Literary Highlife: Contributors, Bios

Yinka Shonibare MBE

Born in London and raised in Nigeria, Shonibare employs a diverse range of media – from sculpture, painting and installation to photography and film – to probe matters of race, class, cultural identity and history. He is perhaps best known for his signature use of a colourful “African” batik fabric that actually originated in Indonesia and was introduced to Africa in the 19th century by British and Dutch colonisers.

Zoe Adjonyoh

Zoe Adjonyoh is a writer and cook from South-East London. Her pop-up restaurant and supper club has been making waves in the foodie scene - both in London and Berlin - bringing traditional and contemporary Ghanaian food to an audience outside of the Ghanaian community. Zoe appears at streetfood markets, pop-ups and festivals across Europe, as well as providing cookery classes and being an established event caterer.

Nana Ayebia Clarke MBE

Nana Ayebia is a Ghanaian-born publisher, she was Submissions Editor of the highly acclaimed Heinemann African and Caribbean Writers Series for 12 years where she published and promoted prominent writers and Nobel Prize winning authors. She founded Ayebia Clarke Publishing Limited with her husband David in 2003. Becky Nana Ayebia Clarke was awarded an Honorary MBE in 2011 for services to the British publishing industry.

Ekow Eshun

Ekow Eshun is a Ghanaian-British writer, journalist, and broadcaster. Until November 2010 he was the artistic director of the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London, leaving before the end of his six-month notice period. He is a contributor to BBC2's Friday night arts programme Newsnight Review, the editor-in-chief of the quarterly magazine Tank and a former editor of Arena magazine.

Nana Ocran

Nana Ocran is A London- based writer and lecturer, Nana’s work has featured topics including architectural de- sign, African pop culture, green spaces and technology, all of which has been a vehicle for some delightful commission a and collaborations with national and international organisations including the Time Out Group, Iniva, Pernod-Ricard Paris, Gestalten Books (Berlin) and the British Council.

Gabriel Gbadamosi

Gabriel Gbadamosi is a poet, playwright, and novelist of Irish-Nigerian descent. He grew up in Vauxhall, London and studied English at Cambridge University.

Patrice Lawrence

Patrice Lawrence was born in Brighton and brought up in an Italian-Trinidadian household in Mid Sussex. Her first novel, Orangeboy, has won the Waterstones Book Prize for Older Children, been shortlisted for the Costa Book Award and the YA Book Prize, nominated for the Carnegie Award and shortlisted for the Leeds and North East Book Awards.

Ato Quayson

Ato Quayson is University Professor and Director of the Centre for Diaspora and Transnational Studies at the University of Toronto. He was educated at the University of Ghana and at Cambridge. His most recent book is Oxford Street, Accra: City Life and the Itineraries of Transnationalism.

Ayobami Adebayo

Ayobami Adebayo holds BA and MA degrees in Literature from Obafemi Awolowo University. She also has an MA in creative writing from the University of East Anglia where she was awarded an international bursary for creative writing. Her debut novel, Stay with Me, has been shortlisted for the Baileys prize.

Margaret Busby OBE

Margaret Busby OBE (also titled Nana Akua Ackon) is a Ghanaian-born publisher, editor, writer and broadcaster based in the UK. She was Britain’s youngest and first black woman book publisher when in the 1960s she co-founded with Clive Allison the London-based publishing house Allison and Busby.

Irenosen Okojie

Irenosen Okojie is a writer and Arts Project Manager. Championed by Rupert Thompson (one of David Bowie’s favourite authors) her debut novel Butterfly Fish won a Betty Trask award. Her work has been featured in The Observer, The Guardian, the BBC and the Huffington Post amongst other publications. Her short stories have been published internationally. Her short story collection Speak Gigantular published by Jacaranda Books was shortlisted for the Jhalak Prize and is longlisted for the Edgehill Short Story Prize 2017.

ruby onyinyechi amanze

ruby onyinyechi amanze is a Nigerian visual artist based in Brooklyn, amanze has exhibited her work nationally and internationally including, New York, Johannesburg, Miami, Paris, London and Lagos. She is currently an Artist-in-Residence at the Queens Museum and also an Open Sessions 2015-2017 participant, at the Drawing Center, both in New York.

Inua Ellams

Inua Ellams is a poet, playwright and performer. His first poetry pamphlet, Thirteen Fairy Negro Tales, was followed by his first play, the award-winning 14th Tale. Currently, he is touring another play, /Black T-Shirt Collection. This poem is taken from his most recent poetry pamphlet, Candy Coated Unicorns and Converse All Stars’, published by Flipped Eye.

Theresa Lola

Theresa Lola,is a London-based, Nigerian-British poet, Theresa was Hackney’s slam champion representative at the 2017 Hammer and Tongue slam competition - where she was the eventual winner.

Frances Mensah Williams

Frances Mensah Williams is the author of the novels From Pasta to Pigfoot and From Pasta to Pigfoot: Second Helpings. Of Ghanaian origin, she has written three careers books and articles for numerous publications. She is Managing Editor of ReConnect Africa.com, the award-winning online publication for professionals of African origin.

Siana Bangura

Siana Bangura is a writer, poet, performer and social commentator hailing from South East London. She is the author of 'Elephant', her debut collection of poetry exploring themes such as Black British womanhood, girlhood, racism, gentrification and sexism; and is the producer of upcoming documentary, '1500 & Counting', a film investigating police brutality and deaths in custody in the UK. Siana's other works include 'Denim', a short film exploring gentrification in South East London, as well as numerous essays and features in publications such as Media Diversified, Consented, Black Ballad, VICE, The Fader, BBC, Channel 4, The Green European Journal, Ladybeard, and Buzzfeed. Siana is also the founder of independent publishing house, Haus of Liberated Reading and the editor of Black British Feminist platform, No Fly on the WALL.

Martin Egblewogbe

Martin Egblewogbe is the author of Mr Happy and The Hammer of God & Other Stories (Ayebia, 2012). He co- edited the poetry anthologies Look where you have gone to sit (Woeli, 2010) and According To Sources (Woeli, 2015), and he is co-founder and director of the Writers Project of Ghana, a literary organisation.

Caleb Femi

Caleb Femi, is a 26-year-old teacher and poet from Peckham, and serves as London’s first ‘Young People’s Laureate’ for 2017.

Kobby Ankomah-Graham

Kobby Ankomah-Graham is a writer, lecturer, and DJ raised between the alternate realities of Cape Coast, London and Accra, where he now resides. A member of the nKENTEn creative collective, he uses the weird to explore the mundane. He was a run- ner-up in the inaugural John La Rose short story competition.

Victoria-Anne Bulley

Victoria-Anne Bulley is a British-born Ghanaian poet and writer based in London. Her work is featured on Badilisha Poetry X-Change.

Griot Chinyere

Award winning Griot Chinyere is an national and international grassroots storyteller, the artistic director for Shanti-Chi and the founder of the Nne Agwu Afrakan Storytelling festival. She is focused on developing the African storytelling artistry in the UK. She has traveled across Africa, Europe and the Middle East gathering knowledge and experience on the oral traditions. Her performances throughout the world blends her skills as a movement stylist and character actor to tell dynamic and lyrical stories with a wonderful sense of playfulness that makes you part of the story, and reverence for the deeper meaning of spirituality in storytelling. Griot is presently working with the Leadership Trust training Higher Education heads of departments in over 50 universities throughout the UK applying the techniques of the oral traditions of the storytelling art form.

Jumoke Verissimo

Jumoke Verissimo was born in Lagos, Nigeria. She is the author of two poetry collections, I am memory (Dada Books) and e Birth of Illusion (Fullpoint). Jumoke is currently in the final stages of discussion with the CassaVA Republic for her first novel. Some of her poems are in translation in Norwegian, Japanese, Italian, French and Macedonian.