Images of African Novels: What we can learn about African Society and Culture

So you’re browsing the latest African novels and see a striking image on the cover. What is it that attracts us to these kinds of covers of The Orange Sunset Over The Veld On African Novels? While many will say it’s because they are beautiful and capture Africa in all its glory, there’s more to it than just aesthetics.

This had never occurred to me until I read this article, The reason every book Africa has the same cover and it’s not pretty by Michael Silverberg from Quartz Africa. It caught me off guard when I realized that most books I have read, as a matter of fact, have that same kind of cover imagery. Some do feature the acacia tree, an orange sunset over the veld, or both.

Elliot Rose from Africa is a country puts it this way,

 ”In short, the covers of most novels “about Africa” seem to have been designed by someone whose principal idea of the continent comes from The Lion King”‘

That is hilarious but disturbing. Simon Steven put together the picture collage below and pointed out that if you write a novel “about Africa,” chances are you’re going to get the acacia tree treatment. And the orange sky. Get it?

 

Diversity in African Books: What can we expect?

The world has seen an increase in the popularity of African literature over the last decade or so. There are a lot of great books from the African continent that deserve to be read. In addition, many African writers have been winning prestigious literary awards and prizes over the years. With this growth in popularity, we might expect to see an increased level of diversity in African novels.

This can be seen in many other areas of society and culture, such as fashion, food, and music. Due to the nature of books, we can expect even more diversity as different cultures, beliefs, and lifestyles are represented. We can expect books to cover a wide range of topics and themes. There should be something for everyone.

African society and culture are not just about acacia trees

While acacia trees are a prominent feature in many African novels, they are not the only thing that defines African society and culture. The images we see on the covers of African books are often associated with certain ideas and values. The problem is that these images often lead people to believe that these values are representative of all African societies. They also tend to ignore other important aspects of African culture that are not shown.

Sometimes it feels as if we are only seeing one part of African society and ignoring others. In some cases, these images can actually be quite offensive. By using these kinds of images on covers, publishers are assuming that this is what the book is about or what the book means for readers. This is quite problematic because it does not represent the full picture of African society.

Now back to Michael Silverberg’s article. He might be unto something and many might argue that some books, especially Contemporary Literature are moving away from this horrific stigma. We are seeing more and more books that do not have one generic cover and that’s when I get the “DecolonizingAfricanLiterature” movement. It will not be enough to change the ”one African story” blemish but we’ll have to look into how we get publishers to not play it safe, to let the book have proper and relevant imagery and narration.

Why do we have the same images in almost all African novels?

There are a few reasons why we see the same images in most African books. Firstly, publishers will often agree on a common design for their series of books. This might be because they are trying to create a recognizable brand. It can also be because they want to save money and reuse the design. For example, they might want to use a photograph that has already been bought and cleared for copyright as the cover image.

This is often a problem with books. Photographic images are expensive, and people don’t want to pay for new ones when they already have something that can be reused. I do personally applaud publishers who do not let random stereotypes hang on their author’s books. As I mentioned earlier; had I not bumped into this article, I would not have noticed or recognized the imagery craze.

Novels that break the mold and why it is important

While many African novels do follow the same design and imagery, we do also see some books break the mold. These can include novels that feature a different aspect of African society and culture. While they might still be stereotypical, they are still important. They show that there is more to Africa than what we see on most covers. They show that African societies are more diverse than we think. If we only see one type of person, one type of setting, or one type of animal on the covers of African novels, it can be easy to think that Africa is very homogenous. It can be easy to think that all African societies are like what we see on these covers. This is not the case. Books that show us something different can help us to understand that these are only one part of Africa. They can show us that there is a lot more to the continent than what we see on these covers.

Final Words: Where to from here?

Silverberg concludes,

But let’s be clear: Whether or not a few covers manage to break the mold, the Western system of representing Africa is terribly broken, and not just in the realm of book design. Until we start fixing that, these covers that get it right are still just exceptions that prove the rule.

The images we see on the covers of African novels are important. They help us to decide which books we might want to read. They can help us to decide what the book is about and what it will be like. There are many different images that we see on the covers of African novels. We can see a lot of animals, landscapes, people in tribal attire, and political leaders.

It is important to remember that these images are just one part of African society and culture. There are many different aspects that make up the whole. There is a lot more to African society and culture than what we see on the covers of novels. African society is very diverse and complex. It is made up of many different people and settings.

It is important to remember that there is more to African literature than what we see on the covers of books. These covers can help us to understand the many different aspects of African society and culture.

 

Click here for more reading on this topic:  http://qz.com/207527/the-reason-every-book-about-africa-has-the-same-cover-and-its-not-pretty/

 

What is your take? Share your thoughts with us.

 

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *