7 African Books That Should Be Adapted For TV Shows

The Story⚡

Storytelling lives in different mediums. This piece gives a run-through of Nigerian stories that live on paper and would be great as either a movie or TV series made by talent from the country or its diaspora.

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Film inspirations have been birthed through a series of processes, one of such is book adaptations. The film industry has seen the adaptations of famed writings like J.K Rawling’s Harry Porter, George R.R Martin’s Game of Thrones, Mario Puzo’s The Godfather, and J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of The Rings. Not left behind is the African film with its adaptation of Chimamanda Adichie’s Half of A Yellow Sun,  Uzodinma Iweala’s Beasts of No Nation, and John Kiriamiti My Life” trilogy.

Film adaptations also seem to be a strong connector for African movie lovers. Following a public forum on which books people would love to see adapted, here are the top 10 books creatives should look out for.

Purple Hibiscus

Purple Hibiscus is set in postcolonial Nigeria and is written by Chimamanda Adichie. The story centres on Kambili Achike and her family as they journey through the disintegration of their family unit and the struggle to grow to maturity. The story tunes into the Nigerian culture as it battles arduously with Western culture.

The Last Days at Forcados High School

The Last Days at Forcados High School is a 2013 young adult novel by Nigerian author A. H. Mohammed. The narrative follows Jimi Solade, a student at Forcados High School in Lagos, and his experiences with various aspects of life.

The novel discusses themes such as youth, friendship, parental roles, school roles, transition, and child abuse.

Second Class Citizen

Written by Buchi Emecheta, Second Class Citizen is a 1974 novel that tells a poignant story of a resourceful Nigerian woman who overcomes countless setbacks to achieve an independent life for herself and her children, the novel is often described as semi-autobiographical.

The protagonist journeys from Nigeria to London – where despite atrocious living conditions and a violent marriage, she “finds refuge in her dream of becoming a writer”– follows closely Emecheta’s own trajectory as an author.

The Joys of Motherhood

The Joys of Motherhood is a novel written by Buchi Emecheta and it tells the tragic story of Nnu-Ego, daughter of Nwokocha Agbadi and Ona, who had a bad fate with childbearing.

Stay with Me

Yejide is hoping for a miracle, for a child. It is all her husband wants, all her mother-in-law wants, and she has tried everything – arduous pilgrimages, medical consultations, dances with prophets, appeals to God. But when her in-laws insist upon a new wife, it is too much for Yejide to bear. It will lead to jealousy, betrayal and despair.

Stay with Me is a novel written by Nigerian author Ayọ̀bámi Adébáyọ̀ which explores our desperate attempts to save ourselves and those we love.

Women of Owu

Women of Owu is a 2006 drama written by Femi Osofisan, the book uses the combination of choruses, songs and dance to depict the history of the population of Owu kingdom after a combined military force of Ife, Oyo and Ijebu invaded the city of Owu for seven years killing all of its male inhabitants and children.

In Dependence 

Written by Sarah Ladipo Mayika In Dependence is Tayo and Vanessa’s story of a brave but bittersweet love affair. It is the story of two people struggling to find themselves and each other – a story of passion and idealism, courage and betrayal, and the universal desire to fall, madly, deeply, in love.

There Was A Country

There Was a Country: A Personal History of Biafra is a personal account by Nigerian writer Chinua Achebe of the Nigerian Civil War, also known as the Biafran War. It is considered one of the defining works of modern African non-fiction. Released in October 2012, six months prior to Achebe’s death, it is the author’s last published book.

The Second Chance

Written by Nyengi Koin, this is a classic novel about class struggle.

Richard Pepple and Mina Erein both met in their final year at the university. They became friends and fell in love. They eventually got married despite the huge gap in their class differences. Richard belonged to a struggling class, while Mina was from the affluent. 
Richard eventually moved out of his in-laws’ abode, to start a humble life. Mina, on her part, declined to go with her husband and chose to remain in the comfort of her parents’ home. This led to their separation and the sharing of their newly born twin children Miatta and Bindo, for Richard and Mina respectively.

Fine Boys

Written by Eghosa Imaseun, Fine Boys is a coming-of-age tale told from the perspective of Nigeria’s Generation X, caught amid the throes of a nascent pro-democracy movement, demoralizing corruption, and campus violence.


Book-to-film adaptation is beginning to gain major ground in Africa with adaptations like Egyptian writer Naguib Mahfouz’s “Bidaya wa Nihaya”, Sefi Atta’s Swallow, Akinwumi Ishola’s Saworoide, Cynthia Nozizwe Jele Happiness is a Four-Letter Word, Femi Osofisan’s Maami, Wole Soyinka’s Kongi Harvest, and many more.

Modern Day Nollywood has carried on this tradition with adaptations such as  Americanah and The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives already in the works.

Going a step further is the 2D animation adapted for Cyprian Ekwensi’s The Passport of Mallam Ilia. 

In Summary

Adapting books to film is a good way to tap into a different and eager audience. It will be interesting to see what the film industry holds for these adaptations.

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