The Grandmothers to Grandmothers Campaign is an initiative of the Stephen Lewis Foundation.

Glacier Grannies Reading List


Powered by Love

:  by Joanna Henry and photographer Alexis MacDonald edited by Michele Landsberg

"By the time the AIDS pandemic in Africa had reached its height in the early 2000s, millions of children had been orphaned. In the face of overwhelming loss, the grandmothers of Africa stepped in to hold families and communities together. Author Joanna Henry and photographer Alexis MacDonald visited eight African countries, interviewing and photographing hundreds of grandmothers (including Sarah Obama, Barack Obama's grandmother) who are reclaiming hope and resurrecting lives. The extraordinary images and stories of resourceful women fighting for a better future make Powered by Love an inspiration for everyone. Writes journalist-social activist Michele Landsberg, "We thought we knew what was happening in Africa when the AIDS pandemic raged across the continent, sweeping away 35 million lives. But we never knew it the way this book reveals it, in the shockingly intimate voices of the grandmothers who had to save the abandoned children when no one else was left alive. These voices will leap straight into your heart. Their unguarded faces, in portraits that glow with character, pain and humour, will captivate you." In 2006, the Stephen Lewis Foundation launched a campaign to engage Canadian grandmothers to support their African sisters. The Grandmothers Campaign, now a movement 10,000 strong, has raised over $25 million that has gone directly into the hands of African grandmothers and their grassroots organizations working at the frontlines of the AIDS pandemic. Powered by Love joins this campaign by telling the story of these indomitable women and by directing all royalties from the sale of the book to African grandmothers raising children orphaned by AIDS."


:  by Yaa Gyasi

The novel begins in 18th Century Ghanna where Effia is married off to an Englishman while Esi, her half sister is sold into slavery and shipped to America. Clear concise and bruising, this is a book which not only illustrates the brutality of colonialism and the slave trade but also the impact it had upon relationships, identity and the generations which have followed.


:  by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

A searing new novel, at once sweeping and intimate, by the award-winning author of Half of a Yellow Sun: a story of love and race centered around a man and woman from Nigeria who seemed destined to be together--until the choices they are forced to make tear them apart.

Under The Udala Trees

:  by Chinelo Okparanta

Ijeoma comes of age as her nation does; born before Nigeria’s independence, she is eleven when civil war breaks out in the young republic of Nigeria. Sent away to safety, she meets another displaced child and they, star-crossed, fall in love. They are from different ethnic communities. They are also both girls. Even as their nation contends with and recovers from the effects of war and division, Nigerian lives are also wrecked and lost from taboo and prejudice. This story offers a glimmer of hope -- a future where a woman might just be able to shape her life around truth and love.

Half of a Yellow Sun

:  by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

This is a heartbreaking, exquisitely written literary masterpiece Ugwu, a boy from a poor village, works as a houseboy for a university professor. Olanna, a young woman, has abandoned her life of privilege in Lagos to live with her charismatic new lover, the professor. And Richard, a shy English writer, is in thrall to Olanna's enigmatic twin sister. As the horrific Biafran War engulfs them, they are thrown together and pulled apart in ways they had never imagined. Adichie's isa novel about Africa in a wider sense: about the end of colonialism, ethnic allegiances, class and race - and about the ways love can complicate all of these things.

Cutting For Stone

:  by Abraham Verghese

A sweeping, emotionally riveting first novel -- an enthralling family saga of Africa and America, doctors and patients, exile and home. Marion and Shiva Stone are twin brothers born of a secret union between a beautiful Indian nun and a brash British surgeon at a mission hospital in Addis Ababa. Orphaned by their mother's death in childbirth and their father's disappearance, bound together by a preternatural connection and a shared fascination with medicine, the twins come of age as Ethiopia hovers on the brink of revolutionAn unforgettable journey into one man's remarkable life, and an epic story about the power, intimacy, and curious beauty.

The Blue Sweater

:  by Jacqueline Novogratz

The Blue Sweater is the inspiring story of a woman who left a career in international banking to spend her life on a quest to understand global poverty and find powerful new ways of tackling it. It all started back home in Virginia, with the blue sweater, a gift that quickly became her prized possession--until the day she outgrew it and gave it away to Goodwill. Eleven years later in Africa, she spotted a young boy wearing that very sweater, with her name still on the tag inside. That the sweater had made its trek all the way to Rwanda was ample evidence, she thought, of how we are all connected, how our actions--and inaction--touch people every day across the globe, people we may never know or meet. The Blue Sweater is a call to action that challenges us to grant dignity to the poor and to rethink our engagement with the world.

Born A Crime

:  by Trevor Noah

Trevor Noah is a South African Comedian who wrote his memoir of growing up in South Africa during apartheid and after. The title refers to the fact that he was considered "illegal" because in South Africa his mother was Black and his father was White and that was against the law when he was born. Kirkus Review "A gritty memoir...studded with insight and provocative social criticism...with flashes of brilliant storytelling and acute observations."

The Girl Who Smiled Beads

:  by Clemantine Wamariya and co-author, Elizabeth Weil

"After the Rwandan genocide in 1994, Clemantine Wamariya became a refugee. At 6, she and her older sister, Claire, fled their grandmother’s home in Butare, near the Burundi border, to avoid killers. The siblings wound up traversing seven African countries on their own for more than six years, moving from refugee camps to slums to satellite settlements and back to camps, as they searched for a stable existence. In her sharp, moving memoir, “The Girl Who Smiled Beads,” Wamariya and her co-author, Elizabeth Weil, a writer at large for The Times Magazine, describe Wamariya’s idyllic early childhood in the Rwandan capital, Kigali, and the madness that followed with an analytic eye and, at times, a lyrical honesty."

Sweetness in the Belly

:  by Camilla Gibb

Set in Ethiopia and London. Although Gibb is Canadian and her protagonist is a British child left orphaned by her hippy parents in North Africa, the book really gets into the lives of Ethiopian women in what I felt was a very authentic way. An imagined narrative of one woman’s search for love and belonging cast against a nuanced portrait of political upheaval in Haile Selassies Ethiopia and Thatchers London.Orphaned at the age of eight, British-born Lilly devotes her life to the teachings of the Qur'an from within a Sufi shrine, but is persecuted for her foreign heritage, forcing her to flee to London, where she is equally disconnected.

We Need New Names

:  by NoViolet Bulawayo

Set in Zimbabwe and the USA. Shortlisted for the ManBooker prize, this is the 2013 debut novel of expatriate Zimbabwean writer NoViolet Bulawayo. A coming-of-age story, it tells of the life of a young girl named Darling, first as a ten-year-old in Zimbabwe, and later as a teenager in the Midwest United States.

The Old Drift

:  by Namwali Serpell

“On the banks of the Zambezi River, a few miles from the majestic Victoria Falls, there was once a colonial settlement called The Old Drift” …here begins the story of a small African nation. A debut novel, published in 2019, that follows three generations of three families, telling the story of a nation, and of the grand sweep of time. “A dazzling debut, establishing Namwali Serpell as a writer on the world stage." — Salman Rushdie, The New York Times Book Review. Named one of the best books of the year by Dwight Garner of the The New York Times