Home to Chinua Achebe, one of Africa’s greatest authors, as well as Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Wole Soyinka, Nigeria is undeniably a thriving literary country, a creative place boasting a rich heritage of electrifying writers and poets. Throughout history, there’s been a host of authors giving life to their motherland and recounting the untold stories of its people. Nigeria, is a country that boasts of having many of the world’s best climates, a dramatic history and fascinating traditions and cultures. Understanding Nigeria, here are essential and must-read books that will guide you through the country, that will give you a good foundation to learning about Nigeria and its history.
The Trouble With Nigeria by Chinua Achebe
Written in the early 80s by Chinua Achebe, but the realities he spoke about are still largely evident today, in the present Nigerian society. Simply brilliant. Short and straight to the point. Achebe skillfully portrays Nigeria as a country held back by corruption, ethnocentrism, indiscipline, social injustice and inequality. He puts the blame for the country’s many post-independence failings firmly on the Nigerians themselves, and challenges the citizens reject old habits which hinders Nigeria from reaching its potential as a modern and attractive nation.
The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives by Lola Shoneyin
This book is one of the prominent feminism novels in Nigerian history. Titilola Alexandrah Shoneyin did a remarkable job, an absolute gem of a book. The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives is a gripping page-turner that brings the readers into the world of polygamy and domestic abuse in a contemporary Nigerian family. Reading this book with have you completely ensnared, and you’ll learn much about Nigeria along the way.
Ake by Wole Soyinka
Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka’s impressive attention to detail and outstanding storytelling skills, turn the story of the memoir of his childhood years into a spectacular read. Soyinka’s Aké: The Years of Childhood story covers some of the first protests against colonial rule in the 1940s. Writing a tragic tale: of how a vulnerable society – a society torn between traditional and modernising forces.
Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
For a good read of the history of the Nigerian civil war, you have to read Adichie’s novel. Half of a Yellow Sun is one of the essential books by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and among the top 10 books by African writers you have to read. The novel is a dense, informative account on the of Biafra’s struggle to establish an independent republic in Nigeria, and the tragedy that it brought. The story explores the lives of a young woman, university lecturer, a houseboy and a British writer, all in a complicated time in history. A tragic tale of colonialism, tribalism, class, race and sexual desire.
Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
You can’t find any list on Nigeria-related reading without appearance by Chinua Achebe. Things Fall Apart is one of the more popular Nigerian books, as well as a top 10 books by African writers. It is often used in literature, world history, and African studies courses across the globe. Achebe explored his people’s story and what happened to their society when the Europeans arrived and the wild British colonial legacy. The novel has been translated into more than 50 languages, and millions of readers around the world identifies with Things Fall Apart in relation to their societies and colonialism.
Sozaboy by Ken Saro-Wiwa
Sozaboy (Nigerian Pidgin English meaning soldier-boy). The book is a story about a young African boy during Nigerian civil war, written in a mixture of Nigerian pidgin English, broken English and idiomatic English. The late author and political activist Ken Saro-Wiwa in Sozaboy did not shy away from revealing brutal truths that encompasses all these facets of Nigeria. From ethnicity, woes and struggles of daily life under military oppression, corruption to black magic, colonialism and the civil war. A must-read anti-war novel.