interested in South Africa, apartheid, and George Orwell?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about South Africa, apartheid, and George Orwell.

South Africa Explore 117 books about South Africa
Apartheid Explore 42 books about apartheid
George Orwell Explore 30 books about George Orwell