Popular
Photo by Vishal Bhatnagar/NurPhoto via Getty Images.

British Journalist and Author Reni Eddo-Lodge speaks during the Jaipur Literature Festival 2019, at Diggi Palace in Jaipur, Rajasthan, India Jan 27,2019.

British-Nigerian Writer Reni Eddo-Lodge Makes UK Literature History

Amid ongoing Black Lives Matter protests, Reni Eddo-Lodge is the first Black British author to take the number-one spot on the UK's official charts with her book 'Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race'.

The Guardian reports that Reni Eddo-Lodge has become the first Black British author ever to take the number-one spot on the Nielsen BookScan's UK top 50 with her book Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race. The only other Black author to take the number-one spot in the charts' history was Former US First Lady Michelle Obama for her memoir Becoming. The news comes at a time when Black Lives Matter protests, which began a few weeks ago in America, have spread to several other countries across the world as conversations around police brutality and systemic racism take centre stage.


READ: African Writers Show Solidarity with Protesting Americans in Open Letter

The award-winning Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race, which was first published in 2018, was Eddo-Lodge's elaboration on why she was choosing to no longer engage with "the vast majority" of white people on race because of their "[refusal] to accept the legitimacy of structural racism and its symptoms".

Responding tot he news on social media, Eddo-Lodge wrote, "Feels absolutely wild to have broken this record," she wrote. "My work stands on the shoulders of so many black British literary giants - Bernadine Evaristo, Benjamin Zephaniah, Zadie Smith, Andrea Levy, Stella Dadzie, Stuart Hall, Linton K Johnson, Jackie Kay, Gary Younge - to name a few." She also added that, "Can't help but be dismayed by this - the tragic circumstances in which this achievement came about. The fact that it's 2020 and I'm the first."

Her sentiment speaks to longstanding conversation about how Black people continue to make history in various spaces as "the first Black"––it's 2020 for crying out loud. As if that weren't bad enough, these so-called historical moments do not prevent white people from continuing with the endless erasure of Black people's contributions.

Case in point, British-Nigerian author Bernadine Evaristo became the first Black woman to win the prestigious Booker Prize in October of last year but even then, she had to share the award with Canadian author Margaret Atwood in a decision described by the judges as "explicitly flouting the rules". Not long after that "historical" moment, Evaristo was referred to as just "another author" in a BBC news segment covering the 2019 Booker Prize.

While Eddo-Lodge's accomplishment remains just that, it speaks to how far society needs to go as it pertains to consistently recognising and acknowledging the work of Black people.

Interview
Photo: Benoit Peverelli

Interview: Oumou Sangaré Proves Why She's the Songbird of Wassoulou

We caught up with the Malian singer to talk about her new Acoustic album, longevity as an artist, and growing up in Mali.

When Oumou Sangaré tells me freedom is at her core, I am not surprised. If you listen to her discography, you'll be hard-pressed to find a song that doesn't center or in some way touch on women's rights or child abuse. The Grammy award-winning Malian singer has spent a significant part of her career using her voice to fight for the rights of women across Africa and the world, a testimony to this is her naming her debut studio album Moussolou, meaning Woman. The album, a pure masterpiece that solidified Oumou's place amongst the greats and earned her the name 'Songbird of Wassoulou,' was a commercial success selling over 250,000 records in Africa and would in turn go on to inspire other singers across the world.

On her latest body of work Acoustic, a reworking of her critically acclaimed 2017 album Mogoya, Oumou Sangaré proves how and why she earned her accolades. The entirety of the 11-track album was recorded within two days in the Midi Live studio in Villetaneuse in 'live' conditions—with no amplification, no retakes or overdubs, no headphones. Throughout the album, using her powerful and raw voice that has come to define feminism in Africa and shaped opinions across the continent, Oumou boldly addresses themes like loss, polygamy and female circumcision.

We caught up with the Malian singer at the studio she is staying while in quarantine to talk about her new album, longevity as an artist, and growing up in Mali.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Keep reading... Show less

get okayafrica in your inbox

popular.