The Grandmothers mothers Campaign is an initiative of theStephen Lewis Foundation

Glacier Grannies Reading List:

Powered by Love

:  by Joanna Henry and photographer Alexis MacDonald edited by Michele Landsberg

"By the time the AIDS pandemic in Africa had reached its height in the early 2000s, millions of children had been orphaned. In the face of overwhelming loss, the grandmothers of Africa stepped in to hold families and communities together. Author Joanna Henry and photographer Alexis MacDonald visited eight African countries, interviewing and photographing hundreds of grandmothers (including Sarah Obama, Barack Obama's grandmother) who are reclaiming hope and resurrecting lives. The extraordinary images and stories of resourceful women fighting for a better future make Powered by Love an inspiration for everyone. Writes journalist-social activist Michele Landsberg, "We thought we knew what was happening in Africa when the AIDS pandemic raged across the continent, sweeping away 35 million lives. But we never knew it the way this book reveals it, in the shockingly intimate voices of the grandmothers who had to save the abandoned children when no one else was left alive. These voices will leap straight into your heart. Their unguarded faces, in portraits that glow with character, pain and humour, will captivate you." In 2006, the Stephen Lewis Foundation launched a campaign to engage Canadian grandmothers to support their African sisters. The Grandmothers Campaign, now a movement 10,000 strong, has raised over $25 million that has gone directly into the hands of African grandmothers and their grassroots organizations working at the frontlines of the AIDS pandemic. Powered by Love joins this campaign by telling the story of these indomitable women and by directing all royalties from the sale of the book to African grandmothers raising children orphaned by AIDS."


:  by Yaa Gyasi

The novel begins in 18th Century Ghanna where Effia is married off to an Englishman while Esi, her half sister is sold into slavery and shipped to America. Clear concise and bruising, this is a book which not only illustrates the brutality of colonialism and the slave trade but also the impact it had upon relationships, identity and the generations which have followed.


:  by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

A searing new novel, at once sweeping and intimate, by the award-winning author of Half of a Yellow Sun: a story of love and race centered around a man and woman from Nigeria who seemed destined to be together--until the choices they are forced to make tear them apart.

Under The Udala Trees

:  by Chinelo Okparanta

Ijeoma comes of age as her nation does; born before Nigeria’s independence, she is eleven when civil war breaks out in the young republic of Nigeria. Sent away to safety, she meets another displaced child and they, star-crossed, fall in love. They are from different ethnic communities. They are also both girls. Even as their nation contends with and recovers from the effects of war and division, Nigerian lives are also wrecked and lost from taboo and prejudice. This story offers a glimmer of hope -- a future where a woman might just be able to shape her life around truth and love.

Half of a Yellow Sun

:  by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

This is a heartbreaking, exquisitely written literary masterpiece Ugwu, a boy from a poor village, works as a houseboy for a university professor. Olanna, a young woman, has abandoned her life of privilege in Lagos to live with her charismatic new lover, the professor. And Richard, a shy English writer, is in thrall to Olanna's enigmatic twin sister. As the horrific Biafran War engulfs them, they are thrown together and pulled apart in ways they had never imagined. Adichie's isa novel about Africa in a wider sense: about the end of colonialism, ethnic allegiances, class and race - and about the ways love can complicate all of these things.

Cutting For Stone

:  by Abraham Verghese

A sweeping, emotionally riveting first novel -- an enthralling family saga of Africa and America, doctors and patients, exile and home. Marion and Shiva Stone are twin brothers born of a secret union between a beautiful Indian nun and a brash British surgeon at a mission hospital in Addis Ababa. Orphaned by their mother's death in childbirth and their father's disappearance, bound together by a preternatural connection and a shared fascination with medicine, the twins come of age as Ethiopia hovers on the brink of revolutionAn unforgettable journey into one man's remarkable life, and an epic story about the power, intimacy, and curious beauty.

The Blue Sweater

:  by Jacqueline Novogratz

The Blue Sweater is the inspiring story of a woman who left a career in international banking to spend her life on a quest to understand global poverty and find powerful new ways of tackling it. It all started back home in Virginia, with the blue sweater, a gift that quickly became her prized possession--until the day she outgrew it and gave it away to Goodwill. Eleven years later in Africa, she spotted a young boy wearing that very sweater, with her name still on the tag inside. That the sweater had made its trek all the way to Rwanda was ample evidence, she thought, of how we are all connected, how our actions--and inaction--touch people every day across the globe, people we may never know or meet. The Blue Sweater is a call to action that challenges us to grant dignity to the poor and to rethink our engagement with the world.

Born A Crime

:  by Trevor Noah

Trevor Noah is a South African Comedian who wrote his memoir of growing up in South Africa during apartheid and after. The title refers to the fact that he was considered "illegal" because in South Africa his mother was Black and his father was White and that was against the law when he was born. Kirkus Review "A gritty memoir...studded with insight and provocative social criticism...with flashes of brilliant storytelling and acute observations."

The Girl Who Smiled Beads

:  by Clemantine Wamariya and co-author, Elizabeth Weil

"After the Rwandan genocide in 1994, Clemantine Wamariya became a refugee. At 6, she and her older sister, Claire, fled their grandmother’s home in Butare, near the Burundi border, to avoid killers. The siblings wound up traversing seven African countries on their own for more than six years, moving from refugee camps to slums to satellite settlements and back to camps, as they searched for a stable existence. In her sharp, moving memoir, “The Girl Who Smiled Beads,” Wamariya and her co-author, Elizabeth Weil, a writer at large for The Times Magazine, describe Wamariya’s idyllic early childhood in the Rwandan capital, Kigali, and the madness that followed with an analytic eye and, at times, a lyrical honesty."

Sweetness in the Belly

:  by Camilla Gibb

Set in Ethiopia and London. Although Gibb is Canadian and her protagonist is a British child left orphaned by her hippy parents in North Africa, the book really gets into the lives of Ethiopian women in what I felt was a very authentic way. An imagined narrative of one woman’s search for love and belonging cast against a nuanced portrait of political upheaval in Haile Selassies Ethiopia and Thatchers London.Orphaned at the age of eight, British-born Lilly devotes her life to the teachings of the Qur'an from within a Sufi shrine, but is persecuted for her foreign heritage, forcing her to flee to London, where she is equally disconnected.

We Need New Names

:  by NoViolet Bulawayo

Set in Zimbabwe and the USA. Shortlisted for the ManBooker prize, this is the 2013 debut novel of expatriate Zimbabwean writer NoViolet Bulawayo. A coming-of-age story, it tells of the life of a young girl named Darling, first as a ten-year-old in Zimbabwe, and later as a teenager in the Midwest United States.

The Old Drift

:  by Namwali Serpell

“On the banks of the Zambezi River, a few miles from the majestic Victoria Falls, there was once a colonial settlement called The Old Drift” …here begins the story of a small African nation. A debut novel, published in 2019, that follows three generations of three families, telling the story of a nation, and of the grand sweep of time. “A dazzling debut, establishing Namwali Serpell as a writer on the world stage." — Salman Rushdie, The New York Times Book Review. Named one of the best books of the year by Dwight Garner of the The New York Times

The Girl with the Louding Voice

:  by Abi Daré (2020)

Written in non-standard English- Abi Daré has said of the language in which the book is written: “Nigerians speak something called pidgin English, and I knew I didn’t want to write in pidgin English because even the very educated people speak pidgin English. I wanted it to be nonstandard English. I could make it Adunni’s. It could be her own English, so to speak.” A powerful, emotional debut novel told in the unforgettable voice of a young Nigerian woman who is trapped in a life of servitude but determined to fight for her dreams and choose her own future. Adunni is a fourteen-year-old Nigerian girl who knows what she wants: an education. This, her mother has told her, is the only way to get a "louding voice".

The Hairdresser of Harari

:  by Tendai Huchu (2011)

In this delicious and devastating first novel, which The Guardian named one of its ten best contemporary African books, the author portrays the heart of contemporary Zimbabwean society with humor and grace. The novel is an acute portrayal of a rapidly changing Zimbabwe, showing us how social concerns shape the lives of everyday people.

Baking Cakes in Kigali

:  by Gaile Parkin (2009)

Baking Cakes in Kigali begins as a series of vignettes, with Zambian born author, Gaile Parkin, introducing characters and plot elements through visits to cake baker Angel Tungaraza’s apartment. The residents of Kigali, the capital city of Rwanda, turn to Angel for their celebrations—and sometimes just a weeknight dinner party—and in the process share their lives and hopes with the Tanzanian transplant. Hauntingly charming, funny, and involving, Baking Cakes in Kigali is a novel about the real meaning of reconciliation — about how, in the aftermath of tragedy, life goes on and people still manage to find reasons to celebrate.

New Daughters of Africa

:  An anthology of writing by women of African descent, edited by Margaret Busby. (2019)

'New Daughters of Africa' is a major international collection that brings together the work of more than 200 women writers of African descent, writing from 1900 to the present day. It celebrates their artistry and showcasing their contributions to modern literature and international culture.

A Long Walk To Water

:  by Linda Sue Park (2010)

When the Sudanese civil war reaches his village in 1985, eleven year old Slava becomes separated from his family and must walk with other Dinka tribe members through southern Sudan, Ethiopia and Kenya in search of safe haven. Based on the life of Salva Dut, who, after emigrating to America in 1996, began the project “Water For South Sudan” to dig water wells. VIRL has 3 copies, e-book and downloadable audiobook.

This Mournable Body

:  by Tsitsi Dangarembga (2018)

The author returns to the protagonist of her acclaimed first novel, Nervous Conditions, to examine how the hope and potential of a young girl and the fledgling nation of Zimbabwe, can sour over time and become a bitter and floundering struggle for survival. VIRL has 3 copies and downloadable audiobook.

Out of darkness,shining light

:  by Petina Gappah (2019)

The captivating story of the loyal men and women who carried explorer and missionary Dr. Livingstone's body, his papers and maps, fifteen hundred miles across the continent of Africa, so his remains could be returned home to England and his work preserved there. Narrated by Halima, the doctor's sharp-tongued cook, and Jacob Wainwright, a rigidly pious freed slave, this is a story that encompasses all of the hypocrisy of slavery and colonization—the hypocrisy at the core of the human heart— while celebrating resilience, loyalty, and love. VIRL 7 copies.

Transcendent Kingdom

:   by Yaa Gyasi (2020)

By the author of Homegoing, this novel centres on Gifty, daughter of Ghanaian immigrants, studying neuroscience at Stanford University's School of Medicine. With a family ravaged by depression and addiction, Gifty is determined to discover the scientific basis for their suffering. But even as she turns to hard science to unlock this mystery, she finds herself hungering for her childhood faith, and grappling with the evangelical church in which she was raised.


:   by Abdulrazak Gurnah (2020)

Abdulrazak Gurnah, is a Zanzibar-born British author who won the Nobel Prize in 2021. Afterlives is his latest novel (2020). Paradise (1994) and By the Sea (2001) are his most notable works. “One of the world’s most prominent postcolonial writers…He has consistently and with compassion penetrated the effects of colonialism in East Africa and its effects on the lives of uprooted and migrating individuals” Anders Olsson, chairman of the Nobel Committee.

The Sleeping Car Porter

:   by Suzette Mayr (2021)

The Sleeping Car Porter by Suzette Mayr is a novel that is set in the 1920s and centres on Baxter, a Black Canadian and closeted gay immigrant from the Caribbean who is working as a railway porter to save money for dental school. Giller Prize winner 2021

There are Things that Cannot be Changed

:   by Peggy Frank and Emerthe Nakabonye)

A memoir, illustrated with photographs, of an enduring friendship between two amazing women: Peggy Frank, a Canadian and Emerthe Nakabonye, a Rwandan, both of them living with being HIV-positive. Their stories are related in two voices and based on 20 years of letters that went back and forth between them.