The Imbiza Journal for African Writing launched its inaugural edition in a virtual event on World Book Day, Friday, April 23, 2021.
In December 2020, a new publication called the Imbiza Journal for African Writing was introduced to the African literary community. Founded by South African Siphiwo Mahala, it promised an inclusive publishing platform for creative writing, criticism, academic writing, and intellectual engagement for African thinkers, cultural workers, and activists.

On April 1, the first edition of the new publication was unveiled with fiction, nonfiction, and poetry contributions in multiple languages including English, Kiswahili, isiXhosa, and Kikuyu. Some of the contributors, who came from diverse backgrounds and age groups, were Vangile Gantsho, Elinor Sisulu, Zukiswa Wanner, Lucas Ledwaba, Simamkele Dlakavu, Moses Seletisha, Thandeka Maseko, Nokuthula Mazibuko Msimang, and Outlwile Tsipane. There was even an extract from an upcoming novel by Zakes Mda.

This past Friday, the journal was officially launched in an event on Zoom with a stream available on the retail company CNA’s Facebook page hosted by the ever-excellent Lorraine Sithole. It was an evening event which saw those who contributed to the publication joined by supporters and the general public.

Part of the evening was dedicated to messages from prominent people in South African letters as well as from journal contributors. Giving their messages of support were J. M. Coetzee (yes, the double Booker Prize winner), Prof Njabulo S Ndebele, Prof Pumla Dineo Gqola, Zakes Mda, Lauren Beukes, Stacey Fru, Barbara Boswell, and many others. We got some readings from contributors like Anna Samwel Manyanza (in Kiswahili), Madoda Ndlakuse (in IsiXhosa), and Maina wa Mũtonya (in Kikuyu).

The biggest chunk of time was rightly given to Siphiwo Mahala who came up with the journal last year and within months had it available for our reading pleasure. He acknowledged publications that had preceded the Imbiza Journal. He also made sure to recognise those who had supported him on his journey from contributors to the production team with a special shoutout to copy editor Phakama Mbonambio and Jesselene Pandaram who did layout and design.

For those who want details on buying this new addition to the African literary Archive, physical or digital, please click here. (I’ve had a sneak peak; it is a must read).
Check out the whole session by clicking here.