Culture-ist’s Top 5: Our Favorite Books About Africa



1. Six Months in Sudan – Dr. James Maskalyk

Emergency physician, Dr. James Maskalyk, shares a remarkable and astonishing account of the six months spent in Abyei, Sudan as the newest medical doctor aboard Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders/MSF). The book began as a blog Maskalyk wrote from his hut in Abyei where he records the unimaginable conditions in which he worked, and the heart-wrenching stories of those he tried to save. “It is a story about humans: the people of Abyei who suffer its hardship because it is their home, and the doctors, nurses, and countless volunteers who leave their homes with the tools to make another’s easier to endure. With great hope and insight, Maskalyk illuminates a distant place ““ its heat, its people, its poverty, its war ““ to inspire possibilities for action (Six Months in Sudan,


2. The Blue Sweater – Jacqueline Novogratz, Founder and CEO of Acumen Fund’s

In this inspiring memoir, Acumen Fund founder, Jacqueline Novogratz, leads you through the obstacle-laden path she explores to understand global poverty. The book unravels many misconceptions about poverty while shedding light on projects that found success. Novogratz’s unabashed personal accounts are a  gripping testament to her dedication to empowering the poor — particularly the women in Rwanda–pre and post genocide — through small micro-finance projects.


3. What is the What – Valentino Achak Deng & Dave Eggers

Dave Eggers should be applauded for his plight to give The Lost Boys of Sudan a voice that now echos  worldwide. Told through the perspective of Lost Boy, Valentino Achak Deng,  What is the What is an astonishing true story about the predominantly young, male refugees who trek hundreds of miles through the deserts of three countries enduring starvation, wild animal attacks, government bombers and military hijackings to find freedom from a war-torn Sudan. The second part of the book recounts the hardships these young men face after being sent to the US under a refugee program. Shadowed by death, corruption and depression, The Lost Boys, find that life in America may be a devastating alternative to their pillaged homeland.


4. The Last Resort: A Memoir of Zimbabwe – Douglas Rogers

In this witty, true story,  Rogers, recounts the  long and tense transition from colonial rule in his beloved homeland of Zimbabwe.  Rogers is the son of white farmers living through the country’s violent struggle to cope, under a new plan launched by Mugabe, to reclaim white-owned land. A fast-moving and, oftentimes, fun ride,  The Last Resort will enlighten and move in a brutally honest attempt to reveal life under the restraints of a Third World dictatorship.


5. A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier – Ishmael Beah

Told in his own words, Beah’s journey from boy soldier for the Sierra Leone Armed Forces to speaker, and child soldier advocate for the United Nations, is  a therapeutically poignant memoir that evokes strong emotion. Beah’s unnerving accounts can sometimes be almost too heavy to digest, yet somehow the pages seem to flip swiftly from one chapter to the next. Surprisingly, the ending leaves room for some happiness and a positive message that resonates almost as powerfully as the book’s darkest moments.



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The Culture-ist