GALA: Gay and Lesbian Memory in Action has started their own imprint, MaThoko’s Books. Modjaji Books has been tasked with helping them set it up. Keep an eye out for the titles that will be coming out of this exciting new imprint in the next few months.
Hot off the press in April – we have a long awaited collection of short stories titled, Queer Africa: New and collected stories edited and compiled by Karen Martin and Makhosazana Xaba. The writers who have been included in the collection are Wame Molefhe, Richard de Nooy, Dolar Vasani, Natasha Distiller, Wamuwi Mbao, Barbara Adair, Beatrice Lamwaka, Lindiwe Nkutha, Rahiem Whisgary, Mercy Minah, Roger Diamond, Monica Arac de Nyeko, Annie Holmes, TO Molefe, Davina Owombre, Martin Hatchuell, Emil Rorke, Lindiwe Nkutha, K Sello Duiker and Rory Kilalea.
Pumla Gqola writes in the Introduction to the collection: “Karen Martin and Makhosazana Xaba have achieved an extraordinary feat in bringing together this very welcome volume of stories that imagine queer Africa in such diverse and exciting ways. It is a beautiful and necessary project that presents a shared vision across the pages of the book whilst allowing the individual short stories, and the two excerpts from novels, to stand completely in their own stead. A shared vision is not premised on agreement or similarity, as these stories show; the editors of the collection gesture towards a political, aesthetic and imaginative community that is not premised on sameness. After all, each of these stories offers a slice of what it means to be queer in Africa because in a direct sense, that description and call is what the authors responded to or what their stories suggested, prompting invitations to publish here.
One of the implied questions in this volume that is sometimes directly addressed, and obliquely gestured towards at other times, are the exact meanings of ‘queer’ when it rubs up against ‘Africa’. The stories themselves show the very many ways in which being queer in Africa, a queer Africa and queering Africa are not the same thing across time, borders, and internal boundaries, even we read ‘queer’ as always concerned with identity and a deliberate perspective in/on the world. The framing of this anthology in these terms brings together a range of world narratives about shared sexual, gender and political identification.
Queer Africa, as a name for this collection also comes with the many ways in which ‘queer’ is equally embraced and questioned by those it seeks to include and/or speak on behalf of. In a very direct sense, here we have what Gabeba Baderoon has called a ‘leaking of meaning’,producing not a tidy putting together but a sometimes coherent sense of belonging, and at other times a provisional one. Meaning leaks here because the many discussions and debates on the use of queer in African contexts are varied and on-going. These debates have the discoveries, frustrations, excitement and anger that come with all politically difficult conversations worth having. While some use the label comfortably, others are worried about whether it adequately speaks usefully to contexts outside the geographical politics of its emergence. Does its use give credence to or help challenge the homophobic claims of importation? Does it contest African hegemonies by using terms of reference that come from a place that paid no attention to queer his/her/hirstories on the continent? Others use it selectively and carefully, as shorthand, or under erasure, depending on what political work they are invested in doing across temporalities and geographies. As I continue to use ‘queer’ in this introduction, I do so mindful of these contradictions and questions. I also use it as someone whose own self-identification does not stand outside of this embattlement, and no amount of quoting Judith Butler even begins to address the problem. I write also aware that there are probably as many ‘queers’ who use it interchangeably with LGTBI as there are who insist on the two meaning very different things.”
If you would like to pre-order a copy of Queer Africa, email me at cdhiggs at gmail.com – we are offering a R30 discount off the RRP of R180. If you live in South Africa, postage is included in the R150 price. The offer ends at the end of March 2013.