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A few days ago, publishers Cassava Republic published on their site a trend in which Nigerian media de-prioritize the work of local publishing houses.

Titled “Nigerian Media and the Deletion of Local Publishing Houses,” the piece cites instances where book editions by local publishers are unnamed, or their book covers unused, when most media sources highlight works by specific authors.

Here is an excerpt.

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As British-Nigerian actor, John Boyega, rightfully points out: “Because of the success of Black Panther, now Hollywood wants African stories and I think Nigeria is at the forefront of that.”

Despite this local and international demand for African art and culture, it appears that African media give undue relevance, privilege and recognition to works by Africans produced in the West while conveniently overlooking the exact same works available in the country.

Take for instance this – otherwise, captivating – video on the brilliant and multi-award-winning author, Nnedi Okorafor. On this blog (and as publishers of her works), we’ve consistently raved about Okorafor and how her writing is representative of a longstanding tradition of fantasy storytelling (think Ben Okri, Amos Tutuola, D.O. Fagunwa etc) in Nigeria and, most importantly how her books from Zahra The Wind-seeker to Who Fears Death  evoke our African past and provoke the future into existence.

On the face of it, this video by Nigerian leading newspaper, Guardian NG, is on point and we’d have totally loved it except that it fails, like most other times, to celebrate, mention and carry along Nigerian publishers of Okorafor’s books.  Alongside other publishers like Ouida and Farafina, Cassava Republic have published books by the celebrated author – this fact the Guardian NG conveniently forgets, using instead the Western title of the books, which ends up creating a false sense among their primary readers and consumers that these books are unavailable locally.

Anyone who follow Okorafor on social media, cannot miss her constant tweets or posts about her Nigerian publishers and where her books can be found.

The case with Guardian NG is not an isolated incident. There are other times when Nigerian media platforms would – for example – rather use the Western covers of Lola Shoneyin’s The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives over the Nigerian edition or of Ayobami Adebayo’s award-winning book, Stay With Me, instead of the Nigerian cover. Of the seven books profiled in Konbini five of them are published by Nigerian publishers and only one  has the Nigerian cover. Media platforms should remember that there’s no point in featuring or reviewing a book when the cover image presented to their primary readers show book covers that are not available.

Read the full essay HERE.

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About Otosirieze Obi-Young

View all posts by Otosirieze Obi-Young
Otosirieze Obi-Young is a writer, an academic, literary journalist, and Deputy Editor of Brittle Paper. His fiction has appeared in The Threepenny Review, Transition, and in an anthology of the Gerald Kraak Award for which he was shortlisted. 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 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, the boy 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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