In her most recent essay for Granta, British-Nigerian novelist Sarah Ladipo Manyika steps into the role of cultural archivist as she charts the magnificent life and career path of Margaret Busby.
In 1967, Ghana-born Margaret Busby became Britain’s first Black woman publisher at only 20 years of age. Today at age 76, Busby is the force behind the legendary Daughters of Africa volumes and Chair of Judges for this year’s Booker Prize, which will be announced later this month.
“On Meeting Margaret Busby” documents Busby’s life as a series of relationships—from her close friendship with Toni Morrison to her correspondence with Wole Soyinka urging him to include more women in future poetry anthologies of Africa.
As Sarah Ladipo Manyika pores over photographs of Busby at events with James Baldwin, Nina Simone, Miriam Makeba, and Aubrey Williams among several others, she reflects:
Margaret seems to have been in touch with every prominent figure in Black literature, art and music from across the world – a veritable pan-African who’s who of the twentieth and early twenty-first century. My curiosity grows, and we begin what becomes an ongoing and sometimes daily email exchange. Margaret eventually sends me a virtual album labelled: A&B/MB (assorted book jackets, cuttings, letters, photos). It takes me hours to work through the hundreds of images included. As I pore over them I keep thinking that her archives need to be properly stored and protected in a national archive…
Click here to read more from “On Meeting Margaret Busby.”
Sarah Ladipo Manyika is the author of In Dependence (2009) and Like a Mule Bringing Ice Cream to the Sun (2016). She was a contributor to Margaret Busby’s second anthology, New Daughters of Africa: An International Anthology of Writing by Women of African Descent (2019).