This month in 2020, The Shallow Tales Review magazine was birthed. The months after that were dedicated to the sole purpose of the magazine which is to bring up to the surface unheard voices that tell the African stories. We are glad to pat our backs with the knowledge that we have met up to this goal, and indeed we broke down the boundaries of our imaginations with our accomplishments. We are excited that we are bringing to light talented voices across the continent to tell their own stories.
The celebration would not, then, have been complete without an issue served on a gold platter. The editors in this issue have worked tirelessly to curate the very best pieces from the works gathered across all parts of the world.
Going by the usual fortunate streak of divine luck (should we call it that) we have been getting since March 2020 whereby each of our issue, although initially un-themed, converge, quite strangely, at a thematic position, we waited with bated breath for the divine intervention yet again. We detect each issue rises up to speak to us, and alas, it did this time again, and we could only be thankful to God for the show of His hands.
Issue 32 is themed Communion. Here, there is an evident convergence of duality in the pieces curated. Reading through the issue, you are bound to experience a feel of the love, bond, synchrony and fusion present between two bodies, two souls. From veiled homosexual male relationships to friendships that stand the test of time and suffering, we come into a communion that we cannot ignore.
Gerard Sarnat’s “Gnashing of Teeth Sea to Shining Sea: Afrikaners Battled Africans” speaks strongly to the shame of being homosexual and the discretion that it naturally courts; Joao Melo’s Canivete is Now White unearths the dynamics of love present in a friendship separated by decades; Nzube Nlebedim’s Restoring Marginalised Voices investigates the presence, acceptance and rejection of homosexuality in 20th and 21st century African literature. Also, while Mhembeuter Jeremiah Orhemba’s This Certain Kind of Blessedness thematises the homosexual dynamic between the protagonist and his older male friend, Ekpegbue Stanley’s When Green Leaves Wither serves as a love letter reminiscent of the loss, through death, from one man to the other.
While studying issues of Okike Journal: An African Journal of New Writing founded and edited by Chinua Achebe, I was stunned by how much African literary history the publication was able to document over its years of existence. While I am aware that many other journals in Nigeria and out of it did same and even better, it was noteworthy that Okike was able to cement the works of strong African voices such as Isidore Okpewho, Chinweizu, Ezenwa Ohaeto, Sola Osofisan, Arthur Gakwandi, Onuora, Ossie Enekwe, Don Burness. A.N. Akwanya, Ola Rotimi, and many others who the younger writers that came later might have been disposed to forgetting. For those fascinated as I am about history and the documentation of time, it is a great experience going into the past to see how the present and future can be made better.
This issue is a testament to the nascent, sexually prodigal and free-spirited nature and temper of new African writings. We are more than excited as a magazine to be a part of the growing tides of the new narratology of African writings. We predict a time, and we hope to be here to document it, when African literary artistry would ripen to the extent when uncharted paths will be opened, silent voices speak up and hesitant hands finally join in in penning down untold stories. Therein lies the responsibility of African literary journalists, curators and publishers, to be ready to capture these strands of stories when they come up and document them for the era coming to know that there was once a revival and the past did well to capture it as batons for them to keep running with.
Indeed, we are optimistic we have documented a sliver of history with this album. Since the beauty of cooking is in the eating, we only hope you enjoy what we have put together in this commemorative edition in the same way we enjoyed reading them, or better.