Safe House: Explorations in Creative Nonfiction


Safe House is a collection of nonfiction which ranges from travel writing and memoir to reportage and meditative essays. It brings together some of the most talented and the most promising writers of creative nonfiction from across Africa.

Edited by Ellah Wakatama Allfrey, assisted by Kenyan editor Otieno Owino, the anthology contains fourteen pieces which were selected via an open call to writers to find the truly ‘less heard’ voices across the continent together with some directly commissioned key pieces.

Journalist Kim Chakanetsa talks to Safe House author Hawa Jande Golakai about her story ‘Fugee’, on the ebola crisis in Liberia.

Kim Chakanetsa talks to Safe House author Mark Gevisser about subjective nonfiction and why he’s optimistic about the future of LGBTI rights on the continent.

Kim Chakanetsa talks to Safe House author Simone Haysom about the reasons for and challenges of writing ‘The Life and Death of Rowan du Preez’.

Kim Chakanetsa talks to the editor of Safe House, Ellah Wakatama Allfrey, about the genesis of the anthology and the importance of telling African stories from an African perspective.

To mark the International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia on 17 May, Kenyan LGBTI activist and human rights lawyer Eric Gitari spoke to Nigerian writer Elnathan John about his piece on the ‘yan daudu of northern Nigeria: ‘The Keepers of Secrets’.

Elnathan John is a Nigerian lawyer, writer and journalist. He was shortlisted for the Caine Prize in 2013 and 2015. He writes a satirical column about politics and life for a Nigerian weekly newspaper. His first novel, Born on a Tuesday, set in northern Nigeria, was published in 2015. He lives in Abuja, Nigeria.

Safe House: Explorations in Creative Nonfiction features writing by: Hawa Jande Golakai (Liberia); Kofi Akpabli (Ghana); Kevin Eze (Nigeria); Isaac Otiti Amuke (Kenya); Mark Gevisser (South Africa); Elnathan John (Nigeria); Bongani Kona (South Africa); Msingi Sasis (Kenya); Barbara Wanjala (Kenya); Simone Haysom (South Africa); Sarita Ranchod (South Africa); Beatrice Lamwaka (Uganda); Neema Komba (Tanzania); Chike Frankie Edozien (Nigeria).

ELLAH WAKATAMA ALLFREY is a Zimbabwean-born editor and critic. Based in London, she is the former deputy editor of Granta magazine and has also held positions as senior editor at Jonathan Cape and assistant editor at Penguin. In 2015 she served as a judge for the Man Booker Prize. She is series editor of the Kwani? Manuscript Project and the editor of Africa39 (Bloomsbury, 2014), and Let’s Tell this Story Properly (Commonwealth Writers/Dundurn Press, 2015). In 2011 she was awarded an OBE for services to the publishing industry.

OTIENO OWINO lives in Nairobi, Kenya. He was selected for the 2014 African Writers Trust’s Editorial Skills Training Workshop, organized in collaboration with Commonwealth Writers. Since 2015, he has worked as an assistant editor at Kwani? Trust, East Africa’s leading literary network and publisher, where he has been part of the editorial teams on the Kwani? Manuscript Project, and Kwani?, a journal of short fiction, nonfiction, and poetry.

Safe House is published in partnership with Dundurn Press, Canada, and Cassava Republic Press, Nigeria and the UK.

Buy the book in the USA and Canada here.

Buy the book in Africa, the UK and other countries of the Commonwealth here.