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Amplifying New Voices from the Continent

Lolwe, is an online literary magazine launched by Troy Onyango in 2020 with the aim of publishing Black people in Africa and around the world. Lolwe — which draws its name from the Luo name for Lake Victoria, whose waters hug this city in western Kenya, and means “endless lake or water body” — has published dozens of works of fiction, nonfiction, poetry and photography from over 20 countries. In June, as the magazine prepared to release its third issue, it also bagged a coveted recognition: “The Giver of Nicknames,” a story about students at an elite Namibian private school, made the shortlist for the AKO Caine Prize for African Writing, awarded annually to the best short fiction by an African writer in English. Across Africa, literary journals managed by young writers and artists are emerging with the aim of publishing both new and established voices, collaborating across geographies and using the internet and social media to reach their audiences. They are building on predecessors such as Transition, which shaped post-independence Africa, as well as Chimurenga, Kwani, Jalada, Brittle Paper and The Johannesburg Review of Books, which introduced powerful African storytellers to the global stage in the past two decades. The new titles, which in addition to Lolwe and Doek include Isele Magazine, based in the United States, and Imbiza Journal for African Writing, based in South Africa, are often eliciting reactions just by their names.