10 books directly related to Uganda 📚

All 10 Uganda books as recommended by authors and experts. Updated weekly.

Kintu

By Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi,

Book cover of Kintu

Why this book?

A multi-generational novel which starts in 1750 with the heroic figure of Kintu, a provincial chief setting off with his entourage to pay ritual obeisance to the feared Kabaka (king), and culminates in bustling, hustling, modern Uganda. It’s an epic story that explores the imprint family bonds and ancestral legacies - including curses that travel down through the decades – leave on daily life. The kind of book which, because of its sheer heft, seems more than a little daunting at the start. But by the last page, you’re left wanting more, reluctant to have to say goodbye to all the characters you have come to know and love, hungry to know the end of their various journeys.  

Kintu

By Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Publishers Weekly Best Books of 2017

Winner of the Windham-Campbell Prize

Winner of the Commonwealth Short Story Prize


"A soaring and sublime epic. One of those great stories that was just waiting to be told."—Marlon James, Man Booker Prize-winning author of A Brief History of Seven Killings

First published in Kenya in 2014 to critical and popular acclaim, Kintu is a modern classic, a multilayered narrative that reimagines the history of Uganda through the cursed bloodline of the Kintu clan. Divided into six sections, the novel begins in 1750, when Kintu Kidda sets out for the capital to pledge allegiance…


The White Nile

By Alan Moorehead,

Book cover of The White Nile

Why this book?

The White Nile is another classic, telling the story of how European explorers “discovered” Africa’s greatest river in the second half of the nineteenth century. It’s a rollicking tale, featuring cameos from everyone from Herodotus to Churchill, packed with wild tales of bull-headed men marching into areas which were, for them, literally blank spaces on the map. Some of the prose inevitably feels a little dated these days, but it overflows with drama and detail, and provides a fascinating insight into the history of a region which many people still know too little about. I lived near the source of the Nile in Uganda for quite a while, and have many happy memories of reading this before heading out for a swim.

The White Nile

By Alan Moorehead,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Relive all the thrills and adventure of Alan Moorehead's classic bestseller The White Nile -- the daring exploration of the Nile River in the second half of the nineteenth century, which was at that time the most mysterious and impenetrable region on earth. Capturing in breathtaking prose the larger-than-life personalities of such notable figures as Stanley, Livingstone, Burton and many others, The White Nile remains a seminal work in tales of discovery and escapade, filled with incredible historical detail and compelling stories of heroism and drama.


Book cover of In Idi Amin's Shadow: Women, Gender, and Militarism in Uganda

Why this book?

Idi Amin Dada is one of the “best known” African dictators. So many books, documentaries, and films have depicted him as a bloody, megalomaniac leader on the verge of craziness. He was even portrayed by Forest Whitaker in The Last King of Scotland. Alicia Decker shows a different story, starting by asking what if we take Idi Amin’s seriously? What if we explore the way he turned his (brutal) “hyper-masculinity” into a political resource? To me, this book was eye-opening, there are so many ways to write about African presidents, their politics, their ideas, and their resources. And of course, there are many ways to “gender” their histories and look for the women who stand in the president’s shadow.

In Idi Amin's Shadow: Women, Gender, and Militarism in Uganda

By Alicia C. Decker,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked In Idi Amin's Shadow as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"A subtle, important, theoretically innovative, and elegantly written study that centralizes feminist thinking and shows why it matters." -Feminist Africa In Idi Amin's Shadow is a rich social history examining Ugandan women's complex and sometimes paradoxical relationship to Amin's military state. Based on more than one hundred interviews with women who survived the regime, as well as a wide range of primary sources, this book reveals how the violence of Amin's militarism resulted in both opportunities and challenges for women. Some assumed positions of political power or became successful entrepreneurs, while others endured sexual assault or experienced the trauma of…

The Canal House

By Mark Lee,

Book cover of The Canal House

Why this book?

Okay, this fine novel is only partially set in Africa, in Uganda, where intrepid fictional journalist Daniel McFarland treks into the jungles to find and interview the leader of a rebel group based on the Lords Resistance Army. Told from the vantage point of world-weary photographer Nicky Bettencourt, the action later shift to East Timor during the fight for independence against Indonesia. This novel comes as close as any to describe the real lives of foreign correspondents — the unnecessary risks, the loneliness of life lived constantly on the road. It’s beautifully written, a good read, and reeks of authenticity.

The Canal House

By Mark Lee,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Photojournalist Nicky Bettencourt thinks he's seen everything until he teams up with the legendary war correspondent Daniel McFarland. To Daniel, the story is everything; people come later. But after a plane crash nearly takes his life, Daniel begins to see the world in a different way. He falls in love with Julia Cadell, an idealistic British doctor, and together they find refuge at an old canal house in the center of London. Soon after, Nicky, Daniel, and Julia are called to East Timor, where the government has fled and the entire country is a war zone, and Daniel must decide…

The Year of the Gorilla

By George B. Schaller,

Book cover of The Year of the Gorilla

Why this book?

George Schaller’s pioneering popular Year of the Gorilla, set in Rwanda, is part history, travelogue, and accessible behavioral biology. This book was my model for how to write about my own seven summers living with killer whales off northern Vancouver Island, Canada. Travelling with wife Kay, Schaller in his mid-20s was among the first to get into the field with primates when few even considered it. Rich with stories, his book included his own beautiful line drawings of gorillas and tantalising maps. The story uncovers a misty kingdom—he climbed the volcanoes—as much as revealing the intimate details of the gorillas, with their food gathering, nest-building, relationships, their emotional lives. This book has human and gorilla characters. You feel like you are right there.

The Year of the Gorilla

By George B. Schaller,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This seminal work chronicles George B. Schaller's two years of travel and observation of gorillas in East and Central Africa in the late 1950s, high in the Virunga volcanoes on the Zaire-Rwanda-Uganda border. There, he learned that these majestic animals, far from being the aggressive apes of film and fiction, form close-knit societies of caring mothers and protective fathers watching over playful young. Alongside his observations of gorilla society, Schaller celebrates the enforced yet splendid solitude of the naturalist, recounts the adventures he experienced along the way, and offers a warning against poaching and other human threats against these endangered…

The First Woman

By Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi,

Book cover of The First Woman

Why this book?

The First Woman is perhaps the best novel you haven’t yet read. Kirabo has never known her mother and she is looking for answers at the same time as she is becoming a woman. She is guided first by the village’s blind witch Nsuuta, who has her own reasons for getting involved. Nsuuta tells Kirabo that women were once, “huge, strong, loud, proud, brave, independent. But it was too much for the world.” The writing in this ambitious novel is sometimes funny and sometimes poignant.

The First Woman

By Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'In Jennifer Makumbi, we have a giant of literature living among us.' Peter Kalu, Jhalak Prize Judge

Longlisted for the Diverse Book Awards, 2021

'Jennifer Makumbi is a genius storyteller.' Reni Eddo-Lodge

A SUNDAY TIMES, OBSERVER, DAILY MAIL, BBC CULTURE & IRISH INDEPENDENT BOOK OF THE YEAR

At once epic and deeply personal, the second novel from prize-winning author Jennifer Makumbi is an intoxicating mix of Ugandan folklore and modern feminism that will linger in the memory long after the final page.

As Kirabo enters her teens, questions begin to gnaw at her - questions which the adults in her…


Book cover of Tropical Fish: Tales from Entebbe

Why this book?

Doreen Baingana’s novel Tropical Fish is smart and empathetic, with a keen eye for details. The story is set in post-Idi Amin Uganda and is primarily Christine’s coming of age, but we also read chapters from her sisters’ points of view. The novel is a page-turner with an innovative structure, but it’s the characters who will stay with you.

Tropical Fish: Tales from Entebbe

By Doreen Baingana,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In her fiction debut, Doreen Baingana follows a Ugandan girl as she navigates the uncertain terrain of adolescence. Set mostly in pastoral Entebbe with stops in the cities Kampala and Los Angeles, Tropical Fish depicts the reality of life for Christine Mugisha and her family after Idi Amin’s dictatorship.

Three of the eight chapters are told from the point of view of Christine’s two older sisters, Patti, a born-again Christian who finds herself starving at her boarding school, and Rosa, a free spirit who tries to “magically” seduce one of her teachers. But the star of Tropical Fish is Christine,…

Beatrice's Goat

By Page McBrier, Lori Lohstoeter (illustrator),

Book cover of Beatrice's Goat

Why this book?

This is a true story about a little girl in Africa, named Beatrice. Her family is poor and cannot afford to send her to school. Until the day when her family is given a goat, which gives the family the ability to earn an income. Hilary Clinton has written the Afterword to this beautiful kid’s picture book. I actually know Beatrice personally, and her life is a real-life Cinderella story that inspires such hope.

Beatrice's Goat

By Page McBrier, Lori Lohstoeter (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Beatrice's Goat as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This illustrated book offers the true story of how a poor African girl was able to attend school after receiving a goat as a gift through a special international project and then sell its milk to get the money needed to buy her books. Reprint.

Book cover of A Bigger Picture: My Fight to Bring a New African Voice to the Climate Crisis

Why this book?

Vanessa Nakate is a young Ugandan climate activist who was excised from a photo of gathered young climate warriors (which included Greta Thunberg) as they prepared a response to DAVOS, the World Economic Forum accused of peddling the destructive myth of ‘eternal economic growth.’ (The other four activists in the photograph were all white, suggesting racism operates structurally at many levels—and within multiple contexts.) Nakate provides a refreshing perspective of driving climate activism from the Global South—centering those not only most detrimentally impacted by climate depredations, but also the most disempowered to respond and be heard. Her concluding chapter on ten practical things one can do, provides a hopeful and concrete map for personal climate action, including creative imagining. I loved her emphasis on local action too—no change is too small.

A Bigger Picture: My Fight to Bring a New African Voice to the Climate Crisis

By Vanessa Nakate,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked A Bigger Picture as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Vanessa Nakate continues to teach a most critical lesson. She reminds us that while we may all be in the same storm, we are not all in the same boat.' Greta Thunberg

'An indispensable voice for our future.' Malala Yousafzai

'A powerful global voice.' Angelina Jolie

No matter your age, location or skin colour, you can be an effective activist.

Devastating flooding, deforestation, extinction and starvation. These are the issues that not only threaten in the future, they are a reality. After witnessing some of these issues first-hand, Vanessa Nakate saw how the world's biggest polluters are asleep at the…


When Water Makes Mud: A Story of Refugee Children

By Janie Reinart, Morgan Taylor (illustrator),

Book cover of When Water Makes Mud: A Story of Refugee Children

Why this book?

Janie Reinart’s lyrical telling of this story, coupled with Morgan Taylor’s beautiful illustrations, takes the reader on a ride filled with love and emotion. It’s about refugee children who have, as the author says, “nothing but dreams.” Big Sister wants Little Sister to be happy, so she decides she can create something from nothing. She makes amazing things, but they don’t last. However, when Big Sister makes a mud doll, the two sisters play together, create other mud dolls, and continue to dreamWhat affected me the most as I read this is that this book is based on a real refugee camp, and proceeds are donated to UNICEF where our collective kindness can have the power to heal. 

When Water Makes Mud: A Story of Refugee Children

By Janie Reinart, Morgan Taylor (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked When Water Makes Mud as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When war forces two sisters to flee their home in South Sudan with nothing but the clothes they are wearing, Big Sister strives to help Little Sister smile again at the refugee settlement. But as quickly as Little Sister's smile appears, it disappears: that is until water makes mud. In the end, Big Sister's artistry and kindness brings hope to their situation.

This title is a tribute to the resourcefulness of children who have no toys, but continue to play and is dedicated to the 200,000 refugee children living at the Bidibidi settlement in Uganda.