Reviews /

Africana

Authored by Mayowa Alabi
Illustrated by Kim Chakanetsa
Published by Wide Eyed Editions

This is a large volumed hardback with a beautiful golden design on the cover. As a starting point, there is much to discuss just from noticing the details on the cover. Promising to be an encyclopaedia of the continent of Africa, there is much to see and discover inside. The book allows the reader to learn about the timeline of events and the history of Africa, as well as see animals, meet important people and understand the geography of this vast continent. For any class studying Africa in any way, this would be a vital text.

It does warn, that due to oral retelling of history and records, there can be a lack of consistency in some areas. I think what I like is that it is honest and while we like to know facts and formal information, sometimes knowing that a culture has celebrated its history with stories passed down is exceptional and respected. As with a lot of non-fiction texts now, there is no reliance on photographs but on unique and exciting illustrations. From maps to portraits to landscapes, it is all illustrated and cleverly designed. Moving from region to region, readers can see differences between cultures, languages and geography.

At the back of the book, of particular interest to me, was “Words of Wisdom”, snippets of proverbs shared in particular regions and countries. Reading these, they are unique and offer an insight into a universal understanding. It would be fascinating to share these and start conversations about their meaning.

There is much to learn from this book and from Africa itself. I can see readers spending time travelling from region to region grasping a better understanding of the cultures and people from Africa. I think with some texts, teachers do need to be aware of bias seeping into the information but from my own experience with this book, it feels factual not biased and it is certainly a celebration of culture and traditions.