Marcelle Akita, Henry Brefo and Zaahida Nalumoso formed Afrikult. in Janurary 2014 to address African literature in all its forms. Afrikult. is an online forum for people to connect, explore and expand knowledge on African literature and culture combined. The Afrikult. website will be launched at the end of July.
Bola Agbaje is a playwright/screenwriter and is included in Debretts People of Today 2014. Agbaje’s first play, GONE TOO FAR!, premiered upstairs at the Royal Court in 2007. The play won the 2008 Oliver Award for an Outstanding Achievement. Bola was also nominated the same year for the Evening Standard Awards for Most Promising Playwright. Agbaje’s screenplay adaptation of GONE TOO FAR! for Poisson Rouge Pictures and the BFI premiered at the London Film Festival in 2013 and won the 2014 Discovery Feature Award at the London Comedy Film Festival. She tweets @bolaagbaje
Andy Odunayo Akinwolere
Andy Odunayo Akinwolere is a BAFTA-nominated broadcaster. In 2007 he became Blue Peter’s first ever black male presenter and went on to host the show for five years. Andy currently has plans to travel to Brazil and Sierra Leone to document on aids, HIV, street children, young carers and other issues. A keen traveller, Andy has been to over 120 cities across the world. This provides the inspiration for writing his blog, which is based on his love of music, travel and photography. He tweets @AndyAkinwo.
Ellah Allfrey OBE
Ellah Allfrey OBE is former Deputy Editor of Granta. She is Deputy Chair of the Council of The Caine Prize for African Writing, sits on the board of the Writers’ Centre Norwich and is a patron of the Etisalat Literature Prize. Allfrey has been on the judging panel for various literary prizes. Her introduction to Woman of the Aeroplanes by Kojo Laing was published by Pearson in 2012. In 2011, she was awarded an OBE for services to the publishing industry. She tweets @epwa66
Caine Prize 2014 - Shortlisted Author
Diane Awerbuck is the author of Gardening at Night (2003), which was awarded the Commonwealth Best First Book Award (Africa and the Caribbean) and was shortlisted for the International Dublin IMPAC Award. Her work has been published internationally and translated into a number of languages. Awerbuck develops educational materials, reviews fiction for the South African Sunday Times, and writes for Mail&Guardian’s Thoughtleader. Her most recent full-length work, Home Remedies, was published in 2012.
Caine Prize 2014 - Shortlisted Author
Efemia Chela was born in Zambia in 1991. She graduated with a BA in French, Politics and Classical Civilisations from Rhodes University. When she grows up she would like to be a midwife of great literature, a better writer, a translator, subtitler and graphic novelist. Chela lives in Cape Town and is currently unemployed which allows her to focus on her writing. Chicken was her first published story and it won third place in the Short Story Day Africa 2013 competition. She tweets @efemiachela
Nana Ayebia Clarke MBE
Nana Ayebia Clarke MBE is a Ghanaian-born, award-winning publisher specializing in African and Caribbean writing. She was Submissions Editor of the Heinemann African & Caribbean Writers Series at Oxford for 12 years. In 2003, she founded Ayebia Clarke Publishing Ltd with her husband David as a way of looking to new directions in African and Caribbean writing and publishing. Ayebia’s aim is to bring talented fresh voices from the African and Caribbean perspective to a wider audience by targeting schools, colleges and universities internationally. She tweets @AyebiaClarke
Chinwe Azubuike was born in Lagos, Nigeria. Much of her work explores the relationship between traditional beliefs and modernity. Azubuike believes that culture is alive and, as a poet, she sees herself as part of a process of renewal. She has collaborated with artists in exhibitions including the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. She tweets @blackchy
Bibi Bakare-Yusuf is co-founder and publishing director of one of Africa’s most important publishing houses, Cassava Republic Press. She has worked as a gender and research consultant in the public, private and development sectors. She recently co-founded Tapestry Consulting, a boutique research and training company focused on gender, sexuality and transformational issues in Nigeria. Dr Bakare-Yusuf has a PhD in Women and Gender Studies from the University of Warwick. She is a Yale World Fellow and a Desmond Tutu Fellow. Cassava Republic tweets @CassavaRepublic
Louisa Bello is an English-Nigerian ESL teacher, writer and poet living in London. She has travelled extensively and taught in Australia, China, Ecuador, Italy and Holland. She also works for The Pelican Post, a charity which promotes reading skills in schools in Africa and is currently studying Creative Writing at Birkbeck College, University of London. Louisa is be-freckled and proud, loves storytelling, poetry slams and bringing literature alive. She tweets @LouisaBello
Valerie Brandes has over 10 years book trade experience both in the UK and in the USA and is a proud graduate of the MA Publishing Studies at City University London. She left Profile Books to set up Jacaranda Books Art Music in 2012, feeling the need to explore publishing the kinds of books she longed to see and read, but was having trouble finding. She bought her first title, Fashion Africa, in 2012 and it was published in February 2014. Valerie is an ardent supporter of promoting ethnic and gender equality and diversity in the publishing industry. She is on the Committee for Jerwood Fiction Uncovered Prize. She tweets @valrey
Margaret Busby, OBE was the UK’s first black woman publisher when she co-founded Allison & Busby Ltd, of which she was editorial director for 20 years. She was subsequently editorial director of Earthscan. Margaret edited the pioneering anthology Daughters of Africa (1992). She has judged many literary prizes, including the Caine Prize and Commonwealth Writers Prize, and has written widely for publications including The Guardian, Independent, New Statesman and Wasafiri. In 2004 she was awarded an honorary doctorate of the Open University and in 2006 she was given an OBE for her services to literature and publishing. She is an honorary Fellow of Queen Mary College.
James Currey, from 1967 to 1984 as Editorial Director at Heinemann, worked with Chinua Achebe on the first one hundred titles of the African Writers Series and added a total of 250 titles to the Series. In 1985 he and his wife Clare founded James Currey Publishers which, by co-publishing with publishers in Africa and the USA, rapidly achieved dominance in the field of African Studies. This year he has already contributed to celebrations of Chinua Achebe's work at Wits University, Brown University and Stirling University.
Emma Dabiri is an Irish-Nigerian commentator and writer. She is a PhD researcher in the Sociology Department at Goldsmiths and a teaching fellow in the Africa Department at SOAS. She is regularly invited to contribute to discussions on diverse issues, ranging from performance to race and feminism, at various events and settings including Intelligence Squared, UK Feminista, WOW Southbank Festival and BBC Radio 4. She blogs as The Diaspora Diva and tweets @TheDiasporaDiva
Richard Dowden is the Director of the Royal African Society. He was formerly the Africa editor for The Economist newspaper. Richard became director of the Royal African Society in 2002, following a long career as a journalist with a focus on Africa. His first two years on the continent, as a volunteer teacher in Uganda, coincided with the first two years of Idi Amin's rule. Richard has visited and written about almost every country on the continent and is the author of Africa: Altered States, Ordinary Miracles. He tweets @Dowdenafrica
Justin Edwards is Research Professor of English. He has held research fellowships at Churchill College, Cambridge (2005-6) and Cambridge University’s Centre for Research in Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities (CRASSH) in 2010. He is the author of several books, including Mobility at Large (2012), Postcolonial Literature (2008), Gothic Canada: Reading the Spectre of a National Literature (2005), Gothic Passages: Racial Ambiguity and the American Gothic (2003) and Exotic Journeys: Exploring the Erotics of U.S. Travel Literature (2001).
Born in Nigeria in 1984, Inua Ellams is an internationally touring poet, playwright and performer. He has published two poetry pamphlets: Candy Coated Unicorns and Converse All Stars and Thirteen Fairy Negro Tales. His first play, The 14th Tale, was awarded a Fringe First at the Edinburgh International Theatre Festival and his third, Black T-Shirt Collection, ran at the National Theatre. He is currently working on a new play called Barber Shop Chronicles, a poetry a pamphlet called #Afterhours and his first full poetry collection, Of All The Boys of Plateau Private School. He tweets @InuaEllams
Dele Meiji Fatunla
Dele Meiji Fatunla is a writer and works as communications coordinator for the Royal African Society, where he has editorial and technical responsibility for the RAS website and the RAS’ events and listings website, Gateway for Africa. He also leads on the co-ordination of the RAS’s communications and digital transition. Dele contributes articles and comment to various publications including the BBC, Vox Africa and The Huffington Post. He is the founder and convener of the Yoruba Conversation Club, and a member of the Britain Nigeria Educational Trust. His non-fiction and creative writing has appeared in various publications including The Guardian, Jalada, Open Road, and Saraba Magazine. He tweets @delemeiji
James Figueroa is the Managing Director of the African development consultancy, Aloysius Enterprise, formed in 2006. He has a keen interest in cultural as well as commercial developments across Africa and is a graduate of the SOAS, University of London, with a First Class Honours BA in African Studies and Development Studies.
Kate Haines is an editor with over 12 years’ experience of working in the publishing industry. She was previously Head of Humanities at Palgrave Macmillan, responsible for paperback publishing across history, literature, theatre and language. She currently works as an Associate Editor for Kwani Trust and manages the Kwani? Manuscript Project - a one-off prize for unpublished novel manuscripts from African writers across the continent and in the diaspora, launched in April 2012. Kate is also working on a PhD in the School of English at the University of Sussex, looking at the work of Kwani Trust and Farafina Books over a 10 year period and asking how these two organizations and their writers have intervened in the creation of cultural memory. She tweets @katehaines
Lucy Hannah established Commonwealth Writers in 2011. The programme inspires, develops and connects writers and storytellers in a range of disciplines. It then links them to groups which seek to bring about social change. Previously, Hannah specialised in working with local dramatists for a range of international organisations. In the UK she has led a variety of projects with young offenders and ex-offenders. She’s a UK Board member of the Children’s Radio Foundation, a trustee of Peacebuilding UK and Dialogue Productions. Commonwealth Writers tweets @cwwriters
Ivor W. Hartmann
Ivor W. Hartmann is a Zimbabwean writer, editor, publisher, visual artist, and author of Mr. Goop (Vivlia, 2010). Hartmann was nominated for the UMA Award (Earth Rise, 2009), awarded The Golden Baobab Prize (Mr. Goop, 2009), and finalist for The Yvonne Vera Award (A Mouse amongst Men, 2011). His writing has appeared in African Writing Magazine, Wordsetc and Munyori Literary Journal, amongst others. Hartmann runs the StoryTime micro-press, publisher of the African Roar annual anthologies and AfroSF, and is on the advisory board of Writers International Network Zimbabwe.
Jessica Horn is a feminist activist and writer. Her professional work with NGOs, UN and donors focuses on the intersections of women’s health, human rights and freedom from violence. Jessica is a Commissioning Editor for Our Africa on openDemocracy and writes regularly for media and professional platforms. Her pamphlet, Speaking in Tongue, is featured in the Mouthmark Book of Poetry. Jessica was named as an African Women Changemaker by ARISE Magazine, and one of Applause Africa’s “40 Most Influential Africans under 40”. She tweets @stillSHErises
Caine Prize 2014 - Shortlisted Author
Tendai Huchu is the author of The Hairdresser of Harare. His short fiction and nonfiction has appeared in Warscapes, Wasafiri, The Africa Report, The Zimbabwean, The Open Road Review, Kwani?05, A View from Here and numerous other publications. In 2013 he received a Hawthornden Fellowship and a Sacatar Fellowship. His next novel will be The Maestro, The Magistrate, & The Mathematician.
Maya Jaggi is an award-winning cultural journalist and critic. She writes for the Guardian Review and Financial Times, among others, and has judged literary awards including The Caine Prize, Orange, Man Asian (as chair) and Dublin Impac. Educated at Oxford and LSE, she was awarded an honorary doctorate by the Open University in 2012 for ‘extending the map of international writing’. She introduced the Penguin Classic Anthills of the Savannah and her influential 2000 Guardian profile of Achebe is in Tributes and Reflections.
Delia Jarrett-Macauley is an award-winning writer. Her first novel, Moses, Citizen and Me set in post-war Sierra Leone, won the Orwell Prize for Political Writing. She is also the biographer of the early 20th century Jamaican poet, playwright and broadcaster Una Marson, 1905-1965.
Named by Forbes as one of Africa’s 30 best entrepreneurs under 30, Chude Jideonwo’s career is centred on using the media as an active tool to galvanise a generation of Africans to action. He is Managing Partner of Red Media Africa, owners of The Future Africa Awards Africa & Summit, Y! Africa, and YNaija.com, as well as a founding Executive Director of The Future Project. He is a Global Shaper with the World Economic Forum and sits on the boards of the Oando Foundation and Micosoft4Afrika. Are We The Turning Point Generation? is his second book. He tweets @Chude
Caine Prize 2014 - Shortlisted Author
Billy Kahora lives and writes in Nairobi. He was commended by the 2007 Caine Prize judges for his story Treadmill Love and his story Urban Zoning was shortlisted for the prize in 2012. He has written the non-fiction novella, The True Story Of David Munyakei, the screenplay for Soul Boy and co-wrote Nairobi Half Life. Kahora is Managing Editor of Kwani Trust and an Associate Editor with the Chimurenga Chronic. He has an MSc Creative Writing from University of Edinburgh.
Fatimah Kelleher is a Nigerian/British international social development consultant and writer working on equality issues across Africa and Asia. She also writes on literature and the arts, and has performed and published poetry. Her articles and essays have been included in the anthology Write Black, Write British: From Post Colonial to Black British Literature, and international literary magazine Wasafiri. In 2013 Kelleher wrote What Space for African Eyes? Travel Writing and Africa in the 21st Century for the RAS blog. She tweets @fatimahkelleher
Jonathan M. Ledgard
Jonathan M. Ledgard is a novelist and a leading thinker on political risk, advanced technology and species survival in Africa. His second novel, SUBMERGENCE, was a New York Times book of 2013. He is director of a futurist initiative at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, which seeks to develop cargo drone routes in Africa that can safely and autonomously fly heavy loads on low altitude air corridors. Separately, he has been a frontline foreign correspondent for The Economist and authored lead stories from 50 countries and several wars for the paper.
Born in Uganda, Nick Makoha fled the country with his mother, as a result of political dictatorship of Idi Amin. His one-man-show, My Father & Other Superheroes, debuted to sold-out performances at both the 2013 London Literature Festival and a special Father's day performance at the Unicorn Theatre. A national tour launches at the end of the year. He has presented his work at many international events and toured for the British Council in Finland, Czech Republic, the US and the Netherlands. He tweets @NickMakoha
Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi
Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi
Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi was born in Uganda and moved to England in 2001 to study. She now teaches Creative Writing at Lancaster University where she completed her PhD. Her work has been published by African Writing and Commonword. Her short story, Let’s Tell This Story Properly, won both the Regional (Africa) and Overall Commonwealth Short Story Prize 2014. KINTU is her first novel and the winner of the Kwani? Manuscript Project in 2013. She is currently at work on her second novel.
Vusi Mchunu is a poet, translator, human rights activist, heritage practitioner, museum exhibitions' curator, African Knowledge Systems advocate. He heads a heritage consultancy, House of Memory, and is the current Chairman of the Council of Freedom Park, the post-Apartheid premier heritage monument and museum.
Mpalive Msiska is a Reader in English & Humanities at Birkbeck College, University of London. His principal research focuses on the problem of identity in theory and in literature, particularly post-colonial African theory and literature. He is the author of several books, including Post-colonial Identity in Wole Soyinka (2007), and co-authored Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart (2007).
André Naffis-Sahely's poetry was most recently featured in the Oxford Poets Anthology 2013. His translations include The Physiology of the Employee by Honoré de Balzac (Wakefield Press, 2014), Moneyby Émile Zola (Penguin Classics, 2015) and The Selected Poems of Abdellatif Laâbi (Carcanet, 2015).
Okey Ndibe is a Nigerian-American fiction writer, journalist, political commentator, and poet—and author of the novel Foreign Gods, Inc. (2014). Ndibe moved to the United States in 1988 to be the founding editor of African Commentary, a magazine published by the late Chinua Achebe. Ndibe earned MFA and PhD degrees from the University of Massachusetts, and is a visiting professor at Brown University. He is working on Going Dutch and other American Mis/Adventures, a memoir about his life in the US. He tweets @OkeyNdibe
Chuma Nwokolo was called to the bar in 1984. He worked for the Legal Aid Council and was managing partner of the C&G Chambers, Lagos. He was writer-in-residence of the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford. He is a public speaker and publisher of African Writing Magazine. His books include the novel, Diaries of a Dead African, the poetry collections Memories of Stone & The Final Testament of a Minor God, and the anthologies The Ghost of Sani Abacha & How to Spell Naija in 100 Short Stories (Vol 1.). He tweets @chumanwokolo
Caine Prize 2014 - Shortlisted Author
Okwiri Oduor was born in Nairobi. She is a 2014 MacDowell Colony fellow. She is currently at work on her debut novel. She tweets @Okwiri_
Olabode Ogunlana is a Chartered Insurance Practitioner. He was the first indigenous Managing Director of National Insurance Corporation of Nigeria. Having achieved much in business, he set out on an inspired challenge - to write a series of short stories. Mr Ogunlana is the author of Yoruba Love Stories and The Quest For the Rare Leaf and Other Yoruba Tales through which he aims to take readers on a discovery of Yoruba Culture and Language. He is currently working on his next volume of adventures.
Gabriel Okoundji was born in Okondo-Ewo, Congo. He studied in Brazzaville and then in Bordeaux where he now works as a clinical psychologist. He is the author of more than a dozen works and is considered a leading figure of French modern poetry. He has received several literary awards including the Léopold Sédar Senghor 2014 Poetry Award; the special award of the National Academy of Science, Classical Literature and Arts of Bordeaux (2011), and the Grand Literary Black Africa Award (2010). He tweets @GOKOUNDJI
Hany Rashwan is a PhD student at SOAS, in the Centre for Cultural, Literary and Postcolonial Studies. His main research area is the literariness of the Ancient Egyptian language. His study tries to offer a new rhetorical criticism to the ancient Egyptian literary devices based on Arabic-Semitic rhetoric methodology. His research interests include rhetoric theory, the history of rhetoric, inter-cultural communication, linguistic anthropology, and comparative linguistics. He has a BA in Egyptology and MA in the Ancient Egyptian Language from Helwan University at Cairo.
Geoff Ryman is an award-winning science fiction novelist and writer. His Nigerian-set novelette about a mathematical breakthrough at Benue State University won the 2012 Nebula Award in its category. His SF has won 15 awards in all including the Arthur C Clarke Award (twice), the British Science Fiction Association Award (twice), the Canadian Sunburst Award (twice) and the Philip K Dick Award for his online hypertext novel 253. Geoff teaches Creative Writing at the University of Manchester and organizes, along with Jennifer Makumbi and Muna Khogali, the London and Manchester African Reading Groups. He tweets @GeoffRyman
Sheila Ruiz is Programme Manager for The Royal African Society (RAS), heading the extensive programme of events, including the annual Africa Writes and Film Africa festivals. Sheila holds an MA in African Studies from SOAS and a BA in History from UCL. She is of mixed Spanish/Equato-Guinean heritage and is bilingual in Spanish and English. She tweets @SheilaRuiz
Noo Saro-Wiwa was born in Port Harcourt, Nigeria, in 1976, and is the daughter of the late human rights activist Ken Saro-Wiwa. Since her father’s execution, Saro-Wiwa – who was raised in England – largely avoided visiting Nigeria in her adulthood. But in 2008 she took a trip around the country of her birth. The journey resulted in her acclaimed travelogue, Looking for Transwonderland, which was named The Sunday Times Travel Book of the Year 2012, and was shortlisted for the Author's Club Dolman Travel Book of the Year in 2013.
Warsan Shire is the first Young Poet Laureate for London. Born in 1988, Warsan has read her work extensively all over Britain and internationally. Her début book, Teaching my Mother How to Give Birth (flipped eye), was published in 2011. Her poems have been published in Wasafiri, Magma and Poetry Review and in the anthology The Salt Book of Younger Poets (Salt, 2011). Shire’s poetry documents stories of journey and trauma and she curates workshops around the art of healing through narrative. She tweets @warsan_shire
Ribka Sibhatu was born in Eritrea, in 1962. She left because of the oppressive dictatorship and has since lived in Ethiopia, France, and now Rome. She is an expert on immigration politics as well as the Eritrean folk tradition. Her collection of Eritrean folk stories and fables, The Exact Number of Stars, was published by Sinnos in 2012. Sibhatu also published a collection of poems, Aulò, Aulò, Aulò! Poems of homesickness and love with a documentary Aulò: Postcolonial Rome (Kimera Film 2012).
Ade Solanke is an award-winning writer. Her work includes the acclaimed play, Pandora's Box, nominated for Best New Play, OffWestEnd Awards, and the screenplay for Tunde Kelani's forthcoming film, Dazzling Mirage. She read English at Sheffield University and has an MFA from the University of Southern California where she was a Fulbright Fellow. In Hollywood, she worked as a Story Analyst. A Royal Literary Fund Fellow, her current projects include scripts about African artists in Georgian and Sixties London. She tweets @sporastories
Tade Thompson’s roots are in Western Nigeria and South London. His short stories have been published in small press, webzines and anthologies. Most recently, his story The Madwoman of Igbobi College appeared in Interfictions Online. He lives and works in South England and has been known to haunt coffee shops, jazz bars, bookshops, and libraries. He is an occasional visual artist and tortures his family with his attempts to play the guitar. He tweets @tadethompson
Dr Wangui wa Goro
Wangui wa Goro has served as a public intellectual, translator, editor, writer, academic, social researcher and human rights campaigner in Africa and Europe over the last thirty years. She is the translator of award-winning authors including Ngugi wa Thiong’o and Veronique Tadjo. Wangui is also a writer in her own right and writes poetry, short stories, fiction and non-fiction. Her current interests are in translation and traducture in national and international development on which she has written the book: Mind the gap: Harnessing translation and traducture in knowledge management in development. She is the current president of the Association for the Promotion of translation in relation to Africa (ALTRAS). She tweets @wanguiwagoro
Marion Wallace is curator for African Studies at the British Library, and has previously worked at the UK National Archives. She is responsible for the BL's collections on Africa south of the Sahara, and is currently curating a major exhibition on 'West Africa: Cultures of the Word', opening in October 2015. Marion’s publications include A History of Namibia: From the Beginning to 1990, and she is co-editor of a forthcoming volume on African Studies in the Digital Age: DisConnects?
Verna Wilkins is founder of Tamarind Books and author of 40 picture books and eight biographies for young people. Her books featured on BBC Children’s TV programmes and the National Curriculum in Schools. A moment which will remain forever in Verna’s mind is when, during a school visit, a young black girl said to her – “I always wanted to be an author, but I didn’t think I could be one until I met you today.”
Tricia Wombell is an avid reader and founder of the blog Black Book News. Alongside book reviews and interviews with authors, the blog features news and forthcoming events of interest for anyone with a passion for black literature. She compiled the first ever list of the best 50 Black British authors and books. Since 2010, Tricia has been the co-ordinator of the Black Reading Group - London’s longest running black book group, now in its 14th year and is a co-founder of the biannual literary event Black Book Swap. Tricia is a chartered marketer and is the Director of Marketing & Communications for a leadership development organisation. She tweets @Triciabbn
Susan Yearwood is the founder of Susan Yearwood Literary Agency (SYLA). Yearwood is the literary agent to Kerry Young, writer of Pao and Gloria (Bloomsbury), who was shortlisted for the Costa First Novel award, and Prajwal Parajuly, who wrote The Gurkha’s Daughter: Stories and Land Where I Flee (Quercus), currently a bestseller in India. SYLA also represents Jacqueline Shaw, author of Fashion Africa (Jacaranda Books), a non-fiction title on sustainable fashion. The agency is extending their list to include genre fiction, including crime/thrillers, from new and original voices. She tweets @Susanyn
Belinda Zhawi is a 22 year old writer from Zimbabwe and a decade long resident of London. Belinda has performed at UK festivals and events including Bestival, Big Chill, Tongue Fu, Book Slam and Poejazzi. Her work has been published in the 2012 anthology Liminal Animals, alongside some of her poetry heroes. Belinda is an active member of Rubix Collective, and has had work featured and on their 2012 album, Red. She tweets @MamoyoBornFree