I'm a big fan of the wonderful novel of French West Africa, L'etrange destin de Wangrin
, by Amadou Hampâté Bâ. It was first published in 1973, and retains a verve and narrative drive that makes it readable over and over again. Hampâté Bâ based the novel on the life of an interpreter and merchant who was an old friend of his family. When Hampâté Bâ was posted as a young civil servant in the French colonial administration to what was then Upper Volta, in the 1920s, be became reacquainted with the aging Wangrin, and took down his story, which he then refashioned into the novel.
I thought of Wangrin because I just read two nice academic articles about the novel and colonial times... Ralph Austen, a historian at the University of Chicago, has a great article entitled Who Was Wangrin and Why Does it Matter?
(divergences between historical record and the novel offer good entree into historiography of colonial period) and Anna Pondopoulo has a nice (gated) article entitled Amadou Hampâté Bâ and the Writer Robert Arnaud (Randau): African Colonial Service and Literature (they shared very similar styles and perspectives, notably a polyphonic perspective on the colonial period... administrators and natives were enmeshed in a complex web of ambiguity....).
The sad thing is that very few people in Burkina Faso will read either the novel, or the commentary. Sigh. Wait! Maybe you will make a donation to FAVL via Paypal ;-)