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This past weekend was spent getting my hair done. Right now, I have on some jumbo Senegalese twists.

I’m loving my hair and feeling very ready for Valentine’s Day.

Speaking of Val Day, I’ve been thinking about love tokens inspired by African literature 🙂

What came to mind was a bouquet of flowers consisting of flowers featured in African novels.

Purple Hibiscus is one of the most popular African novels associated with a flower, so you could start there.

You could then add on some red amaryllis, calla lilly, forget me nots, and yellow everlastings—all taken from Helen Oyeyemi’s Boy, Snow, Bird.

For an additional burst of color, Okri’s The Famished Road has an impressive catalog of flowers that includes sunflower, passion flower, canna-lily, heliotrope, geranium, and rose.

If you’re going for a vivid palette, nothing wrong with throwing in some Frangipani as a homage to Mia Cuto’s Under the Frangipani.

I can’t remember Achebe specifying the color of allamanda mentioned in his short story, “Dead Man’s Path,” but I’d say your best bet would be a red instead of a yellow.

The flame tree is so prominent in Marie Ndiaye’s celebrated novella, Three Strong Women, that it could very easily count as a character, so go ahead and accent with some blooming flame tree flower.

I have been reading a whole bunch of Ifa divinatory verses and came across a folktale where a morning glory is mentioned. So consider adding some morning glory. I have a feeling the gods would be pleased.

You’re probably fine at this point, but no harm finishing things off with one more Adichie—some Jacaranda from her sad but sweet short story titled,”Ghost Story.”

Here is what your bouquet palette might look like:

african-flowers-novels

Photo Credit: From Right to Left, Row by Row. 

 1. Rose by Allie_Caulfield via Flickr

2. Geraniums by Choo Yut Shing via Flickr

3. Allamanda by Thangaraj Kumaravel via Flickr

4. Jacaranda by certified su via Flickr

5. Yellow Everlasting by Alpha via Flickr

6. Forget Me Not by dawnzy58 via Flickr

7. Amaryllis by Bill Gracey via Flickr

8. Calla Lily by Ming-yen Hsu via Flickr

9. Heliotrope by NatureShutterbug via Flickr

10. Canna Lily by Jeff-o-matic via Flickr

11. Purple Hibiscus by Justin Frisch via Flickr

12. Frangipani by Rae Allen via Flickr

13. Passion Flower by Divine Harvester via Flickr

14. Sun Flower by Patrick Emerson via Fickr

15. Flame Tree by Wendy Cutler via Flickr

16. Morning Glory by Steve Brand via Flickr

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Ainehi Edoro is an Assistant Professor of English at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she teaches African literature. She received her doctorate at Duke University. She is the founder and editor of Brittle Paper and series editor of Ohio University Press’s Modern African Writer’s imprint.

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