Olumide Popoola and Bibi Bakare-Yusuf Discuss Future of African Literature at Dublin Festival

At the International Literature Festival Dublin (ILFD) in May, Nigerian-German author Olumide Popoola and literary agent Bibi Bakare-Yusuf engaged in a discussion about the past, present, and future of Nigerian and African literature.

Bibi Bakare-Yusuf, founder of Cassava Republic Press, expressed her excitement about the renewed energy in African literature.

 Established in 2006 and headquartered in Abuja, Nigeria, Cassava Republic has been at the forefront of promoting Nigerian literature to audiences in Africa and beyond, with branches in the UK and the US.

Bakare-Yusuf emphasized the importance of reflecting Africa’s diverse stories, from rural villages to bustling cities like Kinshasa and Lagos.

During the «Cities of Literature: Abuja» event on May 22, Bakare-Yusuf advocated for Abuja to achieve UNESCO’s City of Literature status.

 She highlighted Abuja’s growing literary scene, with numerous book clubs, theaters, and bookstores contributing to its vibrant culture.

Currently, South Africa’s Durban and Buffalo City are the only African cities with this designation.

Popoola, inspired by the richness of Nigerian literature, aims to innovate narrative structures in her writing.

Her debut novel, «When We Speak of Nothing», was published by Cassava Republic in 2017.

Her latest book, “Like Water, Like Sea,” explores themes of relationships, motherhood, and mental health, featuring a protagonist with bipolar disorder.

Popoola values the creative freedom Cassava Republic offers, allowing her to experiment with unconventional storytelling.

Bakare-Yusuf noted the significant expansion of Africa’s publishing industry and international readership since Cassava Republic’s inception.

She stressed the importance of publishing African voices to build a comprehensive historical record for future generations, a concept she refers to as «archives of the future».

Popoola echoed this sentiment, pointing out the growing appetite for diverse narratives beyond dominant Western perspectives.

 Bakare-Yusuf underscored the necessity of today’s stories for a rich literary heritage, highlighting the crucial role of publishers in creating these enduring “archives.”

Source: africanews.com

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