CO-FOUNDER, CASSAVA REPUBLIC PRESS
Bibi Bakare-Yusuf understands the need for diverse African stories. The Nigerian co-founder of one of Africa’s premier publishing houses, Cassava Republic Press, she noticed that cultural works in the University of Lagos in the early 2000s weren’t filled with accurate stories of a changing world. That’s when Bakare-Yusuf set out to diversify African literature by publishing more inclusive writing that resonated with a wider audience. “Perhaps for the first time, young, Black, British, and trans readers can also see themselves in print in a story they can relate to,” she told The Los Angeles Review about the significance of her publishing house.
With the 2018 release of She Called Me Woman by Chitra Nagarajan—a collection of testimonies by queer Nigerian women about sexuality and womanhood—Bakare-Yusuf has impacted youth culture in all the ways she intended. For her disruptive work in publishing and challenging the perception of African life consistently, she has earned several awards and sits on the boards of influential journals and West Africa’s largest organization devoted to LGBTQ issues, The Initiative for Equal Rights.
“There are many, many narratives of people who are living, who are surviving, who are thriving,” she told Marketplace in 2017. “They're not just surviving, they're thriving. They're producing art, they're producing culture, they're producing the things that will contribute to civilization…They're helping to redefine the kind of society they want to be. And that's really important.”