Category Archives: Zambia

Glossing Africa

‘Habari yako?’

Could I make a start like this?
Should I write a translation at the bottom of this page? 
Should I put the translation between brackets?
Or just leave at as it is? 
All kinds of possibilities. So what will a writer / editor / publisher do with the odd word out? 

Namwali Serpell writes about it in the New York Review of Books


Namwali Serpell: Being Zambitious

She teaches American literature to American Students, while coming from Zambia herself. This should not be a special things in a globalizing world. Just like an American teaching African literature somewhere at an African university or writing about it. The world is shrinking (in some ways) and we are getting closer. Even a man with a German grandfather and Scottish mother a man can become president of the United States of America. So there are endless possibilities.

In this article Aaron Bady writes about Namwali Serpell, who is heading for the great Zambitious novel.  

Photo of Namwali Serpell by Peg Skorpinski


Let me not straight away delve into this collection of ten short stories, but write about the author first. Mulikita was born in Zambia in 1928. Part of his formal education he obtained in Grahamstown (South Africa), later on he went to the United States of America to study at Stanford University. 

In his working career he started out as an educator, a headmaster at a secondary school. Next he moved to the world of diplomacy when he became the Zambian ambassador to the United Nations from 1964 – 1966. Coming back to his motherland he worked at several ministries as a civil servant and as a minister. In 1988 he was elected as the Speaker Speaker of the Zambian National Assembly. He oversaw the heady days in which Zambia travelled from a one party state towards a multi party state. After that he moved back to the world of education and became chancellor of the Copperbelt University. In 1998 he passed away. 

During all these busy days he managed to publish books.  One of these is this collection of short stories. 

One important theme in these stories is the world of his culture that is fading away. It seems that Mulikita tries to get hold of this soon to be past. He tells how people get together to listen to stories told by grandfather. We see glimpses of the way villagers lived their lives. The colonial masters hardly feature in his stories.

Another aspect, that is linked with the first one, is the prevalence of witchcraft. Even when people try to keep their distance it becomes clear there is more power than we can see with our eyes.  An outside researcher, working on his PhD, eventually succumbs to this world of witchcraft and moves away before disaster will overtake him. 

Love is another theme, sometimes even romantic love (how modern !), but more important arranged love, welding together two families.

In his stories Mulikita takes his time to set the scene and to elaborate on the developments with at times surprising developments in the story. In a way Mulikita describes a development that does not know a return to the past, the chance to return has been passed. 

Fwanyanga M. Mulikita – A point of no return – 1968

Afbeeldingsresultaat voor a point of no return mulikita

us $5m textbook scandal deepens

Education is important, also in the country Zambia. For a good education pupils and students need good textbooks, to help them in their studies.

But how do they get these textbooks? Who will supply these books? Who will decide on what kind of books to supply to the schools.

Many questions and important questions. Have a look at what happens in Zambia. 

please don’t airbrush african teen fiction

You have written the story of your life. You submit the manuscript to the editor of a publishing house. Some time later you get a response. 

Please change this.
Please change that.
Please erase that passage.
Please add another paragraph there.

What would be your response? 

The Zambian writer Ellen Banda tells about this process.


rad women read

Namwali SerpellShe shot to fame due to her story that was selected by the Caine Prize. Here you can listen to her reading another story. “Z is for Zora”. Her name is Namwali Serpell and she hails from Zambia, these days she lives and works in the United States of Diaspora, to be more precise UC Berkeley.



i was nervous that my mother

Recently she won the Caine Prize. This prize put her name on the world wide screen. She gave many interviews and here are the highlights of one of these interviews.