Editorials History Listicles

Contemporary African Writers to Know

When it comes to literature in Africa, it comes diverse and ethnically oriented. Each country has its allure that attracts millions of readers to their authors’ work. Literature on the continent is beginning to lose its appeal however some famous writers made their mark when writing was appealing.  We have listed some of the finest contemporary writers on the continent.

Here are some of the talented writers you should know:

Chinua Achebe

Chinua Achebe’s name rings a bell each time it is mentioned around the world. He wrote to change the way we see things.  His novel, Things Far Apart (1958), changed the literature narration in the continent.  He depicted the clash between the colonial era and the diehard African traditions. The novel is considered the most widely read novel on the continent. He went on to write other popular novels that we read today including No longer at Ease, Arrow of God among many others.

Ayi Kwei Armah

Ayi Kwei Armah came out with The Beautiful Ones Are Not Yet Born (1968).  The novel was a depiction of the frustration of the people of Ghana during his time. The novel has become a household name in most parts of Africa because of its way of talking about problems. The works of philosophers such as Albert Camus and Jean Paul Sartre influenced him. Ayi Kwei Armah remains a literary giant on the continent.

Mariama Bâ

Mariama Bâ wrote out of her experience, having struggled to be educated as a girl, taking care of nine kids after her messy divorce, and experiencing other prejudices African women face. She took a powerful lash at the patriarchal structure in Africa with her novel Une si longue lettre translated in English as So Long A Letter (1981). Mariama Ba was Senegalese.

Nuruddin Farah

Nuruddin Farah wrote From a Crooked Rib (1970), a novel that depicted the sufferings of women in his country, Somalia.  The novel came from a Somalian proverb which says “God created woman from a crooked rib, and anyone who trieth to straighten it, breaketh it.” He is a recipient of so many awards in literature across the world.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie came out from the lineage of the Achebes.  She brought literature to different limelight in Africa and is a more modern writer.  She played around with political, social, and cultural situations in a way that every reader can relate to and understand.  She started with Purple Hibiscus (2003) that gave her the stage she wanted, inspiring young authors to replicate her success. She has won several literature awards that include Booker Prize and Orange Prize.


Aminatta Forna

Aminatta Forna came to the limelight with her memoir, The Devil That Danced on Water (2003). A book that talked about war-torn Sierra Leone, the fate of dissidence, and family experience.  She went on to write The Memory of Love (2010) that was nominated for the Orange Prize for Fiction. She is an alumni of the University College London.

Nadine Gordimer

South African writer Nadine Gordimer wrote as an apartheid era’s prolific writer. She won a Nobel Prize in Literature in 1991 for portraying racial tensions in South Africa. However,  most of her works were not allowed in South Africa because they dealt with what was happening then. She wrote Burger’s Daughter that talked about the struggles of a group of anti-apartheid activists.

 Ngugi wa Thiong’o

Ngugi wa Thiong’o was an influential postcolonial author, whose work threw him in prison. He went on to write some of the finest works in Africa. The Kenyan is a recipieint of so many awards including the 2016 Park Kyong-ni Prize.


These writers have shaped the way in which writing is perceived on the continent. They have written so many literary pieces which discussed history, sought to liberate their people from oppression or for the leisure of their readers. We hope these writers would inspire a new generation of writers who would inspire the next wave of change which the continent so dearly needs