Today in #TheLagosReview

Masobe Books Introduces New
Members to the Family

We are thrilled to announce that 2 renowned writers, Ukamaka Olisakwe and Abubakar Adam Ibrahim, have joined the Masobe Books family.

Ukamaka and Abubakar are important voices in Nigerian literature because they have used their craft to entertain, and boldly interrogate questionable social and cultural norms. For us at Masobe, it is beautiful that their immediate dreams and synergies align with ours, and that they have trusted us with their treasured words.

Ukamaka Olisakwe’s work has appeared in Catapult, The New York Times,The Rumpus, Longreads, Rattle, Brittle Paper and elsewhere. Her eagerly-anticipated novel, ‘Ogadinma’ has been described as a modern feminist classic-in-the-making and will be published in Nigeria by
Masobe Books in 2020 (to coincide with its publication in the UK).

Abubakar Adam Ibrahim, the “literary provocateur”, is a journalist and writer (with multiple global fellowships, awards, and prizes under his
belt). In 2020, he will gift the world ‘Dreams and Assorted Nightmares’ his second collection of short stories, which retain his signature
majestic prose and storytelling prowess.

Specific release dates, (and publicity schedules) for each book will be announced in due course.

Researchers dive deep into the genetic legacy of the transatlantic slave trade

The transatlantic slave trade was at its height between 1750 and 1850. Now, a new study analyzing the genomes of people with African ancestry has confirmed this and provides more insight.

Researchers in Brazil combined historical and genetic data to reveal new insights about the transatlantic slave trade that saw more than 9 million Africans shipped in chains to the Americans from the early 16th century until the mid-19th century. The findings suggest that the African populations imported their genetic diversity and spread their mutations in the Americas through admixture with indigenous and European populations.

“We know in the Americas that the slave trade was a human tragedy, but it is part of our history and identity. This is why my group, but mainly myself and my former PhD student Mateus Gouveia focused in the African Diaspora,” Eduardo Tarazona-Santos, a researcher at the Federal University of Minas Gerais in Brazil and lead author of the new study, told ZME Science.

African populations are the most diverse in the world, genetically speaking. Tarazona worked closely with colleagues in Brazil, Peru, and the United States to assemble what he calls the “largest up-to-date dataset of Americas and African genetic data”, which includes 6,267 individuals with more than 10% African ancestry from 25 populations.

Researchers compared the genetic data with historical demographic data from Slave Voyages database, which tracked and mapped the dispersal of enslaved Africa into the Americas.

“We came out with a mathematical method that makes this comparison compatible. Then we realized that comparing genetic and historical-demography data is something modern geneticists had forgotten to do during the last 10-20 years, but it this kind of comparisons were more common before and have a solid tradition in human population genetics, since the work by Luca Cavalli-Sforza (who passed away in 2018) sixty years ago in the Parma Valley in Italy, where he compared genetic data (from blood groups) with parish record data. So recovering this kind of work, is like making a tribute to Luca Cavalli-Sforza. Reading his books has been an inspiration for many young investigators that in the nineties decided to dedicate to human population genetics, as I did,” Tarazona said.

The Transatlantic Slave Trade transported more than 9 million Africans to the Americas between the early 16th and the mid-19th centuries. Credit: Eduardo Tarazona-Santos, of the Federal University of Minas Gerais in Brazil.

The researchers found that West Central African ancestry (from countries such as Nigeria and Ghana) is the most common in the Americas. West African ancestry (i.e. Senegal and Gambia) increases going northward while bantu ancestry (from south and southeast Africa) is more significant in the South of Brazil.

Early Earth may have been a ‘Waterworld’ completely covered in a global ocean
Historical records show that the transatlantic slave trade was at its height between 1750 and 1850. The new study found that this period also coincides with the most admixture between imported African populations and locals of European and indigenous ancestry. This timing implies that the 19th century was critical in shaping the structure of the African gene pool in the New World.

“The African Diaspora was so massive (>9 million people), that the genetic diversity observed in the African portions of our admixed genomes is similar to that of African populations of origin of slavery. However, admixture homogenized this diversity (and the mutations responsible for diseases) between the different populations of the African continent,” Tarazona told ZME.

All in all, the study provides unique insights into the gene flow caused by the massive transatlantic slave trade, whose influence is still important in today’s social and cultural setting in the Americas.

“Our results imply that the Africans imported most of their genetic diversity, including the mutations responsible for the diseases, and that admixture has spread these mutations in the Americas along most of the continent. In Africa, they are more compartmentalized geographically. This is important when we interpret data about where there are in the Americas mutations responsible for diseases such as cystic fibrosis and hereditary cancer,” Tarazona concluded.

From novice writer to winner of prize in Kiswahili literature

The interest in reading and writing in Tanzania is growing at an exponential rate. From book reading clubs to literary competitions that see hundreds of writers submit their works for consideration, the future has never looked brighter for the literary field in the country.

As part of this encouraging rise, last week, a writing competition was held which saw some of the best writers in Kiswahili go head-to-head to vie for the prestigious Cornell Kiswahili Prize for African Literature.

Success Magazine got in touch with the overall winner, Lello Mmassy – an economist and author of a book titled ‘Mimi na Rais’ meaning ‘Me and the President’. He shares with us his literary journey and latest achievement in the competition.

Tell us what your book entails.

‘Mimi na Rais’ is a fictional story where politics and diplomacy are blended together with intelligence and good governance. It is based on a revenge plot between the sitting President of the Republic of Stanza and one of his leading diplomats.

The plot thickens when the president misuses his office for personal gains and the diplomat tries to go against him.

It is a story that brings on a new perspective on the role and accountability of the civil servants, diplomats, government agencies, and the general public in setting the agenda for their nation.

It is a mind-provoking story, full of suspense that will put a reader on the edge of their seat.

What prompted you to submit your work for consideration in the literary awards?

Any author who knows the value of the Cornell prize would not skip such an opportunity. I only had one book printed but I had faith in it and new it would go all the way, that is why I took part in the contest. Courage to put your work up for consideration in such an award, for someone with just one title, says a lot about the amount of confidence I must’ve had with my work.

Tell us about your experience being a part of the Cornell prize for literature.

Being part of this important award made me believe that whatever we do in life needs a lot of commitment if we want to get better results. It is also important not to focus on the problems but finding a better way to solve them. It was not easy for me to access the information that I needed when I was researching for my book, if I had given up easily I wouldn’t have been a winner today. So, this is a lesson to everyone out there not to lose focus on the ultimate goal in all your pursuits.

Why is this win so important to you and what do you think is the impact of the Mabati Cornell Kiswahili Prize?

The win and the entire process is important as it challenges authors to write books which are good enough for consideration in such a remarkable contest. The entire process helps the growth of Swahili language. As a plus, the cash prize given to the winners helps them cover some of the costs which are part of the literary world, such as printing of their work in form of books, and publicizing. It helps authors expand their contacts through meets and greets. This opens up a whole new world of great possibilities for us authors.

For how long have you been writing?

I started writing at the age of 12. As time went on I started writing for newspapers where they used to publish my stories. However, ‘Mimi na Rais’ is my first official book published last year.

What inspired you to become a writer and how has writing impacted your life?

Writing is a talent. I did not derive inspiration from anywhere, I just found myself wanting to write everyday. To make a successful author one has to read a lot from others in order to learn more about different things. So, writing has made me a different person stemming from the fact that I do read a lot. From novels to newspapers and any written material which can benefit and shape me as an author is a perfect read for me. Sometimes I just think I was born to write because I get utmost satisfaction and fulfilment whenever I write.

What keeps you going in your writing journey?

Over the years I have been receiving a lot of positive comments regarding my work, this gives me more energy and encouragement to keep writing. Despite the widespread notion that Tanzanians are not avid readers, I still get to hear a lot of feedback from them regarding my work. This makes me believe that there are people out there who do read and my work helps them in different situations in life. However, writing in Tanzania is still not a highly paid job compared to some other parts of the World. But this isn’t stopping me from writing.

Read more here:

Ali Baba and the Forty Gifts
by Sam Umukoro

Someone once said you cannot walk in Ali Baba’s shoes. When I disagreed, his response was: “Don’t be funny, dude! Do you know how big his shoes are? Ali Baba is Nigeria’s King of comedy. You must be joking, my friend!”

But I wasn’t joking, I have walked in his shoes; in fact I am wearing one now as I type this post. They are black loafers, one of his numerous shoe gifts to me. Another example of his unstinting benevolence. Ali Baba’s magnanimity is legendary. But what I consider is the best gift is his munificent support for people through mentorship, contacts, ideas, platform, and philanthropy. It is a well known fact that he paved the way for many comedians, but what some people do not know is that he has also impacted other people in different spheres of life positively.

The Silverbird Man of the Year Lifetime Achievement Award is no doubt well deserved and a worthy accolade for an altruistic, cerebral, and an amazing human being.

Congratulations Bros once again, and since I walk in your shoes now, you may as well let me be in the driver’s seat of the Chevrolet.  How you see am, Bros?

Cameroonian filmmaker: ‘Why I made a film for £5,000’

Olivier Assoua’s first feature film was shot on a shoestring budget in the small Cameroonian town where he was born. As he tells the BBC, the low cost ensured the movie got made – and this is why his long-held dream is set to be realised when it is released in the coming months.

When Olivier Assoau was 10, his civil-servant father bought a VHS player. His was the only family in the neighbourhood to own one.

“When we did well at school, my father allowed my friends and I to watch a movie as a reward. It motivated me to do well in school because I really wanted to watch movies,” Assoua says.

And thus, a lifelong passion began.

At the age of 15, Assoua left Cameroon for France and in 2006 he moved to the UK.

Years later, he returned to his birth town to embark on a film-making journey. He wrote, directed, shot and edited his first feature-length film, La Vallée des Aigles (“The Eagle’s Nest” is its English title).

“I made the film for £5,000 ($6,400). If I had paid myself market rate for each role, I would never have been able to make it,” Assoua says.

In Olivier Assoua’s film, one of the girls wants to leave for Europe, the other wants stay in Africa
“My film La Vallée des Aigles is about two female friends in a small town where many young people emigrate to bigger cities or Europe in search of a better life.

Read more here:

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