Farafina Book Reviews @ Terra:Starbook

Do you absolutely love African tales? Then, join Chris Ihidero and Molara Wood this Saturday at TerraKulture by 3pm as they revisit the ancient African storytelling tradition. They will be reviewing Starbook, a tale of a prince and a maiden who are tested by trials in a mythical land where art, imitation and dynamic stillness are supremely important. Written by Ben Okri, Starbook is one book that borrows copiously from African oral tradition. Undoubtedly, this edition promises to be exciting as on air radio personality, Wana of Inspiration FM would be moderating. Also, Farafina books will be available for sale at up to 50% off some titles! So, why don’t you come enjoy ‘Tales by Moonlight’?(in this case, tales by daylight!) Who knows, you might win a free copy of Starbook!

New Literary Entrant-Celebrity Read Africa

A new literary ‘baby’ will be born on Saturday, 28th of August, 2010. The ‘baby’, CelebrityRead Africa, is an attempt  by Greenwich Media Limited to revive, though gradually, the reading culture amongst African youth, using the ‘celebrity power’.

 CelebrityRead is a monthly not-for-profit reading event that brings together at least three celebrities from three different industries, to read a small portion from their favorite African literature to a listening audience. After each celeb is done with reading their chosen portion of the book, the audience would be allowed to ask questions, either about the book or about the celeb’s reading habit, and the answers would be provided by the celeb.

Celebrities reading at this maiden edition include Tee Mac Iseli, Dan Foster, Ibiyemi, Timi Dakolo and OB Jazz.

CelebrityRead holds every last Saturday of every other month at Terra Kulture, Plot 1376, Tiamiyu Savage Street, Victoria Island, Lagos,Nigeria and starts at 3p.m(no African time,please!)

There will be a lot of books on display at the venue for sales. This gives you the rare opportunity to buy books and have them signed by our featured celebs. Also, the first fifteen entrants get one free African book each (Farafina books, of course!) and there are gifts for every book bought within the events’ venue. Ten lucky members of the audience will get great gifts as well; this would be determined via lucky dips. Refreshments will be served and admission is FREE!


We at Farafina are delighted at the opportunity to support this event and we sincerely hope many more events such as this will be born! So, be there! You just might get a free Farafina book!

Eghosa Imasuen at Infusion

So much has been happening on the Nigerian literary scene these days. From the popular BookJam to the Farafina book review and recently, Celebrity Read Africa, one can say that Lagosians are gradually catching the book reading fever. However, it appears that this fever has now spread beyond Lagos to Abuja. Not only has BookJam been introduced in Abuja, other literary events have found their way into the capital city. One of such events is Infusion.

Infusion, founded by Dapo Oyewole and Lola Shoneyin in January 2010, is a literary event that holds on the last Thursday of each month. It  is an avenue for lovers of art, literature, music and entertainment to meet in the lovely environs of JB’s Grill in Maitama Amusement Park, Abuja, to enjoy good poetry, art, music and literature.

In line with the organisers’ mission of promoting books on Africa, especially those written by new authors of African heritage, Infusion will be hosting Eghosa Imasuen, a Farafina author, at the August edition. The event starts at 6.30 pm today and promises to be a time of edutainment with an artistic ambience. What’s more? Eghosa Imasuen’s To Saint Patrick and other Farafina titles will be available for sale. Now, here’s one event you can’t afford to miss if you live in Abuja. See you there! For more information contact: infusionabuja@gmail.com

Farafina Books-Telling Our Own Stories

Truly, Farafina Books has come a long way. What started six years ago as a modest attempt to ‘tell our own stories’ has today blossomed into Nigeria’s leading independent publisher. Of course, it goes without saying that many shy away from the publishing industry, but we dare say that we have carved a niche for ourselves since our entry. As expected, there were obstacles, but more importantly, we overcame them. Wanna know more about the Farafina ‘journey’? Pasted below is an article by Belinda Otas of Publishing Perspectives, an international online publishing newsletter. Enjoy!

Nigeria’s Farafina Books: Publishing By Africans for Africans

• Established in 2004, Farafina Books has become one of Nigeria’s leading independent literary publishers. With 24 titles on its list — including the work of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie — the company is leading a revolution in the movement to publish books by Africans for Africans.

• Though Farafina continues to struggle against the limitations of publishing in Nigeria, notably poor infrastructure and distribution, the owners believe change is coming and have launched editorial workshops to help engender the next generation of African publishers.

Nigeria’s Farafina Books: Publishing By Africans for Africans

• Established in 2004, Farafina Books has become one of Nigeria’s leading independent literary publishers. With 24 titles on its list — including the work of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie — the company is leading a revolution in the movement to publish books by Africans for Africans.

• Though Farafina continues to struggle against the limitations of publishing in Nigeria, notably poor infrastructure and distribution, the owners believe change is coming and have launched editorial workshops to help engender the next generation of African publishers.

LAGOS: In Nigeria, demand is primarily limited to books for the education market. So, how does a literary publishing house thrive and stay profitable? This is the riddle that the owners of Farafina books have been working on since 2004 when they first launched their company. Along the way, they have helped break down barriers within the Nigerian publishing industry and become one of the nation’s leading independent publishers.

Owner Muhtar Bakare has been described by author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie as “a humanist, who is widely read, a pan-African, who is thoughtful and has an instinctive understanding of the nuances of Nigerian society, and a capitalist eager to prove that publishing can be a viable business.” His company was founded on the premise of “Telling Our Own Stories,” first to Nigerians and then to the wider world, as well as a desire to change the shape of Nigeria’s publishing landscape. “When we started Farafina, publishing in Nigeria was totally focused on textbooks and biographies. No one wanted to touch fiction, and for very good business reasons, too,” says Bakare. “Literary fiction writers in Nigeria were either published abroad or they were publishing themselves out of sheer necessity. We wanted to fill that gap, find and publish good quality literary fiction that could be commercially viable in Nigeria and possibly also exportable. We wanted to deliver quality at a goods price to Nigerians.”

Simidele Dosekun, chief operating officer (COO) of Kachifo, who runs the day-to-day business, adds it is critical for Nigerians to publish themselves, because “For too long, we have been misrepresented by others, especially by those who came and still come with colonizing, paternalistic and exploitative agendas. We have thereby to an extent lost touch with ourselves, our histories, culture and realities.” Click for more:http://publishingperspectives.com/?p=19410

Keep reading Farafina titles!

Inspired Speaker Series-Ben Okri

Now N1000

Obviously, there’s a lot going on the international literary scene and Ben Okri is one African writer whose participation in these events is quite visible. The Booker prizewinner and author of several novels(there are so many of them!) is undoubtedly a force to reckon with in this generation of African writers. Born in Nigeria in 1959, Okri has always promoted the rich and diverse African culture through his works.

On the 21st of September, 2010, Ben Okri will be the special guest at the Inspired Speakers Series holding at City Inn Hotel, Leeds, United Kingdom.

Unable to attend because you live in Nigeria? Not to worry, the book for review next month (Farafina hosts a monthly book review) is Starbook by Ben Okri. So, your choice, you could either attend the event in London or join us at TerraKulture, V/I on September 4 by 3p.m!

Ben Okri: My family values

culled from The Guardian UK – Life & Style (My Family Value Series)

Juliet Risk

My father brought back from England an extraordinary collection of books. He came to London [from Nigeria] to train as a lawyer and my mother brought me (aged one-and-a-half) a year later and we stayed for about six years. His plan was that back in Nigeria he would have time to read all these books: the classics – Homer, Tolstoy, Dostoevsky – and the great books on economics and philosophy. But he got carried away with being a successful young lawyer and didn’t get round to reading them. They gathered dust, and every now and then he’d say to me, “Ben, dust the books – but don’t read them!” That made the books fantastically attractive. I don’t know if he did it on purpose. I wouldn’t put it past him. I would sit on the floor cross-legged dusting a Dickens or Shakespeare, then I’d read for hours until I’d hear his voice, “Ben, what are you doing?” and I’d start dusting again. Books still have this tension for me – the do and don’t, the possibility of danger, of secret knowledge. It makes them very potent.

My mum, Grace, was quite different. She was gentle and very tough at the same time, and she never told me things directly. She never said “don’t … ” – she knew that would make me do whatever it was. Instead, she would tell me a story. There were no clear morals, but her stories had an air around them. They were telling you something, and you had to work out what. Some took me 20 years to get.

Her mother died when she was just three or four, and she was shifted around between aunts. She knew what it was like to grow up unprotected – that raw King Lear condition with nothing between you and the cold winds of the world. It made her very sensitive to other people’s sufferings. She would say to me, “I can live next door to a hungry lion.” She meant she could get along with all types and bear their awkwardness and nastiness. I can’t live up to that.

When we got back to Nigeria (when I was about seven) we moved around a lot. That came to a stop with the civil war.  Continue reading…

*Farafina Books publishes Starbook, a title by Ben Okri.

Bookcover Woes

One of our favourite authors Nnedi Okorafor recently clarified some misconceptions about her book covers on her blog Nnedi’s Wahala Zone.  She takes the readers through the thought processes behind selecting appropriate book covers for her works.  Book covers are very interesting in that they serve many purposes:  marketing the book, accurate depiction of the book, staying true to the author’s intents.  All three of these purposes don’t always match and sometimes an author does have to fight to make sure that the publisher’s basic need to sell books doesn’t clash with the storytelling within the book.

Now N500!


In case anyone was wondering what the Farafina version of Zahrah the Windseeker looks like, there it is to the left.  What are your thoughts of it in the context of Nnedi’s post below?  Did Farafina Books stay true to the author’s intent?  Or can it be improved upon?

We did consider doing a separate cover but decided to stick with this one.

Get it Straight!

Today I unveiled the cover of my forthcoming novel Akata Witch, a fantasy narrative set in present-day Nigeria. Already there is moaning about the character’s skin tone being too light. In the midst of all this talk of whitewashing characters, I just want to roll my eyes. I thrive on complexity and get really irritable (and belligerent) when people try to box me in.

I want to nip this in the bud right now.

I think I deserve some respect and FAITH when it comes to book covers. Even this early in my writing career, I’ve fought valiantly in several battles.

That said, THERE IS A REASON the woman on the cover of Who Fears Death is light-skinned- Onyesonwu is of mixed race. And THERE IS A REASON the girl on the cover of Akata Witch is light-skinned- she is albino.  This reminds me of early reactions to the subject of female circumcision in Who Fears Death. It’s amazing how people assume before reading the books.  I tell stories. And I enjoy messing with sh…things. :-). I don’t stay put.  Let me give some history:

Zahrah the Windseeker was bought by editor Andrea Pinkney (Thank her for the existence of this first cover. She pushed hard to make it happen). This is the full illustration:

by Illustrator Amanda Hall


Here is the paperback cover. When they showed it to me, I was deeply annoyed with the wisps of straightened hair in this image. My character had dada hair, for goodness sake (basically dreadlocks. I’m not too fond of the word “dreadlocks” because such hair is in no way “dreadful”. However, I occasionally use it for the sake of clarity).

But the image was what it was (Apparently, there are very very few stock images of black women with natural hair. It’s problematic as heck). I had them tint the hair green, so it looks more like plants or cloth. I also had them darken her skin tone. Note, this was my first novel. It was not easy to ask for all this, but I did:

Zahrah lived in another world that was like a technologically advanced Nigeria. She looked West African. My editor and I were determined that she’d look this way on the cover. Here is another interpretation of Zahrah:

by Illustrator John Jennings


Two years later came The Shadow Speaker. The main character, Ejii, was half Igbo and half -Woddabe. She was West African-looking with cat-like shadow speaker eyes and a shaved head.  This is the first version:  Continue reading…

Farafina Books at CKC Mini Trade Fair

Looking for Farafina titles at unbelievable prices? Then, here is your opportunity because Farafina titles will be available at giveaway prices at the Christ the King Catholic Church mini tradefair holding this weekend, 21st and 22nd of August (10am each day) at Christ the King Catholic Church, 60, Igbehinadun Street, Akowonjo, Agege, Lagos. Come select your favourite books at up to 50% off the original prices! Did I hear you say I’ll be there?! Yeah, that’s the spirit!

The Ola Rotimi Foundation

Kole Heyward-Rotimi, son of renowned playwright and academic, Ola Rotimi has made a call on the public to contribute to the Ola Rotimi Foundation’s vision to keep Ola Rotimi’s legacy alive. Ola Rotimi, the author of  The Gods Are Not To Blame, Ovonramwen N’Ogbaisi, and several other acclaimed Nigerian literary works,  passed on in 2000 at the age of 62.Shortly after his death, his children established a foundation, The Ola Rotimi Foundation to celebrate his legacy.

Recently, Kole relocated to Nigeria to oversee the running of the  foundation.  Although the foundation will have a US branch which will handle marketing in the US and outside of Nigeria, the Nigerian centre will take charge of development and co-ordination of the Foundation’s activities.

The foundation which is located  in Ile-Ife outside the Obafemi Awolowo University where Ola Rotimi taught is committed to the promotion of African arts and culture through the staging of Rotimi’s plays and providing support to Nollywood. Other projects of the Foundation include a much-anticipated Pidgin English Dictionary, an artists’ database which will provide information for tourists on cultural events in Nigeria and an institute for the empowerment of artists.

The Foundation’s official launch and fundraiser will be at TerraKulture, Tiamiyu Savage, Victoria Island on August 20, 2010.

Viewchange.org launches Online Film Contest

Danny Glover


Angélique Kidjo

Chimamanda Adichie

Link TV’sViewChange.org, a next generation multi-media website launching this Fall, has launched an online short-film competition, with a Grand Prize of $20,000. The ViewChange Online Film Contest aims to find meaningful stories showing how international development efforts are impacting and improving the lives of the world’s poorest people and making progress towards achieving the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). These eight international goals, adopted by UN member countries, aim to improve the social and economic conditions in the world’s poorest countries.

Online voters will help select the finalists and a celebrity panel of judges will select the winners. The judges’ panel includes: Gael García Bernal, actor and director; Wim Wenders, director; Danny Glover, actor, director, and UN Ambassador; Senator Daniel K. Inouye, Chair of the Committee on Appropriations; Angélique Kidjo, Grammy Award–winning musician and UN Ambassador; and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, author of “Purple Hibiscus” and a MacArthur Fellow.

 “There are countless beacons of success in eradicating poverty, hunger, and disease in the developing world but those stories rarely get told,” said Danny Glover, actor, humanitarian and Link TV Board Member. “We know that stories have the power to change the world for the better and these films will allow us to clearly show and share the meaningful progress that is happening on a daily basis.”

ViewChange.org, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, is calling on professional and amateur filmmakers to submit short videos that will be used to raise awareness, inspire action, and accelerate the worldwide movement to improve social and economic conditions in the poorest nations around the globe. Entrants will be required to submit films of five minutes or less, in one of six categories, reflecting the progress being made in achieving the MDGs. In addition to the Grand Prize, a winner will be selected in each category and will receive a $5,000 prize. The categories include:

 1. Sustainability: Solutions that last. Growth and development with a plan. Programs that will continue when the foreign aid ends.

2. Innovation: New solutions to old problems. Creative ideas for otherwise stagnant or persistent issues. Emerging technologies in health, agriculture, education, and environmental protection.

3. Overcoming Conflict: Stories of success in the face of conflict—anything from cultural barriers to war or oppression. Grassroots efforts to overcome overwhelming obstacles.

4. Empowerment: Stories of initiative, of people improving their own lives and the lives of those like them. Transcending barriers like gender.

5. Leadership & Governance: Steps forward in accountability, freedom, or citizen engagement in government. Advances in civil/human rights; progress toward reforming broken systems.

6. Local/Global Partnerships: Teamwork between on-the-ground efforts and governments, NGOs, social entrepreneurs, and private initiatives.

In addition to cash prizes, the videos of winners and finalists will be broadcast nationally on Link TV and other television channels worldwide. Films will also be available for high-quality streaming at ViewChange.org. The contest launches April 30. Final film submissions are due August 31, with voting beginning September 1 and closing September 15. The online voting community will determine two of the five finalists; Link TV will select the other three. The celebrity panel of judges will review only the finalists’ entries (six categories, five finalists in each category) and choose Category Winners and the Grand Prize Winner. Finalists will be announced in mid-September. Winners will be announced in mid-October. Contestants can upload their short film submissions at: ViewChangeFilmContest.org and download the film contest rules and regulations here: http://www.linktv.org/viewchangefilmcontest/about/rules.

Link TV is launching ViewChange.org—a new multimedia website that uses the power of stories to improve the lives of people in developing countries. The site is expected to go live at the end of October. Funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the site combines powerful video stories with the latest articles, blogs, and actions and makes them easily shared.  ViewChange.org uses new semantic technology to pinpoint the most relevant information when you need it, with unrivaled search accuracy. Users will save time and increase impact, by using the rich media to change attitudes and inspire citizens to action. www.viewchange.org.