Richard Ali and Marziya Mohammedali have been appointed the new Managing Editor and Deputy Editor; respectively, of pan-African writers’ collective, Jalada Africa. The pair are taking over leadership positions previously held by Wanjeri Gakuru and Kate Hampton. They will similarly serve a two-year term.
With a myriad of experience and having previously served as Board Secretary and Arts Editor in the Gakuru-Hampton management team, the pair are expected to smoothly transition into their new roles.
Jalada Africa finds its roots in a 2013 writing workshop facilitated by eminent Zimbabwean editor, literary critic and publisher Ellah Wakatama Allfrey, OBE on the heels of Granta’s Best of Young British Novelists tour stop in Nairobi. It was hosted by the British Council and Kwani Trust. The group, comprising 22 young writers from Nigeria, Uganda, Kenya, Zimbabwe and South Africa, sought a way to carry on the work and relationships they formed during the workshop. Subsequently, Jalada Africa was born. In 2016, the Collective registered as a Trust in Kenya and is guided by the Jalada Charter adopted in 2018.
Outgoing Managing Editor, Wanjeri Gakuru said, “This role has given me great joy and purpose these last two years. Jalada has experienced tremendous growth both internally and externally and I appreciate the Collective’s trust, support and the ability to endure my many, many lengthy emails. Richard and Marziya are fantastic. They will bring passion and fresh energy to their new roles to ensure Jalada’s continued evolution.”
Jalada’s Board of Trustees Ellah Allfrey OBE (Hon) FRSL, Yvonne Owuor, Jekwu Ozoemene, Leila Aboulela and Stephen Partington congratulated the outgoing team and warmly welcomed Richard Ali and Marziya Mohammedali to their present posts.
Incoming Managing Editor, Richard Ali stated, “I am excited to lead the Jalada Africa Trust at this time. From the humble origins of our Collective, we have time and time again framed the African zeitgeist in exciting ways. As a servant of the Collective, I intend to lead it into even more partnerships and collaborations while boldly situating Jalada within the strategic and policy levels of Arts + Literature administration on the continent, while being open to infusing fresh talent and ideas. I thank the Collective for this gift of trust and I look forward to upholding this over the next two years.”
About Jalada Africa
Jalada Africa established itself as a leading literary force on the continent through its influential anthologies. The first, Jalada 00: Sketch of a Bald Woman in the Semi-Nude and Other Stories, is an anthology of short stories loosely themed around insanity, published in January 2014. This was followed by Jalada 01: Sext Me poems and stories, published in June 2014. Readers and critics lauded the anthology for breaking the implicit modesty of fictional and literary boundaries on the continent. The anthology was a central subject of discussion during the 2015 Africa Writes Festival in London, at which Jalada gave a presentation and participated in panel discussions.
Jalada 02: Afrofuture(s) is a collection of short stories and poems centred on the genres of Afrofuturism and AfroSF published in January 2015. The prelude to the anthology featured work by visual artist Wangechi Mutu with an accompanying text by Binyavanga Wainaina. The anthology garnered wide readership and received critical acclaim. Two stories, “eNGAGEMENT” by Richard Oduor Oduku and “A Brief History of Nonduality Studies” by Sofia Samatar, were long-listed for the prestigious 2015 British Science Fiction Association (BSFA) Awards.
Content from the anthology was republished as part of the 2015 African Futures festival—Nairobi Edition, a project of the Goethe-Institut South Africa funded by the Goethe-Institut and the TURN Fund of the German Federal Cultural Foundation. Jalada participated in the festival with readings and panel discussions around imagining African futures. Additionally, a Spanish translation of select stories from Jalada 02: Afrofuture(s) was published as an e-book by 2709books in Spain.
Jalada 03: My Maths Teacher Hates Me and Other Stories was published in collaboration with the Kampala-based Writivism Literary Initiative and the Center for African Cultural Excellence (CACE).
Jalada 04: The Language Issue (September 2015) was followed by the Collective’s ambitious translation project, Jalada Translation Issue 01, where Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o’s short story “Ituĩka Rĩa Mũrũngarũ: Kana Kĩrĩa Gĩtũmaga Andũ Mathiĩ Marũngiĩ” (“The Upright Revolution: Or Why Humans Walk Upright”) is currently available in 96 languages.
Jalada 05: Transition 123 (June 2017) was a historical collaboration. It was published in partnership with Harvard University-based Transition Magazine.
Jalada 06: Diaspora (October 2018) was a meditation on confounding experiences of loss, scattering and (mis)recognition, and a testament to the possibilities for collaboration and communication that we are afforded as members of diaspora in the digital age. It was developed in collaboration with Australian-based online writers’ festival, Digital Writers’ Festival (DWF),
Jalada 07: After+Life (May 2019) asked probing questions regarding the transmutation of disintegrated flora and fauna and inanimate objects. It wondered at the whereabouts of consciousness and even language after passing. The results were both philosophical and fantastical.
Jalada 08: Bodies (December 2019) was a multidisciplinary project exploring all things “bodies” through an anthology, podcasts and a visual art exhibition. The project received funding from the Hivos Foundation via the ROOM Media Grant.
Jalada 09: Nostalgia (December 2020, February 2021) is an exploration of memory; tradition and modernity, the tactile and the intangible, legacy and erasure, stagnation and evolution, the possible and impossible.
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A pan-African writers' collective and publisher