Archive for March, 2020

nancyI recently had a very insightful chat with Nancy Adimora, founding editor of AFREADA who recently joined HarperCollins as ‘Talent and Audience Development Manager’

We talked about many interesting literary and fun stuff including Chimamanda, Biafra, Harry Potter, Aminatta Forna and sleeping 8 hours every night.

Read all about it here in The Lagos Review. See excerpts below:

SNI: AFREADA which you founded is one of the more vibrant platforms publishing African stories from writers across the world. I have had my story published by you and have also read many interesting stories there as well. What was the vision behind AFREADA and what has the experience been like?

NA: We’re in a very interesting season with AFREADA where the vision is in the process of evolving. I started the platform with no experience in publishing, I had no formal editorial training. I was just a Nigerian girl in north London who was intrigued by an entire continent but couldn’t afford to travel around that entire continent so wanted to explore the possibilities of doing so through stories. I came across an Aminatta Forna quote that says “if you want to know a country, read its writers.” and that really resonated with me because, if you want to get to know the capital city of Botswana, you could open a text book, read scholarly articles, or Google some facts and figures – but if you *really* want to get to know Gaborone, you have to engage with the stories of people who live and work there, even if it’s fictional. This story by Siyanda Mohutsiwa is a beautiful example of that.  So, for a long time travelling through stories has been our vision and it’s been fun for me to get to know the continent through some of the best emerging writers, from Uganda to Guinea Bissau. But now, with a growing team and expansion into creative non-fiction, we’re in the process of re-evaluating our mission statement. We’re exploring a few new ideas, and we’ll be communicating our revised vision in the coming weeks.

SNI: Wow. That’s interesting to know and I guess this is a TLR exclusive. LOL. Tell me from your experience and the submission you receive, what’s your assessment of the state of creative writing by Africans? Alive & well, comatose or just there?

NA: I would say it is alive and well – without a shadow of a doubt. What I see in our submissions inbox is a lot of enthusiasm. Accessibility is key for us, so our submissions guidelines are intentionally more relaxed than some other journals and publications. We want to encourage everyone to feel like their stories are worth being read and reviewed, and the quality of our submissions is a reflection of that decision. So, whilst we get a lot of submissions from new writers who probably need more time to hone their skills, we also get a lot of exceptional submissions from writers who are a little further in their creative journeys as well. So I’d say our submissions inbox is broad, in terms of quality, but it definitely fills me with a lot of optimism.

SNI: Talking about our writing being alive and well, we recently lost one of our writing greats, Prof Chukwuemeka Ike who influenced a lot of book lovers of my generation. Did you encounter any of his works which you are happy to share briefly about?

NA: It feels crazy to say, but I didn’t know much about Prof Chukwuemeka Ike before his death. I had heard his name a couple of times, but the first time I really engaged with him wasn’t through his writing, but through a documentary called “In the Shadow of Biafra” that was screened in London last month. The film explored how creative writers grappled with the history of the Nigeria-Biafra war. In it, Prof Ike spoke about a number of things – but one part that stood out for me was when he recounted how Igbo people figured out how to refine crude oil during the war. The fact that we built oil refineries is interesting in itself, but I was particularly drawn to how he told the story. I made a note of some of his books when I got home later that evening so I’m definitely going to go back and read some of his work when I get the chance.

Read the the full interview here


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