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Book lovers know the truth about reading, it’s awesome! But more than that, nothing quite expands one’s mind like reading. A book can have huge effects on people, not just in terms of the content, but the style, the wording, and the experience as a whole. In that spirit, today we bring you Obama’s latest recommendations for books to read.
A few days ago, the ex-President of the United States posted about his first visit to Africa since leaving office. Being an American born of African origins, Obama had a hard time in his political career, but made history by becoming the first African-American President of the United States. Despite being a true American, Obama has a lot of admiration for Africa, and his father’s home country, Kenya.
Obama says that he draws a lot of inspiration from Africa’s literary heritage, and has prepared a list of some of his favourite books by African writers. He posted the list on his Facebook account in an effort to shed light on the genius within the African community that is sometimes disregarded by Western culture.
Chinua Achebe: Things Fall Apart
Africa has seen its fair share of foreign influence, whether by Christian missionaries, British colonialism, and other effects. While some have been positive, others have been oppressive and detrimental. In this book, Chinua writes about these influences, how they were seen, and what lasting effects they have had.
Ngugi wa Thiong’o: A Grain of Wheat
Kenya, Obama’s ancestral home, had a long way to walk towards independence, and that’s exactly what this story is about. Ngugi discusses the events that led up to the historical moment of independence, and relates history to personal experiences.
Nelson Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom
The memoir of the massively famous and inspirational Nelson Mandela tells the story of the South African revolutionary politician. Obama has, more than once, shared his admiration for Mandela, so including this book is no surprise. This is perhaps your best option if you wish to learn more about the struggles and milestones of Mandela’s life.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: Americanah
While Things Fall Apart talked about foreign influence on African countries, Americanah discusses the lives of two Nigerians in the U.S. and the UK. The story raises questions about tolerance, race, and the elusive sense of belonging, identity, and home.
Hisham Matar: The Return
The Libyan author has won a Pulitzer for this novel in 2017. The Return is a memoir that recounts recent events in Libyan history. Amid Gaddafi’s imprisonment of his people, the story is about a man’s heart-wrenching journey to find his father.
Ben Rhodes: The World As It Is
This is the only non-African author on Obama’s list, but Barack insisted he be included because of his close relationship to Ben Rhodes, and their shared vision of the world. Ben Rhodes is an American political adviser who was worked closely with Obama since his first presidential campaign. Ben’s memoirs talks about Obama’s years in office, and how they dealt with foreign affairs. Obama says it’s “one of the most compelling stories” about his two presidential terms in the White House.
So Cairenes, make use of this summer by reading a few books that reveal a part of the world you may not be exposed to. It will surely help you become a more aware and active person in your community.