Two weeks ago, we announced the coming of Selves: An Afro Anthology of Creative Nonfiction, a new project collecting powerful personal stories from across the continent. We published the introduction to the anthology by our deputy editor Otosirieze Obi-Young, an essay titled “The Confessional Generation.” One of the pieces in the anthology, “The Miseducation of Gratitude” by Sibongile Fisher, appeared in Enkare Review. Finally, Selves: An Afro Anthology of Creative Nonfiction is here.
Selves is the first in the Afro Anthology Series, a project curated by Basit Jamiu, a Nigerian writer and editor at Enkare Review. Co-edited by Emmanuel Dairo, nonfiction editor at Praxis, and Uzoma Ihejirika, former writer at Bakwa, Selves features 14 writers: Sibongile Fisher, winner of the 2016 Short Story Day Africa Prize and finalist for the 2017 Brittle Paper Award for Fiction; TJ Benson, finalist for the 2016 Short Story Day Africa Prize and the 2017 Brittle Paper Award for Fiction; Sada Malumfashi, finalist for Writivism’s 2017 Kofi Addo Prize for Nonfiction; Alithnayn Abdulkareem, nominee for the 2016 Short Story Day Africa Prize; Ama Asantewa Diaka; Gbolahan Badmus, finalist for the 2016 ACT Award; Hauwa Shaffii Nuhu; Howard M-B Maximus; Innocent Acan Immaculate, winner of the 2016 Writivism Prize; Kevin Alaneme; Kenechi Uzor; Mapule Mohulatsi; Qamarun Nisa; and Umar Turaki, finalist for the 2017 Miles Morland Scholarship.
The Self is the origin of Selves.
Selves: An Afro Anthology of Creative Nonfiction was born out of the idea that we needed a narrative nonfiction anthology which would speak to people in the same way that good fiction can. The genre used to be overlooked, so that it was hard to find a collection of nonfiction by African writers in a calendar year. Due to this, our team aimed to redress this imbalance by putting together a biennial collection of provocative and personal essays by African writers.
This inaugural year, because our theme revolves around phenomena formerly undiscussed by African writers, we have nonfiction pieces that speak from a passionate place, unafraid of consequences, revealing even to the point of shame. Essays that pry open personal Pandora Boxes, revealing the secrets imprisoned behind mental bars. Essays that hold the potential for personal healing even as personal hurts are replayed on the page.
Franz Kafka, himself a representative of the global and individual selves, must have been thinking of a collection like this when he wrote, “Many a book is like a key to unknown chambers within the castle of one’s own self.” This anthology is our truth: a passage, plural and lived experiences, our way of showing, telling and breathing. It mirrors our journeys as human beings.
I want to thank the contributors for believing in this project and for their patience. I want to thank my team for making this project a success. Thank you: Uzoma Ihejirika, Jennifer Emelife, Tope Akintayo, Emmanuel Dairo. Thank you, Brittle Paper. Thank you, Otosirieze Obi-Young. Thank you, Modupe Baba and Petra Akinti Onyegbule, for your support and kindness.
I wish to welcome our readers to this collection with the words of F. Scott Fitzgerald. The beauty of all literature, Fitzgerald wrote, is that, “You discover that your longings are universal longings, that you’re not lonely and isolated from anyone.” Our anthology, Selves, is a circuit of shared inwardness.
Lokoja, February 2018.