Lynne Rienner Publishers Logo

The Rienner Anthology of African Literature

Anthonia C. Kalu, editor
The Rienner Anthology of African Literature
ISBN: 978-1-62637-583-3
2007/977 pages/LC: 2006036746
Sorry. Ebook unavailable.
New paperback edition now available!

ForeWord Magazine's Reference Book of the Year, 2007!

"A Herculean labor of dedication and love.... The incontestable value of this anthology is in its gathering together of, and making available, materials which show the range, richness and variety of the corpus.... Every undergraduate library in the country should have a copy ... on its shelves."—Saul Steier, San Francisco Humanities Review

"An exceptionally fine historical survey of African literature."—Charlotte Lindgren, American Reference Books Annual

"With interest in African American literature now happily a fact of our cultural life, it is time for us to turn our attention to African literature, which is as rich and various, as diverse and compelling, as the continent of Africa itself. This superb anthology will bring African literature front and center, where it belongs."—Henry Louis Gates, Jr.,  Harvard University

"This excellent anthology is to be welcomed, both for the quality of its material and for the fact that it will fill a growing need. I congratulate Anthonia Kalu and all whose work is in the volume for their contributions."—Dennis Brutus. University of Pittsburgh and University of KwaZulu-Natal

"Dr. Kalu has assembled the best of the oral and written traditions of African literature into an anthology comprehensive in scope.... The Rienner Anthology is great news for African literature, and a boon to literature lovers."—Tanure Ojaide, University of North Carolina at Charlotte

"Hongera to Professor Kalu and the publisher for accomplishing the important task of making African literature more accessible to more people.... This very good and wide-ranging collection brings together a valuable sampling of classic African works. It occupies a uniquely definitive position in the field."—Simon Lewis, College of Charleston



ForeWord Magazine's Reference Book of the Year, 2007!

Ranging from ancient cultures to the present century, from Africa's rich oral traditions to its contemporary fiction, poetry, and drama, this long-awaited comprehensive anthology reflects the enduring themes of African literature.

The selections, drawn from the length and breadth of the continent, reveal the richness of African creativity. Readers will find myths and epics; works by such well-known figures as Chinua Achebe, Mariama Bâ; Bessie Head, Tayeb Salih, Wole Soyinka, and Ngugi wa Thiong'o; and fiction and poetry by myriad new writers.

The pieces are organized chronologically within geographic region and enhanced by both introductory material and biographical notes on each writer. An author/title index and suggestions for further reading are also included.


Anthonia C. Kalu is professor of comparative literature at the University of California, Riverside.  Her numerous publications on African literature include Women, Literature and Development in Africa, and she is also author of a collection of short stories (Broken Lives and Other Stories) and has a novel in progress.


North Africa.
  • The King Climbs to the Sky on a Ladder.
  • The King Joins the Sun God.
  • The Dead King Hunts and Eats the Gods.
  • The Instruction of Prince Hardjedef.
  • The Instruction Addressed to Kagemni.
  • The Shipwrecked Sailor.
    West Africa.
  • Why the Sun and the Moon Live in the Sky.
  • The Origin of Death.
  • Contest at the Baobab Tree.
  • Three Fast Men.
  • Sun God Brings Iron to Man.
  • Anansi Borrows Money.
  • Ajapa and Aaya Oniru-Meje the Seven-tailed Colobus Monkey.
  • The Song of Gimmile.
  • D.T. Niane, The Epic of Sundiata.
  • Gasire's Lute.
  • How Twins Came Among the Yoruba.
  • Iron is Received from Ogun.
Central Africa.
  • The Running of Ture and One-leg.
  • Ngomba's Basket.
  • Nchonzo Nkila's Dance Drum.
  • The Woman Who Killed Her Co-Wife.
  • The Mwindo Epic.
East Africa and the Horn.
  • Wanjiru, Sacrificed by Her People.
  • The Legend of Kintu.
  • Adventures of Abunuwas, Trickster Hero.
  • The Brothers, Sun and Moon, and the Pretty Girl.
  • How Makeda Visited Jerusalem, and How Menelik Became King.
  • The Story of Liongo: The Tale of the Swahili People.
  • The Battle of Eghal Shillet: A Somali Story.
  • Love Song.
  • Fortitude.
Southern Africa.
  • Mantis Creates an Eland.
  • Why the Hippo Has a Stumpy Tail.
  • Nwashisisiana, the Hare.
  • Untombinde, the Tall Maiden.
  • Zimwa-mbanje the Hemp Smoker.
  • Dingiswayo, Son of Jobe of the Mthethwa Clan.
  • Nandi, Daughter of Mbengi of the Langeni Clan.
  • Mnkabayi, Daughter of Jama of the Zulu Clan.
  • Senzangakhona.
  • Olaudah Equaino, Equiano's Travels.
  • Abu Bakr Al-Siddiq, The African Travels of Abu Bakr Al-Siddiq.
  • Ali Eisami Gazirmabe, Narrative of the Travels of Ali Gazirmabe.
  • Samuel Ajayi Crowther, The Narrative of Samuel Ajayi Crowther.
  • Petro Kilekwa, Slave Boy to Priest.

West Africa.

  • Andrew Amankwa Opoku, River Afram.
  • Camara Laye, The Dark Child (Chapters 2-3).
  • James Ene Henshaw, The Jewels of the Shrine: A Play in One Act.
  • Amos Tutuola, The Palm-Wine Drinkard.
Central Africa.
  • Patrice Emery Lumumba, Dawn in the Heart of Africa.
Southern Africa.
  • Thomas Mofolo, Chaka (Chapters 3-4).
  • St. J. Page Yako, The Contraction and Enclosure of the Land.
  • Sob. W. Nkhuhlu, The Land of the People Once Living.
  • Peter Abrahams, Mine Boy (Chapter 4).
  • Es'kia Mphahlele, Exile in Nigeria.

North Africa.

  • Tayeb Salih, The Doum Tree of Wad Hamid.
  • Yusuf Sibai, The Country Boy.
  • Assia Djebar, My Father Writes to My Mother.
  • Driss Chraibi, Mother Comes of Age (Chapters 2-3).
  • Mustapha Tlili, Lion Mountain (Chapters 3-4).
  • Nawal el Saadawi, The Fall of the Imam.
  • Danièle Amrane, You Called to Me, Prison Windows.
  • Rachida Madani, Here I am Once More.
  • Andrée Chedid, Who Remains Standing?
  • Stepping Aside.
  • Amina Said, And We Were Born.
  • The Africa of the Statue.
  • Tawfiq Al-Hakim, Food for the Millions (Acts 1-3).
West Africa.
  • Chinua Achebe, Things Fall Apart (Chapters 3-4).
  • Flora Nwapa, Efuru (Chapters 9-10).
  • Ferdinand Oyono, Houseboy.
  • Mariama Bâ, So Long a Letter (Chapters 1-8).
  • Buchi Emecheta, Kehinde (Chapters 13-14).
  • Sembene Ousmane, Tribal Scars or The Voltaique.
  • Zaynab Alkali, Saltless Ash.
  • T. Obinkaram Echewa, I Saw the Sky Catch Fire (Chapter 11).
  • Benjamin Kwakye, The Clothes of Nakedness (Chapters 8-9).
  • Makuchi, Market Scene.
  • Anthonia Kalu, Independence.
  • Kofi Awoonor, Songs of Sorrow.
  • Kojo Gyinaye Kyei, African In Louisiana.
  • Bernard Dadie , I Thank You God.
  • Kofi Anyidoho, Our Birth-Cord.
  • Rush Hour in Soul City.
  • Maria Manuela Margarido, You Who Occupy Our Land.
  • Ifi Amadiume, Nok Lady in Terracotta.
  • Enzenwa Ohaeto, It Is Easy to Forget.
  • Abena P.A. Busia, Achimota: From the Story My Mother Taught Me.
  • L.S. Senghor, Letter to a Poet (To Aime Cesaire).
  • Murders.
  • Birago Diop, Breath.
  • Lenrie Peters, Soweto, I Know Your Anguish.
  • I Am Talking to You, My Sister.
  • Wole Soyinka, Abiku.
  • Telephone Conversation.
  • Christopher Okigbo, Heavensgate (I, V).
  • Niyi Osundare, Goree.
  • Our Earth Will Not Die.
  • Tanure Ojaide, Launching Our Community Development Fund.
  • When Tomorrow is Too Long.
  • Naana Banyiwa Horne, Nana Bosompo.
  • Nananom (A Tribute to Those Gone On).
  • Heritage.
  • Otymeyin Agbajoh-Laoye, Motherhood Cut Short.
  • Yanga Woman.
  • Wole Soyinka, The Trials of Brother Jero (Act I, Scenes 1-3).
  • Ama Ata Aidoo, Anowa (excerpt from Phase 1).
Central Africa.
  • Henri Lopes, The Honourable Gentleman.
  • E.B. Dongala, The Man.
  • Henri Lopes, The Advance.
  • Tchicaya U Tams'i, Agony.
East Africa and the Horn.
  • Ngugi wa Thiong'o, Mugumo.
  • Awuor Ayoda, Workday.
  • Violet Dias Lannoy, The Story of Jesus—Acording to Mokuba, the Beloved Tribesman.
  • Meja Mwangi, Striving for the Wind (Chapter 2).
  • Peter Anyang'-Nyong'O, Daughter of the Low Land.
  • Walter Odame, By the Long Road.
  • Dear Child.
  • Tsegaye Gabre-Medhin, Home-Coming Son.
  • Okot p'Bitek, Song of Lawino.
  • Ngugi wa Thiong'o and Ngugi wa Mirii, I Will Marry When I Want (Act I).
Southern Africa.
  • Bessie Head, The Deep River: A Story of Ancient Tribal Migration.
  • Mbulelo Vizikhungo Mzamane, Children of Soweto.
  • Nadine Gordimer, A City of the Dead, a City of the Living.
  • Bernard Luis Honwana, We Killed Mangy-Dog.
  • Dambudzo Marechera, Black Skin What Mask.
  • Milly Jafta, The Home-Coming.
  • Gugu Ndlovu, The Barrel of a Pen.
  • Gcina Mhlope, The Toilet.
  • Tsitsi Dangarembga, Nervous Conditions (Chapter 4).
  • Dennis Brutus, Robben Island Sequence.
  • Gcina Mhlope, Sometimes When it Rains.
  • Noemia de Sousa, Poem of a Distant Childhood.
  • Let My People Go.
  • Jean-Joseph Rabearivelo, Cactus.
  • Zebu.
  • Agostinho Neto, Kinaxixi.
  • Hoisting the Flag.
  • Chenjerai Hove, Nursery Rhyme After a War.
  • To the Wielders of Flags.
  • Masizi Kunene, A Note to All Surviving Africans.
  • Njabulo S. Ndebele, The Revolution of the Aged.
  • Oswald Mbuyiseni Mtshali, An Abandoned Bundle.
  • The Face of Hunger.
  • Lewis Nkosi, The Rhythm of Violence (Act I, Scenes 1-3).
Biographical Notes.
Suggested Readings.
Index by Author andTitle.
No rights in South Asia.