Dr Bibi Bakare-Yusuf, co-founder of Cassava Republic. Photo credit: Tapestry Consulting.

Since its founding in 2006, Cassava Republic has become arguably the premier publishing house on the continent. Among the books they have published in Nigeria are Abubakar Adam Ibrahim’s  NLNG Prize-winning Season of Crimson Blossoms, Sarah Ladipo Manyika’s Goldsmiths Prize-shortlisted Like a Mule Bringing Ice Cream to the Sun, Petina Gappah’s PEN Open Book Award-nominated The Book of Memory, Yemisi Aribisala’s  John Avery Food Award-winning Longthroat Memoirs: Soups, Sex and Nigerian Taste Buds, Hawa Jande Golakai’s The Lazarus Effect, Elnathan John’s  NLNG Prize-shortlisted Born on a Tuesday, and the Elah Allfrey-edited anthology Safe House: Explorations in Creative Nonfiction.

Cassava Republic’s co-founder, the inspirational Dr Bibi Bakare-Yusuf, recently did an interview with Market Place’s Kai Ryssdalin which she discussed why and how the publishing house was begun, as well as her vision for it.

We have extracted four quotes from her interview that should be applauded.

*

1

I was an academic. I went to Nigeria to work as a visiting scholar, and I looked on the bookshelves. I felt the bookshelves [were] empty. I’d go into homes, [in the] homes there were no bookshelves. And I felt you cannot build civilization where there are no books.

2

For us, it was important that Africans were owning the means of production in terms of the creating of narrative. Not just telling our own stories, but it was important that we also own the means of production.

3.

I wanted a branding that was very confident, that still incorporates the colors of Africa on one level, but also a branding that suggests a certain cosmopolitanism.

4.

There are many, many narratives of people who are living, who are surviving, who are thriving. They’re not just surviving, they’re thriving. They’re producing art, they’re producing culture, they’re producing the things that will contribute to civilization.

 

Read the full interview in Market Place.

Visit Cassava Republic.

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About Otosirieze Obi-Young

View all posts by Otosirieze Obi-Young
Otosirieze Obi-Young’s writing has been shortlisted for the 2016 Miles Morland Writing Scholarship, the 2017 Gerald Kraak Award, and nominated for a 2015 Pushcart Prize. His fiction has appeared in Transition (“A Tenderer Blessing,” 2015), The Threepenny Review (“Mulumba,” 2016), and Pride and Prejudice: African Perspectives on Gender, Social Justice and Sexuality (“You Sing of a Longing,” 2017), an anthology of The Jacana Literary Foundation and The Other Foundation. His work further appears in Interdisciplinary Academic Essays, Africa in Dialogue, and Brittle Paper, where he is submissions editor. He is the editor of the Art Naija Series: a sequence of concept-based e-anthologies of writing and visual art focusing on different aspects of Nigerianness. The first anthology, Enter Naija: The Book of Places (Oct., 2016) focuses on cities. The second, Work Naija: The Book of Vocations (June, 2017) focuses on professions. He attended the University of Nigeria, Nsukka and currently teaches English at another Nigerian university. When bored, he blogs pop culture at naijakulture.blogspot.com or just Googles Rihanna.

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I hold a doctorate in English from Duke University and recently joined the Marquette University English faculty as an Assistant Professor. I love teaching African fiction and contemporary British novels. Brittle Paper is the virtual space/station where I play and experiment with ideas on how to reinvent African fiction and literary culture.

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