Sumayya Lee was born and raised in Durban, South Africa. She has worked as an Islamic Studies teacher, Montessori Directress and Teacher of English as a Foreign Language. Her debut, The Story of Maha (Kwela, 2007) was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers Prize for Best First Book – Africa and Longlisted for the Sunday Times Fiction Award. It is currently on the undergraduate Curriculum at the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal. Her second novel, Maha, Ever After was published by Kwela in 2009. She has also been a judge for the Young Muslim Writers Awards, for the past five years. Sumayya has been a mentor on the Writivism programme and has judged the annual Writivism Short Story Prize She currently serves as the Writivism Mentoring and Residencies coordinator.
Sunday, 4 February 2018
We recently ran online campaign #WhyBuchi asking people to write in 100 words why Buchi Emecheta is important to them, ahead of the Celebrating Buchi Emecheta conference held at SOAS. The prize for the winning entries were the relaunched titles of Head Above Water, The Rape of Shavi and Kehinde all newly designed by Victor Ehikhamenor, and published by the revived Omenala Press. We had some really great entries, that highlighted the impact of her work, the bravery she displayed in her writing and the humour she captured in the most challenging of circumstances. Thank you to everyone who participated, it was a pleasure reading your entries! Before sharing the three winning submissions by Mercy Mubanga, Nnamdi Ogochukwu Komlan-Dodoh and Tokunbo Koiki, we wanted to also share with you in a very few words Why Buchi is important us.
WhyBuchi? For me it’s the range of emotions that I experience when reading her work – they are intense, often bringing me to tears, but I am always left with an overwhelming sense of gratitude that she was brave enough to write so honestly about issues deeply significant to Africa and her diaspora.
It is always encouraging and satisfying to know about women like Buchi Emecheta whose life and work have impacted generations of people especially women of colour. They saw in her work a guiding light that helps them navigate in a world which was not always designed for their fulfillment. I am very grateful to take part in this movement of celebration in honour of Buchi Emecheta.
Buchi Emecheta seared my imagination when I first read ‘The Slave Girl’ in my early twenties. Her work demands attention, your silence and respect. Her death echoes a lamentable void in the African and black British literary chambers. Our #WhyBuchi competition has shown her voice still roars, her words are ablaze, at the turn of every page.
Buchi Emecheta’s work is important to me because it looks like still water but it runs deep. It has taught me that suffering, in many forms, is inevitable. However, I must not sit and pity myself because no one is coming to save me. It has especially thoroughly communicated that as a woman, my strength is not beyond my reach when I need it most. I am the very vessel that contains this strength and so I needn’t wait for a hero to save me. It has taught me that I have the choice to choose strength each time I am faced with a tragedy I have been made to believe only a man can tackle.
Nnamdi Ogochukwu Komlan-Dodoh
An inspiration to all; not just the female folk. Buchi Emecheta was and is the definition of succeeding against seemingly impossible odds. Despite the circumstances she found herself in at such a young age, she exhibited the unique strength of the African woman and fought to bring to light experiences never openly talked about before. Her voice – weaved through tales of survival and motherhood – confronts and challenges us in equal measure. Her words remind us why the female voice must be heard and never silenced. I am grateful to her for lighting the fire for us to write without fear.
My first reaction when I saw the flyer of this competition was a triumphant THOSE BOOKS ARE MINE! The second, was just how do they expect me to express in merely 100 words the magnitude of how significant Buchi is to me!?! Re-discovering Buchi at a time when I was dealing with my marriage breakdown gave me so much courage. As a single mother of one child, I was inspired by Buchi’s strength raising 5 children in a very racist and hostile environment. The ‘Joys of Motherhood’ gave me permission to be selfish in putting my needs above my child when so required. Why Buchi? Because in sharing her story, she gave me a new reality of motherhood, marriage and womanhood in a way that still motivates me.
William Du Bois is a poet, performer and the lead member of Trotro Vibes, a group of performers who ‘bring art to the everyday people’. In fact, the artists’ mobile performance of songs and poetry is inspired by Ghana’s most used public transportation: Trotro. Their aim is to educate, inform, advocate and entertain commuters who use this mean of transportation.
Sunday, 31 December 2017
We’ve reached the last day of 2017, and what a year it has been! There have been some amazing titles to come out this year and we are looking forward to adding more exciting titles to our shelves in 2018. We have had a chance to reflect on 2017 and wanted to share our top five highlights of the year. Continue reading “Top 5 Highlights of 2017”
Wednesday, 13 December 2017
If you’re fan of Buchi Emecheta or just getting to know the pioneering novelist’s work, we want to hear from you! Afrikult. is running an exclusive competition for the forthcoming Celebrating Buchi Emecheta event on Saturday 3rd February 2018 – an all-day celebration of the life and work of the acclaimed Nigerian novelist, who passed away in January 2017. Continue reading “Celebrating Buchi Emecheta x #WhyBuchi Competition”
Wednesday, 22 November 2017
If you’re looking for a weekend filled with rich and intellectual debate and discussion on feminism, an exhibition of black women excellence and vibing to good music then you need to be at ourselves + others: african feminist re-CREATIONS at SOAS this Saturday! And as you guessed, Afrikult. will be there delivering a workshop on nego-feminism and Momtaza Mehri’s poetry with time to write a creative response to material presented. Sign up via firstname.lastname@example.org.
Chiziterem Ndukwe-Nwoke is a 23 years old Nigerian writer, literary entrepreneur, and a graduate of Petroleum Engineering from Federal University of Technology, Owerri, Nigeria.
He is the founder of Route Africa, a non-profit non-governmental organization that gathers a collective of student writers whose primary goal is to empower each other and contribute to Africa’s literary scene worldwide.
‘In Creative Fiction, We See What Others Don’t’ – Lawrence Amaeshi
Lawrence Amaeshi is presently a student of Novel Writing in Stanford University, USA and in this conversation we try to explore in-depth the ideas behind the story, the structure and his style of writing.
In this book that could be described as many things but best regarded as a crime thriller, Bruce Telema, a young man who has recently lost his job and now works selling technical filter replacement kits to oil companies based in the Niger Delta, is approached by Steve, a representative of a high calibre network of oil criminals, skilled in the siphoning of oil from government pipelines using armed militants and selling the stolen oil to ‘the highest bidder’ in the international market. Bruce is offered the opportunity of representing the interests of this organization based in London – he is to be their point man, with the responsibility of travelling to the Niger Delta creeks to negotiate for oil from militants, villagers who have scooped oil from burst pipes, various local illegal refineries, and helping the network deliver these products to their clients. Bruce Telema is promised ‘wealth beyond his wildest imagination’ and yes, he gets into this business and soon begins to make lots of money, living an exotic ‘fast life’. However, soon rival militant groups, security operatives and even his own network place a price tag on his head.
Dear Upright African,
I am reminded of six years ago. I had just flown into Johannesburg from Kampala. I was in Johannesburg to do a screen test for a TV series about Botswana. Before the screen test was over I had already landed one of the lead roles. Of course I was elated, mostly because even though I was enjoying an award-winning acting career on-Broadway and off-Broadway in New York City, I still had the firm desire to do something at home. A week later I was in Gaborone, script in hand, and ready to film. Then an email from the series producers popped up on my phone saying that after “much careful thought and consideration” I had been dropped from the production for “not looking African enough.” The news was more infuriating than disappointing. I found myself wishing they had told me that I had been dropped because I had not been a good enough actor during the screen tests, or that I was asking for too much money. But to say that I did not fulfil some British self-styled Africanist director’s zoological notion of what an African looks like was to abuse even my ancestors. I tell you, Upright African, you and I must write and perform many-many stories about the Africa we know where my perfect teeth are not remarkable.
Wednesday, 26 July 2017
We are ecstatic to share our newest addition to the Afrikult. team: Uviwe Ntsaluba and Keren Lasme! Both Uviwe and Keren have joined us in overseeing Afrikult.’s website and social media – and we are thrilled to welcome them on-board.