All posts filed under: Uncategorized

Mansa Musa

Mansa Musa: Glitter and Gold, streaming now…

I spent my Christmas on a train travelling from Canada’s east coast to the west. When I wasn’t gazing out of the huge plate glass windows at mountains, frozen lakes and endless prairie land, I was reading Mansa Musa and the Empire of Mali by P. James Oliver. What an eye opener! Here’s your 60 second guide to the medieval ruler: Kankan Musa was the 10th Mansa of the Mali empire Mansa is a Sudanese word for ‘emperor’ His control of Africa’s salt and gold mines at a time when the commodities were hugely valuable made him the richest person in history Ruled from 1312-1337 Turned the University of Sankore in Timbuktu into a fully staffed learning institution with the largest collection of books in Africa since the Library of Alexandria (246 BC). Built the Djinguereber Mosque in Timbuktu (from pounded earth, straw and wood. It has stood for over 700 years) Undertook an incredible 4,000km pilgrimage from West Africa to Mecca and back Amazingly, while I was reading and travelling, Twitter began talking about …

8 Online Bookish Spaces I Love

Searching out new books from black authors – the raison d’être of this little blog – often feels like combing through the stars for alien contact. No, really. Stay with me. If you’ve seen the 1997 sci-fi film, Contact, you’ll remember Jodie Foster lying on the hood of her car, parked in the middle of a field of giant telescopes, her headphones on, eyes closed, listening to the skies. There’s an awful lot of noise out there, but she’s sifting through it, listening for a pattern, a rhythm, an alien signal. Jodie Foster is me. Except I spend my time scanning a mishmash of social media, blogs, daily papers, podcasts and FM radio, my ears and eyes perked for The Signal. That rare mention of a new black book. And when I spot it, like Jodie, I swing into action, racing to trace the message back to its source. Who sent it? Why? Is the referenced author established or a newbie? Which publisher? Genre? Release date? The level of excitement is like NASA finding ET. …

Louisiana life is bittersweet in Queen Sugar

Charley Bordelon is a widow and single-mother. When she inherits a sugarcane farm from her father she opts to leave her failed life in LA behind, pack up and move in with her grandmother in Louisiana. Unbeknownst to Charley her grandmother has also invited her half-brother, Ralph Angel, to stay – a bitter man angry at being excluded from his father’s will. As tensions escalate at home, Charley must also contend with a host of problems on her new farm. Between the acres of neglected and dying crop and her hostile neighbours both black and white, she soon wonders if this is a feat she can pull off. The notion of a black woman owning a sugarcane farm in the Deep South a century after The Great Migration lends itself wholly to drama and conflict. When you throw in a bunch of charismatic relatives the stakes get even higher and the end result is highly compelling. I found Charley flawed and relatable and could only admire her tenacity: “She joined the crew, pulling armloads of …

2014 Black Reading Challenge

There’s nothing like a reading challenge to get your creative juices running. Maybe you have a list of authors you’ve been longing to try, or you’d like to discover some new voices. You don’t need a reason to take part in the 2014 Black Reading Challenge, just a library and the ability to read. Don’t adjust your set, I have 10 brilliant books to brighten your year. Plus, there’s a downloadable, printable version of the 2014 Black Reading Challenge. Pin it on a wall, stick it in your notebook, do whatever you want, but get reading! * March We Need New Names – NoViolet Bulawayo This debut novel centres around 10-year-old Darling, a girl growing up amidst the political decay and social devastation of Zimbabwe. Darling gets the chance to live with her aunt in America but discovers that along with new opportunities comes a deep longing for home. A brilliant novel that’s been nominated for every award going. * April A Cupboard Full of Coats – Yvette Edwards When an old friend turns up …