help me pick book & movie gifts for teenage zimbabwean girls
October 19, 2015 2:40 AM   Subscribe

In 10 days I'm going to visit a friend in Harare who is a foster mother to seven girls between the ages of 11 and 16. They all live on a farm in the suburbs and watch movies, play cards, sometimes read books in the evening. What are some enriching and inspiring books and movies for teenage girls to read and watch that I can bring for them?

I've been to visit before and they've gotten a lot of random books (lots of bible stuff, and randomly, Sabrina the Teenage Witch novelization) and DVDs ("College Road Trip" starring Martin Lawrence) of dubious quality from assorted donors through the years.

Strong female role models a definite plus, and also media produced by African writers/artists (of which I just realized my knowledge is sorely lacking) so it's not all "welcome, friends, to the European canon"

My tastes at that age ran mostly to sci-fi, fantasy, and historical fiction-Hitchhikers guide, William Gibson, Rudy Rucker, Neal Stephenson, Star Wars, Buffy the Vampire Slayer [which fits the strong female role model criteria but might have too much sex in it?] so some advice for what more traditionally feminine girls might like is also what I'm looking for.
posted by zingiberene to Media & Arts (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I have not read these, but Nnedi Okorafor gets good reviews and seems to meet your needs.
posted by Gotanda at 4:10 AM on October 19, 2015 [1 favorite]

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie? I've only read Americanah, which I loved (there is a sexual assault and other sexual references so not really suitable for the younger ones), but her others might work too.
posted by corvine at 4:40 AM on October 19, 2015

Whale Rider (movie)
Princess Academy (book series) (Despite the title, this is not princessy fluff. It's a great story about friendship & being true to yourself & your talents.)

Lots of other movies with strong female leads/girl-empowering themes at A Mighty Girl. They also have book lists.
posted by belladonna at 4:57 AM on October 19, 2015 [3 favorites]

What about Nancy Farmer? She writes YA science fiction (that my girls love), and at least a few of her novels are set (at least partially) in Zimbabwe. Very well-written and exciting.
posted by mittens at 5:46 AM on October 19, 2015

How about the complete Gilmore Girls dvds?
posted by CrazyLemonade at 6:27 AM on October 19, 2015 [1 favorite]

Would literature in translation be ok? Kiffe Kiffe Tomorrow and Shanty Town Kid may be of interest. They're French Algerian writers that about the immigrant experience in France, so you'll have to judge whether that would be interesting. (I've only read Kiffe Kiffe Demain in French so can't say what the English translation contains.)

Outsider literature may be more relatable in general, depending on how teenage-like the teenagers are.
posted by fiercekitten at 7:16 AM on October 19, 2015

How to Ditch Your Fairy by Justine Larbalastier if they like sports. Or really, anything by Justine. Maureen Johnson or Scott Westerfeld are almost dud free writers too.
posted by Bee'sWing at 7:45 AM on October 19, 2015

Nervous Conditions, by Tsitsi Dangaremgba.

Zimbabwean Women Writers.

Zimbabwe Reads.

Presumably, these girls have a lot of obstacles to overcome, and any books or movies with strong girls and/or women overcoming serious obstacles- not trivial western teenage angst- regardless of race or culture, would be good.

I read the Orchard of Lost Souls recently and recommend it.
posted by mareli at 8:56 AM on October 19, 2015

Very aware that I'm about to suggest a couple things from white women writers but that said:

The Ear, the Eye, and the Arm and A Girl Named Disaster both by Nancy Farmer won Newberry honors in the mid 1990s and are both set in Zimbabwe. Not sure how well they aged but I liked them at the time. E,E,&A is a sci-fi story and blew my sheltered little American mind as a kid as the first sci-fi I read set in Africa and centered around PoC. Girl Named Disaster is a coming of age story set in Mozambique/Zimbabwe in the early 1980s.

Lauren Beukes' Zoo City is set in a kind of magical/sci-fi-ish Johannesburg (where the author grew up) and won a bunch of awards in 2010-2011.
posted by Wretch729 at 9:24 AM on October 19, 2015

Oops cut out my final line. Zoo City has a complex female protagonist, wrestling with a history of guilt over her brother's death and substance abuse. I'm maybe more liberal than usual about age-appropriateness but Zoo City has plenty of sex, drugs, and violence so you should be aware of that.
posted by Wretch729 at 9:29 AM on October 19, 2015

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