Earlier in the year, I called a meeting with the cfwriterz team and told them we are not going to beat ourselves up trying to be like other African literary magazines. We had 153 entries In our recent call for submission! This is the largest amount of submissions we have had since we started publishing our literary magazine in 2016.
And one of the major things I believe we did right was to pay attention to our audience. Our last call for submission came with lots of questions and queries which we improved on in our recent call. We definitely had more than 200 people who intended to submit but due to technicalities, some could not. Even at that, 153 entries are a lot.
We will be reading each and everyone. We have the honor of inviting a few literary friends to work with us on some of the projects our audience connected with the most. Minage Gloria Mwaniga from Kenya, and Jide Badmus from Nigeria will be joining Michael Tolulope Emmanuel in selecting the final short list for the June Magazine.
And one of the major things I believe we did right was to pay attention to our audience.
We have also asked our judges to connect with our audience in a way that’s personal and closeup. We understand that a lot of writers struggle to see how relevant they will be in the scheme of building a new continent. Through our webinars, and Facebook live sessions, we give voice to some of these leading literary voices. Also joining our FB live sessions will be Caleb Somtochukwu Okereke from Uganda.
Each of these writers are people I personally respect their capacity and experience. Over and above my personal respect, I think they have something to say about who we are as Africans and storytellers. They are the new voices of the Africa we are experiencing and the one we will come to experience.
Inviting them is not a courtesy. Our platform has always been committed to collaborative storytelling because we see an Africa with odds stacked up against her. Magnifying Africa’s voice through digital and social platforms is one goal we have committed to by all means possible. We will not stop.
In the last workshop we had, about 50 writers listened to Osho Samuel Adetunji another founder like myself. We had Jeff Ugochukwu Omenyuru and Richard Henshaw speak on the same platform with me. These voices are always going to need refining and we recognize this. We know that we are not yet at that point where individually the world hears us as it should. However, in our collective telling, we might yet bring a message that is coherent and transformative. We might inspire the young African to be brave, to chase dreams, to walk on water even.
We have always had a social element to what we do. We have employed digital platforms as part of our strategy right from inception. So it became even clearer this edition that relying on networks will make up a critical part of what we consider art and story in coming times. Our stories cannot fully develop in isolation from the stories of other Africans all over the world. So we will continue to ask you to follow us, to participate in our work, to support us and to promote what we do.
These voices are always going to need refining and we recognize this.
We have been a nonprofit platform but we got help along the line. We know how hard it is for African lit. platforms to remain objective while seeking funding. We have sought funding and support in every legal way imaginable. However, we have not lost our goal to protect the story in this process. Thanks to the commitment of Collins Elesiro and his organization (Crystalinks Education – Int.l), we are able to keep the literary prize alive.
Most importantly, we want to thank our critics. They have sometimes left us wondering if we are doing so badly. We see the emails, the tweets and most recently, smear attempts. We also see the support of our friends. We see how you stand by our work and share them religiously. We understand that we cannot serve everyone even if our strength was not as limited as it is. However, we are committed to providing a platform for African stories to be widely read. We have engaged you through emails, our growing social platforms, or website and so many of you have received us with all positivity. We again say thank you. Please look out for our next magazine in June; which comes after the longlist and shortlist. Also, follow our progress every way you can.
Help us keep this literary blog free! Don’t miss our latest Magazine call for submission. We are dedicated to bringing you the best of new fiction, poetry and nonfiction. This literary magazine and our prizes are run solely by volunteers. In order to keep doing this, we rely on voluntary donations and sponsorships. Click here to donate.