Did you know that the first human beings to walk this earth were African? They went on to populate the whole planet. So we are all from Africa, originally! Did you know that Africa is gigantic? It is as big as Europe, the USA, Mexico, India and Japan all put together! Did you know that no one can decide on the official number of African countries? This is because there are countries that are still unofficial. These are new countries that are struggling to become independent from old countries.
Happy belated Africa Day! Every year on May 25th, Africans observe the anniversary of the African Union (AU), an organization founded to eradicate colonialism and promote solidarity among African people all over the world. In light of this occasion, today’s book is Africa, Amazing Africa: Country by Country by Atinuke. Anyone who loves Anna Hibiscus books as much as I do will recognize the opening refrain from the Nigerian-English author’s books: “Anna Hibiscus lives in Africa. Amazing Africa!”
This nonfiction book for readers age 6 and up won multiple awards at the 2020 Information Book Awards. Through vibrant illustrations by Mouni Feddag, winner of the Hans Maid Prize for Book Illustration, Atinuke takes readers on a colorful and fact-filled journey to all 55 countries of the continent from Algeria to Angola and Senegal to Somalia. The book contains an informative introduction and the countries are grouped by region (Southern Africa, East Africa, West Africa, Central Africa and North Africa). A special introductory page for each part of the continent contains a list of countries, facts and greetings from the languages of the people who reside there. There are also special pages about religions, hairstyles and Africa’s favorite sport: football!
On the page about Ethiopia, where the AU was founded, readers learn that it was one of the first homes of Christianity and that it is the only country to never be colonized by European powers. For Nigeria, Atinuke’s birth country, she highlights that they have the biggest population and economy on the continent and that Lagos is the biggest city. The page about South Africa, where I live, is about Nelson Mandela, the conflict (Apartheid) that has greatly defined our country and our biggest cities. There are also index and “find out more” pages included at the end. Overall, the information differs from page to page, ensuring that readers learn an interesting assortment of facts and myths about the people, food, music, language, sports, culture, history and notable leaders that make Africa amazing.
Written by Atinuke
Illustrated by Mouni Feddag
Walker Books, 2020
Page count: 80
Reviews: Book Trust
Lebohang Masango is a PhD candidate in Social Anthropology, an award-winning children’s author and poet. Her debut, Mpumi’s Magic Beads is translated in all 11 official South African languages and has been awarded a South African Literature Award, among others. Her other titles include Grow to be Great: Awesome African Achievers, co-authored with Dr Judy Dlamini, and Mpumi and Jabu’s Magical Day, co-authored with Professor Claudine Storbeck. She tweets at @lebohangwrites.