Kabu-Kabu by Nnedi Okorafor

Kabu Kabu - Nnedi Okorafor
This book is a collection of short stories so I cannot really write a synopsis other than to say most of them are led by women, who are African or of African descent , all of them are powerful and all are set in beautiful, amazing rich worlds – or our own world with some excellent fantastic twists.
 
And it’s huge. In fact, it felt far huger reading it than I seemed when I first saw how big it was. There are the best part of 20 stories there – they’re not all extremely long but by the end I was beginning to feel a little fatigued. It wasn’t that they were boring or bad or dull stories – it’s just that after story 16 my brain did kind of ask me “what, it’s STILL story time?!”
 
This is not a criticism – this is advice. Read this book, but don’t try to tackle it all in one sitting.

Part of the reason for that is this is a book that absolutely denies any kind of skimming or lazy reading. This book is meaty. This book is complex. Many of these stories tackle big, weighty issues in stark terms. There are many different issues concerning racism, Black Americans in Nigeria and conflict with Nigerians, colonialism, exploitation of Nigeria by western powers and industry, of arrogant foreigners assuming they can step into Africa however they wish. Issues  of shaming people for their natural hair, genocide, dehumanisation, degrading beliefs as “superstition”, scapegoating population, scapegoating religion, stereotyping – both religious and racial and a whole lot of challenges of assumptions. We have societies where fat women are considered the epitome of beauty or where a veiled Muslim woman is a mechanic working in her mother’s shop.
 
This book is stark. I don’t mean grim-dark with lots of excess awfulness everywhere in an attempt to be gritty – but stark. It’s unflinching. It both challenges that idea that Africa in general and Nigeria in particular is some grim, desperate place (even in the dystopian stories presented – which in themselves are unique simply for being African dystopians) while at the same time not flinching away from actual problems and creating some kind of unicorn inhabited utopia.  It’s stark – it looks at the whole, the bad things depicted are not presented as uniquely African or Nigerian, they’re not sugar coated and they’re not exaggerated – but they are examined and exposed and they demand you think.

All the worlds are African-centric (primarily Nigerian), from the Nigerian-American lawyer catching the Kabu in Chicago and running into all kinds of shenanigans on the way, through to the stories set in post-apocalyptic Sudan. The stories contain a lot of African beliefs, mythology, folklore and stories bringing a lot of stories we just never see in so much of Urban Fantasy –or any genre for that matter – making them extremely unique. But it’s not just the monsters and magic that are different, there is a true sense of time and place throughout the stories with the surroundings and the food (especially the food which always takes a strong place in each story).
 
Source: http://www.fangsforthefantasy.com/2013/09/kabu-kabu-by-nnedi-okorafor.html