“From our ancestors’ first forays through the continent, to the contemporary diaspora spread around the world, people are eternally moving in, out and about the African continent. Not everyone leaves of their own volition, and not everyone comes with the best intentions: nevertheless, the story of Africa is the story of souls migrating, settling, unsettling, fleeing, seeking, resting, nesting and sharing stories, experiences and myths.

From treks both physical and spiritual, journeys both internal and across continents, from the comfort of ancient myth to the desperation of those currently fleeing their homes, Short Story Day Africa’s latest collection brings a fresh, urgent perspective to one of our most profound phenomena, and the basis of all our greatest stories.”

Short Story Day Africa recently launched their new short story anthology – Migrations – and it’s getting rave reviews from all over the place. I recently got to chat with Umar Turaki, one of the writers from the anthology, and today, as I did with Terra Incognita a few years ago, I’ve picked my favourite bits from the collection. If you like stories about bodies washing up on shore, monstrous vaginas, babies thrown against the wall and…

… actually, this is starting to sound a little dark.

You’ll like it. It’s available in all competent SA bookstores now, and worldwide in September.

 

 

“There, across the skyline that separated the waters from the sky, hundreds of paper boats were floating, or flying. I could not really tell. Each of them carried a soul, and oh my, I saw the young lad in one of them.”

  • Mirette Bahgat EskarosExodus

 

“That night, he keeps coming back to her. She thinks of the fish dish in front of him, of him eating then talking, of his lips opening and closing. The spine left on the side of his plate, its spikes and serrated edges. She goes through to the bedroom and undresses slowly. She sits in the centre of the bed and spreads her legs.”

  • Stacy HardyInvolution

 

“I come from the entangled space between life and death. Remember this: not all wars have blood and gore. Each day comes with its own war.”

  • Okafor TochukwuLeaving

 

“We travel through the icy towns. Sleep under down duvets. Make love morning and night. Kiss and hold hands. Everyone can see: they are in love. The right sort.”

  • Lauri KubuitsileMovement in the Key of Love

 

“Soon they forget to send messages, or they give up in frustration because they’re that much further along than I am. I understand. I’m only human. They’re so much more, now. And less.”

  • Blaize KayeDiaspora Electronica

 

“The night is a home for the fear that grips five stranded travellers, a home for something the size of two elephants that now hurtles towards them. A home for this moment that becomes a breath drawn into the chest and held there.”

  • Umar TurakiNaming

 

“There are no colourful celebrations to welcome them back; the returnees do not come bearing exciting stories to feed our hungry ears. Most of them spend their days in melancholy, sitting on their front porches, facing the direction from which they have returned.”

  • Aba AsibonThings We Found North of the Sunset

 

” ‘Inyene the dreamer’ we named her, for she often dreamt awake. Yet we took her dreaming seriously, for it had led us time and again to otherwise unknowable discoveries. Now it led us to the haul from the wrecked winged-canoe one quiet noon.”

  • Mary OnonokponoAyanti

 

“In the end, all my brother left behind was a rubbled world. In his aftermath – mother and father looking on with ghost-eyes, three sisters with only grief to hold. His outline crept back from the burial, his last Elsewhere, and settled in corners to watch, to tug at the hems of clothes.”

  • Gamu ChamisaBleed

 

“Their narrative, as an observant reader would have surmised, is peppered with short words that begin with ‘f’ or ‘s’, as if these are the only words that matter in the dictionary, or the entire lexicon of civilized humanity.”

  • Fred KhumaloThis Bus Is Not Full!

 

“She saw herself severed from all her yesterdays, floating away amongst the stars, suspended in time with no future. , her present lost.”

  • Mignotte MekuriaOf Fire

 

“People don’t know how to handle grief’s bride. So they pretend. They assume that red-rimmed eyes are the result of a lighting defect in the room, rather than the bleeding of the soul.”

  • Nyarsipi OdephMy Sister’s Husband

 

“Even though I want to hate it, I find I can not. I already love the capriciousness and hardness of this land, it has edges that ensnare you.”

  • Arja SalafrancaThe Castle 

 

“Those who could swim floated for a while, while the rest saw their destiny disappear into the distance.”

  • Frances AubeeTeii mom, win rekk lah

 

“She studied the drying blood spatters across the wall, the new artwork. It was high art, to watch your child’s blood dry, and do nothing, say nothing.”

  • Sibongile Fisher A Door Ajar

 

“I would have to guide you along this embryonic path back to South Africa. Back to the belly of my mother, her twisted insides, those parts of her that knitted together the tissues of my soul. But I won’t go that far back.”

  • Megan RossFarang

 

“Not many people, the priest said, have the courage to give themselves up for larger cause, to allow themselves to be the ship that carries voyagers home.”

  • Anne MoraaLymph

 

“She is Tiv and knows no English. He is German with familial connections to the Nazis. They are in a hotel room somewhere in Italy. On the bed is an assortment of sex toys. A gruff voice behind the camera orders them to take off their clothes.”

  • TJ BensonTea

 

“I taught myself to sleep deeply. It took months, but I taught myself not to worry, not to listen for my father’s limp, not to think of my mother drowning in the detritus of her life.”

  • Edwin OkoloThe Fates

 

“What had the sea birthed here on these stones?”

  • Karen JenningsKeeping

 

” ‘Everyone must have a record of their private aches,’ you say. ‘I get tattoos; you scribble in your notebook. It’s all the same thing.’

‘You talk like a poet,’ I say.”

  • Izda LuhumyoThe Impossibility of Home
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