Muthoni Muiruri

‘I Love Books That Evoke an Emotional Reaction in Me’ Muthoni Muiruri’s First Draft

Kenyan publisher and co-founder of Soma Nami Books, Muthoni Muiruri, loves to read books that are intellectually stimulating and evoke an emotional reaction: ‘If a book makes me cry and teaches me empathy; if the characters stay with me long after reading, I consider that a forever book. I am also extremely grateful for books that teach me something, that challenge me and force me to reckon with my ignorance and biases and that compel me to want to research and learn.’
Thula Simpson

‘After the End of History Comes More History’ Thula Simpson’s First Draft

South African historian and author of History of South Africa: From 1902 to the Present, Thula Simpson, believes the most common misconception about South African history is related to apartheid: ‘Many believe that apartheid is the central thread of South African history, the overwhelming fact, the unifying category to which all roads and streams must lead, and which can explain all. In fact, apartheid is a specific period in a much longer history of segregation, and it cannot be understood except in the context of that wider story.’
Kemi Alabi

‘Writing Is a Way of Being, a Mode of Inquiry, a Compulsion, a Pleasure’ Kemi Alabi’s First Draft

Poet and author of Against Heaven, Kemi Alabi, is experiencing a new disability and profound grief around the limits of care for sick Black people: ‘I’m wrestling with fear, anger; a complete reorientation to time, to my body, to the ableist world—and it’s demanding more honest language from me. I wish I could write around all this, but guided by Audre Lorde, I’ll write through.’
Dipo Faloyin

‘I’m Not Afraid of a Blank Page’ Dipo Faloyin’s First Draft

Nigerian journalist and author of Africa Is Not a Country, Dipo Faloyin, was frustrated by the fact that when most people think of Africa, they picture one of two things, poverty or safari: ‘I wanted to create something that both dispelled those myths while painting a comprehensive, reality-based picture of the past, present, and future of the continent.’
DK Nnuro

‘I Had to Treat My Debut Novel Like a Job’ DK Nnuro’s First Draft

Ghanaian novelist and author of What Napoleon Could Not Do, DK Nnuro, says his debut novel was inspired by his experiences: ‘Since relocating to the US from Ghana, I have had one foot firmly placed among Black immigrants—Ghanaian immigrants, specifically—and another among Black Americans. It was natural that I would explore the tensions between the two in a novel.’
Michael Afenfia

‘I Felt Compelled to Share What the Japa Experience Can Look Like’ Michael Afenfia’s First Draft

Nigerian novelist and author of Leave My Bones In Saskatoon, Michael Afenfia, says his latest novel on immigration was inspired by his experience and that of a few family members and friends: ‘I felt compelled to share what the japa experience can look like, particularly because not many people are comfortable talking about what the reality is versus what it is made out to be.’
Fareda Banda

‘I Wanted to See if I Could Pull Off Writing an Interdisciplinary Book’ Fareda Banda’s First Draft

Zimbabwean academic and author of African Migration, Human Rights and Literature, Fareda Banda, wanted her book to explore the refugee/migration issue from the perspective of one whose people were being dehumanized: ‘I was also curious about whether literature could reach places or invoke emotions such as empathy, that law and policy did not seem to be doing.’
Ijedike Jeboma

‘My Favourite Books Are Those That Tackle Powerful Subjects With Elegant Prose’ Ijedike Jeboma’s First Draft

Nigerian writer and author of ‘Identity Formation in Buchi Emecheta’s Kehinde’ Ijedike Jeboma, decided to read all of Emecheta’s works and noticed a shift in her 1994 novel, Kehinde: ‘Emecheta’s legacy is often discussed in terms of the womanism-feminism divide, and I thought Kehinde marked a shift in her oeuvre that I hadn’t seen much commentary about, so I wrote it myself.’
Farai Mudzingwa

‘Writing a Book Is Both a Solitary and Collaborative Effort’ Farai Mudzingwa’s First Draft

Zimbabwean author, Farai Mudzingwa’s debut novel, Avenues by Train, was inspired by his interest to correct the false dichotomy between modernity and African cultural expression that exists in colonial texts: ‘I wanted to explore how cultures with disrupted spirituality and culture reconcile with modernity. There is a historical context to who we are at present as a people which is erased but necessary for our grounding today.’
Yejide Kilanko

‘Romance Is Good for the Soul’ Yejide Kilanko’s First Draft

Nigerian novelist and author of Daughters Who Walk This Path, Yejide Kilanko, wants to write more children’s books in the future: ‘I have had the privilege of publishing two children’s picture books. I want to write more children’s books that feature diverse characters. Every child should be able to see themselves represented in accessible books.’