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Collage: Memories We Lost and Other Stories anthology (Moran Publishers, 2016).

Caine Prize 2016 winner Lidudumalingani Mqobothi says that Kwani? Trust are refusing to release his royalties. The South African writer-photographer made the revelation on Facebook this morning.

Lidudumalingani was awarded the seventeenth Caine Prize for his short story “Memories We Lost,” originally published in Incredible Journey: Stories That Move You anthology. “Memories We Lost” is an emotionally charged story of a girl who acts as protector to her mentally ill sister whose schizophrenia deteriorates, creating consternation in their South African village.

As with prize-winning works, “Memories We Lost” saw republication deals in anthologies. The royalties for one of such republications, by Moran (E.A.) Publishers in Kenya in a 2016 anthology titled Memories We Lost and Other Stories, a republication preceded by an agreement with Kwani? Trust, is proving problematic. Read Lidudumalingani’s Facebook post below.

Kwani Trust is refusing to release my royalties.

Tom Maliti, Billy Kahora and Otieno Owino, that would be you.

In 2016, Moran (E.A) Publishers, Kenya, asked for my permission to use my short story ‘Memories We Lost’ in an anthology targeting high school students. I agreed to this because access to my work, especially within the continent and younger readers, is important to me.

That anthology was titled ‘Memories We Lost and other stories’.

I was also clear to Moran Publishers that they needed to liaise with Kwani Trust, as they held the rights to the story in the West African region.

Moran Publishers and Kwani Trust negotiated and signed an agreement. Kwani Trust were paid a once off payment and Clause 3 (c) of that licensing contract stipulated that Moran Publishers was to pay the royalties directly to the writers. “Bank details of the perspective writers will be provided by the Licensor (Kwani Trust)” it reads.

Kwani Trust deliberately didn’t provide the banking details of the writers thus deliberately diverting the royalties to them. At the end of April, Moran Publishers paid out the royalties to Kwani Trust.

On July 30, two months later, I received an email from Kwani Trust informing me of the royalties and how much was due to me and that they need my banking details to pay them out. The email came from Tom Maliti, with Billy Kahora and Otieno Owino CCd.

They said they’d pay early the following week and it’s close to a month now and there has been no payment. All my emails have been ignored by Kwani Trust. They’re withholding money that doesn’t belong to them, for work they didn’t produce. It’s common theft of the lowest order.

I find Kwani Trust tactics completely unacceptable and downright reminiscent of black writers from past centuries who’ve died poor because white owned publishers didn’t pay royalties. But now, “it be your own people”, as I read somewhere this week.

To Tom Maliti, Billy Kahora and Otieno Owino, I want every last cent of my royalties paid out to me immediately.

 

We hope Kwani? Trust responds and settles this.

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Otosirieze is deputy editor of Brittle Paper. He is a judge for the 2018/19 Gerald Kraak Prize. He is an editor at 14, Nigeria’s first queer art collective, which has published volumes including We Are Flowers (2017) and The Inward Gaze (2018). He is the curator of the Art Naija Series, a sequence of e-anthologies of writing and visual art focusing on different aspects of Nigerianness, including Enter Naija: The Book of Places (2016), which explores cities, and Work Naija: The Book of Vocations (2017), which explores professions. His fiction has appeared in The Threepenny Review and Transition. He has completed a collection of short stories, You Sing of a Longing, is working on a novel, and is represented by David Godwin Associates literary agency. He combined English and History at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, is completing a postgraduate degree in African Studies, and taught English at Godfrey Okoye University, Enugu. Find him at otosirieze.com, where he accepts writing and editing offers, or on Instagram or Twitter: @otosirieze. When bored, he Googles Rihanna.

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