The name Márọkọ́ is a portal into our violent history. It conjures images of demolition, dislocation, dissolution and eviction of settlements from this eponymous strip of below-sea-level land. Till date, those people have not been formally re-settled by the Government while the land from which they were displaced settled capitalists and their sprawling ventures: prime real estate for sea-side economic development. Márọkọ́ is a specific nod to those 300,000 displaced dreams, and by extension to every existence of injustice, ancient and modern, in the global arena.
I accepted to be the Guest Editor of the inaugural edition of Márọkọ́ because I see curation as both an act of generosity and a way of examining the health of our collective imagination. Given the sheer number of submissions, the adage “throw a stone into a market in Lagos and it will strike a poet” remains accurate. I am delighted that we are writing, and more importantly, seeking to publish.
Our industry was never in doubt, but the issue of quality is another matter. Ditto for the homogeneity of contemporary voices. It would be pretentious to assume that our poetics and our poetic landscape is not shaped by Western interventions, or that poets honing their talents do not succumb to the influence of established voices. Landscapes have been blurred by globalisation, a consequence of the information age and technology but my point is that the imagination must be a fertile ground to examine the subtleties of our similarities and differences.
The work of selecting the prose was more straightforward. The slush pile yielded some gems, and this was supported with commissions: among which are a long overdue profile and interview of renowned performance poet Dike Chukwumerije a review of Nigerian-British poet Yomi Sode’s debut volume of poems, Manorism, and an essay, choke full of insight, by writer and critic Oris Aigbokhaevbolo.
One can only hope that the journal’s mission, which is to render “the rough hewn beauties and joys that connect pan-African and pan-diasporic experiences, in poetry, prose, visual art, and photography, tracing a contemporary canon across the contours of contemporary black urban life” was achieved. You, the reader, be the judge.