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Exposing a New Generation of African Storytellers

Posted on June 3, 2018

It wasn’t until her fourth year in medical school that Nkateko Masinga realised that her true calling is to heal people through her words. “Before I decided to study medicine I contemplated studying journalism or literature but I was discouraged by the advice that there is no money in the arts and I should rather pursue a career that will give me more security.” Now a published author and the owner of Nsuku Publishing, Nkateko is shattering that stereotype and also creating opportunities for young African storytellers to monetise their work.

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“After publishing my first three books I had people approach me for advice about publishing. I did some research and found that there is a need for consultation before, during and after the publishing process – especially for first time authors.” In 2017, Nkateko officially registered Nsuku Publishing Consultancy – a black owned publishing and consultancy firm dedicated to helping writers navigate their way through both traditional and self-publishing.

Access to funding while building a solid customer or client base has the potential delay new businesses from scaling up and Nsuku Publishing was no exception.

“I’ve faced many challenges including losing the support of family and friends who thought I was wasting my time and my potential.”

Still, Nkateko insists that the opportunities she’s enjoyed during her entrepreneurial journey by far outweigh the challenges. “This is an exciting time for the African publishing scene as many new writers are being discovered. There are growing opportunities for upcoming writers to be featured on literary journals and magazines that focus on African literature even before they get published.”

Having to balance her medical degree and her love for literature proved to be complicated and could threaten her journey to establishing Nsuku Publishing “One of the most defining moments for me was failing Anatomy in my second year. While repeating the following year I was briefly an ambassador for an organisation called POUT – Powerful Outstanding Unique Talented – which acknowledges young women who are making strides in their respective fields. When I returned to school the following year I had a better understanding of who I was and no longer defined myself only by my academics.”

In less than a year, Nsuku Publishing has already partnered with the Gauteng Department of Basic Education to ensure that children in no-fee schools will read books that reflect their identity, their realities and told in their indigenous languages.

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In August 2017, her company launched Pass the Mic – a platform created to give other women in literature a distinctive platform to tell their stories.  Nkateko has also published three of her own books The Sin In My Blackness,A War Within The Blood’ and While The World Was Burning and she encourages aspiring writers to take advantages of unconventional methods to build a name for themselves while they wait to get published “A quick search on the internet and you can find residencies, fellowships and literary journals that are looking to accept previously unpublished work.”

Nkateko maintains that creating a space for writers to tell authentically African stories is paramount in her business.

“Few of the books I read at school had characters that looked or talked like me. I grew up and decided to write myself into existence.”

It is for this vision, her literary genius and her bold decision to establish Nsuku Publishing that Nkateko has been selected to take part in the 2018 Mandela Washington Fellowship in the United States of America. “Today, our books are in libraries, schools, bookstores and even homes all over the world. It’s important that we write ourselves into reality in our own words and on our own terms.”

Written by: Dimpho Lekqeu

Dimpho Lekgeu is an award nominated television and radio broadcaster and writer. She started her career in the ANN7 newsroom at the age of 19, hosting daily news programs and producing the daily African bulletin – Africa Tonight. She’s played various roles in the media industry including anchoring news on Talk Radio 702 and hosting an entrepreneurial talkshow on the online business channel mybigstartup.com - all while obtaining her Bachelor of Commerce degree. She describes herself as a media maven, an aspiring story teller determined to tell real stories that positivley shape Africa’s narrative. She’s inspired by black women, culture and her faith.