This Guest post marks the launch of a new series on Africa in Words reviewing literary podcasts. This Sunday 1 July, Africa in Words is hosting a conversation at Africa Writes on one of the most exciting trends in African literature over the past few years – the growth in podcasts. We are hugely excited to be in conversation with the voices and producers behind Not Another Book Podcast, BakwaCast and No Bindings – with video interventions into the discussion from 2 Girls & A Pod.
This conversation begins the first of our posts on literary podcasts and to kick this off we asked AMLA Network Convener Gaamangwe Joy Mogami to share with us her take on podcasts and her top 5 recommended listens. Watch this space for our reviews of these podcasts publishing over the next few months.
AiW Guest Gaamangwe Joy Mogami
There is a new and totally rad trend of exciting podcasts curated by African literary enthusiasts, curators and activists and I am here for it! This emerging trend is an exciting development for the young but growing African literary industry because we need diverse and multi-faceted ways of consuming and accessing our literature.
A little over a decade ago, I only knew a handful of African books and storytellers. And this was a case of lack of accessibility to the knowledge of what was available in African literature and where one could access these African literary works. But a lot has since changed because of the emergence of digital literary magazines and social media platforms that are dedicated to publishing, engaging and archiving African literature. At this point, I believe the majority of our African countries have one or more publishing platform for African writers. It is all exciting!
But we still need more and diverse platforms that will grow African literature. Platforms that are spaces for recapitulating, re-experiencing, reviewing and re-engaging our favourite stories and the amazing storytellers who create them. And so enter podcasts.
So what does it mean to podcast? It means to ponder and engage further and again, to seek the silence in between, to read, think and critique out-loud, and to re-experience our stories from new perspectives and ideas. It means to recognize and remember the things that move us in the African stories we adore, to consider and just plain admit the parts that are difficult or bothersome or boring for us, all with the intention of the possibility of expansion and the evolution of African literature.
And so podcasts as conversations, podcasts as reviews, podcasts as general commentaries, podcasts as meditations adds, completes and enhances the African literary experience.
As an advocate for archiving African literature, I am on board and receive this trend wholeheartedly. Here are the 5 podcasts that are my plug and I recommend that you listen to!
2 Girls and a Pod
2 Girls & A Pod is a literary podcast hosted by Kenyan literary enthusiasts, Beverly Ochieng’ and Nyambura Mutanyi. The 2 Girls talk stories from Africa and all over the world. The podcast is 3 years-old and has recorded 16 episodes to date. The duo hold conversations and reviews on prizes/awards such as the Caine Prize, Commonwealth and Writivism Prizes. They also explore trends in African books such as short story collections, Diaspora and returnee narratives in African novels and Afrofutures, fantasy and surrealism. I absolutely love 2 Girls & A Pod’s excited energy and their organic and seamless banter. It is the perfect podcast to listen to on those dull, Sunday afternoons.
The Cheeky Natives
The Cheeky Natives is a literary podcast curated by South African bibliophiles Dr Alma-Nalisha Cele and Letlhogonolo Mokgoroane. The duo have said that theirs is: a platform that celebrates all things literary. This celebration is done through the reviews of books, poetry and occasionally theatre performances, interspersed with author discussions at book signings and readings. The year old podcast has 21 episodes of conversations with African writers. The podcast holds discussions with these writers and spotlights their books. Some of the writers they have interviewed are Koleka Putuma, Mohale Mashingo, Lebo Mashile, Thando Mgqolozana , Sisonke Msimang, Ysra Daley-Ward, Kimberlé Crenshaw and Shailja Patel. This is a personal favorite because I absolutely adore conversations and The Cheeky Natives are such a warm and an eager bunch. It is the perfect podcast if you want to know how your fave sounds as they often read from their books! It is always so poetic.
African Literary Podcast
African Literary Podcast is hosted by Kenyan literary activist, James Murua of James.Murua.com. The powerhouse notable for his up-to-date blog on the minutiae of news, opportunities, events and prizes in the literary world has created this podcast as an extension of the blog. The podcast covers news updates, reviews and interviews across the continent. Started this year with seven episodes to date, James has reviewed A General Theory of Oblivion by Angolan writer Jose Eduardo Agualusa and Stanley Gazemba’s novel Forbidden Fruit. He has also interviewed Chipo Zhou of Time of the Writer and Angela Makholwa, Pede Hollist and Mohale Mashigo. This is my go-to podcast if I want to know the awesome activities happening in Africa. And James reminds me of that eager, wise uncle who knows everything about everything!
BakwaCast is curated by Cameroonian literary editor Dzekashu MacViban of Bakwa Magazine. The podcast is hosted by Lesley Meya and Tchassa Kamga. The podcast, just like the magazine, explores the intersection between storytelling, technology and pop culture. The five episodes published explore art history, science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), blogging and poetry. Their guests have included Christine Eyene, Janet Fofang, Florian Ngibis and Dr Dami Ajayi. For French speakers, check out the episode with Florian Ngibis as it is done in French! I often listen to this podcast on Sunday mornings to match the energy of the easy-going moderators and their guests. I have the feeling that this podcast will blow up!
Not Another Book Podcast
Not Another Book Podcast by ShoutOut Network is hosted by book enthusiasts and bloggers Sarah Ozo-Irabor of BookAndRhymes, Zahrah Nesbitt-Ahmed of BookShyBooks and Bissau-Guinean writer Yovanka Paquette Perdigao as PostColonialChild. The tagline for this podcast says: The podcast that says what you’re thinking but too afraid to say. Every fortnight we share popular and unpopular opinions about the books you love. The six episodes have covered topics such as over-hyped and under-hyped books, independent and big publishing, finding and reading translated books, and reading sci-fi and fantasy. This new podcast has been getting exciting reviews and that’s because the trio are the right combination of witty, raw and nuanced. They know their books and are ready to say what we might be scared to share. It is definitely the most refreshing podcast all around!
Gaamangwe Joy Mogami is a writer, filmmaker and interviewer from Gaborone, Botswana. Her poetry has been published in Brittle Paper, Afridiaspora, African Writer, Kalahari Review, Poetry Potion and Expound Magazine. Her interviews have been published in The Review Review, Praxis Magazine, Mosaic Magazine and Peolwane. Gaamangwe Joy Mogami is the Founder and Managing Editor of Africa in Dialogue and Convener of the AMLA Network.