We are constantly reinventing ourselves and, as a magazine, we have grown enamored of long-form creative journalism (or nonfiction), daring to publish online a genre that is more adapted for a print outlet given how easily distracted netizens are with the plethora of tantalizing online content. Nevertheless, long-form journalism, when in the right hands can go far beyond the analysis in question, spinning a nexus which explores questions usually avoided by shorter pieces.
This issue starts on a somber note, with two memorials— one for the Russian investigative journalist, Anna Politkovskaya, killed on October 7, 2006 and another for Ghanaian poet, Kofi Awoonor, killed recently during the Westgate Mall terrorist attack in Nairobi on September 21. These memorials serve as a reminder that rather than morn their loss, we should celebrate what they steadfastly stood for.
Alternative spaces in culture are explored as well, but far be it our intent to theorize the place of marginal culture and counter culture, so to speak. We simply explore the implications of Western patronage, as well as the assimilating power of a dominant group over smaller groups, be they ethnic, linguistic or otherwise.
In a follow-up to David Kaiza’s piece “But Why, Father” in Transition 106, contributing editor, Serubiri Moses, questions the “legacy” of Heinemann’s African Writer’s Series, whose heroes evoked a definition of Africanness bearing undertones of a super humanness reminiscent of Nietzsche’s Ubermensch and Descartes’ “Cogito ergo sum”. He further argues that Africa, the real Africa, did not exist for them. It was only exciting on the frontiers of manuscript paper, which is why so many “New Africans” are currently exiled physically, psychologically and emotionally from Africa.
Adebiyi Olusolape investigates the political processes of assimilation that are actively at work to subsume the Kakanda, a riverine people largely found on the banks of River Niger in Niger and Kogi States, into Nupe and Yoruba. The main consequence being the gradual extinction of the Kakanda language.
Another piece explores the “rediscovery” of the power of Pidgin English (creole) as the language of the masses in Cameroon in a review of Reniss’ EP, Afrikan Luv, which is the first project by the innovative label, New Bell Music.
An assessment of the spoken word scene in Cameroon takes us from the streets to art centers, where poets experiment with words, but hardly end there because some of them push boundaries, mixing poetry, sound, photography, projections and multimedia to create a hybrid form of art called “poetogarphy”.
An interesting conversation during the Hargeysa International Book Fair (HIBF), between Jama Musse Jama and Chuma Nwokolo, reveals that there is an insatiable hunger for literature among the Somali youth, and that the concept of African literature is a complex, ever-morphing phenomenon. The Hargeysa International Book Fair, now in its fifth year running in Somaliland, is the brainchild of Jama Musse Jama, a senior analyst with a computer science company who lives in Pisa, Italy, and it is co-managed by Ayan Mahamoud.
This issue also includes photography, poetry, reviews and cartoons from various parts of (but not limited to) Africa and its diaspora.
Special thanks go to Sentury Yob, of Khalishrine for the cover image, and to institutions and persons who have shown interest in our evolution, notably the Goethe-Institut, Kwani? Chimurenga, the Ofi Press and Saraba.