Over the last hundred years African writers have written of their lives, experiences, culture, history and myth; they have written in diverse forms, styles and in many languages. They have been published widely on the African continent, in Europe, the Americas and Asia. They have written in English, French, Portuguese, Arabic, Swahili, and in many other indigenous languages. And they have written with extraordinary originality, flair and great integrity. Nonetheless their work as a corpus deriving from the African continent remains largely unknown and uncelebrated.
To mark the beginning of the 21st century, and encouraged by Professor Ali Mazrui, the Zimbabwe International Book Fair launched the international compilation of "Africa's 100 Best Books." This project was organized in collaboration with the African Publishers Network (APNET), the Pan-African Booksellers Association (PABA), African writers' associations, book development councils, and library associations.
Nominations were sought throughout the African continent and internationally. A comprehensive list of all nominations was published at the ZIBF in August 2001 and during the course of the following year regional panels compiled their own short lists of 100 best books. Closing date for nominations was 30 September 2001.
A jury made the final decision from the short list and the final list of "Africa's 100 Best Books" was announced on February 18, 2002.
See: a copy of the list below.
This allowed ample time for those involved (authors of nominated books and their publishers) to prepare for participation in ZIBF2002. From August 3rd to the 10th in 2002, the fair participants celebrated the authors and publishers on the final list.