#Okay100Women

OKWIRI ODUOR

OkayAfrica's 100 Women celebrates African women who are making waves, shattering ceilings, and uplifting their communities.

Okwiri Oduor made an impression on the Commonwealth Book Prize committee in 2012 with the novella, Dream Chasers. So many journals rejected the Kenyan-born writer's short story, My Father’s Head, that the she gave up on it temporarily until it finally made a mark by winning the Caine Prize in 2014.




The story follows a woman who is dealing with the death of her father, which critics lauded as an “uplifting story about mourning.”



Since her 2014 win, Oduor has focused more on releasing short stories, completing her MFA and working on her debut novel in the U.S. What many may not know is that the writer wanted to be a nun when she was little; then a journalist and later settled on writing full-time. She is currently working on her first novel.



Nairobi’s literary community has known about Oduor long before the international fame, most notably One Day I will Write About This Place author, Binyavanga Wainaina and the Kwani Trust.



Since then, the media-shy Kenyan has kept a low profile while pursuing an MFA and writing her first novel. She is proof that there is young, literary talent in East Africa.



-JO

Interview

Interview: The Awakening of Bas

We talk to Bas about The Messenger, Bobi Wine, Sudan, and the globalized body of Black pain.

The first thing you notice when you begin to listen to The Messenger—the new investigative documentary podcast following the rise of Ugandan singer, businessman and revolutionary political figure Bobi Wine—is Bas' rich, paced, and deeply-affecting storytelling voice.

Whether he is talking about Uganda's political landscape, painting a picture of Bobi Wine's childhood, or drawing parallels between the violence Black bodies face in America and the structural oppression Africans on the continent continue to endure at the hands of corrupt government administrations, there is no doubt that Bas (real name Abbas Hamad) has an intimate understanding of what he's talking about.

We speak via Zoom, myself in Lagos, and him in his home studio in Los Angeles where he spends most of his time writing as he cools off from recording the last episode of The Messenger. It's evident that the subject matter means a great deal to the 33-year-old Sudanese-American rapper, both as a Black man living in America and one with an African heritage he continues to maintain deep ties with. The conversation around Black bodies enduring various levels of violence is too urgent and present to ignore and this is why The Messenger is a timely and necessary cultural work.

Below, we talk with Bas aboutThe Messenger podcast, Black activism, growing up with parents who helped shape his political consciousness and the globalized body of Black pain.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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