While he was finishing his master's degree in creative writing in England two years ago, student Troy Onyango remembers, he lamented with his friends about how literary outlets were devoted to Black writers, poets and photographers like them.

For Onyango, he said, it was about, ''How de we just find a space where we can all congregate?''

That question led to Lolwe, an online literary magazine he started in 2020 with the aim of publishing Black people in Africa and around the world. Lolwe - which draws its name from the Luo name for Lake Victoria, whose waters hug Kisumu a city in western Kenya, and means ''endless lake or water body'' - has published dozens of works of fiction, nonfiction, poetry and photography from over 20 countries.

In June, as the magazine prepared prepared to release its third issue, it also bagged a coveted recognition : '' The Giver of Nickname,'' a story about students at an elite Namibian private school, made the shortlist for the AKO Caine Prize for African Writing, awarded annually to the best short fiction by an African in English.

Onyango, 28, was also shortlisted for his story '' This little Light of Mine,'' written from the perspective of a recently disabled man attempting to cure his loneliness with online dating apps. It was published last year in Doek, a literary magazine based in Namibia. It's co-founder Remy Ngamije, the author of '' The Giver of Nicknames .''

''When I got the news, I felt as if it was a prank,'' Onyango said of the cross nominations, When Ngamige heard that a both stories and both magazines had received nominations, ''it gave me quiet comfort, because it let me know we were doing something right,'' he said in a phone interview from Windhoek.

 Given how new both publications are, the selections amounted to a ''win because it goes to show that African literary publications are doing the work,'' Onyango said, adding, ''With the right support, more of this collaboration can help grow our literature.''

Across Africa, literary journals managed by young writers and artists are emerging with the aim of publishing both new and established voices, collaborating across geographies and using the Internet and social media to reach their audiences.

They are building on predecessors such as Transition, which shaped post-independence Africa, as well as Chimurenga, Kwani, Jalada, Brittle, and the Johannesburg Review of Books, which introduced powerful African storytellers to the global stage in the past two decades.

The new titles, which in addition to Lolwe and Doek include Isele Magazine, based in the United States, and Imbiza Journal for African Writing, based in South Africa, are often elicing reactions just by their names

Down River Road, for example, is a Kenyan journal that started last year and is named after Meha Mwangi's 1976 novel ''Going Down River Road.'' Doek means a cloth or a head scarf in Afrikaans, but it is also a play on the name of Namibia's capital, Windhoek.

By linking the journal's name to something familiar, Ngamije said, he and his co-founder Mutaleni Nadimi, wanted to present literature as a ''visible and accessible thing,'' while fostering curiosity in readers beyond Namibia and southern Africa.

''All you heard about Namibia was our sand dunes, our lions and black rhinoceroses,'' Ngamije said. But with Doek's focus on publishing work by Namibians, he added, he hoped to ''bring not only Namibian writing to Africa and the world but to also bring a little bit of Africa to us.''

The magazines are also providing platforms for art forms beyond writing and, often, subject matter or perspectives that wouldn't get as much prominence in Western publications.

Down River Road published an audio performance as part of its Ritual issue, featuring poetry by Chenbet Fataba Kakulatombo and music mixing by Petero Kalule and Yabework Abebe.

Doek's second issue included a photo series on workplace anxiety by the South Africa-based journalist. Rofhiwa Maneta, while a photo essay by Laeila Adjovi in the latest issue of Lolwe focuses on women in Senegal, Ivory Coast and Burkina Faso whose husbands have emigrated to Europe.

Nil Ayikwel Parkes, a Ghanaian writer and a trustee of the Caine Prize, said the editors and contributors by the emergent journals are less restrained by the demands of the funders or ''by the burden -real or imagined - of having to shape a post-independence identity for Africa that was couched in respectability.''

Because of that, he said in an email, they are ''able to be more progressive, more radical, more expansive, more subversive.''

The World Students Society thanks author Abdul Latif Dahir.


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