I have interacted with Dami Ajayi more than any other writer in this series; easily he was the choice for the final conversation. I have lived with Dami, shared books with him, written about him, dreamt with him, fought literary wars with him; together we have co-founded a literary magazine, organized workshops, readings, etc etc. He's kin, as well as colleague. So readers will notice how we easily lapsed into ourselves in the following conversation, referring to subjects and experiences that is peculiar to our shared moments. Even more when we go back and forth about my new novel.
Ayodele is one of the most consistent Nigerian writers of the last half-decade. She’s the oldest writer in the Gambit series, although I wouldn’t want to ask her if she’s comfortable being grouped with younger colleagues. I figure that question would be answered with a wave of her hand; Ayodele gives the impression that even the most obvious of borders doesn’t exist. Meeting her in person, I was drawn to her infinite knowledge about everyone and everything in the literary world.
Known on Twitter simply by the hashtag #SudanRevolts, the protests that erupted in Khartoum nearly a month ago now do not seem to be fading. In fact, the movement is gaining momentum, with those involved hoping to finally see real change in the country. Calling for the removal of current President Omar al-Bashir (among other demands), the movement’s goals are ambitious to say the least. Yet as daunting as it may seem, success is crucial both for the people of Sudan and their new neighbor South Sudan.
I first found Abdul’s name on African Writing, I think. I was then searching for writers to include in this project, writers who were, should I say, "within reach." Indeed, Abdul was. This conversation demonstrates, in an interesting way, how his creativity seems bared, in an open-ended way, so that it seems possible to discover the extent of his nuances.
It is best that Richard speaks for himself, that I present this conversation without remarks. For suddenly, in need of an introductory note, I find that I have none, and that Richard’s responses sparks of completeness. In fact, I had no reason to respond to his first responses – perhaps silenced by the lengthiness and profundity of each response. And knowing Richard, knowing him as the Chief Operating Officer of Parresia, publishers of my first book, and having met him only once, yet feeling that I have known him for a much longer time, I daresay that I expected to be knocked down by the weight and compulsiveness of his erudition.
We began with an oral conversation, recorded with my phone, in her sitting room, since we happened to be in Ile-Ife together at the moment. A conversation that cannot be made public, at least for now, for the simple fact that we were so self-aware, so within the cocoon of our ‘literary ties.’ When I used those words—literary ties—Ayobami had a good laugh; earlier I had mentioned that I couldn’t extricate our friendship from our creative comradeship. This friendship, which has now spanned close to five years, began simply, when I asked her if she writes.
Cornel West is an honorary chair of the DSA and is one of America’s most provocative public intellectuals. He weaves together the traditions of the black Baptist Church, progressive
Rose Brewer defines herself as a scholar-activist. For over a decade, she has been a member of the board of Project South: Institute for the Elimination of Poverty and Genocide.
Marianne LeNabat is active in both student and labour organizing in Canada and the US.