Open Country Mag’s Launch Stories

We launch with a host of stories: one profile, two spotlight features, three reviews, and news and videos. And more soon.
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Our lead story for the launch of Open Country Mag is a profile of two remarkable women: writers-turned-editors, both, who felt that it was not enough for them to acquire skills, that it was a responsibility to equip the next generation. To solve the problem of the lack of editors, the two, Anwuli Ojogwu and Enajite Efemuaye, cofounded the Society of Book and Magazine Editors of Nigeria (SBMEN).

We spotlight the writer Arinze Ifeakandu, who graduated from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka only four years ago and now has his debut book deal for his fiction collection about queer Nigerian men. We also tell you about a new organisation, Kathekon, founded by three young Nigerians—the journalist Socrates Mbamalu, Ifedolapo Ogunjubee, and Morisola Alaba—to fund initiatives for change.

We speak with David Ikpo and Kehinde Bademosi, two of the organizers of Pride Afrique, the Pan-African event that back in August held online space for conversations about queer progress. Teniola Tayo, the director of the 2020 Abuja Literary and Arts Festival, tells us how the festival harnesses creative power for community-building.

There are reviews: of Nsukka Is Burning, the BBC Radio 4 documentary on how a small town influenced Nigerian literature; of Transcendence, the new poetry album by Wana Udobang; and of The Geez, the new poetry collection by Nii Ayikwei Parkes.

We bring news, too: from South Africa, where Dambudzo Marechera’s biographer is revealing their love relationship; from Nigeria, The Freedom Awards honouring LGBTQ and feminist advocates; from the UK, where Afreada magazine has gone to print for the first time; from Kenya, where a newer magazine, Lolwe, is making excitement; from the US, FotoFest’s book featuring 33 African photographers; and from Nigeria, a remembrance of Ken Saro-Wiwa, the writer and activist who was executed 25 years ago by the regime of General Sani Abacha. We also suggest to you a book that teaches how to say it like Chimamanda.

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We further link to a few videos: the historian Nwando Achebe’s insight into her new book; a panel from Pride Afrique; and a poetry performance.

Over the next few days, we bring more stories, we spotlight a fast-rising writer, and we profile two remarkable novelists from different regions of the continent and with different paths to literary success.

Otosirieze Obi-Young
Otosirieze Obi-Young, a writer, culture journalist, curator, and media consultant, is the founder and editor of Open Country Mag. He was editor of Folio Nigeria, CNN’s exclusive media affiliate in Africa, and has led or joined editorial teams at a host of platforms and projects in African literature. He has written about the Nigerian culture scene, covering innovation in over 20 fields including art, music, tech, sports, cuisine, fashion, journalism, sculpture, beauty, health, and activism. In literature, his Profile subjects have included Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Teju Cole, Damon Galgut, and Tsitsi Dangarembga. His fiction has appeared in The Threepenny Review and Transition. He sat on the judging panel of The Morland Scholarship, a British grant for African writers, and currently chairs the panel of The Gerald Kraak Prize, a South African initiative for storytelling about gender, sexuality, and social justice. He has an MA in African Studies and a BA in English and History from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He taught English at Godfrey Okoye University, Enugu. He is currently studying for an MFA at the Iowa Writers' Workshop. In 2019, he received the inaugural The Future Awards Africa Prize for Literature. In 2020, he was named among “The 100 Most Influential Young Nigerians” by Avance Media. Twitter & Instagram: @otosirieze. Website: otosirieze.com.

9 thoughts on “<em>Open Country Mag</em>’s Launch Stories”

  1. This is a beautiful thing that is happening in our time. It’s my wish that this light will shine to the farthest of the world.

  2. I don’t know which is necessary; congratulating you or the African literary space. This is a feat. Thank you for creating this.
    I wish you all the grace you’d need.

  3. I know Mr Obi-Young already knows this but you have proven yourself to be an extraordinary man time and again. Enabling spaces and conversations that nurture literature, diversity, a humane culture in the world.

    The team behind this outfit would be just as you: fun, intelligent, humanitarian, and beautiful.

    So honoured to be the first comment.

  4. My best part of AE’s statement when you two parted ways was “wish him the very best in what is certain to be a stellar writing career”. I didn’t know and don’t know you but I believed her.
    I have personally experienced AG Bell’s words when he said “When one door closes, another opens”. I know you will make a success of this.
    Isn’t the fact that this mag debuts in the awful 2020 year propitious omens enough?
    All the best.

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