Abibiman Publishing Aims to “Change the Narrative” for African & Caribbean Authors

The new press, launched by novelist and filmmaker Onyeka Nwelue and business consultant Chudi Igweonu, hopes to bring “solid visibility” to stories.
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Onyeka Nwelue. From the Guardian.

Onyeka Nwelue. From the Guardian.

The Nigerian novelist and filmmaker Onyeka Nwelue has partnered with the business consultant Chudi Igweonu to launch Abibiman Publishing, a new press that aims to “change the narrative.” Registered in the UK and the US, the press focuses on writing from Africa and the Caribbean.

Nwelue, the author of The Beginning of Everything Colourful, decided to start the press after a publisher refused to consider buying the American rights to The Strangers of Braamfontein, his new novel published in Canada, because the book was reviewed in Kirkus Reviews, he told OPEN COUNTRY MAG.

“By sending me the Kirkus Review, we will have to remove your novel from consideration. No US publisher will consider a novel that has already been reviewed by Kirkus,” said publisher wrote to him.

Following this response, Nwelue went to New York and met with Igweonu, a friend of his. “We concluded that we must lead by example,” he said.

Abibiman Publishing “is manifesting at the best possible time when the world’s focus is centered on Africa,” Igweonu told The Bookseller. “The formidable team behind this venture includes some of the smartest, determined and ambitious young people and there’s no limit in what they can achieve together.”

The team: Pelagie Ijeoma Okorie, CEO; Uzor Maxim Uzoatu, publishing and editorial director; Obi Odenigbo, commissioning editor; Uzoma Nduka, executive editor; and Professor Akachi Ezeigbo, editor-at-large.

Nwelue told OPEN COUNTRY MAG that Juliet Mabey, the editorial director of Oneworld Publications, is a major supporter of Abibiman Publishing. “Her network, her recommendations, are the things we are using to run Abibiman Publishing: from printing to distribution.”

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Abibiman is interested in bringing “solid visibility” to the work of writers published in the continent, including those written in African languages. “[W]e are working with translators from all parts of Africa to make this happen,” he said. “Publishing costs money, but we need to do this, so African writers will be respected and have some dignity. We need to stop blaming others where we fail.”

Abibiman’s first book will be Onyeka Nwelue’s The Strangers of Braamfontein, out this August.

Visit here for more information on Abibiman Publishing.

Ernest Ogunyemi
Ernest O. Ògúnyẹmí was a staff writer at Open Country Mag. His works have recently appeared/are forthcoming in AGNI, Joyland, No Tokens, Olongo Africa, The Dark, Fiyah, Agbowó, Southern Humanities Review, Minnesota Review, McNeese Review, Down River Road, and West Trade Review. He is the curator of The Fire That Is Dreamed of: The Young African Poets Anthology.

4 thoughts on “Abibiman Publishing Aims to “Change the Narrative” for African & Caribbean Authors”

  1. This is a great focus. Taking the bull by the horn, requires courage and strong will and this is what Onyeka Nwelue has pushed forth. In this effort, the birth of Abibiman publishing will give rise to absolute and solid visibility to stories.
    It’s about time we own it, we can!!

    1. ‘Solid visibility’…This is already taken flight, and the goal will be achieved…A more vivid way of painting stories in our minds, is too welcoming for the African narrative…It was way time for this…The tenacity and courage to push further, narratives that were never heard of, will birth a tremendous change, in how Africa is perceived as a continent.

  2. Eluma Ikemefuna Sylas

    This is a commendable initiative and I hail the initiators. African writers will surely leverage on this platform to reach greater heights in their writing and literary career.

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