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Africa: Stories in the 55
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South Africa's WWI tragedy immortalised in new novel; Rwandan genocide as seen by Djiboutian writer

By Laura Angela Bagnetto

In this month's Africa: Stories in the 55, we speak to the authors of two historical novels, both set in the 20th century. Fred Khumalo's "Dancing the Death Drill" deals with the South African ship the S.S. Mendi, which was sunk in the waters off of the UK, killing 618 black South African soliders. In "Harvest of Skulls", Abdourahman Waberi, a Djiboutian writer, goes to Rwanda after the 1994 genocide and writes his novel based on the stories of the people he meets.

Spanning nearly 60 years, and many different names, South African author Fred Khumalo tells the poignant story of Pitso, a young black South African soldier who encounters other South Africans of different cultures on the ship the S.S. Mendi. "Dancing the Death Drill", published by Umuzi, shows intra-community politics--and the cameraderie-- of the men on the doomed ship. Previously forgotten by history books, Khumalo's book ensures that South Africa's tragedy will not be forgotten.

LISTEN to Fred Khumalo, author of "Dancing the Death Drill", plus an excerpt of his book

 Hard questions are raised in Abdourahman Waberi's book, "Harvest of Skulls". Waberi, a Djiboutian writer, spent time in Rwanda after the 1994 genocide to try to understand what had happened and connect with people there. The book, published by Indiana University Press, is out for the first time in English.

LISTEN to Abdourahman Waberi, Djiboutian author of Harvest of Skulls, discuss his book on the 1994 Rwanda Genocide

Helon Habila's novel 'Travelers' explores the lives of Africans in exile

Contrasting images of his native Nigeria in Nnamdi Ehirin's debut novel, The Prince of Monkeys

South African novelist Mphuthumi Ntabeni shines a light on the Xhosa narrative

Life and sensuality in a refugee camp in Suliaman Addonia's "Silence is My Mother Tongue"

Somali writer Ubah Cristina Ali Farah speaks of trauma intertwined with beauty in her story "Jujube"

Zimbabwean novelist Tsitsi Dangarembga explores post-war trauma in "This Mournable Body"

The perils for Zimbabweans crossing the border into South Africa personified in Sue Nyathi's new novel, The Gold-Diggers

Honoring those who lived through Zimbabwe's Gukurahundi in Novuyo Rosa Tshuma's novel, House of Stone

Kenyan writer Kiprop Kimutai's short story speaks about the privilege of wealth in a queer environment

Does trauma define the person? Aminatta Forna's latest novel, Happiness, explores love and loss

Musician examines his integrity in Nigerian magical realism novel Taduno's Song

The struggle in Ethiopia continues - there's no stopping half way, says political poet Hama Tuma

Tense, compelling Zimbabwean tales in Behind Enemy Lines short stories

Naivo's Beyond the Rice Fields crafts an epic historical tale set in the highlands of Madagascar

Karim Miské dazzles readers with award-winning crime novel "Arab Jazz"

Characters haunted by memories, prejudice in Nigeria novel "Crocodile Girl"

A glimpse into the lives of Lagosians in Nigerian Ayo Sogunro's short story collection

Love and infertility issues in "Stay with Me", a new novel by Ayòbámi Adébáyò

Young Congolese man trying to deal with life and school in JJ Bola's new novel; Nommo Awards for African Speculative Fiction