The James Currey Society is a nonprofit organisation in cooperation with
the African Studies Centre at the University of Oxford.
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To join the James Currey Society, apply for membership by sending an email with your CV to: membership@jamescurreysociety.co.uk

The Society is focused on studying the works done by British publisher, James Currey, making his contributions to African and Caribbean literature and publishing known globally.

The Society achieves this through workshops, conferences, institution of prizes and residencies.

At the James Currey Society, we recognise the importance of institutions to the sustenance of culture and artistic expressions, and with our workshops, conferences, prizes and residencies, we intend to foster understanding across cultures by providing a common ground for aspiring and established publishers to come together with writers and other creatives within the publishing industry.

The James Currey Society is under the auspices of Abibiman Publishing, a publishing house, based in London and registered in India, Nigeria, the United States and the United Kingdom.

The James Currey Society is in partnership with the Financial Times Weekend Oxford Literary Festival, curating their African literature panels and events.

We run:

  1. The James Currey Prize for African Literature

  2. The James Currey Fellowship

  3. The James Currey Writing and Publishing Workshops

  4. The James Currey Literary Festival

How The James Currey Society Came About

James Currey was instrumental, through his works in publishing, for the global recognition of African literature and African writers.

In his time working on the African Writers’ Series from 1967, James Currey brought pioneer works of African literature to the attention of the British public and the rest of the world. In the Caribbean also, he achieved great success in bringing Caribbean literature to the attention of a global audience.

In the time when James Currey worked as a publisher specialising on African writing, he published more books on the history of Africans than existed when he read history at Oxford. This has earned him recognition by the African Studies Association of both Canada and the US. He is a vice-president of the Royal African Society and has been seconded on the publishing specialist to the Council of the African Studies Association of the United Kingdom.

The James Currey Society has therefore been founded by Dr Onyeka Nwelue, a member of The Oxford Union Society, a debating society in the city of Oxford, England, whose membership is drawn primarily from the University of Oxford.

He is an Academic Visitor at the African Studies Centre, University of Oxford.

Nwelue is a Nigerian filmmaker, talk show host and author whose book, Hip-Hop is Only for Children won the Creative Non-Fiction Book of the Year at the 2015 Nigerian Writers' Awards.

He adapted his novella, Island of Happiness into an Igbo language film, Agwaetiti Obiuto and won Best Feature Film by a Director at 2018 Newark International Film Festival, and went on to be nominated for Best First Feature Film by a Director and the Ousmane Sembene Award for Best Film in an African Language at the 2018 Africa Movie Academy Awards. Island of Happiness was inspired by true events in Oguta.

He studied Sociology & Anthropology at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka and Directing at Prague Film School in Czech Republic.

He was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters, by Universite Queensland in Haiti in 2019.

He studied Ancient Masterpieces of World Literature, under Professor Martin Puchner at Harvard University. The Onyeka Nwelue Scholarship for outstanding Imo State Economics Student, is named after him.

He studied Business of Music at Berklee College of Music in Boston.

He is currently a visiting assistant professor and Visiting Fellow of African Literature and studies in the English Language Department of the Faculty of Humanities, Manipur University in Imphal, India. He was an Associate Research Fellow at the University of Johannesburg.

He was a Visiting Research Fellow at the Center for International Studies, Ohio University, where he spent time in Athens, Ohio.

His second novel, The Beginning of Everything Colourful, was shortlisted for the ANA Prose Fiction Prize in 2018 and his collection of poetry, The Lagos Cuban Jazz Club, was shortlisted for ANA Poetry Prize in the same year.

The Strangers of Braamfontein, published in the UK in late August is Nwelue’s latest novel.

The Strangers of Braamfontein, published in the UK in late August is Nwelue’s latest novel.

Set in a district of Johannesburg, The Strangers of Braamfotein is gaining a reputation for being a reference point in discussions centred around criminality and immigration.

Objectives

  • Our vision is for the James Currey Society/Abibiman Publishing to attain the status of being conducive cultural and intellectual atmospheres in which both diaspora and continental African literary communities can meet to learn and exchange stories and literary experiences.

  • A better understanding of the cultural similarities between peoples of African descent will be achieved through workshops, residencies, conferences, publishing and institution of prizes.

  • By constantly bringing together creatives involved in every facet of the writing and publishing industry a better understanding of the demands and expectations of the publishing industry on creatives will be achieved, and this will prove instrumental in starting off and sustaining a dynamic and thriving literary atmosphere within African communities.

  • Through the events and activities of the James Currey Society and Abibiman Publishing, scholars and literary creatives are brought into contact with the foundational work done by James Currey in establishing African writing in the consciousness of the global audience.

Target Audience

Primary Target:
  • Writers living in Africa and in the diaspora.

  • Diaspora African writers.

  • Literary Agencies, publishers, editors, illustrators, graphic designers, distributors, Film and foreign rights agencies.

  • Members of foreign and local academic communities.

  • Cultural entrepreneurs.

Secondary Target:
  • Organizations affiliated with publishing.

  • Local and international governmental agencies.

  • The diplomatic community.

  • Institutions and agencies involved in Afrocentric and sociological research rooted in social dynamics.

Publicity Plan

There are many channels for publicizing the James Currey Society/Abibiman Publishing events, including but not limited to billboards, internet-based targeted ads, blogs, social media networks, radio and print media. We also have a website www.jamescurreysociety.co.uk dedicated to the dissemination of information and activities of the James Currey Society and there is:

SWOT

Strengths
  • The African Studies Centre where the workshops and most of the events of the James Currey Society hold, offers a great measure of cultural and literary relevance for African consciousness.

  • The United Kingdom has long established itself as a choice destination for diaspora African literary consciousness. Hence the James Currey Society, in holding events in the United Kingdom, will be building upon this legacy of cultural cordiality with the African literary culture.

  • African writers, editors, illustrators, graphic designers and publishers are making strides and gaining recognition on a global scale and the James Currey Society offers them an opportunity to consolidate their presence, connect and reach out to a range of audiences represented at the events organised by the James Currey Society.

  • The James Currey Fellowship offers members the chance to participate in both academic and performative workshops held by leading publishers and authors, and they also undertake research projects about funding publishing and empowering writers.

  • There is a great chance for aspiring publishers to gain insight and publicity that they need as members of the James Currey Society and as participants in any of their events.

Benefits for Membership:

  1. All members of the James Currey Society will be invited to all events in Oxford.

  2. The James Currey Society will assist in getting visas for their members to the United Kingdom by issuing visa letters.

  3. Members of the James Currey Society are respected people of high intellectual class.

  4. The James Currey Society is recognized globally.

  5. A Committee will read through applications to select members of the Society.