Black History Month anthology seeks to broaden scope of African literature

Black History Month anthology seeks to broaden scope of African literature

Digital-only publisher Bahati Books will release an anthology showcasing the “best in contemporary African writing” to mark Black History Month at the end of the month.

Throughout October the press is releasing one story each day, specifically written for the occasion, covering topics such as the Black Lives Matter movement, the power of stereotypes and the politics of hairstyles. At the end of October, Bahati Books will assemble the stories into an anthology which it will distribute for free.

Co-founder Barbara Njau told The Bookseller that she believes Black History Month should be “more of a major event in publishing”. She said: “It’s important to note that there is a lot of celebration and work in the publishing world that goes into many major events, including remembrance of the world wars—especially the Second World War—[and even] events that mark the consumer calendar, such as Halloween. Therefore I think it is unfortunate that we don’t see a similar push by publishers around Black History Month to celebrate the contributions that black people—Africans and more broadly African-Americans and Caribbeans— have made to the world of literature, past and present.”

Njau co-founded Bahati Books late last year alongside Kudakwashe Kamupira; (pictured right, with Njau left) the pair were frustrated at the “limited representation of African literature” offered in titles issued by mainstream publishing houses. Bahati publishes authors of African origin in an attempt to showcase the “diverse stories” coming out of the region. Black History: The Anthology will be Bahati Books’ 13th title.

Kamupira said: “We want to become the leading online marketplace for African literature and we want to contribute to changing the perception of what ‘Africa’ is, through the literature we publish. The reason why people see Africa in a certain way is because narratives are always powerful in shaping how people perceive places and the majority of things that are written about Africa in the mainstream media are still very negative or very narrow. We wanted in our own way to add to that crafting of Africa’s image.”

Going forward the press has plans to expand its editorial team, which currently consists of five members of staff, and by the end of the year it hopes it will have published more than 50 authors since its inception. The press’ Black History Month stories are available to read through its website, and the anthology of stories will be available to download from the website from 31st October.