In this, Es’kia Mphahlele’s second autobiography – published originally in 1984 – he recounts his return to South Africa after twenty years in exile and the challenges that he and his family faced in returning to the land of his birth before the momentous events of the 1990s. Filled with extraordinary, precise prose, Afrika, My Music showcases the kind of writing that earned Es’kia a nomination for the Nobel Prize for Literature in the year this book was originally published. Es’kia’s commitment to education and to the upliftment of Africans across the continent has never been in doubt, but this autobiography lays bare just what this unwavering focus cost him and his family.
On a larger geopolitical level, Africa, My Music is a book that charts of the rise and fall of the great and the not-so-good of the African revolutionary movements of the 1960s and 1970s – people who Es’kia often knew personally. This is not only the biography of a man who fell painfully short of achieving the goals he had set himself as a young man in Marabastad (the Sofiatown of Pretoria), but also the biography of a generation of African thinkers and revolutionaries who achieved so much but whose dreams of a continent remade were never fully realised.