Welcome to The Black Experience, a month long blog series through February, in honour of Black History Month, which features Black bloggers, booktubers and authors. This project aims at highlighting Black stories and experiences both in real life and in publishing, as well as showing our individual and collective struggles.
Today’s post is by Sakhile from Sakhile Whispers. Sakhile is a South African blogger, and she talks about the struggle of being an African blogger.
Being a black book blogger is difficult. Now add being an African book blogger into the mix and things get pretty difficult. The culture of reading in Africa is very different from everywhere else. I’ve loved reading since I was a child but only got into blogging two years ago. I found a place where I could talk about the books that I loved without getting a side-eye for reading “children’s books.” YA is, unfortunately for me, a little frowned upon.
Blogging as an African is different to being a black blogger anywhere else. Often times I feel like no one really cares what actual Africans think about African rep. Our voices are often silenced when this is discussed. 2019 was a great year for Fantasy based around different cultures. I loved that so much but there’s this idea that there is one African culture and I just…*pinches nose*
African cultures (plural) are not the same so when we get African based fantasy books I’m stuck between feeling this is awesome and not being able to articulate why it’s not awesome when different cultures from different areas in Africa are placed together (I’m looking at you Black Panther) as if we’re all a stone’s throw away from each other. There are so many different African languages and cultures it would make your head spin.
Accessibility is a major problem that we face as African bloggers. Not just access to opportunities but books as well. I’m fortunate enough to live in South Africa which is one (if not the only) of the African countries that are recognised by international publishers. Sometimes it’s difficult to even get ebooks on Amazon because they’re not available in your region or they cost twice as much as the hardback version (please make this make sense). Access to resources and libraries is something that a lot of us struggle with.
I love being a book blogger. I love being African. There are very few of us and it’s difficult to find each other in such a saturated environment that’s more about window-dressing diversity than actual diversity. Here’s to finding more African book bloggers this year! I know you’re out there.