The African Lookbook: A Visual History of 100 Years of African Women
An unprecedented visual history of African women told in striking and subversive historical photographs―featuring an Introduction by Edwidge Danticat and a Foreword by Jacqueline Woodson.
Most of us grew up with images of African women that were purely anthropological―bright displays of exotica where the deeper personhood seemed tucked away. Or they were chronicles of war and poverty―“poverty porn.” But now, curator Catherine E. McKinley draws on her extensive collection of historical and contemporary photos to present a visual history spanning a hundred-year arc (1870–1970) of what is among the earliest photography on the continent. These images tell a different story of African women: how deeply cosmopolitan and modern they are in their style; how they were able to reclaim the tools of the colonial oppression that threatened their selfhood and livelihoods.
Featuring works by celebrated African masters, African studios of local legend, and anonymous artists, The African Lookbook captures the dignity, playfulness, austerity, grandeur, and fantasy-making of African women across centuries. McKinley also features photos by Europeans―most starkly, striking nudes―revealing the relationships between white men and the Black female sitters where, at best, a grave power imbalance lies. It’s a bittersweet truth that when there is exploitation there can also be profound resistance expressed in unexpected ways―even if it’s only in gazing back. These photos tell the story of how the sewing machine and the camera became powerful tools for women’s self-expression, revealing a truly glorious display of everyday beauty.
Most accounts of Nigeria’s colonisation were written by British officials, presenting it as a noble civilising mission to rid Africans of barbaric superstition and corrupt tribal leadership. Thanks to this skewed writing of history, many Nigerians today still have Empire nostalgia and view the
colonial period through rose-tinted glasses.
Max Siollun offers a bold rethink: an unromanticised history, arguing compellingly that colonialism had few benevolent intentions, but many unjust outcomes. It may have ended slavery and human sacrifice, but it was accompanied by extreme violence; ethnic and religious identity were cynically exploited to maintain control, while the forceful remoulding of longstanding legal and social practices permanently altered the culture and internal politics of indigenous communities. The aftershocks of this colonial meddling are still being felt decades after independence. Popular narratives often suggest that the economic and political turmoil are homegrown, but the reality is that Britain created many of Nigeria’s crises, and has left them behind for Nigerians to resolve.
This is a definitive, head-on confrontation with Nigeria’s experience under British rule, showing how it forever changed the country–perhaps cataclysmically.
In the early morning of April 14, 2014, the militant Islamic group Boko Haram violently burst into the small town of Chibok, Nigeria, and abducted 276 girls from their school dorm rooms. From poor families, these girls were determined to make better lives for themselves, but pursuing an education made them targets, resulting in one of the most high-profile abductions in modern history. While the Chibok kidnapping made international headlines, and prompted the #BringBackOurGirls movement, many unanswered questions surrounding that fateful night remain about the girls’ experiences in captivity, and where many of them are today.
In Beneath the Tamarind Tree, Isha Sesay tells this story as no one else can. Originally from Sierra Leone, Sesay led CNN’s Africa reporting for more than a decade, and she was on the front lines when this story broke. With unprecedented access to a group of girls who made it home, she follows the journeys of Priscilla, Saa, and Dorcas in an uplifting tale of sisterhood and survival.
Sesay delves into the Nigerian government’s inadequate response to the kidnapping, exposes the hierarchy of how the news gets covered, and synthesizes crucial lessons about global national security. She also reminds us of the personal sacrifice required of journalists to bring us the truth at a time of growing mistrust of the media. Beneath the Tamarind Tree is a gripping read and a story of resilience with a soaring message of hope at its core, reminding us of the ever-present truth that progress for all of us hinges on unleashing the potential of women.
China is one of the oldest states in the world. It achieved its approximate current borders with the Ascendancy of the Yuan dynasty in the 13th century, and despite the passing of one Imperial dynasty to the next, it has maintained them for the eight centuries since. Even the European colonial powers at the height of their power could not move past coastal enclaves. Thus, China remained China through the Ming, the Qing, the Republic, the Occupation, and Communism.
But, despite the desires of some of the most powerful people in the Great State through the ages, China has never been alone in the world. It has had to contend with invaders from the steppe and the challenges posed by foreign traders and imperialists. Indeed, its rulers for the majority of the last eight centuries have not been Chinese.
Timothy Brook examines China’s relationship with the world from the Yuan through to the present by following the stories of ordinary and extraordinary people navigating the spaces where China met and meets the world. Bureaucrats, horse traders, spiritual leaders, explorers, pirates, emperors, invaders, migrant workers, traitors, and visionaries: this is a history of China as no one has told it before.
The murder of Dele Giwa remains on the infamous list of Nigeria’s unsolved murders. More than twenty-five years after Nigeria’s first ever parcel bomb ended the life of one of the country’s most colourful investigative journalists, the case has refused to be laid to rest. In Honour for Sale, Debo Basorun, with the insight of his proximity to some of the dramatis personae, examines the lurid circumstances of this controversial murder. He unearths a web of ‘intrigue and treachery, clannishness and base humanity’ of some of the men in uniform who, only recently, ran the affairs of the country.
In this compelling story of lies, greed and tarnished idealism, two Wall Street Journal reporters investigate a man who Bill Gates, Western governments, and other investors entrusted with billions of dollars to make profits and end poverty, but who now stands accused of masterminding one of the biggest, most brazen financial frauds ever.
Arif Naqvi was charismatic, inspiring, and self-made—all the qualities of a successful business leader. The founder of Abraaj, a Dubai-based private-equity firm, Naqvi was the Key Man to the global elite searching for impact investments to make money and do good. He persuaded politicians he could help stabilize the Middle East after 9/11 by providing jobs and guided executives to opportunities in cities they struggled to find on the map. Bill Gates helped him start a $1 billion fund to improve healthcare in poor countries and the UN and Interpol appointed him to boards. As Pope Francis blessed a move to harness capitalism for the good of the poor, Naqvi won the support of Obama’s administration and investors, who compared him to Tom Cruise in Mission: Impossible.
In 2018, Simon Clark and Will Louch were contacted by an anonymous whistleblower who said Naqvi had swindled investors out of hundreds of millions of dollars and offered bribes to sustain his billionaire lifestyle. Digging into the claims, Clark and Louch uncovered hundreds of documents and exposed the wrongdoing. In April 2019—months after their exposé broke—Naqvi was arrested on charges of fraud and racketeering, and faces up to 291 years in jail.
Populated by a cast of larger-than-life characters and moving across Asia, Africa, Europe and America, The Key Man is the story of how the global elite was duped by a capitalist fairytale. Clark and Louch shine a light on efforts to clean up global capital flows even as opaque private equity firms amass trillions of dollars and offshore tax havens cast a veil of secrecy which prevents regulators, investors and citizens from understanding what’s really going on in the finance industry.