Richard Ali

Writer, lawyer, and publisher Richard Ali was the Yasmin El-Rufai foundation artist of the month for February 2018.

The Yasmin El-Rufai foundation is a non-governmental, non-political and non-profit organization established in 2013 by Hadiza Isma El-Rufai in memory of her daughter Yasmin El-Rufai, who had a great passion for literature, creativity, and knowledge.  The foundation has a Creative Writers Program which is developed to stimulate the creative abilities of children in schools through a number of well-conceived intra and inter club and schools activities. It also has a Women Literacy Program to support and provide opportunity for adult women in both urban and rural communities to acquire and or boost their literacy skills.

One of the unique offerings of the foundation is the “Artist of the Month” series where a writer or artist whose work is relevant is hosted on all their media platforms to promote their artistic work, their interview’s, quotations and the impact their contributions have had on the society. Previous “Artists of the Month” were award-winning poet and literary essayist Denja Abdullahi, as well as Maryam Awaisu the author of Burning Bright and a survivor of sickle cell anemia.

The February Artist of the Month was Richard Ali. Ali first emerged onto the Nigerian literary scene in 2003 when he was appointed to the edit Sardauna Magazine, a Kaduna-based general interest publication, while still an undergraduate at Ahmadu Bello University. He would follow this through as Editor-In-Chief of Sentinel Nigeria, a quarterly e-zine, for 14 issues from 2008 to 2013. At the 2011 international convention of the Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA), he was elected Publicity Secretary (North) and served for two two-year terms.

In 2011, he co-founded Parresia Publishers with Azafi Omoluabi-Ogosi, to create a new publishing platform for African voices, and has served as the company’s chief operating officer since then. He is a founding member of the Nairobi-based Jalada Writers Cooperative, a board member of Uganda’s Babishai Niwe Poetry Foundation. He has also served as judge for the BN Poetry Award Competition and Rwanda’s Huza Press short stories anthology. 

His own contribution to our literary canon is the 2012 novel City of Memories which follows four characters negotiating the effect of various traumas. Towering above them is the story of Ummi al-Qassim, a princess of Bolewa, and the feud that attended her love-first for a nobleman, then for a poet-a feud that bequeaths her with madness and death. All four are bracketed by the modern city of Jos in Central Nigeria, where political supremacy and perverse parental love become motives for an ethno-religious eruption calculated to destroy the Nigeria State. You can get a copy of that book here at Magunga Books.