2008 Tutu Fellow Bibi Bakare Yusuf has won the Distinguished Africanist Award from ASAUK. The ASAUK - or African Studies Association of the United Kingdom - is a scholarly organization with a membership that includes academics, journalists and broadcasters, civil servants and many others with an interest in Africa.
Bibi is the award-winning Co-Founder and Publishing Director of Cassava Republic. Bibi explains: “I am a publisher because I am interested in the future. I am interested in contributing to and helping to shape what people in 100, 200 or even 500 years will be discussing and mulling over when they take a walk into the labyrinth of their past that is our present moment. I am interested in how we can create the archive of the future in the present.”
Bibi began her career as an academic, obtaining a PhD in Interdisciplinary Women and Gender Studies at Warwick University. Her thesis explored the relationship between embodiment and memory in the African diaspora. She has published widely on the subjects of gender, power and sexuality in African and African diaspora studies, and she has worked as a gender and research consultant for organisations including the BBC, the Central Bank of Nigeria and the European Union.
A common thread underpinning Bibi's work has been amplifying marginalised voices and Cassava Republic has been at the forefront of commissioning and publishing works by writers in Nigeria’s LGBTQ community and Nigerian communities whose writers have been overlooked. A recent development at Cassava has been the launch of an African language literature imprint. It draws on the scholarship of Ngugi wa Thiong’o and Mukoma wa Ngugui, who centred promoting African languages as part of decolonising Africa.
The ASAUK wrote when the made the award to her:
“The impact of Bakare-Yusuf’s work is apparent within the academy but also in the broader public sphere. Bakare-Yusuf is both a thought leader and innovator. She has won several awards for her trailblazing work in publishing, including one by the International Excellence Awards 2018 in conjunction with The Publishers Association in London for Inclusivity in Publishing and the Brittle Papers African Literary Person of the Year. Her work has been profiled in a number of publications including the New York Times, the LA Review of Books, The Financial Times and the Independent and in 2020, she was named to The Africa Report’s Top 50 Disruptors. Given the breadth, importance and urgency of Bibi Bakare-Yusuf’s work, to award her the ASAUK’s Distinguished Africanist Award would recognise Bakare-Yusuf’s intellectual and cultural impact, and would amplify her intellectual project of building ‘the archive of the future in the present’.”
You can read the full piece on the award at the ASAUK website.