9 People of Colour Scifi and Fantasy Books I Enjoyed in 2015

2015 was such a busy year for me. I started it with producing a TV series, which got me deep in debts, but which finally paid off :-)), and I ended it by producing a feature film, a scifi that I wrote and started making on a whim. Maybe this year you'll get to see it. In between those two projects, I worked on the Disney film, Queen of Katwe, directing 'the making of' documentary, I traveled twice to South Africa, twice to France, twice to Kenya, and once to Nigeria, attending five festivals (thanks to the success of my book, A Killing in the Sun). I wrote several short stories and a novella, some of which appeared in The Apex Book of World SF 4, African Monsters, Imagine Africa 500 (coming this year), and AfroSF v2. I completed a radio script, and nearly finished my novel. Yet, I found time to date a few girls, though non got stuck on me, thankfully, and above that, I managed to read, maybe fifteen books, and a countless number of short stories. I set out to read diverse books, but really I read anything that I came upon. Still, of those I read, here are books by, or featuring, people of color that I enjoyed the most.


Hats Galore at Ake Festival 2015

I love hats, though I hardly ever wear one, and at the recent Ake Book and Arts Festival, it seems like everyone had a hat on, so my camera got busier than usual. Here are some of my favorite portraits.

The hat seller of Ake. The man probably responsible for the flood of hats.

Praise for A Killing in the Sun

One year ago during the Storymoja Festival, I launched my book, A Killing in the Sun, a collection of short speculative stories, featuring African science fiction, fantasy and horror. The reception of the book has been, surprisingly, warm, at times awed, and at times an outright 'oh wow! Unbelievable!' I did not expect this. I thought it would be only me sweating it out to sweet talk people into buying it, but somehow the book has marketed itself. To celebrate a year in print, here are a few of the reviews, some from renown African writers like Binyavanga Wainaina, Zukiswa Wanner, and Beverly Nambozo.
"...punchy and awkward and well worth reading."

Me, at the launch in Storymoja Festival 2014

Searching for the taste of South Africa

The first time I went to South Africa, in 2008, the one thing I wanted to taste very much was umqombothi. Chaka Chaka’s hit song in the 80s has never gotten out of my head, just as it has stuck in the heads of millions of other Africans. There were bars called Mukomboti in the low cost suburbs of Kampala, and I think it there was once a drink called that, or maybe it was slang, I can’t remember, but it filled my dreams and longing that even as I flew (for the first time in a big plane), I saw clouds below me forming into shapes to spell out the drink.

Me, at the Alan Paton museum.
I visited the great author of Cry the Beloved Country.

Is Science Fiction Really Alien to Africa?

African writers are traumatized. They forever have to defend their work. If it’s not someone questioning why they are not tackling the problems of their societies, it’s someone wondering why they only write about misery and gloom in the continent. When they discover that African writers are churning out stuff like speculative fiction, they say ‘copycat’. Or something worse. The something worse happened to me. Shortly after my book came out, a Ugandan living in the UK asked; ‘Are you really Ugandan?’ I said yes, and she said, ‘But your names….’ And I said Is your name Margaret (anonymised) more Ugandan than mine (Dilman is Asian, Dila is Luo/Nilotic)? And her next question, ‘But surely, you didn’t grow up in Uganda. No one who grew up in Uganda can write such stories.’ I stopped responding.
A muti market in Durban, South Africa, where you can buy any charm.