The Shape of Stories to Come

 Troy Onyango

In writing this, I started thinking about the transformative and redemptive power of stories, how they shape our lives, how they make us think and rethink the various philosophies of life, and how, even after many many years of telling them, they still stay with us and teach us what it means to be human. For many of us, storytelling is how we first learn to perceive the world and its complexities – contradictions and commonalities. We learn the power of language and what boundless, infinite things we can do with words when we enter stories. The stories we love take different shapes and forms as we grow older, as we absorb more of life’s happenings, as we read and listen more, as we tell stories more. They shift, not because the ones we had before are no longer good, but because the people we are becoming and the present-moment experiences require us to have and hold these stories differently.

But what does the future of storytelling look like? What does it mean to tell stories in a world where, gradually, stories are changing faster than ever? How do we preserve some of the elements we have always known and loved so much? Will we lose our stories? These are some of the questions I have been asking myself, and, to a large extent, I have been asked by readers and writers. I have no answers, but what I know is that stories persist; they have been there long before us and they will be there for many generations after us. They may change in form and style, but they will still exist. That is my hope.

With this issue, Lolwe continues to break ground into countries with storytelling traditions that most of us don’t encounter, such as Equatorial Guinea. I am also grateful to have the cover image for this issue by a photographer from Central African Republic, Ndomété Maliko Dessande. Lolwe, as a Pan-African literary platform, is committed to showcasing the literary diversity of the African continent, the Caribbean and the Black diaspora, and it makes me happy to see that we receive submissions from so many countries that are part of our radical vision for the future of literature.

I want to thank the guest editors Bongani Sibanda, Hibaq Osman and Filemon Iiyambo for the wonderful work they did in reading through hundreds of submissions and carefully selecting the stories, poems and essays that appear in this issue. They were such a joy to work with and helped the writers shape their work into the best versions. I appreciate them for all the hard and excellent work.

Our excellent in-house editorial team – Michelle Korir, Linda Mchawi, Emmerita Ambata, Sarah Githugu – thank you for the brilliant work as always. Our illustrator, Mojé Ikpeme, for always understanding the work and creating the visual elements to it, thank you.

Our readers and supporters, always there, always cheering us on, always giving us the fuel needed to go for another lap, we thank you.

We hope you enjoy reading this issue as much as we enjoyed working on it.

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