“Being Black in Publishing” – Cassava Republic Press launches groundbreaking forum
By Leanne Francis, Ho Jia Wen and Michelle Ye
Cassava Republic Press have announced the launch of a groundbreaking month-long initiative aimed at encouraging African and Afro-diasporic individuals to get into publishing. Aspiring young individuals who take part in the "Being Black in Publishing” forum will receive expert advice from seasoned Black publishing professionals from across the world.
During this month-long programme, individuals interested in learning about a career in publishing will gain invaluable insights, skills, networks and the guidance needed to break into the publishing industry.
As part of Cassava Republic Press’s ongoing mission to address and rectify the significant under-representation of African and Afro-diasporic voices and perspectives in the global publishing industry, “Being Black in Publishing” will focus on the following objectives: Sharing expertise, career pathways, and networking.
Throughout the programme, Black professionals from various fields within publishing will share their personal journeys, experiences, and expertise, offering invaluable guidance to aspiring publishers.
Attendees will gain insights into the roles, responsibilities and day-to-day challenges of professionals in the industry. There will also be talks about various career pathways within publishing, including editorial, design, marketing and sales. The forum will facilitate networking opportunities, enabling participants to connect with peers and professionals, fostering a sense of community within the industry.
Publishing experts in the forum include Thabiso Mahlape, Publisher at Black Bird Books; Anwuli Ojogwu, Publisher at Narrative Landscape; Ebyan Egal, Studio Manager at Penguin Random House, Leah Jacobs-Gordon, award-winning book cover illustrator; Natalie Jerome, literary agent at Originate Agency, Layla Mohamed, editor at Cassava Republic, and; Kemi Ogunsanwo, literary agent at The Good Literary Agency, amongst others. The forum is free and open to African and Afro-diasporic individuals from across the world.
As part of the forum, young people based in Nigeria can also apply for a three-month long internship starting in January 2024. The internship programme will allow young publishing professionals to gain hands-on experience in various aspects of the industry including editorial, marketing and sales. Partners in this program include Nigerian publishers and booksellers: Masobe Books, Narrative Landscape Press, Rasmed, and Roving Heights.
Applications for the internship programme are open this October and successful applicants will be announced in December 2023.
This forum was initiated by Boluwatito Sanusi, Editorial Assistant at Cassava Republic Press, to make publishing more accessible for young, Black bookish talents.
“While I always knew that I wanted to work with books, all I had at my disposal was Google. Navigating the intricate world of publishing from Ibadan, Nigeria, it felt like I was feeling my way through the arcane dark web of publishing. After a year of interning at Cassava Republic, I felt that there was a need for a simpler and more accessible path for young bookish people to get a sense of career opportunities in publishing."
Learn more about the “Being Black in Publishing” forum and the internship programme on Cassava Republic Press’s website.
Cassava Republic Press was founded by Bibi Bakare-Yusuf in Abuja, Nigeria, 2006. Producing both fiction and non-fiction for all age groups, Cassava Republic aims to feed the African imagination. Their mission highlights every facet of the African experience, not just from Nigeria but from across the continent, and paves the way for these stories to be produced and consumed by Africans themselves.
Bakare-Yusuf stresses that "culture is central to what we do in the economic arena, what we do in the political arena; culture is the foundational narrative." This outlook is reflected in Cassava Republic’s efforts to cultivate a new Pan-African body of literature, one that tackles questions of African literary origins and futures. Cassava Republic takes on the work of facilitating discussions and stimulating diverse conversations using literature as a catalyst. Now, with offices in both Abuja and London, Cassava Republic Press continues to make their mark on the publishing industry and spotlight African voices.