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Archive for the ‘Congo’ Category

Fiston Mwanza Mujila wins 2015 Etisalat Prize for Tram 83


Alert! Congolese author Fiston Mwanza Mujila has won the 2015 Etisalat Prize for Literature for Tram 83.

The Etisalat Prize is a pan-African award for debut authors of published novels. 100 entries were received for this year’s prize; nine were longlisted, and three shortlisted

Mujila receives £15,000 (about R325,000), an engraved Montblanc Meisterstück pen and a high-end phone or tablet device.

Mujila will also attend the Etisalat Fellowship at the University of East Anglia under the mentorship of Giles Foden (author of The Last King of Scotland).

The other novels shortlisted this year were The Story of Anna P, as Told by Herself by South African author Penny Busetto and What Will People Say by another South African, Rehana Rossouw.

The Etisalat Prize aims to promote the publishing industry and buys 1,000 copies of all three shortlisted books to donate to schools, book clubs and libraries across Africa.

The inaugural winner of the prize was NoViolet Bulawayo, for her novel We Need New Names, while Songeziwe Mahlangu won the 2014 edition of the award for Penumbra.

This year’s Flash Fiction Award was won by Modupe Ojiolape Kuti for her story “Gone”.

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6 books to remember Patrice Lumumba, on the anniversary of his death

6 Books to remember Patrice Lumumba, on the anniversary of his death

Africa will write its own history, and it will be, to the north and to the south of the Sahara, a history of glory and dignity.

- Patrice Lumumba

Today, 17 January, marks 55 years since the assassination of Patrice Lumumba.

Lumumba was a Congolese independence leader and the first democratically elected leader of the Congo. He played a vital role in the country’s fight for independence from Belgium, but within weeks of Congolese independence, in 1960, his government was deposed in a coup, and he was killed at the age of just 35. Belgium, the CIA, the UN and the United Kingdom have all been implicated in his death.

Although Lumumba led the Congo for just a few months, he is remembered as one of Africa’s most charismatic and insightful leaders of all time.

Take a look at six recent books to learn more about this fascinating figure:

Book information provided by publishers

A Jacana Pocket Biography: Patrice LumumbaA Jacana Pocket Biography: Patrice Lumumba by Georges Nzongola-Ntalaja
EAN: 9781431421138
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Patrice Lumumba was a leader of the independence struggle in what is today the Democratic Republic of the Congo, as well as the country’s first democratically elected prime minister. After a meteoric rise in the colonial civil service and the African political elite, he became a major figure in the decolonisation movement of the 1950s.

Lumumba’s short tenure as prime minister (1960-1) was marked by an uncompromising defence of Congolese national interests against pressure from international mining companies and the Western governments that orchestrated his eventual demise. Cold war geopolitical manoeuvring and well-coordinated efforts by Lumumba’s domestic adversaries culminated in his assassination at the age of 35, with the support or at least the tacit complicity of the US and Belgian governments, the CIA, and the UN Secretariat.

Even decades after Lumumba’s death, his personal integrity and unyielding dedication to the ideals of self-determination, self-reliance, and pan-African solidarity assure him a prominent place among the heroes of the twentieth-century African independence movement and the worldwide African diaspora. Georges Nzongola-Ntalaja’s short and concise book provides a contemporary analysis of Lumumba’s life and work, examining both his strengths and his weaknesses as a political leader. It also surveys the national, continental, and international contexts of Lumumba’s political ascent and his swift elimination by the interests threatened by his ideas and practical reforms.

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Voices of Liberation: Patrice LumumbaVoices of Liberation: Patrice Lumumba by Leo Zeilig
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EAN: 9780796924254
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US documents released in August 2011 reveal that President Eisenhower directly ordered the assassination of Patrice Lumumba, Prime Minister of Congo. But the Americans were not alone ..

Six months after achieving independence from Belgium, Congo’s first legally elected Prime Minister, Patrice Lumumba, was assassinated on 17 January 1961. The effects of that attempt at annihilation, sanctioned by the United States and carried out by the Belgians, continue to reverberate throughout the continent today as the “scramble for Africa” continues. Patrice Lumumba was an icon of African liberation, a hero who represents a short but realistic ray of hope for true African democracy. In this important book, readers are able to engage with Lumumba’s original voice through carefully selected writings and speeches. The critical section on Lumumba’s legacy reflects that his voice is crucial for the current re-imagining of the continent, the African Renaissance and questions of nation-building and identity.

More about the book

African Leaders of the Twentieth CenturyAfrican Leaders of the Twentieth Century: Biko, Selassie, Lumumba, Sankara by Lindy Wilson, Bereket Habte Selassie, Georges Nzongola-Ntalaja, Ernest Harsch
EAN: 9780821421611
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This omnibus edition brings together concise and up-to-date biographies of Steve Biko, Emperor Haile Selassie, Patrice Lumumba, and Thomas Sankara.

African Leaders of the Twentieth Century will complement courses in history and political science and serve as a useful collection for the general reader.

Patrice Lumumba was a leader of the independence struggle in what is today the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Decades after his assassination, Lumumba remains one of the heroes of the twentieth-century Africanindependence movement.

Death in the CongoDeath in the Congo: Murdering Patrice Lumumba by Emmanuel Gerard
EAN: 9780674725270
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Death in the Congo is a gripping account of a murder that became one of the defining events in postcolonial African history. It is no less the story of the untimely death of a national dream, a hope-filled vision very different from what the war-ravaged Democratic Republic of the Congo became in the second half of the twentieth century.

When Belgium relinquished colonial control in June 1960, a charismatic 35-year-old African nationalist, Patrice Lumumba, became prime minister of the new republic. Yet stability immediately broke down. A mutinous Congolese Army spread havoc, while Katanga Province in southeast Congo seceded altogether. Belgium dispatched its military to protect its citizens, and the United Nations soon intervened with its own peacekeeping troops. Meanwhile, behind the scenes, both the Soviet Union and the United States maneuvered to turn the crisis to their Cold War advantage. A coup in September secretly aided by the UN toppled Lumumba’s government. In January 1961, armed men drove Lumumba to a secluded corner of the Katanga bush, stood him up beside a hastily dug grave, and shot him. His rule as Africa’s first democratically elected leader had lasted ten weeks.

Over 50 years later, the murky circumstances and tragic symbolism of Lumumba’s assassination still trouble many people around the world. Emmanuel Gerard and Bruce Kuklick pursue events through a web of international politics, revealing a tangled history in which many people black and white, well-meaning and ruthless, African, European, and American bear responsibility for this crime.

LumumbaLumumba: Africa’s Lost Leader by Leo Zeilig
EAN: 9781908323941
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Patrice Lumumba (1925-61) is perhaps the most famous leader of the African independence movement. After his execution in 1961, when he had been prime minister of the newly-liberated Congo for only seven months, he became an icon of anti-imperialist struggle. As the news came out, his picture was brandished in demonstrations in capitals around the world, along with Che Guevara and Mao Zedong. His life and the independence that he sought for the Congo made him a pivotal figure of the 20th century, highlighting ongoing Western colonialism and the problematic nature of the independence granted to huge swathes of the globe after 1945.

In this book, revised and updated to include new thinking on the Congo crisis and incorporating material recently released from British intelligence archives, Leo Zeilig tells the story of the Congo in the dying days of colonialism, and of Lumumba’s transition from nationalist to revolutionary to international symbol of African liberation.

The Assassination of LumumbaThe Assassination of Lumumba by Ludo de Witte
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EAN: 9781919931159
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Patrice Lumumba, First Prime Minister of the Republic of Congo and a pioneer of African unity, was murdered on 17 January 1961. This book unravels the appaling mass of lies, hypocrisy and betrayals that have surrounded accounts of the assasination of Lumumba since its perpetration. Making use of a huge array of official sources as well as personal testimony from mnay of those in the Congo at the time, Ludo de Witte reveals a network of complicity ranging from the Belgian government to the CIA.

Chilling official memos which detail “liquidation” and “threats to national interest” are analysed alongside macabre tales of the destruction of evedence, putting Patrice Lumumba’s personal strength and his dignified quest for African unity in stark contrast with one of the murkiest episodes of twentieth-century politics.

Photo: OkayAfrica

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(Non) Fiction Friday: Read an Excerpt from The Lights of Pointe-Noire by 2015 Open Book Guest Alain Mabanckou

The Lights of Pointe-NoireLetter to JimmyAlain Mabanckou – novelist, journalist, poet and academic hailing from Brazzaville in the Congo – recently attended the 2015 Open Book Festival where he participated in numerous panel discussions and exciting debates around world literature.

In one of these sessions, entitled James Baldwin, Mabanckou spoke about his book Letter to Jimmy – a tribute to the late great American writer and Mabanckou’s literary hero.

In another session Mabanckou spoke about the concept of “home”, what it means to be a writer living in different countries, and about feeling like a foreigner when he returned to the Congo.

Mabanckou was nominated for the 2015 Man Booker International Prize. His memoir, The Lights of Pointe-Noire tells the story of his last visit to Congo-Brazzaville.

Serpent’s Tail has shared an extract from The Lights of Pointe-Noire:

The taxi drops me outside Chez Gaspard. I almost turn back: it’s a rough-and-ready restaurant in the Grand Marché district, and it’s full and very noisy. A few customers have been waiting patiently for a while at the door. I’m surprised to see a guy sitting alone, thin as a rake, nod his head at me to come on over. Seeing me standing there, unmoving, undecided, he yells in a powerful voice:

‘Come on! Be my guest!’

I go over to the stranger and sit down opposite him.

‘I know you’re thinking we don’t know each other. But I know you! You’re a writer, I’ve seen you sometimes on the TV! All these people sitting eating here are ignoramuses, they don’t know who you are! But you’re looking at someone who actually follows the news!’

‘Maybe you were expecting someone who…’

‘I belong here, I invite who I like. Two days ago I had lunch with a white journalist, yesterday with a colonel in the army, and this evening I’m with a writer! A word of advice: don’t have the boar today, I’ve been told it’s not fresh…’

He waves a hand in the direction of the waitress. She brings us two Primus beers and takes the tops off, her face expressionless, as though put out by the presence of this stranger. She goes back to the counter while my host eyes up her rear:

‘I’ve got the file on that girl, and it’s closed. She can sulk at me if she likes, I’ve already slept with her… Did you see the arse on her?’

I look round and nod.

‘This country’s changed, my writer friend…’

The stranger notices me looking at the scar that cuts his face in two, and touches it with his hand.

‘Yes, I know, it comes from the war, the oil, I mean…’

He looks over at the customers sitting behind us, then at those sitting opposite us, to make sure they’re not listening, then goes on:

‘God gave us oil, even though we’re only a little country with less than three million people. Why did he put all the oil in the south, instead of giving a bit to the north, so everyone would at least have a slice of the cake and we could stop fighting each other? But you know, I’m not complaining; when I think of some countries and the mess they’re in and they don’t have a single drop of oil, in the ground or out at sea!’

He raises his glass, empties it in one, and fills it again:

‘Oil equals power! Where there’s a war, there’s oil. Otherwise, tell me this, why don’t countries fight over water? Imagine a country without water, would its people survive? Oil has screwed everything up between the north and the south. And like the fuckwits we are, we’ve had a civil war over it!’

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2015 Open Book: Karen Joy Fowler, Letter to Jimmy and Novels as Battlegrounds (Saturday, 2 PM)

On the Edge - Jackie May, Perfect Hlongwane, Rahla Xenopoulos and Andrew Miller

The Open Book Festival is going strong, and the vibe around the Fugard Thaetre is only getting more fun.

We Are All Completely Beside OurselvesLetter to JimmyTo Quote MyselfThe Space Between the Space BetweenWastedThis One Time

Jennifer Malec covered “James Baldwin” where Alain Mabanckou presents his literary tribute, Letter to Jimmy, in conversation with Derrick Higginbotham:




Jennifer Platt and Annetjie tweeted from “Karen Joy Fowler: We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves“, Michele Magwood is getting the lowdown on the bestselling author’s latest novel:




Helené was at “On the Edge” where Perfect Hlongwane, Andrew Miller and Rahla Xenopoulos discussed how the pages of their novels are battlegrounds for survival in a panel chaired by Jackie May:




* * * * *

The festival is being covered by Books LIVE editor Jennifer Malec (@projectjennifer), deputy editor Helené Prinsloo (@helenayp), assistant editors Erin Devenish (@ErinDevenish811) and Annetjie van Wynegaard (@Annetjievw).

Keep an eye on our Facebook page ( and our Twitter profile (@BooksLIVESA) for more information and pictures!

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2015 Open Book Festival: Why Choose Fiction and What is Home? (Thursday, 4PM)

Nick Mulgrew, Jacqui L’Ange, Alain Mabanckou and Laura van den Berg

The second day of the 2015 Open Book Festival is underway! Check out Books LIVE’s coverage of the events as they unfold:

The festival will be covered by Books LIVE editor Jennifer Malec (@projectjennifer), deputy editor Helené Prinsloo (@helenayp), assistant editors Erin Devenish (@ErinDevenish811) and Annetjie van Wynegaard (@Annetjievw), and Jennifer Platt (@Jenniferdplatt) of the Sunday Times.

Keep an eye on our Facebook page ( and our Twitter profile (@BooksLIVESA) for more information and pictures!

The Seed ThiefThe Lights of Pointe-NoireFind MeThe FetchThe Texture of ShadowsWhat Will People Say


Annetjie covered the “Looking for Home” session with Jacqui L’Ange, Alain Mabanckou and Laura van den Berg. They interrogated the meanings of home in their recent books with Nick Mulgrew:


Erin was over at the session entitled “The Choice to Fiction” where Finuala Dowling, Mandla Langa and Rehana Rossouw chatted to Wamuwi Mbao about their choice of genre and style:


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