3 Must Read Books To Feed African Wanderlust

Have you ever been struck by a deep wanderlust for Africa? Ever found yourself having daily “Flashback Friday’ moments with your safari pictures? Longing to sink your toes into the mud of the Serengeti? Enjoying exchanging long and fascinating tales around a fire?

Here are 3 of the best African ‘must reads’ that capture the very heartbeat and essence of Africa without you having to travel vast distances to experience her magic: ‘Baking Cakes in Kigali’ by Gaile Parkin, ‘When Hoopoes Go To Heaven’, also by Gaile Parkin and ‘Tears Of The Giraffe’ by Alexander McCall Smith. More about them later.

I recently visited a Karoo village for some much needed rest and relaxation. I took comfort in the knowledge that even though I wasn’t in Kenya or the Congo, my feet would still get dusty on African soil, albeit it from the very southernmost part of Africa. It’s still Africa, I reckoned! And it IS!!!

Move over, Karin Von Blixen, this is my little southern part of Africa!

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I digress. After unpacking my luggage, my eye was immediately drawn across the room to the array of books on offer at the guest cottage at which I was staying. Rows and rows of stories stood like soldiers on a wooden bookshelf taller than me. One book instantly caught my eye… It was brighter and more colourful than any of the others… Much like many people feel about Africa. She stands out from other countries. She too is bright and colourful. As a South African I don’t have to look hard to find a rich mosaic of interspersed cultures with a legacy of stories. If you are not as fortunate as I am to have this right at your door, you will find these three books a good antidote.

Africa is often high on the bucket lists of wanderlust filled wanderers. Those who have yet put their feet on African soil, long too. And those that have been, yearn to return. It is said that there is something mythical and magical and transfixing in the air of Africa. Cue… loud drumbeat roll and lion roaring…

I’ve digressed again…all of that weekend, the book that I chose from the shelf barely parted from my hands. Virtually every page held me captive. Although a simple tale, it encompassed the very heart, spirit and soul that one would come to expect from an African story. I LOVED it! I couldn’t put it down.

One Authentic Life Reads

All three books are equally beautiful and each share a different story from a different part of Africa.

Baking Cakes In Kigali by Gaile Parkin – a delicious tale right out of Rwanda. This is not just about a baker but it is also about a community’s tale of life in Africa. Bright characters, colourful stories and beautifully descriptive writing, make it both compelling and emotive.

When Hoopoes go To Heaven by Gaile Parkin – the baker from Kigali moves to Swaziland with her burgeoning family. Not only does her character find a nook in my heart, but also her son, Benedict, who has a penchant for saving animals. This precious boy completely won my heart over! I laughed and cried often.

Tears Of The Giraffe by Alexander McCall Smith – what I loved most about about this book is the feisty, feminine and capable character, Precious Ramotswse. She is a detective and founder of the No1 Ladies Detective Club. She takes one along with her through the bumpy roads of Botswana to find clues and leads for her detective work.

One Authentic Life Reads

One Authentic Life Reads

I highly recommend making a cup of coffee and downloading one of these books this week. The names of Angel Tungaraza, Benedict Tungaraza and Precious Ramotswe are foreign to you now, but once reading these stories, they will feel like family.

Happy reading, and see you in Africa ‘soon-soon’!


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“She had not made a lot of money, but she had not made a loss, and she had been happy and entertained. That counted for infinitely more than a vigorously healthy balance sheet. In fact, she thought, annual accounts should include an item specifically headed Happiness, alongside expenses and receipts and the like.”
― Alexander McCall Smith, Tears of the Giraffe


“That is a beautiful forest,” declared Angel.  “Why did we not see it when we passed through it yesterday? Eh!  Yesterday our heads were full of death and violence,” said Dr. Binaisa.  “Eyes that are focusing on that kind of past cannot look around and see beauty.” —Gaile Parkin, Baking Cakes in Kigali

One Authentic Life Reads