And Still We Will Bloom

 Troy Onyango

Here we are. Present.

In a year that has been filled with such great moments of hopelessness, one that has brought so many people in the world down to their knees, it can be a dangerous thing to hope. And yet, it is even more dangerous to be filled with despair. Amidst the brutality (both physical and emotional) that has threatened our collective existence, we have also had moments of beauty – we have seen flowers grow on dead soil.

Still, we hope. Our dreams stay alive. We tend to ourselves and to each other and wait for the bloom. We wait for the world to gain a bright hue once again.

And nothing has brought more joy than the spark of colour that has been the creative industry. From the films to the music to the books to the photographs and paintings, art has given us the sanity needed. In all these moments of chaos, art has found a way to reconfigure our minds and allowed us to look at the world through the lens of beauty. Art has brought us hope. Art has taught us a new way of living.

I am happy to have been introduced via social media to young Black artists globally who are doing the work of keeping the Black imagination alive. Nigerian photographers, Jamaican painters, Senegalese poets, American essayists, French singers, South African sculptors, Trinidadian dancers, etc. All of these have shown us a new way of looking at the future, a joyous and kinder way through which our lives are shaped. For that, I am thankful.

In his insightful introduction to The Granta Book of the African Short Story, Nigerian novelist Helon Habila takes an optimistic tone about the future of African Literature by talking about the ideological shift over the decades and concludes his insightful and prophetic introduction by observing that: “As long as people have freedom to think and discuss and travel and find fulfilment, […], they will create art and put down their best thoughts and ideas in the form of stories.”

This issue is a reflection on all that and more. I am impressed by the quality and the diversity of the work contained here. It is a representation of the different ways we each perceive our worlds – despite the differences in geography. It is our portal for conversation regardless of where we write or read from. It is our song – with all the beautiful harmonies.

The outpouring of love and generosity that I have seen since founding Lolwe also gives me hope. I am filled with immense joy when I read the tweets and posts shared talking about the work published on Lolwe. I am also grateful for the support, especially the financial backing by the patrons and donors that has ensured that Lolwe keeps its commitment of paying artists. This is a very important goal, one that I hope Lolwe will be able to stay true to in the years to come.

To the guest editors – Mapule, Gbenga and Esther – and to Mòje, our illustrator, and also Ericke, who provided the cover image, I want to thank you all so much for you work that has made this issue a reality. This, right here, is the child you all helped bring into this world, and now you all get to see them grow. I appreciate all the work and talent it took to bring this all together.

And, finally, to you dear readers, I hope this issue brings you the satisfaction it brought us all while we pieced it together. We have only gotten this far because of you. The stories, poems, essays and photographs in here are a gift from our contributors to you.

For being here, for reading, for staying…thank you!

Read. Read. Read.

Happy holidays!