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Africa: Stories in the 55
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South African novelist Mphuthumi Ntabeni shines a light on the Xhosa narrative

By Laura Angela Bagnetto

In this month's Africa: Stories in the 55, South African writer Mphuthumi Ntabeni describes his twenty-year journey into the mind of Maqoma, a chief in the Xhosa community who lived in the 1800s. Ntabeni uses Maqoma's lifelong struggle against the British as the backdrop for his novel The Broken River Tent, as Maqoma guides modern-day character Phila through the realities of fighting for their land.

Writer Mphuthumi Ntabeni speaks of the difficulty in writing about such a painful time in Xhosa history, but he says inspiration came from the fact that there are no books that speak of the land invasions in the Eastern Cape in the 1800s from a Xhosa point of view.

"I put psychological emotions and thinking behind the actual historical events," says Ntabeni.


Also included in this podcast: Nigerian writer Nnamoi Ehirin, author of Prince of Monkeys, his debut novel out in April, speaks about his favorite book from the Heinemann African classics series.


Camaraderie and Irish attitudes in Nigerian writer’s short story collection

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

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