I

n our latest Spotlite exclusive interview, Margaret Busby talks to Alessandra about her most recent anthology – ‘New Daughters of Africa’ – one year after its release.

Margaret Busby is a name that needs no further introduction. Born in the Gold Coast (modern-day Ghana) to parents of Bajan, Ghanaian, Trinidadian, and Dominican origin, she captured the imagination of the literary world, when at the young age of 23, she co-founded Allison & Busby (A&B) and became the UK’s youngest and first black female publisher. During her tenure as Editorial Director of Allison & Busby, she published books from several authors including Buchi Emecheta and C. L. R. James (who also happened to be her father’s school mate). Following the acquisition of A&B, she served as Editorial Director of Earthscan, where she published the likes of Frantz Fanon.

As a freelance writer and editor, Margaret’s book reviews have featured in publications such as The Guardian, and her playwright résumé includes the likes of Sankofa (1999), Yaa Asantewaa: Warrior Queen (2001), and An African Cargo (2007). She has served as a judge for a number of literary prizes, including the Caine Prize, and she is the current chair for the 2020 edition of the Booker Prize. Speaking of the Booker’s, once upon a time in London, Margaret rented a flat of hers to a certain young Nigerian author. Ben Okri would write a novel while staying there, and a few years later, he won the 1991 Booker Prize for ‘The Famished Road’.

She captured the imagination of the literary world, when at the young age of 23, she co-founded Allison & Busby (A&B) and became the UK’s youngest and first black female publisher.

In this Spotlite Exclusive, Margaret Busby talks about her 1992 anthology ‘Daughters of Africa’ and the circumstances that led to the 2019 sequel – ‘New Daughters of Africa’. In her words, she compiled ‘Daughters of Africa’ because she “wanted to read it” herself. This motivation was reminiscent of a quote by Toni Morrison (a ‘Daughters of Africa’ contributor), which suggests that “if there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it”. Another reason why she compiled ‘Daughters of Africa’ was the exclusion of African descended women from literary bodies of work – even those that claimed to focus on Africa and/or the Caribbean.

Speaking more specifically about ‘New Daughters of Africa’, she talks about the decision of the ‘New Daughters of Africa’ contributors to waive their fees, and how this paved the way for a new scholarship to be set up, allowing a black female African resident to pursue a postgraduate degree at SOAS, University of London. She explains the inter-generational links between the anthology and its 1992 predecessor. She talks about the presence of writers in ‘New Daughters of Africa’ who were inspired by writers that they found in ‘Daughters of Africa’. She gives examples of women in ‘Daughters […]’ who have descendants in ‘New Daughters […]’ but also gives examples of women in ‘New Daughters […]’ who have ancestors in the same volume.

In addition to the talking points surrounding Margaret’s new anthology, she talks about her hopes for diversity in publishing, gives us a bit of an insight into her family background, and talks about the importance of sisterhood amongst women – especially those of African descent. This interview is made up of 2 segments, both of which are now available online. So don’t forget to visit the channel for the remaining interview segment.

Special thanks to Margaret for the interview. To support us, PLEASE SUBSCRIBE to our YouTube Channel. And while you’re at it, don’t forget to LIKE and SHARE our videos.

Happy watching, and see you again soon.

Special thanks to Margaret for the interview. To support us, PLEASE SUBSCRIBE to our YouTube Channel. And while you’re at it, don’t forget to LIKE and SHARE our videos.