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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 is a writer, journalist, & Deputy Editor of Brittle Paper. The recipient of the inaugural The Future Awards Prize for Literature in 2019, he is a judge for The Gerald Kraak Prize and was a judge for The Morland Writing Scholarship in 2019. He is Nonfiction Editor at 14, Nigeria’s first queer art collective, which has published volumes including We Are Flowers (2017) and The Inward Gaze (2018). He is Curator at The Art Naija Series, a sequence of e-anthologies of writing and visual art focusing on different aspects of Nigerianness, including Enter Naija: The Book of Places (2016), which explores cities, and Work Naija: The Book of Vocations (2017), which explores professions. His work in queer equality advocacy in literature has been profiled in Literary Hub. His fiction has appeared in The Threepenny Review and Transition. He has completed a collection of short stories, You Sing of a Longing, is working on a novel, and is represented by David Godwin Associates literary agency. He has an M.A. in African Studies and a combined honours B.A. in History & International Studies/English & Literary Studies, both from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He taught English in a private Nigerian university. Find him at otosirieze.com, where he accepts writing and editing offers, or on Instagram or Twitter: @otosirieze. When bored, he Googles Rihanna.

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