Love Notes to Saraba – Anniversary Reminiscence

Dear Reader,

Today, February 15, 2019, Saraba turns ten. The past decade has seen the magazine grow from being the dream of two young and struggling writers into an established literary magazine of international repute. As part of our anniversary celebration, we are having a giveaway, which you can enter here (Only readers living in Nigeria are eligible). We are also giving, as a gift, to all of our readers, access to the entire back issues of Saraba Magazine. Still to come will be other gifts, and news of our plans for 2019  as we commemorate our new age. And coming a day after Valentine’s Day, our editors have written love notes to the magazine as they reminisce on the occasion of its anniversary. 


Dami Ajayi, Co-founder

Dear Saraba,

I still have fond and vivid memories of the void from which you emerged. Two young and struggling writers meeting, unfailingly, on Sunday evenings to review rejection notes and big dreams in a borrowed study in a rustic university town. You were born out of a selfish necessity to be heard. But most importantly, you were born.

Your tenacity and survival still eludes me. How you have managed to stay afloat at a time when even profit-driven social enterprises go belly up. It is not the agility of your founders, a writerly bunch with big dreams and even bigger hearts that has upheld you to become an established literary magazine of international repute. It has taken one thousand and one goodwills of benevolent friends, the kindness of strangers and the cynical inertia of foes. And I am grateful.

10 years later, you are that selfish conception that keeps giving back. You are not special. Trust me, I see the flaws. Delayed magazine issues and rejection slips. Irregular website uploads. Absent paychecks for contributors and so on. But I see your predecessors, peers and progenies. And I have seen how excessive passion can weaken the beam of dreams. Ditto for desperate ambitions and ungainly peer competition.

You, Saraba, has clothed me with friends far beyond my sphere. As you celebrate your first decade of existence, I pray for more years of substance, abundance and exploits.

Happy birthday, Saraba.


Kemi Falodun, Assistant Editor

Dear Saraba,

I came to you in 2015. You wanted to adopt new members into your family. I sent my application to volunteer as a digital editor (or something like that). I must admit, I wasn’t quite sure how much I’d be able to give you. I had only started writing a year earlier. I knew no one in the community, knew so little about books and literature, I just knew I wanted to write. I’d created a blog and wrote almost every day, hoping no one would read my posts and also excited when I saw some views.

Later that year, at TEDxIfe 2014, I met one of your fathers. He autographed my copy of his book and we spoke briefly. (Can’t tell you the details now because even though I’m glad I approached him, I’m still embarrassed each time I turn to look back at that moment and I’m hoping, praying he doesn’t remember haha). He gave me his email address. Later, I sent a short story—a horrible one, I’d later realise—and he sent feedback. Oh, he was so kind.

Sometimes he talked to me about his work, the process, the edits for the re-release of his book, his struggles. He didn’t have to tell me these things, you know. I thought, How kind of him to tell me these things—I, who knew so little about writing, who couldn’t provide him any practical tip. He talked to me, as though through patience and consistency, I could be here too, writing a book, doing much more. He told me it didn’t matter that I only just started. It was a long road for everyone anyway. So when a friend told me you needed volunteers, I thought it might not be such a bad idea to apply. Though I didn’t have all the required skills but I thought—and this might seem selfish—I thought it would at least be an opportunity to learn more from your generous father.

I was selected. In May 2015, I started handling social media accounts, later posting selected submissions on the website, doing a little here and there. I wanted to know you so bad, and what reveals more about a person than their history? I returned to your past. Many threw themselves at you but oh, you had such exquisite taste. You maintained a superior standard, and I must say, you rubbed off on me. I learnt what excellent writing looked like even though I couldn’t yet produce it myself.

I’ve never told you this, but I rarely have a sense of belonging anywhere. But with you, I don’t feel like an outsider. I’m happy for all the wonderful people you have led me to. Those who have graciously offered their shoulders for me to stand so I can see the world more clearly. I hope I can give you more. I hope we remain in each other’s lives for a long time.

I hope you continue to do what you’ve always done—genuinely see young writers and help them be heard. I hope you develop the capacity to do that in greater measures. I hope your words will continue to resonate with people all over the world.

Cheers to decades to come.


Adebiyi Olusolape, Senior Editor

@Sarabamag quick question, and I wish you many more happy years in which to figure this one out: are you now a part of the literary establishment? you know how much we love to hate establishment types 🧐🤫🥳  #xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxo


Ayọ̀bámi Adébáyọ̀, Senior Editor

Dear Saraba,

Who are you without Sarabans? All the women and men who draped you with their days and hours, time wreathing you in something like beauty. Those public and secret benefactors whose sundry substance resuscitated you on days when you were almost comatose. All who edited, curated, managed you even if only briefly, the exceptional two who created you.

Those writers, these artists who asked you to cradle their precious labours of love in your arms. Many who continued to court your favour even when you refused what they held out to you. Dear Saraba, what would you be without all they committed to you? That dreaded thing: a blank page.

And now you, yes you. Would it be forward to draw you in and call you a Saraban? It might be a presumed intimacy but believe me dear reader, it is by no means false.  For dear Saraba reader, Saraba lover, Saraban- you made this decade possible. Thank you.

With gratitude to and for you, Ayọ̀bámi.


Emmanuel Iduma, Co-founder & Editor

Dear Saraba,

It’s been ten years, and I was twenty at the time, yet I feel old. To go through my twenties with you as a lodestar, a tasking companion, I lack words for gratitude.

I cannot see it fully, but perhaps around you a myth has formed. In my version of the story Dami came to my house for lunch Sunday after Sunday, and we would often drive off to campus, or arrive from campus, listening to a song—M. I. Abaga’s “Money,” from Talk About It, for instance, or songs by Anthony Hamilton, back to back. On one such day the idea spilled, gathering around our feet like a shapeless pool of dreams. Then we spoke to Ayọ̀bámi, to Arthur, and then to Adebiyi. Later, in those first two years, others trusted us: Dolapo Amusan, Jumoke Verissimo, Olaoluwa Akinloluwa, Ope Awoyemi, Temitayo Olofinlua, Yemi Soneye, Tade Ipadeola, Niran Okewole.

And now, what’s next? What is the standard measure for your future? Much of the work I have done for you is relentless, but might sometimes feel unfocused. I confess this not to flaunt vulnerability—who that one help?—but in recognition of potential. All is potential. Nothing shall be lost.

With fondness, in gratitude,

Emmanuel.

Saraba Magazine

Saraba is a literary magazine focused on the work of new writers in Nigeria and other parts of the African continent. Since 2009, we have published several issues of a magazine, editions of poetry chapbooks, and online-only work.

Saraba is a literary magazine focused on the work of new writers in Nigeria and other parts of the African continent. Since 2009, we have published several issues of a magazine, editions of poetry chapbooks, and online-only work.
Our ongoing Manuscript Project supports the publication of long-form fiction and nonfiction by ten new Nigerian writers.
Registered as a non-profit in Nigeria, we depend on the support of readers like you to publish new writing. Please donate.