We are the children of West African griots who manifested histories from thin air in the courts of the supreme lords of Ghana and Mali and Songhai. Our uncles are the madmen who followed the Bantu from their river homeland to the south and carried with them the stories that sustained the life of the community and affirmed that all Africans are variations of one. Our fathers roused the Zulu to war, marched in the armies of Ras Mikael, then instructed the Ndebele and the Dogon on aesthetics. And it was us, poets, who held up the walls of Imperial Benin and Great Zimbabwe for the many centuries they held. We built the tomb of Askia Mohammed and mausoleums of the Sultans of Darfur.
And today, we follow the girl in the street and chart her story of chips funga in Nairobi and pepper soup in Lagos; we make great the young Malawian man who creates a pedestal out of thin air as the griots before him and says to his country, “Listen!”; we have watched the Rwandan woman roasting coffee by Lake Kivu and the Kenyan peasant cultivating tea leaves with pride and love; and we have been in the aftermath of carnage, in countries and cities, when our people have been at their worst and lowest and there we have said, “This is true but this is not all there is!”
We are Taban lo Liyongo, Clifton Gachagua, Nana Asmau and Dike Chukwumerije. We are Bassey Ikpi and Anne Moraa, and Christopher Okigbo and Hassan Hail. We are all that has come before, curators of what is, presagers of where the African country will go. A multitude of poetries is what we are about.
Konya Shamsrumi was founded by two poetry aficionados who are poets in their own right. Tired of the limited spaces for publishing poetry side by side the numerous great voices that abound across the continent, they decided to team up and set up the Press.