It’s almost two years since Uzodinma Iweala, author of Beasts of No Nation, graced the cover of Guardian Life Magazine, the weekend edition of The Guardian, Nigeria. [read here if you missed it.] The most recent literary figure to be a cover star is Lola Shoneyin, Nigerian novelist, literary entrepreneur, and festival organizer.
The issue features a fashion editorial that has Shoneyin looking stunning in a burst of colorful ankara print outfits complemented with bold lip colors. In the accompanying interview, Shoneyin shares thoughtful comments on a whole range of issues. She shares her views on feminism. As she see it, when the term “feminism” is stripped down to its bare essentials, it is really about creating opportunities for women and giving them the power of choice. Here is the quote:
“Opportunities that are available to men, have to be available to women. I feel we do a great disservice as a country by not letting women flourish, by not giving them the opportunity to do what they want to do; I think we suffer, we are less productive, we are less powerful or empowered economically. It’s about choice as well; when you’re an adult, it’s about ‘what do I really want to do?’ not ‘what does society want me to do?’ not ‘what do my parents want me to do?’ and not ‘what does my husband want me to do?…Being able to choose is very important; being able to be economically empowered is very important and independent; being able to say, ‘I want to be a politician’ and be able to go for it and not need to compromise yourself in any way, is very important.”
She also notes during the interview that the Ake Arts and Book Festival is not about making profit but about stimulating literary culture by providing affordable books, an open, intellectual space for thought, and empowering aspiring writers. More broadly, she sees Ake Festival and all the amazing works she does with Book Buzz Foundation and Quidah Books as contributing to creating conditions for people to think, create ideas, and explore their potentials. “If there was more space for people to think to do things and create,” she insists, “I just feel we would all be happier.”
Here are a few shots from the photo shoot. Click here to read the full interview and see more photographs.
All image via Guardian Life Magazine