Cheeky Natives | Top Five Book Picks

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Cheeky Natives Top Five Literary Picks. (Photo: Supplied)
Cheeky Natives Top Five Literary Picks. (Photo: Supplied)

The Cheeky Natives are a literary collective comprising of Dr. Alma-Nalisha Cele and Letlhogonolo Mokgoroane. In collaboration with Arts24, they offer you this week's Top Five Reads from around the continent.

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennet. (Photo: Supplie
The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennet. (Photo: Supplied)

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennet

The Vignes twin sisters will always be identical. But after growing up together in a small, southern black community and running away at age sixteen, it's not just the shape of their daily lives that is different as adults, it's everything: their families, their communities, their racial identities. Ten years later, one sister lives with her black daughter in the same southern town she once tried to escape. The other secretly passes for white, and her white husband knows nothing of her past. Still, even separated by so many miles and just as many lies, the fates of the twins remain intertwined. What will happen to the next generation, when their own daughters' storylines intersect?


'Still Life' by Zoe Wicomb (Photo: Supplied)
'Still Life' by Zoe Wicomb (Photo: Supplied)

Still Life by Zoe Wicomb

Few in his native Scotland know about Thomas Pringle – the abolitionist, publisher, and – some would say – Father of South African Poetry. A biography of Pringle is in order, and a reluctant writer takes up this task.

To help tell the story of Pringle is the spectre of Mary Prince, a West Indian slave whose history he had once published. Also offering advice is the ghost of Hinza Marossi, Pringle’s adopted Khoesan son, and the timetraveller Sir Nicholas Greene, a character exhumed from the pages of a book.

While Mary is breathing fire and Sir Nicholas’s heart is pining, Hinza is interrogating his origins. But what is to be made of the life of Pringle so many years after his death by this motley crew from the 1800s?

As the apparitions flit through time and space to put together the pieces of Pringle’s story and find their own place in his biography, Zoë Wicomb’s novel offers an acerbic exploration of colonial history in superb prose and with piercing wit.



Manyano by Lihle Ngcobozi (Photo: Supplied)
Manyano by Lihle Ngcobozi (Photo: Supplied)

Mothers of the Nation: Manyano Women in South Africa

Lihle Ngcobozi, herself the progeny of three generations of Manyano women, takes an original, fresh look at the meaning of the Manyano. Between male-dominated struggle narratives and Western feminist misreadings, this church-based women’s organisation has become a mere footnote to history.

Here, the Manyano women speak for themselves, in an African feminist meditation rendered by one of their own.



The Wells of Salaga by Ayesha Harruna Attah (Photo
The Wells of Salaga by Ayesha Harruna Attah (Photo: Supplied)

The Hundred Wells of Salaga

Aminah lives an idyllic life until she is brutally separated from her home and forced on a journey that turns her from a daydreamer into a resilient woman. Wurche, the willful daughter of a chief, is desperate to play an important role in her father's court. These two women's lives converge as infighting among Wurche's people threatens the region, during the height of the slave trade at the end of the 19th century.

Set in pre-colonial Ghana, The Hundred Wells of Salaga is a story of courage, forgiveness, love and freedom. Through the experiences of Aminah and Wurche, it offers a remarkable view of slavery and how the scramble for Africa affected the lives of everyday people

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