To really understand Africa, you have to have lived there. But the next best thing is reading its literature. Even though it is far from perfect and still growing, I've started a list of Africa books for you - Joburg Expat's picks - which you will find below. You can also find them in my "Africa Bookshelf." I'd love to hear your feedback and additional recommendations.
The story is set in pre-apartheid South Africa, sometime in the 1940s, but the shadow of things to come is already looming. The mass migration of black laborers to the "Witwatersrand" following the discovery of gold there led to a loss of identity and belonging for many of these laborers who gave up their tribal culture in favor of life in the city. Without their families and ties to traditional values, their lives often veered towards tragedy, and this book highlights one such life and the efforts of a country preacher to bring it back on track and make sense of it all.
When I reflected a few days ago on whether there is or isn't an ideal time to take an expat assignment, I mentioned a book by Maya Frost, called The New Global Student, with the somewhat lengthy but descriptive subtitle "Skip the SAT, Save Thousands on Tuition, and Get a Truly International Education." It's a great book, but especially so for expats, and I'll tell you why.
Few books capture the spirit of Africa as well as West with the Night. There are tales of lions, courageous dogs, horse breeding, flying, and elephant hunts, all laced with a great deal of wisdom. Even though it was written in the 1930s and is set in Kenya (or, as it was then called, British East Africa), it brings alive so many things I’ve come to cherish about South Africa.