Well, what do you know. Have you ever wondered what some books written about or set in Africa have in common? I’ve never thought about it 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. This caught me off guard when I realized that most books I have read, do 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?
Now back to Michael Silverberg’s article. He might be unto something and many might argue that some books, especially Contemporary Literature is moving away from this horrific stigma. We are seeing more and more books that do not have the 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.
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.
I do personally applaud publishers who do not let random stereotypes hang on their authors books. Like I mentioned earlier; had I not bumped into this article, I would not have noticed or recognized the imagery craze.
PS: These articles will help especially for the aspiring writers going the self-publishing route.
Please read: http://qz.com/