Taking its inspiration from other pugnacious, and cool magazines like Chimurenga – Bakwa, was founded to counter the absence of literary magazines in Cameroon; with a wide ranging remit that’s broader than the literary, Bakwa – is an eclectic, intelligent take on the dynamic cultural scenes often missed by mainstream, western media.
The story of Bakwa magazine—Cameroon’s leading Anglophone literary publication, which also runs pieces on politics and art—is one of sublime dedication and a powerful grasp of responsibility
After a similar magazine, Palapala, folded in early 2011, Dzekashu MacViban decided to found a new one ‘to fill the gap’ for critical and literary work alike in Cameroon. Bakwa magazine went online late in 2011, carrying work in English and Pidgin.
Fundada en 2011, y con sede en Yaundé, Bawka es una revista on line multilingüe (publican principalmente en inglés y francés, pero también en pidgin o castellano) que muestra e impulsa, sobre todo, la faceta literaria de Camerún, pero que también pretende incidir en el ámbito cultural en general.
Founded in the last quarter of 2011, Bakwa Magazine is a magazine of literary and cultural criticism, where urgent and intelligent discussions on the state and direction of literary and cultural production can take place. The dearth of critical and creative writing being its impetus, Bakwa’s approach is high-end creative writing and creative nonfiction, which is urgent and experimental in nature, while being at the same time a mirror of writing from Cameroon and Africa
For its third issue, in 2012, Bakwa collaborated with The Ofi Press, an online literary magazine based in Mexico, and edited by Jack Little. The Ofi Press published a special West African edition, with content in English and Spanish, which focused on West Africa, while Bakwa, in turn, published a special Mexican issue, focusing on Mexican art, culture and society, with most of the content in English and some Spanish translations. The project was lauded by several journals and outlets, especially the online website Heritage 1960.
In 2015, Bakwa was part of #100DaysofAfricanReads, a social media project curated by Angela Wachuka, Executive Director of Kwani?, which entailed “a series of portraits on books, writers and readers, over a 100 day period … highlighting the work of an African author in print and online”. With the exception of an excerpt from Awes Osman’s novel, Skinless Goat in Somalia, Bakwa’s contribution to the project was made up of excerpts and stories from female Cameroonian writers.
In the same year, in response to The Simpsons’ episode “The Princess Guide”, Bakwa did a two-part series on The Simpsons, wherein, bloggers, writers, cultural thinkers and academics were asked to comment on “The Princess Guide” episode. Most of the reactions highlighted poor research, one-dimensional characters, the challenge of portraying believable Nigerians, and the episode’s relatable character, Princess Kemi. This project on The Simpsons was later chosen by Dead Homer Society, for the “weekend reading” section.
The Bakwa Magazine Short Story Prize (in partnership with the Goethe-Institut in Cameroon and Phoneme Media in LA, California), aimed at discovering a new generation of Cameroonian writers under 39. The shortlisted stories, as well as commissioned stories will be published in October 2018 by Bakwa Books.
In 2017, the Goethe-Institut in Lagos and Yaounde in collaboration with Saraba Magazine and Bakwa Magazine organized a series of exchanges and workshops on creative non-fiction for Cameroonian and Nigerian writers. Within the framework of this project, readings took place at IYA, University of Lagos and the Ake Festival. Writing produced during this project will be published in a forthcoming book titled Limbe to Lagos: Nonfiction from Cameroon and Nigeria.
For 100 days, between December 2, 2017 and March 12, 2018, we ran a social media campaign to shed more light on Cameroonian writing, called 100 Days of Cameroonian Literature (#100DaysofCameroonianLiterature). We shared book covers accompanied by short reviews on social media daily, as well as started conversations around these books. We did this both to showcase the diversity of Cameroonian writing as well as debunk the notion that there isn’t enough writing from Cameroon. We are indebted to an earlier project by Angela Wachuka, called #100DaysofAfricanReads, which ran from October 10, 2014 to January 17, 2015, in which we contributed by showcasing (mostly) female Cameroonian writers.
BakwaCast is a periodic, living archive, which is conversational, intimate and introspective, and will include the Bakwa Magazine Reading Series, as well as other iterations and will occasionally pop-up in different cities. We’ll look at what makes interesting people tick, from artists, curators, writers, techies, performers, to policy makers.
Bakwa Books is an independent publisher which focuses on literary fiction, creative nonfiction, and translation. The desire to replicate the vision of Bakwa Magazine, as well as the absence of innovative local publishing channels in Cameroon, necessitated the creation of Bakwa Books.
The Bakwa Magazine Reading Series is a public quarterly event which brings together a wide selection of writers, translators, editors and poets, and connects them to various local communities by hosting events in different cities.
Dzekashu MacViban is a writer, journalist and editor based in Yaoundé. In 2011, he published a collection of poems titled Scions of the Malcontent and founded Bakwa Magazine. After a one year gig at the Ann Arbor Review of Books, he subsequently wrote for Goethe.de/kamerun, The Africa Report, This is Africa and IDG Connect. In 2016, he was a writer-in-residence at the Ebedi International Writers Residency. His fiction has appeared in Wasafiri, Kwani? and Jungle Jim. He was runner-up for the Sonora Review’s Flash Friday Caption Contest in 2012, and received Special Mention for the 2016 Short Story Day Africa Prize. He was formerly Editorial Manager at This is Africa.
Socrates Mbamalu was born in Nigeria and grew up in Kenya. His works have appeared in Saraba Magazine, Deyu African, Kalahari Review, African Writer, Sankofa Mag, Jalada, adda (a Commonwealth Magazine), and Catapult. He is a 2016 Saraba Nonfiction Manuscript prize awardee. In 2017 he was longlisted for the Kofi Addo Nonfiction Prize under Writivism. He participated in the Goethe Institut/Saraba/Bakwa Literary Exchange between Cameroon and Nigeria. His Saraba nonfiction manuscript The Kenyan Boy is due for publication as an Ebook.
Nfor E. Njinyoh is an English-French translator, a copy editor, and an infrequent author of poetry and faction.
Kelechi Njoku is an editor. He was shortlisted for the 2017 Commonwealth Short Story Prize and his work appears in Adda, Litro, Brittle Paper, and several other magazines and anthologies. He lives in Lagos.
Howard Meh-Buh Maximus is a PhD Microbiology student at the University of Buea, Cameroon. His works have appeared on or accepted by literary magazines such as The Africa Report, Aerodrome, The Kalahari Review, Brittle Paper, Bakwa Magazine. His story “Reef 32” was long-listed for the Bakwa Magazine Short Story competition. His fiction and nonfiction pieces have appeared in anthologies such as Selves, and Love Stories from Africa, and are forthcoming in others. He was one of the participants of the Literary Exchange Program for creative nonfiction between Cameroon and Nigeria, organized by Bakwa magazine, Saraba magazine, Goethe Institute Nigeria and Goethe Institute Cameroon. He is currently working on a novel set in Bangladesh and Cameroon, and a collection of short stories. He is a staff writer for Bakwa Magazine.
Leslie Meya is a Cameroonian with a passion for words and sounds. Less than a year on stage, she’s been able to deliver outstanding performances at spoken word events around Cameroon. She dreams of taking the world to her feet with nothing but her voice and words. She is the host of Bakwa Magazine’s podcast, Bakwacast.
Tchassa Kamga does a lot of things— they all involve some form of storytelling.
Kangsen Feka Wakai is a Cameroon-born Washington, D.C. based poet, essayist and journalist. He holds an MFA in Creative Writing from American University where he served as editor in chief of Folio. His articles, essays, reviews and poems have appeared in the Houston Chronicle, Callaloo, Transition Magazine, Poet Lore, Postnoills Review, http://www.africasacountry.com and http://www.okayafrica.com.