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Illuminating African narratives for readers both inside and outside the continent. In a collection that ranges from travel writing and memoir to reportage and meditative essays, editor Ellah Wakatama Allfrey has brought together some of the most talented writers of creative non-fiction from across Africa. A Ghanaian explores the increasing influence of China across the regio Illuminating African narratives for readers both inside and outside the continent. In a collection that ranges from travel writing and memoir to reportage and meditative essays, editor Ellah Wakatama Allfrey has brought together some of the most talented writers of creative non-fiction from across Africa. A Ghanaian explores the increasing influence of China across the region, a Kenyan student activist writes of exile in Kampala, a Liberian scientist shares her diary of the Ebola crisis, a Nigerian journalist travels to the north to meet a community at risk, a Kenyan travels to Senegal to interview a gay-rights activist, and a South African writer recounts a tale of family discord and murder in a remote seaside town. With an introductory essay by Ellah Allfrey, this anthology gathers new stories of contemporary Africa.


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Illuminating African narratives for readers both inside and outside the continent. In a collection that ranges from travel writing and memoir to reportage and meditative essays, editor Ellah Wakatama Allfrey has brought together some of the most talented writers of creative non-fiction from across Africa. A Ghanaian explores the increasing influence of China across the regio Illuminating African narratives for readers both inside and outside the continent. In a collection that ranges from travel writing and memoir to reportage and meditative essays, editor Ellah Wakatama Allfrey has brought together some of the most talented writers of creative non-fiction from across Africa. A Ghanaian explores the increasing influence of China across the region, a Kenyan student activist writes of exile in Kampala, a Liberian scientist shares her diary of the Ebola crisis, a Nigerian journalist travels to the north to meet a community at risk, a Kenyan travels to Senegal to interview a gay-rights activist, and a South African writer recounts a tale of family discord and murder in a remote seaside town. With an introductory essay by Ellah Allfrey, this anthology gathers new stories of contemporary Africa.

51 review for Safe House: An Anthology of Creative Non-Fiction from Africa

  1. 4 out of 5

    Arja Salafranca

    While essay anthologies and collections from places such as North America and Britain are common and plentiful, and part of the publishing landscape there, essays from Africa are rare indeed. It’s sometimes hard enough, in a calendar year, to find essays published in South Africa, where I live, and rarer still to come across anthologies of the genre. This collection of creative non-fiction is to be welcomed, and let’s hope there are many more to come. The reasons for the paucity of essays might While essay anthologies and collections from places such as North America and Britain are common and plentiful, and part of the publishing landscape there, essays from Africa are rare indeed. It’s sometimes hard enough, in a calendar year, to find essays published in South Africa, where I live, and rarer still to come across anthologies of the genre. This collection of creative non-fiction is to be welcomed, and let’s hope there are many more to come. The reasons for the paucity of essays might be many, editor Ellah Wakatama Allfrey offers up one such reason: “But African creative nonfiction, from the personal essay to the travelogue to the forensic investigation, seems, to me, to be in a germinal phase. This must have, in part , to do with resources. You have to leave your study to write compelling nonfiction. It takes time and money.” While it’s true that a writer needs both money, and time, and sometimes travel, in order to produce essays, this collection proves that no matter the obstacles, African writers throughout the continent are finding the means to do so. With essays ranging from the Ebola crises to homophobia and murder, Safe House provides a lively portrait of the continent and some of the issues and concerns that intrigue and interest these writers here – all living on the continent. Here are some of the highlights: Fugee by Hawa Jande Golakai. A lively, if at times meandering exploration into the Ebola crisis in Liberia, where her family comes from, in 2014. From being detained at OR Tambo Airport in Johannesburg, to making it back to Liberia, her essay reveals what life was like while the epidemic was raging. Her writing is assured and witty, “I beauty-queen my reply” and “the guy behind the Clicks counter is so delicious he’s practically a food group” but this is a serious, considered portrait of a place and time in history. Eating Bitter by Kevin Eze is a fascinating piece that looks at the involvement of the Chinese in Africa, Senegal in this essay. His piece focuses on one particular Chinese family who have settled there, and explores some of the reasons the Chinese are in Africa. Safe House by Isaac Otidi Amuke – a chilling account of having to flee one’s homeland, enduring the loneliness and confusion as a refugee from Kenya in Uganda. Walking Girly in Nairobi by Mark Gevisser. The South African writer travels to Kenya to interview Peter, a gay Ugandan refugee in Nairobi. Talking to both him and his friends, Gevisser develops a startlingly horrifying, yet brilliant portrait of life as a gay man, even in a country providing sanctuary. A Murder in Clovelly by Bongani Kona – a brilliant, compelling piece of journalism looking at the murder of a South African woman and her family circumstances. Similarly, Simone Haysom’s The Life and Death of Rowan du Preez explores the life and murder of another South African equally brilliantly. A Woman’s Smile by Barbara Wanjala is another excellent piece which looks at the lives of lesbian women in Senegal. The travel story, The Search for Magical Mbuji by Neema Komba is both vibrant and compelling: “In Rungwe there is a place called The Bridge of God on the Kiwira River. A big bed of rock swallows up all surface water in a powerful whirlpool on one side and then vomits it on the other side of the rock, taking anything and everything with it. To keep people away there are all sorts of taboos and cautionary tales around the place.”

  2. 4 out of 5

    Charlott

    I wrote this review on Instagram back when I read the book in 2016 but it still holds true and I thought I might share it here too: I really enjoyed reading different approaches, different styles and different genres: Somehow there seems to be anything from travel writing, memoir, true crime stories, reportage etc. The genius of the collection lies also in the way the essays are arranged so that some of them kind of “speak” to each other, for examples: Kofi Akpabli’s text “Made in Nima” portrayin I wrote this review on Instagram back when I read the book in 2016 but it still holds true and I thought I might share it here too: I really enjoyed reading different approaches, different styles and different genres: Somehow there seems to be anything from travel writing, memoir, true crime stories, reportage etc. The genius of the collection lies also in the way the essays are arranged so that some of them kind of “speak” to each other, for examples: Kofi Akpabli’s text “Made in Nima” portraying the particularities of the place he calls home and where all different kind of people live(d) together is followed by Kevin Eze’s observation of the Chinese community in Dakar, their dreams and aims and the violence against the community. Isaac Otidi Amuke’s “Safe House”, detailing in diary form his experiences as someone who was persecuted in Kenya for political reasons and flew to Uganda, is followed by Mark Gevisser’s reportage about LGBTI refugees from Uganda, who lives in limbo in Kenya (“Walking Girly in Nairobi”). Other great texts include Hawa Jande Golakai’s Ebola diary, Sarita Ranchod’s memoir on growing up in the Indian community in the Cape, Barbara Wanjala’s reportage about Senegal’s only NGO lobbying for the rights of lesbians and Neema Komba’s travel writing which led her to a mountain which is said to be magical. If Cassava Republic ever thinks about publishing a second collection of non-fiction I’d be first in line to buy it.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Heather Eagar

    I love the concept behind this anthology...a book about what life is really like in Africa. And not just written by journalists who have been to Africa, but written by people who live there and experience it on a daily basis. The anthology includes diverse subjects-- everything from surviving the Ebola virus to what it is like to be homosexual in a place where it continues to be illegal. Unfortunately, I felt that many of the stories were convoluted, and though they could have been great, it was I love the concept behind this anthology...a book about what life is really like in Africa. And not just written by journalists who have been to Africa, but written by people who live there and experience it on a daily basis. The anthology includes diverse subjects-- everything from surviving the Ebola virus to what it is like to be homosexual in a place where it continues to be illegal. Unfortunately, I felt that many of the stories were convoluted, and though they could have been great, it was hard for me to get through many of them. My favorite story was the very first one, about what it is like to live through the Ebola epidemic. It left me with high hopes for the rest of the book. But many of the stories used so many unfamiliar words and phrases, that it left me feeling like I was missing something. There were others that rambled for pages, and I wondered what the author's point was. Overall, I think it is an anthology that is worth reading, but I am going to have to give it 3 out of 5 Stars.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Siobhan Blackwell

    I don't typical read anthologies as I find it difficult to appreciate the art of short story writing. However, this diverse narrative of the African experience across countries, lifestyles and priorities is a welcome insight into stories seldomly told. A good introduction to the styles of these African writers and as such provides guidance on whose work to explore further. I don't typical read anthologies as I find it difficult to appreciate the art of short story writing. However, this diverse narrative of the African experience across countries, lifestyles and priorities is a welcome insight into stories seldomly told. A good introduction to the styles of these African writers and as such provides guidance on whose work to explore further.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Tinea

    A collection of nonfiction essays by anglophone authors from across Africa: true crime, personal narrative, social justice reporting. Skewed towards centering queer. A few standouts amidst a few weaker ones; good airplane brain food.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Julie

    An anthology of various African writers that focuses on lgbtq+ themes. Anthologies aren’t really my style, but I found this one interesting as the chapters portrayed very different aspects while still being kind of connected. The first story about the spread of Ebola, viewed by a Liberian scientist, really hit home as I was reading this during quarantine, but the story kind of ends in the void. Another chapter explores the Chinese immigrants in Senegal. Nowadays, the involvement of China in the An anthology of various African writers that focuses on lgbtq+ themes. Anthologies aren’t really my style, but I found this one interesting as the chapters portrayed very different aspects while still being kind of connected. The first story about the spread of Ebola, viewed by a Liberian scientist, really hit home as I was reading this during quarantine, but the story kind of ends in the void. Another chapter explores the Chinese immigrants in Senegal. Nowadays, the involvement of China in the region is well know, but it was still very interesting to see some of the reasons and motivations for Chinese to immigrate into an unknown country. In my opinion, the story that gave this anthology its name (Safe House) was confusing and without point. It was supposed to be shocking that a student was shot on the street, but the way it was told by recounting the incident didn’t feel thrilling. Other chapters felt a lot stronger to me, for example the one about Nigeria’s trans and gay scene, which was very interesting, especially because Nigeria’s north has very harsh laws against homosexuality. I also enjoyed the story of one author growing up in Cape Town as an Indian as it felt very cute and intimate and I could identify with her love of books. I was way into the last chapter until I realised that I had already read this. The topic is the same as in the book of the same author, called Lives of Great Men. It was interesting to get a view into life as a gay man in Lagos, but as I had already read it, it wasn’t new for me. Overall an interesting anthology, you should give it a try if you are into short stories and are bored of always the same narratives!

  7. 4 out of 5

    enyanyo

    Great collection of short stories.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Juwi

    This is a great collection of stories from across Africa. my fave stories are: Fugee by Hawa Jande Golakai Border Crossings by Sarita Ranchod The Mission at Verona by Beatrice Lamwaka This book covers a range of topics and issues in Africa today from ebola to the LGBTQI communities in various countries to Chinese Migrants and growing up in a war torn country. If you want to learn more about Africa and read some personal experiences and accounts then try this book as it is pretty eye opening especi This is a great collection of stories from across Africa. my fave stories are: Fugee by Hawa Jande Golakai Border Crossings by Sarita Ranchod The Mission at Verona by Beatrice Lamwaka This book covers a range of topics and issues in Africa today from ebola to the LGBTQI communities in various countries to Chinese Migrants and growing up in a war torn country. If you want to learn more about Africa and read some personal experiences and accounts then try this book as it is pretty eye opening especially about how horrific some things still are. this is NON-FICTION so it's all TRUE so the one about the people who were murdered was pretty interesting because of how different people view different cases (if the victim is black/white etc) i just found all the stuff about the LGBTQI community heartbreaking because they have to hide their true identities or fake being happy or just not be their true selves for fear of the consequences. But there are some stories which give you hope. Hope you enjoy this collection of stories from across the African continent. Happy Reading (although most of the stories are dark, disturbing and pretty depressing)

  9. 5 out of 5

    Tiah

    – You have to leave your study to write compelling nonfiction. It takes time and money. – Ellah Wakatama Allfrey - Too often writing about Africa has been at a distance, a view to a place far away. What I hoped to encourage, as we developed the pieces in this collection, was, in each instance, a personal voice that allowed the writer to become a part of the story. –Ellah Wakatama Allfrey – Being grilled about "otherness" is a train that's never late. – Hawa Jande Golakai – It's not like viruses n – You have to leave your study to write compelling nonfiction. It takes time and money. – Ellah Wakatama Allfrey - Too often writing about Africa has been at a distance, a view to a place far away. What I hoped to encourage, as we developed the pieces in this collection, was, in each instance, a personal voice that allowed the writer to become a part of the story. –Ellah Wakatama Allfrey – Being grilled about "otherness" is a train that's never late. – Hawa Jande Golakai – It's not like viruses need visas to travel. – Hawa Jande Golakai – If Africans fail to capitalize on the wealth beneath their soil and on their young population, it won't be Yun and his compatriots' fault. – Kevin Eze – It was Facebook that saved me, and Facebook that hurt me. – "Peter" via Mark Gevisser – In Senegal when we talk about homosexuality we are usually talking about men, and we forget about the women. – Ndeye as reported by Barbara Wanjala – When you stand around someone seated, you suck their blood. – Beatrice Lamwaka

  10. 4 out of 5

    Colleen

    The nonfiction pieces in this collection take us around Africa, from Liberia to Kenya to Zimbabwe and South Africa and countries between. The topics are also wide ranging from the effects of immigrating, living with HIV, and watching a friend murdered. The writing is skilful, readable and compelling. This is not a book to read from cover to cover in one go. Each story should be appreciated for the flavour of the place in which it is situated - and so many of the stories are difficult topics so r The nonfiction pieces in this collection take us around Africa, from Liberia to Kenya to Zimbabwe and South Africa and countries between. The topics are also wide ranging from the effects of immigrating, living with HIV, and watching a friend murdered. The writing is skilful, readable and compelling. This is not a book to read from cover to cover in one go. Each story should be appreciated for the flavour of the place in which it is situated - and so many of the stories are difficult topics so reading several at a time can be overwhelming. I gave a copy to an American friend to help her comprehend some of the complexities in different places in Africa. Equally I found the reading revealing.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Billie Mack

  12. 4 out of 5

    McPhaul M.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Kerry

  14. 5 out of 5

    Nyambura

  15. 4 out of 5

    Anita

  16. 4 out of 5

    Lianna

  17. 4 out of 5

    Guy Schofield

  18. 4 out of 5

    Kelia Olughu

  19. 4 out of 5

    mowgli

  20. 5 out of 5

    Ainul Mufa

  21. 4 out of 5

    Cassava Republic Press

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jacksanders91

  23. 4 out of 5

    Lindsey Hand

  24. 5 out of 5

    David Easton

  25. 5 out of 5

    Beverly

  26. 5 out of 5

    Nicholas Garforth

  27. 5 out of 5

    Angela

  28. 4 out of 5

    WillJ

  29. 5 out of 5

    Lulu Opio

  30. 5 out of 5

    Lukas Alda

  31. 4 out of 5

    Dundurn Press

  32. 4 out of 5

    Julia

  33. 4 out of 5

    agata pacho

  34. 4 out of 5

    Tessa

  35. 5 out of 5

    Louise

  36. 4 out of 5

    Kikay Kee

  37. 4 out of 5

    Dr. Kara

  38. 4 out of 5

    Gowe

  39. 4 out of 5

    Faskari Babangida

  40. 5 out of 5

    Jori

  41. 4 out of 5

    Jenna Hanchey

  42. 4 out of 5

    Esil

  43. 5 out of 5

    Lynne

  44. 4 out of 5

    T¡sh`T¡m¡na

  45. 4 out of 5

    Dafna

  46. 4 out of 5

    Brenna

  47. 5 out of 5

    Tziporah

  48. 5 out of 5

    Laura

  49. 5 out of 5

    Frederick Rotzien

  50. 4 out of 5

    Micielle

  51. 4 out of 5

    Betty

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