Africanfuturism & Africanjujuism: Expanding the Narrative — in Conversation with Omotoke Solarin-Sodara, by Elisha Oluyemi


Africanfuturism & Africanjujuism: Expanding the Narrative — in Conversation with Omotoke Solarin-Sodara

by Elisha Oluyemi


Leading the surge of fresh voices within the scope of African Speculative Literature are masterpieces from Ogbenechovwe Donald Okpeki, Wole Talabi, Namina Forna, Nnedi Okorafor, Tomi Adeyemi, amongst others. The distinctiveness of the world in the works of these novelists has paved the way for a two-pronged and more defined speculative genre for Africans—Afrofuturism, the African science fiction, and Afrojujuism, the African fantasy fiction—bringing a more fervent cry to Africans to put behind them the long history of pain and envision an unfettered future while latching onto the very roots that have made us capable of becoming giant trees. 

At the forefront of this revolution is the publishing imprint, Books of Phoenix, co-founded by Lola Shoneyin (OUIDA) and Nnedi Okorafor. And this conversation between the founder/editor-in-chief of Fiery Scribe Review, Elisha Oluyemi, and the managing editor of Books of Phoenix, Omotoke Solarin-Sodara, answers questions on what this literary development means to African speculative writers and what they stand to gain.

Omotoke Solarin-Sodara is a writer, an experienced communications manager and editor from Nigeria. She is an English and Literary Studies graduate from KolaDaisi University, Ibadan. She is also a Terra Academy For The Arts graduate and a former Fellow at SprinNG Writing Fellowship 2023. Her works have appeared in the Kalahari Review. In 2017, she was shortlisted for the Flash Fiction Prize by Farabale Africa. She loves books, and for her, reading is an escape from the chaos of Lagos life.


Great to have your audience, Omotoke! I understand you're the managing editor of the newest Ouida Books imprint, BOOKS OF PHOENIX, publisher of Africanjujuism and Africanfuturism. As a writer who is also exploring this African side of the science fiction and fantasy planes, what does this development mean to you?


Thank you for having me. I have been an avid reader of this genre for many years, and the fact that I get to head an imprint dedicated to  Africanjujuism and Africanfuturism means a lot to me. Ouida is one of the first publishing houses in Nigeria that has created an imprint that solely focuses on this genre. 

Books of Phoenix recently concluded a teaching series called ‘Lessons in Africanfuturism’. Sitting in on the classes gave me new insight into the scope and politics of Africanjujuism and Africanfuturism within the broader genres of Science fiction and Fantasy. This also presents an opportunity for the publication of my own work since one of the aims of the imprint is to release fresh African voices into the market. My stories have found a home. 


Really beautiful development, that!

Moving on, Nnedi Okorafor, one of the progenitors of Africanfuturism, once said, “In Africanfuturism, we see a powerful exploration of what it means to be Black, not just in the past or present, but in a future that is unbounded by the limitations of the past." Now, to you, Omotoke, how does Africanfuturism challenge traditional narratives about Black history and identity?


All Black history started in Africa, and as such, no matter where people go, we understand that their ancestors once occupied this same land. But can you imagine the opportunity that this presents an average African writer? They have all these languages, ethnicities, histories, myths and stories. The opportunity to imagine a future is now before them. Imagine how much is at our disposal that we are not yet tapping into.

We’ve left our own ‘witch’ stories unwritten for far too long.

— Omotoke Solarin-Sodara



Spirits, witches, gods and goddesses, rituals, taboos, superstitions—regardless of what the outsiders think of them—are active parts of our African sensibilities. However, in a world where alien religions have corrupted this peculiarity, to what extent do you think a fervent Africanujuism movement can revive the deepest African identity or even reconcile us with our roots?


We’ve left our own ‘witch’ stories unwritten for far too long. Most of my contemporaries grew up on a diet of Harry Potter, Sabrina the Teenage Witch from Archie comics, and more recently, Game of Thrones. This means many are more likely to read a Sarah J. Mass book over a Nnedi Okorafor novel. And this really needs to change.

I come from a religious home, in fact, my father is a pastor. But my siblings and I were exposed to Yoruba myths and legends while growing up. A part of my nightly routine after dinner was to go out under the moonlight and listen to my father introduce African folklore and mythology. These stories are not alien to people who had a similar upbringing. But these days people are afraid of exploring their history because of its deep relationship with the African traditional religion.

We hope stories published by Books of Phoenix will change the views of naysayers. 

The opportunity to imagine a future is now before them. Imagine how much is at our disposal that we are not yet tapping into.



Excellent! Speaking of… the story of the Ogbanje, a child hosting a malevolent spirit who must cause pain to their family, has been told and retold so many times it now almost sounds clichéd. So is the culture of witches and spirits. Say, what is your advice to new speculative writers who wish to explore these themes? 


Is it possible that there are any new stories that have never been told before?

Sometimes it's not the story; it is the telling of it that matters and how effectively a writer is able to capture the imagination of the reader. We are interested in new narratives just as well as new ideas and new perspectives. 


Can you share with us some of your favourite African speculative reads? 


My first will be The Beautiful Side of the Moon by Leye Adenle. The novel is so out of this world and I love it so much. It goes from 0 to 100 really fast—no time to waste time. I also love The Gilded Ones series by Namina Forna and Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor.


Books of Phoenix, as a propagator of African speculative literature, I believe, expects a wave of fresh, exceptionally creative narratives. Could you share with us some of the themes you and the board would be excited to publish.


Emerging writers are free to explore different themes of their choice. We just want edgy, fresh, intense, politically aware African stories. The only rule is that there are no rules. 


The mission sounds really embracing and inclusive. Great stuff. So, finally, Omotoke, we'd like to know if there's a work you're looking forward to in this speculative frame or if you have a personal project forthcoming. Please share with us. 


I do have a personal project forthcoming. It's a novel, but only God knows when I will finish it. 

Am I allowed to say that I am looking forward to new seasons of Umbrella Academy and Stranger Things? (Laughs) Anyway, I am definitely looking forward to Nnedi Okorafor’s new novella trilogy, She Who Knows. It's Najeeba’s story, the mother of Onyesonwu from Who Fears Death. Omo, it's about to go down!


Great to experience your excitement and passion for the genre! Books of Phoenix really is in the right hands. Thank you so much for talking with us, Omotoke.

Elisha Oluyemi is a Yorùbá writer, winner of the 2022 Lagos-HCAF Writing Contest (Prose), and 1st runner-up winner of the 2022 Shuzia Flash Fiction Contest. He co-edited the PROFWIC Crime Fiction Anthology, Vol. 1, and mentored in the 2023 SprinNG Writing Fellowship. His writing & conversations appear/are forthcoming in UNBOUND: An Anthology of Contemporary African Poetry (Griots Lounge, 2024), the 2023 Mukana Press Anthology of African Writing, Broken Antler, LYRA, The Bitchin' Kitsch, Mystery Tribune, Isele Magazine, Terror House, Sledgehammer, Brittle Paper, Salamander Ink, Stripes, & elsewhere.


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