News Brief

Nnedi Okorafor Tells the Story of How Publishers Once Tried to Whitewash Her Book Cover

Science fiction novelist, Nnedi Okorafor, took to Twitter yesterday to share her experience with whitewashing in the literary world.

The Shadow Speaker is a 2007 novel by award-winning science fiction writer, Dr. Nnedi Okorafor—who we recently honored on OkayAfrica's 100 Women list.


The book is set in  Niger and its protagonist is a black, Muslim girl named Eji. Depite this description of the book's main character, Okorafor's publisher, at the time, thought it made sense to put an image of a white character on the book's cover.

Okorafor shared this story, yesterday, during a discussion on Twitter about racism in the literary world. She posted a photo, comparing the suggested cover image with the one that she ended up using.

"I described Ejii as "black skinned" and subsaharan African," she wrote. "Story set in NIGER and that left cover was proposed to me. WTF."

But it's not only the publishing companies who contribute to the whitewashing of narratives in science fiction, it's readers too, says Okorafor. In 2016, the author won the Hugo Award for her book Binti. Her win was heavily contested by an anti-progressive group aptly called the Sad Puppies, who basically exist to make sure that women, people of color, and members of the LGBTQ community remain underrepresented in science fiction. To combat this, Okorafor says that change needs to come from readers.

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Photo by Giles Clarke/UNOCHA via Getty Images

Cameroon Holds Vigil to Remember Children Killed in School Attack

Residents in Kumba paid their respects to the seven lives lost, and those injured during the attack over the weekend.

In the latest tragedy to come from Cameroon's historically violent clash between Anglo and Francophone citizens, seven children were murdered after attackers stormed a school with guns and machetes over the weekend.

In what has been deemed as the "darkest and saddest day," by Bishop Agapitus Nfon of Kumba, armed attackers stormed the Mother Francisca International Bilingual Academy, targeting students aged 9 to 12. The tragic event saw dozens of children injured, some critically.

The attack has shocked the nation, with both local and international agencies condemning the horrible offense. On Monday, Cameroonian President Paul Biya denounced the "horrific murder" of the school children, and alluded to the "appropriate measures" being taken in order to bring justice to the families of the victims. Prime Minister Dion Ngute Joseph shared his condolences via a tweet saying, "I bow before the memory of these innocent kids."

The Cameroonian presidency and governing body have blamed Anglophone 'separatists' for the attack, though the group claims no part in the attack.

Human rights groups, however, have blamed both opposing parties, as the conflict has led to the death of over 3,000 deaths and resulted in more than 700,000 Cameroonians fleeing their homes and the country.

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Interview: Meet Velemseni, Eswatini’s Queen of Soul

Soul artist Velemseni's music reflects Eswatini culture and aesthetics. "The Kingdom of Eswatini is a magical and mysterious place, and my music aims to interpret and document that mystique, drawing from genres like Swazi gospel, soul, African soul, cinematic and traditional music," says the artist.