Books to read before (during, after…) a tour to Ghana, Togo, Benin, Burkina Faso, Guinea Bissau, Senegal, Ivory Coast

Klaus E.Muller and Ute Ritz-Müller
Soul of Africa – Magical rites and traditions
photos by Henning Chistoph
Könemann 2000, Cologne

Augusto Panini
Middle Eastern and Venetian Glass Beads
Skyra 2007

Carol Beckwith and Angela Fisher
African ceremonies
HNBooks 1999 – 2002

Carol Beckwith and Angela Fisher
Faces of Africa
National Geographic 2004

Carol Beckwith and Angela Fisher
Nomads of Niger
HNBooks 1993

Carol Beckwith and Angela Fisher
Passages of Africa
HNBooks 2000

John Reader
Africa – A biography of the continent
Vintage books – Random House
New York 1999

Thierry Secretan
Into darkness – Fantastic coffins from Africa
Thames & Hudson, 1995

Thorkild Hansen
Coast of slaves
Sub-Saharan Publishers, Accra 2002

Thorkild Hansen
Ships of Slaves
Sub-Saharan Publishers, Accra 2003

Robert Farris Thompson
Flash of the spirit
Vintage books, 1984

Michel Huet
The dances of Africa
Text by Claude Savary
Harry N.Abrams Publishers 199

George Packer
The Village of Waiting
Farrar, Straus and Giroux 1984

William Serle and Gèrard J. Morel
A field guide to the birds of West Africa

Marcel Griaule
Folk art of black Africa, 1950.

Isabel Allende
The island beneath the sea
HapperCollins, 2009

Ghana – The Bradt Guide
Philip Briggs

Benin – The Bradt Guide
Stuart Butler

The State of Africa
Martin Meredith

Show me the Magic: Travels around Benin by Taxi
Annie Caulfield

All God’s Children Need Travelling Shoes
Maya Angelou

Burkina Faso – The Bradt Guide
Katrina Manson and James Knight

The Rough Guide to West Africa
Richard Trillo and Jim Hudgens

“Ghana must go”
Tayse Selasi – Einaudi 2013

Chinua Achebe,
Nigerian writer Chinua Achebe (1930-2013) is known the world over for having played a germinal role in the founding and development of African literature

Anthills of the Savanna (Anchor Press, 1987)
A Man of the People (Anchor Press, 1966)
Arrow of God (Anchor Press, 1964)
No Longer At Ease (Anchor Press, 1960)
Things Fall Apart (Anchor Press, 1958)


Carrie Brown
Born on a Monday, A Photo Documentary of Ghana
2005, PAPER, 64 PAGES
Carrie Brown documents the people, culture and daily activities of the village of Woe in Ghana in this striking collection of color photographs. With accompanying essays by Brown and Cross-Cultural Solutions’ Ghanaian staff.

Bruce Chatwin
Viceroy of Ouidah
1999, PAPER, 160 PAGES
Set in the 19th-century court of Dahomey (Benin), this novel evokes in rich detail the rise to power of a wretched slave trader.

Susanne Preston Blier
African Vodun: Art, Psychology and Power
1996, PAPER, 476 PAGES
A detailed study of West African vodun traditions, particularly in Togo and Benin. Blier compares the psychological and visual elements of Vodun with related voodoo traditions of Haiti and New Orleans.

Richard Dowden
Africa: Altered States, Ordinary Miracles
2010, PAPER, 592 PAGES
Africa editor of The Independent and The Economist, Richard Dowden draws on decades of experience in this multi-faceted, vivid portrait of contemporary Africa – an Africa that, Dowden effectively argues, can only be developed by its own people.

Karen Palmer
Spellbound, Inside West Africa’s Witch Camps
Also including a history of Ghana under British rule, Palmer investigates the pervasive influence of the spirit world and the phenomenon of exiling women to remote colonies in the north in this gritty report.

Francesca Pique, Leslie Rainer
Palace Sculptures of Abomey, History Told on Walls
2000, PAPER, 120 PAGES
An illustrated survey and history of the sculptures and bas-reliefs at the Dahomey palace with 120 color Photographs

Stephanie E. Smallwood
Saltwater Slavery, A Middle Passage from Africa to American Diaspora
2007, PAPER, 288 PAGES
Smallwood offers a clear, engaging study of Slavery and the Middle Passage, drawing upon journals, narratives and letters from slaves transported in harsh conditions across the Atlantic.

William St. Clair
The Door of No Return, The History of Cape Coast Castle and the Atlantic Slave Trade
2008, PAPER, 288 PAGES
St. Clair draws on correspondence, government records, artifacts and ship logs for this intimate, absorbing history of the British slave trade as seen through life at Ghana’s Cape Coast Castle, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Although focused on Ghana, this is an essential record of the transatlantic slave trade.


Maya Angelou
All God’s Children Need Traveling Shoes
1991, PAPER, 208 PAGES
A candid memoir of Angelou’s experiences in Ghana in the 1960s, just five years after the country’s independence from Britain.

Peter Biddlecombe

French Lessons in Africa, Travels with My Briefcase Through French Africa

2002, PAPER, 434 PAGES

A scandalously entertaining and useful introduction to Francophone Africa by the hilarious British writer and inveterate traveler. Organized geographically, he devotes a chapter each to Benin, Burkina Faso,

Cameroon, Congo, Ivory Coast, Mali, Niger, Senegal, Togo and Zaire.

David Birmingham

Kwame Nkrumah, The Father of African Nationalism

1998, PAPER, 142 PAGES

The tale of the remarkable life of Kwame Nkrumah, the African statesman who championed for independence, won Africans the right to vote, and became the president of Ghana in 1960.

Graham Greene

Journey Without Maps

2006, PAPER, 272 PAGES

A classic account of a 1930s journey of discovery from Sierra Leone to the Liberian coast. There’s no one better at capturing local personalities and complicated morality than Graham Greene.

Ama Ata Aidoo

No Sweetness Here and Other Stories

1995, PAPER, 160 PAGES

A collection of eleven short stories about the lives of women and men in postcolonial Ghana and the tensions between traditional village and urban life; Aidoo’s stories emphasize Ghana’s prominent oral culture.

Jack Berry, Richard Spears

West African Folktales

1991, PAPER, 229 PAGES

These 123 unembellished tales reflect the rich oral tradition of cultures throughout West Africa, particularly Ghana and Nigeria, where the pioneering Berry did much of his field work.

Vernacular Architecture of West Africa: A World in Dwelling

By: T.Minh-Ha Trinh (author), Jean-Paul Bourdier (author)