The best books about Africa 📚

Browse the best books on Africa as recommended by authors, experts, and creators. Along with notes on why they recommend those books.

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Book cover of Africa Bites: Scrapes and escapes in the African Bush

Africa Bites: Scrapes and escapes in the African Bush

By Lloyd Camp

Why this book?

Yes, Lloyd is a friend of mine but despite the number of campfires we have sat around swapping tales there were many in this book I had never heard. Like all good guides, Lloyd is a natural storyteller, but he is also a great reader and that has a positive effect on this, his first book. His writing shines, the stories move along briskly like a startled warthog, and in no time it is over and you want more.

From the list:

The best books on African wildlife and safaris

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Book cover of Devil's Peak

Devil's Peak

By Deon Meyer

Why this book?

Character-driven, brilliantly absorbing, genuinely exciting, and richly atmospheric – for me, all the attributes of a rewarding crime novel. Meyer’s almost broken protagonist, Benny Griessel, is a policeman whose personal and professional lives interleave with witnesses, associates, and perpetrators, making him both intensely vulnerable but, also, highly effective. Against the backdrop of both a dark and a blindingly bright Cape Town, Meyer describes brilliantly the motivations and circumstances that bring each of his characters into conflict, making for a nail-biting read.
From the list:

The best crime thrillers set in Africa

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Book cover of Easy Motion Tourist

Easy Motion Tourist

By Leye Adenle

Why 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…
From the list:

The best crime thrillers set in Africa

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Book cover of In the Forest of No Joy: The Congo-Océan Railroad and the Tragedy of French Colonialism

In the Forest of No Joy: The Congo-Océan Railroad and the Tragedy of French Colonialism

By J.P. Daughton

Why this book?

JP Daughton tells the horrifying story of the Congo-Océan railroad, a massive, ill-conceived construction project (1921-34) whose French overseers doomed some 20,000 African workers to die. This story, revealing as it does France’s imperial hubris and callous disregard of human suffering, should have been told a long time ago. But it has been buried by bureaucrats, overlooked by historians, and made invisible to those who chose not to see. We owe Daughton a great debt for bringing it to light and for masterfully adding a new chapter to the tragic history of Central Africa under European colonial rule.
From the list:

The best books for understanding the impact of European colonialism on Africa and Africans

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Book cover of Travels in the Congo

Travels in the Congo

By Andre Gide

Why this book?

This travel diary by the Nobel Prize winning French writer was published in 1927 and expertly translated by his lifelong friend Dorothy Bussy. Gide dedicated his book and its sequel, Return from Chad, to Joseph Conrad, whose Congolese itinerary Gide retraced in part. In 1926 and 1927, the Frenchman spent ten months in Equatorial Africa with his lover Marc Alégret, making no secret of his sexual preference for young men and boys. In these travelogues, Gide fiercely criticized French colonialism and especially France’s “concessionary companies,” the large monopolistic firms that cruelly exploited Congolese laborers forced under inhuman conditions to harvest…
From the list:

The best books for understanding the impact of European colonialism on Africa and Africans

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Book cover of Black Bull, Ancestors and Me: My Life as a Lesbian Sangoma

Black Bull, Ancestors and Me: My Life as a Lesbian Sangoma

By Nkunzi Zandile Nkabinde

Why this book?

For those who study or teach about Africa, it is essential to know the pioneers of struggles for justice on the continent. African intellectuals eloquent in European languages began calling out injustices as early as the 18th century. To my mind, however, Nkabinde is a particularly impressive pioneer from the early 21st. It’s not just that African women have been routinely overlooked by historians. The very existence of African lesbians and transwomen was until very recently completely denied. Here, then, for the very first time, an African woman tells of her coming to sexual self-awareness, first as a spirit…

From the list:

The best books for thinking about social justice in Africa

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