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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 was born in Aba, Nigeria, and attended the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. A finalist for the 2016 Miles Morland Writing Scholarship, his short stories include: “A Tenderer Blessing,” which appears in Transition Magazine and was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2015; “Mulumba,” which appears in The Threepenny Review; and “You Sing of a Longing,” which was shortlisted for the inaugural Gerald Kraak Award and appears in Pride and Prejudice, an anthology by The Jacana Literary Foundation and The Other Foundation. His essays appear in Interdisciplinary Academic Essays and in Brittle Paper where he is Deputy Editor. His interviews appear in Africa in Dialogue, Bakwa Magazine, SPRINNG, and Dwartonline. 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 Nigerian cities. The second, Work Naija: The Book of Vocations (June 2017), focuses on professions in Nigeria. A postgraduate student of African Studies, he currently teaches English at Godfrey Okoye University, Enugu, Nigeria. 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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