66 books like Chronicles from the Land of the Happiest People on Earth

By Wole Soyinka,

Here are 66 books that Chronicles from the Land of the Happiest People on Earth fans have personally recommended if you like Chronicles from the Land of the Happiest People on Earth. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Travels and Discoveries in North and Central Africa: Timbúktu, Sókoto, and the Basins of the Niger and Bénuwé

Marq de Villiers Author Of Timbuktu: The Sahara's Fabled City of Gold

From my list on African cultures.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was born in Africa and have been infatuated with its history and cultures all my life. Of the 48 countries sharing the African mainland, I have spent time in all but four. True, a few only for a laughably brief stay (I wandered across the Cameroon-Equatorial Guinea border once by mistake, not knowing I had crossed; there was no sign of a border post or any guards. I stayed only for the rest of the day, never leaving the beach, before wading back to Cameroon.) But others I have lived in for years, and have travelled extensively to famous and obscure regions alike, especially in the Sahel

Marq's book list on African cultures

Marq de Villiers Why did Marq love this book?

This is exploration literature at its very best. Heinrich Barth was inclined to pedantry, but he was thorough and meticulous (his maps were models of their kind); he was also a skilled linguist (fluent in Arabic, he later published vocabularies of eight African languages including Tamashek and Hausa, and learned enough Hausa on a single journey from Ghat to Agadez to be able to converse freely).

He stayed in the Sahara for six years in the 1840s, and returned with massive journals packed with priceless ethnographic and geographic information, only to find fame passing him by. His contemporary, David Livingstone, was much more suited than the stolid German to a life of the celebrity traveler, and spoke much more eloquently at revival meetings and at conventions of Geographical Societies. (Livingstone met Barth once, and gave him an inscribed copy of his Missionary Travels, which must have grated). Barth’s massive…

By Heinrich Barth, Henry Barth,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Travels and Discoveries in North and Central Africa as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This work has been selected by scholars as being culturally important, and is part of the knowledge base of civilization as we know it. This work was reproduced from the original artifact, and remains as true to the original work as possible. Therefore, you will see the original copyright references, library stamps (as most of these works have been housed in our most important libraries around the world), and other notations in the work.

This work is in the public domain in the United States of America, and possibly other nations. Within the United States, you may freely copy and…


Book cover of Nomad: One Woman's Journey Into the Heart of Africa

Marq de Villiers Author Of Timbuktu: The Sahara's Fabled City of Gold

From my list on African cultures.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was born in Africa and have been infatuated with its history and cultures all my life. Of the 48 countries sharing the African mainland, I have spent time in all but four. True, a few only for a laughably brief stay (I wandered across the Cameroon-Equatorial Guinea border once by mistake, not knowing I had crossed; there was no sign of a border post or any guards. I stayed only for the rest of the day, never leaving the beach, before wading back to Cameroon.) But others I have lived in for years, and have travelled extensively to famous and obscure regions alike, especially in the Sahel

Marq's book list on African cultures

Marq de Villiers Why did Marq love this book?

African exploration has a rich history of intrepid women travelers (I think particularly of Mary Kingsley, who had once ascended Mount Cameroon in a day, Victorian petticoats notwithstanding. Kingsley finally died of typhoid in South Africa while she was administering to Boer prisoners of war, but before that, she made many an expedition among the Fang of Gabon and, as she put it, “danced many a wild dance with the wild river.”) Mary Anne Fitzgerald is the best modern example. Jailed by the dictatorship of Kenya’s Daniel Arap Moi and subsequently expelled, she then reported from hotspots all over Africa, including Liberia, the Central African Republic, and Cote d'Ivoire, coming under fire and under threat more than once, facing down guerrillas and governments in turn. 

She also has an eye for the piquant detail. She was once an eyewitness to a mass circumcision of an age cohort of young Samburu…

By Mary Anne Fitzgerald,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A South-African-born journalist who was exiled from her home in Kenya describes her return to the continent of Africa and her experiences dodging bullets in Ethiopia, dining with aristocracy in Nairobi, and seeing the victims of famine. 15,000 first printing.


Book cover of Conversations with Ogotemmêli: An Introduction to Dogon Religious Ideas

Marq de Villiers Author Of Timbuktu: The Sahara's Fabled City of Gold

From my list on African cultures.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was born in Africa and have been infatuated with its history and cultures all my life. Of the 48 countries sharing the African mainland, I have spent time in all but four. True, a few only for a laughably brief stay (I wandered across the Cameroon-Equatorial Guinea border once by mistake, not knowing I had crossed; there was no sign of a border post or any guards. I stayed only for the rest of the day, never leaving the beach, before wading back to Cameroon.) But others I have lived in for years, and have travelled extensively to famous and obscure regions alike, especially in the Sahel

Marq's book list on African cultures

Marq de Villiers Why did Marq love this book?

At first glance, a difficult read. Griault shares many of the faults of French academic writing, opaque and ambiguous in turn. But it is worth the effort. The elderly sage, Ogotemmêli, is patient with outsider obtuseness, and the book is a fascinating look into the complicated and sophisticated cosmology of African spirituality, so different in tone and structure from those we are familiar with in the west. In the end, this book easily puts the lie to commonplace western notions of African religions, that they are mere animism, or obsessed with ancestors. As the Times Literary Supplement put it at the time, ‘… [this] will prove of interest and enlightenment to those still inclined to underestimate African subtlety and sophistication." Too true.

By Marcel Griaule,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Conversations with Ogotemmêli as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Originally published in 1948 as Dieu D'Eau, this near-classic offers a unique and first-hand account of the myth, religion, and philosophy of the Dogan, a Sudanese people.


Book cover of Loot: Britain and the Benin Bronzes

Marq de Villiers Author Of Timbuktu: The Sahara's Fabled City of Gold

From my list on African cultures.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was born in Africa and have been infatuated with its history and cultures all my life. Of the 48 countries sharing the African mainland, I have spent time in all but four. True, a few only for a laughably brief stay (I wandered across the Cameroon-Equatorial Guinea border once by mistake, not knowing I had crossed; there was no sign of a border post or any guards. I stayed only for the rest of the day, never leaving the beach, before wading back to Cameroon.) But others I have lived in for years, and have travelled extensively to famous and obscure regions alike, especially in the Sahel

Marq's book list on African cultures

Marq de Villiers Why did Marq love this book?

This is far more than a colonial era whodunit, a recounting of yet another colonial atrocity – though it is that in spades.  Yes, in 1897 the British occupation army reacted to the killing of a a few colonial officials by razing an empire to the ground, careless of its causes and its effects. So much, so commonplace. But what an empire! The Benin artworks the army looted, subsequently dispersed to museums around the globe, were and still are a revelation to those whose notions of African art were to that point limited to masks and fetishes. A mere catalogue of the pieces would be enough to explain why Picasso, among other artists, was captivated by the art of Africa, but Philips has done more than that – he puts the looted artifacts into their context and into their culture. There is nothing didactic or preachy about this book, but…

By Barnaby Phillips,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A Prospect Best Book of 2021

'A fascinating and timely book.' William Boyd

'Gripping...a must read.' FT

'Compelling...humane, reasonable, and ultimately optimistic.' Evening Standard

'[A] valuable guide to a complex narrative.' The Times

In 1897, Britain sent a punitive expedition to the Kingdom of Benin, in what is today Nigeria, in retaliation for the killing of seven British officials and traders. British soldiers and sailors captured Benin, exiled its king and annexed the territory. They also made off with some of Africa's greatest works of art.

The 'Benin Bronzes' are now amongst the most admired and valuable artworks in the…


Book cover of Things Fall Apart

Joanne Leedom-Ackerman Author Of The Far Side of the Desert

From my list on books combining international political intrigue, romance, and family drama.

Why am I passionate about this?

I began my career as a journalist, including working as a reporter on an international newspaper. I left full-time journalism to write fiction where I can combine an interest in international affairs with stories of characters and issues of the heart which drive individuals and often shape events. Over the years I’ve worked and traveled with international organizations, serving as Vice President of PEN International, and on the boards and in other roles focusing on human rights, education, and refugees. I’ve been able to travel widely and witness events up close, walking along the edge of worlds and discovering the bonds that keep us from falling off.

Joanne's book list on books combining international political intrigue, romance, and family drama

Joanne Leedom-Ackerman Why did Joanne love this book?

This was one of the first novels I read in the late sixties as I began reading African writers and studying the novel form and possibilities. Chinua Achebe tells the story of Okonkwo, a warrior in the late 1800s as he tries to resist the British political and religious powers encroaching on his home. Okonkwo is in conflict with his community as they allow the intrusion and succumb to the British.

Through his proverbs, rhythmic prose, and poignant storytelling, Chinua Achebe brings to life this story without polemics and the drier narrative of history books but instead through the passion of a man and his world. As I studied how novels could affect this empathetic magic, I looked to books like Things Fall Apart.

By Chinua Achebe,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked Things Fall Apart as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Winner of International Man Booker Prize 2007.


Book cover of Easy Motion Tourist

Paul Mendelson Author Of The First Rule Of Survival

From my list on crime thrillers set in Africa.

Why am I passionate about this?

Africa can easily become an obsession: an extraordinary continent, blessed with breath-taking beauty and wonderful people, yet cursed by climate, corruption, war, and… crime. This continent is the most incredible setting for stories about people driven to crime, victims of crime, the detection of crime. Based in the UK, but a frequent visitor to Southern Africa, having written many non-fiction books, South Africa (and Cape Town in particular) was always going to be my choice of setting for my crime novels. For me, a good novel – within any genre – transports the reader into an unfamiliar world, absorbs them in the lives of the characters, and reveals insights which touch on their own lives.

Paul's book list on crime thrillers set in Africa

Paul Mendelson Why did Paul love this book?

Visceral, immediate, and engrossing, Adenle’s debut novel features two main characters embroiled in a murder in Lagos. British journalist Guy Collins, an alien in a dangerous, fast-paced city is implicated in a gruesome crime. Amaka, a woman who has devoted herself to the protection of the city’s working girls, speaks for him, hoping that her intervention will be re-payed by Collins in the form of global publicity for her campaign against the people traffickers and body-parts smugglers. Both out of their depth, at great peril, and at the mercy of Nigeria’s mega-city and its huge cast of characters, they find themselves caught in a maze from which there appears no escape.

By Leye Adenle,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Easy Motion Tourist as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Guy Collins, a British hack, is hunting for an election story in Lagos. A decision to check out a local bar in Victoria Island ends up badly - a mutilated female body is discarded close by and Collins is picked up as a suspect. In the murk of a hot, groaning and bloody police station cell, Collins fears the worst. But then Amaka, a sassy guardian angel of Lagos working girls, talks the police station chief around. She assumes Collins is a BBC journo who can broadcast the city's witchcraft and body parts trade that she's on a one-woman mission…


Book cover of Muslim Modernity in Postcolonial Nigeria: A Study of the Society for the Removal of Innovation and Reinstatement of Tradition

Alexander Thurston Author Of Boko Haram: The History of an African Jihadist Movement

From my list on post-independence Nigeria.

Why am I passionate about this?

From the moment I first began reading about Nigerian history, I was drawn to the country’s complexity – the mix of religious traditions, ethnic groups, languages, cultures, and intersecting histories. As a graduate student, I delved deeper into the history of Islam in northern Nigeria, first by reading the secondary literature, then by exploring primary documents, and eventually by conducting my own fieldwork. Sadly, as my interest in Nigeria grew, so too did the country’s ongoing tragedies, including the violence perpetrated by Boko Haram. Nevertheless, there is much more to Nigeria than conflict, as is amply demonstrated by the tremendous contributions of Nigerian novelists, musicians, filmmakers, entrepreneurs, and scholars.

Alexander's book list on post-independence Nigeria

Alexander Thurston Why did Alexander love this book?

Kane’s book offers readers a rich portrait of the northern Nigerian religious movement Izala. Kane shows how the movement brought together preachers, businessmen, and ordinary Muslims who sought to change how Islam was practiced in Nigeria and beyond. Izala sparked bitter debates by challenging the Sufi orders – mass organizations headed by shaykhs who wielded special spiritual charisma. Rejecting Sufism, Izala offered a new way of being Muslim in a rapidly changing country.

By Ousmane Kane,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Muslim Modernity in Postcolonial Nigeria as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This book deals with Muslim modernity in a country with the largest single Muslim population in Sub-Saharan Africa. It provides much needed new grounds for comparative study. Until now, virtually all socio-anthropological works about any specific African country are either authored by nationals of that country or by Western scholars. This book is an exception because its author is an Islamicist and a social scientist from Senegal trained in the French social science tradition. Therefore, his work offers an original perspective in the study of Nigeria.
In addition, the study of Islam south of the Sahara has so far focused…


Book cover of Soldiers of Fortune: A History of Nigeria (1983-1993)

Alexander Thurston Author Of Boko Haram: The History of an African Jihadist Movement

From my list on post-independence Nigeria.

Why am I passionate about this?

From the moment I first began reading about Nigerian history, I was drawn to the country’s complexity – the mix of religious traditions, ethnic groups, languages, cultures, and intersecting histories. As a graduate student, I delved deeper into the history of Islam in northern Nigeria, first by reading the secondary literature, then by exploring primary documents, and eventually by conducting my own fieldwork. Sadly, as my interest in Nigeria grew, so too did the country’s ongoing tragedies, including the violence perpetrated by Boko Haram. Nevertheless, there is much more to Nigeria than conflict, as is amply demonstrated by the tremendous contributions of Nigerian novelists, musicians, filmmakers, entrepreneurs, and scholars.

Alexander's book list on post-independence Nigeria

Alexander Thurston Why did Alexander love this book?

Siollun’s Soldiers of Fortune (and its acclaimed sequel, focusing on the consequential 1993 elections and what came after) take readers inside the last few military regimes that dominated Nigeria. Given that so many of the characters Siollun discusses still loom large in Nigerian politics today, the books are indispensable for understanding the country and its trajectory.

By Max Siollun,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Soldiers of Fortune as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

‘This book is the story of Nigeria’s political journey between December 31, 1983 and August 27, 1993. This is the story of how things fell apart.’

The years between 1983 and 1993 were momentous for Nigeria. Military rule was a time of increased violence, rampant corruption, coups, coup plotting and coup baiting. It moulded the conditions and character of Nigeria today, forcing seismic changes on the political, economic and religious landscape that nearly tore the country apart on several occasions.

Soldiers of Fortune is a fast-paced and thrilling narrative of the major events of the Buhari and Babangida era. The…


Book cover of Pentecostal Republic: Religion and the Struggle for State Power in Nigeria

Alexander Thurston Author Of Boko Haram: The History of an African Jihadist Movement

From my list on post-independence Nigeria.

Why am I passionate about this?

From the moment I first began reading about Nigerian history, I was drawn to the country’s complexity – the mix of religious traditions, ethnic groups, languages, cultures, and intersecting histories. As a graduate student, I delved deeper into the history of Islam in northern Nigeria, first by reading the secondary literature, then by exploring primary documents, and eventually by conducting my own fieldwork. Sadly, as my interest in Nigeria grew, so too did the country’s ongoing tragedies, including the violence perpetrated by Boko Haram. Nevertheless, there is much more to Nigeria than conflict, as is amply demonstrated by the tremendous contributions of Nigerian novelists, musicians, filmmakers, entrepreneurs, and scholars.

Alexander's book list on post-independence Nigeria

Alexander Thurston Why did Alexander love this book?

Scholars of Africa have devoted tremendous attention to Pentecostal Christianity in recent years – and Obadare’s Pentecostal Republic is the best treatment of Pentecostalism in Nigeria. Obadare teases out the interplay between Pentecostalism and politics, a relationship that now reaches the highest levels of Nigeria’s political life. The book is a crucial for understanding the elections of 1999 and ever since, and will remain important for understanding Nigerian politics as elections approach in 2023.

By Ebenezer Obadare,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Pentecostal Republic as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Throughout its history, Nigeria has been plagued by religious divisions. Tensions have only intensified since the restoration of democracy in 1999, with the divide between Christian south and Muslim north playing a central role in the country's electoral politics, as well as manifesting itself in the religious warfare waged by Boko Haram. Through the lens of Christian-Muslim struggles for supremacy, Ebenezer Obadare charts the turbulent course of democracy in the Nigerian Fourth Republic, exploring the key role religion has played in ordering society. He argues the rise of Pentecostalism is a force focused on appropriating state power, transforming the dynamics…


Book cover of Reforming the Unreformable: Lessons from Nigeria

Alexander Thurston Author Of Boko Haram: The History of an African Jihadist Movement

From my list on post-independence Nigeria.

Why am I passionate about this?

From the moment I first began reading about Nigerian history, I was drawn to the country’s complexity – the mix of religious traditions, ethnic groups, languages, cultures, and intersecting histories. As a graduate student, I delved deeper into the history of Islam in northern Nigeria, first by reading the secondary literature, then by exploring primary documents, and eventually by conducting my own fieldwork. Sadly, as my interest in Nigeria grew, so too did the country’s ongoing tragedies, including the violence perpetrated by Boko Haram. Nevertheless, there is much more to Nigeria than conflict, as is amply demonstrated by the tremendous contributions of Nigerian novelists, musicians, filmmakers, entrepreneurs, and scholars.

Alexander's book list on post-independence Nigeria

Alexander Thurston Why did Alexander love this book?

Nigeria’s most famous economist and the current Director-General of the World Trade Organization, Okonjo-Iweala is a formidable figure nationally and globally. Her memoir about her time as Finance Minister during the administration of President Olusegun Obasanjo (in office 1999-2007) gives insight into debt relief negotiations and major economic reforms. Those reforms look less transformative in retrospect – at least 40% of Nigerians remain mired in poverty, and Nigeria’s debt has climbed again, including during Okonjo-Iweala’s second stint as Finance Minister – but the memoir remains important for understanding Africa’s largest economy.

By Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Reforming the Unreformable as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A report on development economics in action, by a crucial player in Nigeria's recent reforms.

Corrupt, mismanaged, and seemingly hopeless: that's how the international community viewed Nigeria in the early 2000s. Then Nigeria implemented a sweeping set of economic and political changes and began to reform the unreformable. This book tells the story of how a dedicated and politically committed team of reformers set out to fix a series of broken institutions, and in the process repositioned Nigeria's economy in ways that helped create a more diversified springboard for steadier long-term growth.

The author, Harvard- and MIT-trained economist Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala,…


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10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about Nigeria, Africa, and family.

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