In a time when Nigerian was still advancing digitally, Bibi Bakare-Yusuf and Jeremy Weate took the giant leap to start a publishing company. This company, Cassava Republic, is now home to some of Nigerians most promising writing talents and prides itself on its reputation for bringing some of the reputable books we know today to the limelight.
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A Longing to Promote the African Story
With no financial backing and access to poor distribution networks and printing services, Bibi Bakare-Yusuf and Jeremy Weate founded the Cassava Republic in 2006. They started the company with the goal of enlightening the African mind through stories that capture the uniqueness of the African experience.
At the time (in 2006), there was so much that could be done for writers looking to get their voices out. A publishing house strategically situated in Nigeria’s capital Abuja seemed like the best answer to the lack of attention on African literature. This was what inspired Bibi Bakare-Yusuf to co-found the Cassava Republic.
As an academic, Bakare-Yusuf had noticed that there were hardly any bookshelves in the homes she visited in Nigeria. Seeing the implications that an absence of books could have on a nation’s civilisation, she and her husband Jeremy Weate co-founded the Cassava Republic. They started the publishing house after taking out a mortgage on their property in the U.K. The couple then drew a business plan which didn’t seem feasible for the next seven years but they went ahead with the process.
A Platform for the African Story
Surpassing their expectations, Cassava Republic has been in existence for 12 years and has become a grand platform where African literary works of different categories and genres are represented. They’ve achieved their goal of “feeding the African imagination” through stories derived from the heart for Africa. Given the significant change that has occurred – in terms of digital advancement – since they first launched the Cassava Republic, the company has more potentials to reach uncharted territories and spread its influence beyond the African continent.
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Achievements and Milestones
Cassava Republic’s first two books, Kemi’s Journal and Zack’s Story, novels by the London-based Nigerian writer Abidemi Sansui, were published in 2006. Since then the company has gone on to publish books by reputable authors such as 2001 Caine Prize winner Helon Habila, two-time Caine prize shortlisted Ugandan writer Doreen Baingana, the late South African novelist K. Sello Duiker, Sarah Ladipo Manyika and Toni Kan, and the Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives by Lola Shoneyin.
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