Books, Cookbooks, Films

tea makingFiction & Nonfiction:
    Guinea interest
    Africa interest
    Peace Corps Experience
    Volunteering interest
Cookbooks
Films

Guinea Interest

Camara Laye, The Dark Child. Written by a Guinean from Kouroussa. Fiction based on the author’s life in Guinea.
Buy it at Amazon

Kadiatou Diallo, My Heart Will Cross this Ocean. An autobiography from the mother of Amadou Diallo, who was fatally shot by NYC policemen in the late 1990’s. Ms Diallo grew up in the Fouta and emigrated to the US to raise her children. Aside from Camara Laye’s Enfant Noir, this is, I believe, the only work of non-fiction by a Guinean available in English. Buy it at Amazon

Yaya Diallo, The Healing Drum. By famed Guinean rock star Yaya Diallo, The Healing Drum is more than a literary autobiography; it includes considerable ethnographic information about Minianka culture. It got rave reviews on Amazon.

Anita Wills, Notes and Documents of Free Persons of Color. The author writes: “It is a non fiction book about Free Persons of Color in Colonial Virginia. I tell the story of my Great-Great Grandmother, who was called Leah Ruth. She was born in Guinea West Africa, and was taken into slavery at twelve years of age. Her story, and the story of her son (my Great Grandfather, Samuel Ruth), is an integral part of the book. Leah was born about 1818, and was ninety-seven when she died. She lived in Slavery for many years of her life, and suffered greatly. Leah often talked about her father being a King, and how they often panned Gold at the River. She said that they were kidnapped, and taken five miles down river when she was twelve. That would have been 1830, when slavery was supposed to be outlawed.

Also relevant to the SekouToure era is “Grain de Sable” by Nadine Bari, a Frenchwoman married to a Guinean official disappeared by Sekou. Set mostly in France, it recounts her lonely crusade to pressure the Guinean regime to account for the fate of her husband.

Abdullaye Portos Diallo, La Verite du Ministre. A wrenching memoir of ten years as a prisoner in Camp Boiro, Sekou Toure’s most notorious prison camp. Written by a for mer government minister purged by Sekou, it vividly portrays the worst excesses of which a police state is capable.

O’Toole, Thomas E. Historical Dictionary of Guinea (Republic of Guinea-Conakry). African Historical Dictionaries
Buy it at Amazon

Mariama Bah, So long a letter. A collection of the author’s letters to a friend during daily life in Senegal. Short and beautiful, it exposes the double-standard between men and women in Africa. Available in both French and English.
Buy it at Amazon

Cinema by Tierno Monenembo.
It’s in French, set in the time just before and just after independence so it’s interesting in how it evokes life at that time.

Africa Interest

Rough Guide to West Africa

Lonely Planet Guide to West Africa

Okot p’Bitek, The Song of Lawino. Not even set in West Africa, but this narrative, book-length poem by the Ugandan writer is perfect reading for anyone travelling to Africa, as it contrasts African and Western ways eloquently and with a humor both profound and earthy. African Writers Series, Heinneman.
Buy it at Amazon

Out of America: A Black Man Confronts Africa, Keith Richburg. An autobiographical account of the author’s work as a news correspondent in war-torn African countries. The book has gotten rave reviews, and provides an insightful look inside Africa.
Buy it at Amazon

William Langeweich, Sahara Unveiled. Non-fiction account of the author’s trek from the north of the Sahara, down to the coast of Senegal. Very interesting, especially as regards northern Africa. Great travel writing.
Buy it at Amazon

Lonely Planet Healthy Travel Africa. A great wealth of information about how to prevent, diagnose, and treat illness while travelling (or living) in Africa. An excellent supplement to “Where There Is No Doctor.”
Buy it at Amazon

Peace Corps Experience

“So, You Want to Join the PEACE CORPS… What to Know Before You Go” by Dillon Banerjee. Reportedly a wonderful book, full of good advice.
Buy it at Amazon

Things are Different in Africa looks at the U.S.
Peace Corps from the inside out, coupled with adventure after
adventure. It is also a book about dangerous encounters with animals in the wild, cultural mysteries and dark spirits, isolation in an equatorial Congolese village, crashing a motorcycle 360 miles from medical care, and finally evacuation under the gun to Mali near the Sahara desert.

Living Poor by Moritz Thomsen. A brutally honest account of Thomsen’s Peace Corps experience in South America in the 60’s. The quinessential Peace Corps memoir from one of the better known PC writers.
Buy it at Amazon

Sarah Erdman, Nine Hills to Nambonkaha. An account of PC service in Cote d’Ivoire (98-00). A RPCV reader relates: It brought back amazing memories and I cried a lot. It incited me to get on your web page after a long absence. I think RPCVs and potential volunteers/African enthusiasts alike would love this rich book.

Under the Neem Tree by Susan Lowerre. The story of one volunteer’s stay in Senegal. Not the most well-written perhaps, but a good account of daily life.
Buy it at Amazon

Parallel Worlds Alma Gottlieb & Philip Graham, A non-fictional account of an anthropologist and a writer’s year-long stay in a small village in Cote d’Ivoire. Great reading. Stephanie really loved this book.
Buy it at Amazon

Richard Dooling, White Man’s Grave. Fictional satire about a Peace Corps volunteer who went missing in Sierra Leone and his friend who delves into Africa to find him. It’s gotten great reviews.
Buy it at Amazon

Mango Elephants in the Sun: How Life in an African Village Let me Be in My Skin. Susan Herrera. Another Peace Corps memoir, in Cameroon. One review panned it, but several reader reviews were quite enthusiastic.
Buy it at Amazon

Alternatives to the Peace Corps: A Directory of Third World and U.S. Volunteer Opportunities (9th Ed.)
by Joan Powell (Editor). A useful reference.

George Packer, The Village of Waiting. The quintessential Peace Corps book. Can be hard to find. This is the book about our service that we all wish that we had written — clear descriptions and sharp insights on the culture and situation. He pulls no punches. Sure, he left early, but that doesn’t diminish his experience. Non-fictional account of the author’s PC experience in Togo.
Buy it at Amazon

Geraldine Kennedy, From the Center of the Earth. A collection of fiction and non-fiction from RPCV’s. On the Washington Post Bestseller’s List, this is a nice collection that captures the experience of PCV’s around the globe.
Buy it at Amazon

Carol Spindell, In the Shadow of the Sacred Grove. A lovely book about living in a small village in northern Cote d’Ivoire, among the Senufo. It’s out of print, but worth the search.
Buy it at Amazon

Kathleen Hill, Still Waters in Niger. A very different country from Guinea, but this autobiographical novel quietly and beautifully evokes a West African landscape and culture.
Buy it at Amazon

Douglas Wells, In Search of the Elusive Peace Corps Moment ~ Destination: Estonia offers a collection of short stories that every RPCV can relate to while portraying of his own experiences as a Peace Corps Volunteer in the former Soviet Republic of Estonia. The writing is superb, and his experiences were extraordinary.
Buy it at Amazon

Robert Klitgaard, Tropical Gangsters: One Man’s Experience With Development and Decadence in Deepest Africa. This book shares the author’s experience as a World Bank consultant in Equitorial Guinea. An engaging read with a surfer slant.
Buy it at Amazon

Volunteering Interest

Joseph Collins, How to Live Your Dream of Volunteering Overseas. More than 100,000 people contact the Peace Corps every year, but only 3,000 are placed overseas. To help more Americans find volunteer opportunities abroad Joseph Collins, Stefano DeZerega, and Zahara Heckscher-all founders of respected volunteer organizations-have written a guide that provides information on volunteering in Latin America, Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and Eastern Europe.
Buy it at Amazon

Nancy Meuller, Work Worldwide: International Career Strategies for the Adventurous Job Seeker. This book helps readers research, apply for, and get an international job. It includes quizzes to help define goals, culturally specific information for doing business in a foreign country, and advice for long- and short-term assignments; and it explains the basics of moving to a foreign country, such as visas, currency, and transportation.
Buy it at Amazon

Cookbooks

RPCV International Cooksbook. Send $9.95 to Peace Corps/VISTA Alumni of Colorado, Peace Cookbook, PO Box 18995,Denver, CO 80218.

Wild Boar on the Kitchen Floor – Cooking in West Africa By Harriet Hill and Friends. 1993. s/c SIL 08 BP 857, Abidjan 08, Cote d’Ivoire.

The Wycliffe International Cookbook From Wycliffe Mission. Fantastic, has everything from scratch, using local ingredients, and clever substitutions. Write to ILSC @SIL .org, or the International Academic Bookstore, Summer Institute of Linguistics,7500 W. Camp Wisdom Rd., Dallas, TX 75236.

More with Less Cookbook, suggestions by Mennonites on how to eat better and consume less of the worlds’ limited resources Doris Janzer Longacre. Herald Press, Scottsdale, PA 15683. This is less useful.

The Africa News Cookbook: African Cooking for Western Kitchens.

The Anthropologists’ Cookbook, edited by Jessica Kuper.
Buy it at Amazon

Films

There is a fairly recent (2002) remake of Carmen set in Senegal. Pulsing and rhythmic music, beautiful women, fabulous scenery, etc. It is called Karmen Gei. The entire review as well as the film itself is available at: www.californianewsreel.org. Excerpt from a review of Karmen Gei, the first African version of Bizet’s opera, Carmen: Like every Carmen, Karmen Geï is about the conflict between infinite desire for freedom and the laws, conventions, languages, the human limitations which constrain that desire. Since this is an African Carmen, freedom necessarily has a political dimension. The opening scene is set in a women’s prison on Goree Island, site of the notorious slave castle. Karmen and the women in the prison use dance and music as a weapon of resistance against dehumanizing regimentation, as has so often been the case throughout the African Diaspora.

Tableau Ferraille is another Senegalese movie circa 1999 that stars Ismael Lo as the noble but defeated politician. Beautiful music and easy to follow. The entire review as well as the film itself is available at: www.californianewsreel.org. Moussa Sene Absa structures (one is tempted to say choreographs) his film to contrast two possible development paths for Africa: one towards self-reliance and social cohesion, the other towards self-interest and social chaos. In Tableau Ferraille, Daam, a well intentioned but vacillating European-trained politician, must choose between these two social paradigms clearly exemplified by his two wives. His first wife, Gagnesiri, is a dignified village woman, dedicated to husband, family and community. She may represent Africa with its vast unrealized potential, waiting patiently, perhaps too patiently, for politicians and technocrats like Daam to develop her potential.

Dakan. Directed by a Guinean and filmed in Guinea, Dakan is about the relationship between two male high school students in Conakry and the problems their relationship creates with their families. Low budget, but fascinating.

Faat-Kine’: At a Gas Station, Finding the Answers to Life’s Questions. “Faat-Kine” is the welcome return of the master Senegalese filmmaker Ousmane Sembene, with his first film in nearly 20 years. Once again, his blithe naturalism — his films seem to coast into view and before you know it you’re hooked — draws the audience slowly into the rhythms of another world. In this case, it’s Kine (Venus Seye)’s. She works in Dakar at a tiny gas station that functions as the center of the universe: everyone she knows passes through her orbit. Written and directed by Ousmane SembÁene; in French and Wolof, with English subtitles;
118 minutes. This film is not rated.

TGV (’98, France/Senegal, dir: Moussa Touré). Adventure film about group of Senegalese in a ‘car rapide’ who take a trip from Dakar into Guinea and are confronted by armed rebels.

Wend Kunni, aka: God’s Gift(’82, Upper Volta, dir: Gaston Kaboré). Villagers adopt a young mute child found in the wilderness. Beautiful scenes evoking the savannah and W. African village life.

Zan Boko (’88, Burkina Faso, dir: Gaston Kaboré). A Burkinabé couple refuse to sell their land to wealthy neighbors. The film is a strong statement on urbanization’s effects on traditional values.

L’Enfant noir (’94, France/Guinea, director: Laurent Chevalier), based on the famous novel of the same name.