Four years ago, I was part of GAMBIT: Newer African Writing, a project organized by The Mantle Thought–an NYC-based publisher of avant garde writing and criticism. I was just making my first ripples in the Nigerian literary scene; my debut novel, City of Memories, had just been published. Nine young writers were interviewed by the extremely competent Emmanuel Iduma over a period of about four months and we each contributed a short story. GAMBIT featured Abdul Adan (Somalia), Ayobami Adebayo (Nigeria), Dami Ajayi (Nigeria), Richard Ali (Nigeria), Abubakar Adam Ibrahim (Nigeria), Dango Mkandawire (Malawi), Donald Molosi (Botswana), Novuyo Rosa Tshuma (Zimbabwe), and Suzanne Ushie (Nigeria).
Gambit is an assertive project. This makes it so admirable. Anyone interested in African literature should get this book. Students of literature should read this book. This book should be in our colleges’ curriculums. Unfortunately it won’t. Gambit offers a trajectory of the writers featured in the book. So many things have changed for these writers since 2012. Some have been shortlisted for great ‘Western’ prizes or touring ‘Western’ cities (for validation?) (f)or global visibility. These writers are now taking their fate into their hands. Structures here will never help them, except in few organised African countries like South Africa. There have been growing discontents among emerging African writers, especially those who are at the margin, those without access to the literary organised institutions of the West.