Monday, 14 April 2014

What Makes An African Story? #UbuntuRomance @DecadentPub #Giveaway

My fellow Ubuntu African Romance authors and I are participating in a blog hop and reflecting on various aspects of our stories. Today, it's my turn and I want to discuss what makes an African story. Does it have to be about war or poverty? Does it have to be about shanty towns or criminal gangs? Are any of these scenarios uniquely African?
Hell, no!
In the UK, over 20 million children live below the poverty line according to Office of National Statistics. The last time I turned on the TV news there was a war brewing in Ukraine. There are rundown and no-go estates overrun by criminal gangs all across the developed world.
So if we can agree that these scenarios are not exclusively African. What then makes an African story?
I will argue that there is no one element that makes an African story. Africa and Africans are too diverse to be slotted into a neat box or stereotype. However, when I write my stories there are a few factors I consider.
The People: Africans are strong, resilient, entrepreneurial, happy, warm, generous, hardworking, opinionated, supportive, persistent, romantic and family- and community-orientated. They come in different shades of colour and race and sexual orientation.
The Culture: You can't write an African story without an element of its rich and diverse cultural heritage colouring the story. Contemporary Africa has caught up with the rest of the world pop culture with shows like Nigerian Idol and Big Brother Africa. Home-grown talents are being exported internationally with the rise of Afro Beats music and quality Nollywood movie productions.
The Location: The African landscape is as varied as its people. From deserts to deltas, grasslands to rainforests, mountains to beaches, cities with skyscrapers to villages with huts, we have it all.

My stories reflect all of these whether in a historical or contemporary setting. In Island Bound, the hero Joshua is passionate about the conservation of local wildlife habitats and is a patron of the local wildlife park. He campaigns to eliminate poaching of chimpanzees as bush-meat. While my story is fictional, this is still a very real issue in the region where the story is set.
Here's a scene with Joshua and Christy out on a day trip to the Edumanom Forest Reserve and he's telling her about his involvement with the reserve.
***
“Please.” She reached across and placed her hand on top of his. “Tell me. I promise I won’t forget.”
He trailed his gaze to her hand on top of his before returning to her face.
“Currently, we’re focusing on raising awareness. Some of the local species of animals, especially monkeys, are becoming endangered because of poaching activities.”
He lifted her hand and traced circles in her palm.
She tried hard to resist, but couldn’t shake the recurring pulse of sensation that travelled down to her belly.
“Joshua,” she said, and coughed to clear the lump lodged in her throat. “If you don’t stop what you’re doing, I won’t be able to understand a word you’re saying.”
Telling him the truth, a flush of embarrassment crept up her face but she preferred the stinging heat over not paying attention to his words again. Even safer when he stopped his action and released her hand with a triumphant curve of his lips.
“The animals are hunted for bush-meat, a local delicacy. So we need to educate the people as well as provide an alternative source of income for the hunters.”
“Oh,” was all she could say. She’d occasionally been offered the fresh-roasted delicacy on the highways while travelling, but had never really given much thought about the species or the impact on their habitat.
“Hang on,” she said when an idea occurred to her. “I’m sure I read somewhere recently that the Ebola virus was linked to bush-meat because some poachers didn’t check if the animals were already diseased before selling them on or eating them.”
“Exactly.” Joshua eyes sparkled as he grinned at her. “Although there are no confirmed cases of the virus here, we still need to be vigilant.”
“I guess that bush-meat’s off the dinner menu,” she said without much thought.
“Does that mean you’re cooking dinner for me sometime soon?” he asked, the corners of his lips twitching with suppressed amusement.
She smiled weakly and avoided the knowing look in his eyes by glancing away into the approaching forest.
Soon, they were deep in the mangrove swamp. She took her camera out, ready to snap pictures. She didn’t know when she’d next get the chance to do something like this again. Or if she’d get to do it again with Joshua. As he pointed out the rare birds and even rarer monkeys, she snapped pictures and even snuck in some of him surreptitiously.
The sights and sounds of the swamp took over. Her initial unease fled, replaced by excitement as they got intimate with nature. Seeing Joshua’s enthusiasm and passion for flora and fauna increased her admiration for him. She experienced being with him like she was getting to know him all over again. There was an echo of falling in love; the nervous tension, the racing pulse, the need to hang on every word he said, to get up close and personal with him.
Perhaps the jungle heat frazzled her brain, making every sound, sight, and touch even more primeval. Still, the increasing awareness of the short time they had together drove her almost to desperate need. Would they be able to salvage their marriage in time? The anxious thought plagued her mind.
***

Here are the prizes you can win by entering the Rafflecopter giveaway below
Grand Prize
$30 Amazon Gift Card
The Dashing Debutante Print Book by Alissa Baxter
Love Through Time E-book by Nana Prah
Wedding Gown Girl E-book by Kathy Bosman

Book Bundle 1
Lord Fenmore’s Wager Print Book by Alissa Baxter
A Touch of Winter Anthology E-book by Nana Prah
A Valentine Challenge E-book by Kiru Taye

Book Bundle 2
Send and Receive Print Book by Alissa Baxter
Three Tiers for Win E-book by Kathy Bosman
An Engagement Challenge E-book by Kiru Taye

Book Bundle 3
The Complete “Eternelles” Series by Zee Monodee
Adrasteia E-book
Seraphine E-book
Inescapable E-book
Indomitable E-book

To enter the competition, click the rafflecopter link below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The blogs you will visit during the hop are:
9 April – Zee Monodee - Author's Corner
10 April – Nana Prah - Writing Romance and Loving Life
11 April – Inge Saunders - Inside These Lines
14 April – Kiru Taye Writes
15 April – Alissa Baxter
16 April – Kathy Bosman for a final chance to enter.

Long Blurb:
When Christy Inemi-Spiff discovers that the man she vowed to love and honor has no such feelings for her, she’s determined to cut her losses and move on with her life. A quick, quiet divorce is all she wishes for Christmas.
However, Joshua has other ideas. He’s not ready to walk away yet, especially when he doesn’t understand why Christy wants out of their marriage. So he demands she agree to spend a quiet Christmas on a remote African Island with him, hoping they can salvage their relationship. If she still wants a divorce after these two weeks, he will let her go. But not before he’s had his fill of her.
But with the sparking tension between them, and the secrets behind the disintegration of their marriage threatening to explode, will either of them get their wish? Or will this season of good will show them what really lies at the bottom of their hearts?

Buy links:

Amazon US | Amazon UKBarnes & Noble | Kobo | Decadent Publishing | All Romance eBooks | Smashwords

What about you? What makes an African story in your opinion? Share your thoughts. Leave me a comment and I'll return your visit shortly. Have a great week, Kiru. xx