Skip to content

Creating Fantasy Worlds from African Stories

Author Namina Forna loved JRR Tolkien and CS Lewis’ books as a child, but saw little that resembled the magic and rich mythology she saw in Africa. This is the reason I became a writer. I wanted to create a fantasy world on par with the ones in my favourite books from childhood: The Lord of the Rings, the Chronicles of Narnia and Harry Potter. I wanted to put Black and brown people at the forefront of this world; and women, who have so often been pushed to the periphery of fantasy, at the very centre. In the tradition of my favourite Black female authors, such as Toni Morrison, Octavia E Butler and Zora Neale Hurston, I wanted to create spaces where I could hold up Black people, especially Black and brown women, to ensure that they too were seen through the lens of the fantastic, that they too could be fairies, mermaids or creatures of myth. My debut novel The Gilded Ones is set in Otera, an African-inspired fantasy world. It follows a group of girls who are deemed demons by society because they are Alaki, near-immortal beings who are faster and stronger than regular humans. When actual demons invade, the girls are given a choice: fight them or die.