African Publishing houses to keep your eyes on

Published 13 June 2018

African publishing houses, like anywhere in the world, vary between physical and digital, ones that focus on fiction or non-fiction, adult or children’s literature. What is important to them, however, is their individual mission and the drive behind their creation. This list presents 6 publishers from 4 countries on the continent, all aiming at celebrating and promoting African writing in their own way. Keep your eyes on them as new titles are constantly in the making!

Strong hold of the market

Kwela (South Africa)

Kwela Books, founded in 1994 along with the announcement of South Africa’s democracy, publishes a variety of fiction and non-fiction titles. They take pride in their list, including Booker-nominated Achmat Dangor, South African poet Antjie Krog and Somali novelist Nuruddin Farah among many. Special attention is given to the romance genre by their imprint Sapphire Press (launched in 2010).


Afram Publications (Ghana)

Afram Publications was founded as an indigenous publisher in 1973 in the private studio of Mrs. Efua Sutherland. She was an eminent writer and cultural activist, and is credited with coming up with the idea of an indigenous publishing house as early as 1950. Afram was born out of her own and other intellectuals and creatives’ need to make their locally-produced art available to more people. The name was given in a tribute to cultural findings about the Afram Plains before they were flooded in the 1960s and a poem about the River Afram by A. A. Opoku, according to the publisher’s website.


Small but significant

amaBooks (Zimbabwe)

amaBooks is an independent trade publishing house based in Bulawayo (the second biggest city in Zimbabwe). Their logo is a Sacred scarab and their focus ‘Contemporary Zimbabwean Writing’. The directors, Brian Jones and Jane Morris, aim to supply the local market with works from debut and established authors as well as make available international books related to Zimbabwe within the country. amaBooks have brought the 2017 Caine Prize anthology – ‘The Goddess of Mtwara’, to Zimbabwe and their publications are represented in the UK by the Welsh publishing house Parthian Books.

Photograph from amaBooks’ flickr

Nigerian publishing houses, physical and digital

Kachifo Limited (Farafina Books) (Nigeria)

Kachifo Limited is an independent publishing house found in 2004 out of the necessity for African stories to ‘be told without any self-consciousness or external guidance’, hence the motto ‘Telling our own stories’. Based in Nigeria, they publish contemporary writing from the entire continent and take pride in titles from authors like Chris Abani, Ben Okri and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Kachifo started Farafina Magazine in 2002 to promote African writing globally until it was rested in 2009. Currently, Kachifo’s imprints include Farafina Books, Breeze, the non-fiction Kamsi, and Tuuti which covers children’s books.

Okada Books

Okada Books was named after the motorbike taxis popular in the country. It currently has 18K e-books and over 207K users. The platform started as an alternative for authors to sell their books without mediating booksellers that delay or refuse due payments. The advantages of such Nigeria-based digital publishing application and website are numerous. The focus on local authors and consumers surprisingly stimulated a large production of Hausa Romance novels that cater to the culture of Central Africa. Okada Books also offer religious texts and most importantly, they provide a substantial additional income to their authors!

The founder – Okechukwu Ofili says: ‘The difficulties I experienced as a writer drove me to create something I and other writers can utilise’. Now Okada Books’ creators aim to become the best digital publishing company in Sub-Saharian Africa.

Cassava Republic

Cassava Republic was founded in 2006 in Abuja, Nigeria but currently has an office in London, UK and is looking forward to establishing one in the US. Their mission is as expressed on their official website: ‘We think that contemporary African prose should be rooted in African experience in all its diversity, whether set in filthy-yet-sexy megacities such as Lagos or Kinshasa, in little-known rural communities, in the recent past or indeed the near future.  We also think the time has come to build a new body of African writing that links writers across different times and spaces.’ Cassava Republic constantly aims to challenge popular preconceptions of the continent and address important questions. Cassava Republic have been friends and supporters of Africa Writes since its inception, and their director Bibi Bakare-Yusuf will be joining us on Sunday 1 July to discuss their new anthology She Called Me


by Ralitsa Chorbadzhiyska, Production Intern for Africa Writes 2018