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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, an academic, and Deputy Editor of Brittle Paper. His fiction has appeared in The Threepenny Review ("Mulumba," 2016), Transition ("A Tenderer Blessing," 2015), and in an anthology of the Gerald Kraak Award for which he was shortlisted ("You Sing of a Longing," 2017). His work has further been shortlisted for the Miles Morland Writing Scholarship in 2016 and a Pushcart Prize in 2015. He attended the 2018 Miles Morland Foundation Creative Writing Workshop. He is the curator of the ART NAIJA SERIES, a sequence of themed e-anthologies of writing and visual art exploring different aspects of Nigerianness. The first, ENTER NAIJA: THE BOOK OF PLACES (October, 2016), focuses on cities in Nigeria. The second, WORK NAIJA: THE BOOK OF VOCATIONS (June, 2017), focuses on professions in Nigeria. He studied History and Literature at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, is currently completing a postgraduate programme in African Studies and Pop Culture, and teaches English at Godfrey Okoye University, Enugu. He has completed a collection of short stories, YOU SING OF A LONGING, and is working on a novel. He is represented by David Godwin Associates literary agency. When bored, he 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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