The Glendora Review, a magazine published in Lagos, Nigeria
Statement by Kunle Tejuoso
The name, Glendora Review, comes from the bookstore, a family run business in Lagos. I will describe our bookshop as a culture type shop, not a mainstream shop, and through our book selections, we try to use the store as a means to disseminate as much information as possible through the books that we pick. The magazine is basically subsidised by the bookstore and has no affiliation with any institution at all.
Glendora Review was initiated in 1995 in Lagos at a time when we experienced a very difficult time with a dictator by the name of Abacha, who made things extremely difficult for us all at the time. All kinds of things were happening, leading writers, journalists and a lot of intellectuals were running out of the country, some were locked up in detention and all kinds of things were going on. A lot of brilliant intellectuals, that we knew from Lagos had left for America and we could not get access to their articles or essays. I mean these guys were some of the best minds, who left in the late 1970s and 80s to teach in America. Most of them were not published abroad. And at that time, we did not have the internet for easy access to these essays and so Glendora Review was the forum to drop and read a lot of their work.
The plan, or the concept for the magazine, was to create a forum of exchange that would enable us obtain ideas, and to create a platform for us to tell our own story in our own language and style and also to be able to get access to a lot of the work being done by our intellectuals, that had left the country, because there was this great brain drain at the period. So the magazine was formed with the idea of us carrying as much material, which entailed us being aware of the contemporary trends and ideas on the art/culture scene and therefore provide a means, through the magazine, to educate a lot of the local artists, writers and cultural activists at home, it was a basis for them to get access to the new ideas that were being developed across the globe, particularly in the West. While at the same time, it was also a voice, for them to present their work and dialogue on a number of issues. Apart from that, it was also a unique magazine, in the sense that we wanted to break out from the normal formatted journal type, that African journals were known for. We wanted to bring in more graphics, more creativity, and give a stronger aesthetic sense.
And so these were some of the big ideas we had, at that period in 1995 when we started with our first issue but as the magazine evolved gradually from one issue to the other we then began to discover the difficulties involved in publishing. The initial process was largely subsidized by the bookstore but as we grew it became increasingly hard, not just in terms of production but in terms of getting access to articles due to lack of funds. We began to have problems with obtaining the type of photography that we wanted amongst other kinds of things associated with publishing of this nature. In the process of us creating solutions to these issues , we noticed that we had indirectly began to stimulate an array of activities such as the use of a young crop of photographers instead of the old masters of the past. I mean this was all done in our search to create a more contemporary look to fit the type of magazine we were creating. And so we noticed a whole new scenario was being born, young photographers, writers and artists that were developing out of this platform that we had created.
It also acted as a form of network for us, as it enabled us to see and read work from other parts of the continent. It has not been an easy task, putting the magazine together. I mean it´s been full of challenges because another crucial aspect of the whole process, is that we noticed, that a lot of the ideas that were being propagated in the West, that is by African intellectuals, are sometimes far off from the artistic activities and theories practised by like contemporaries at home and so the magazine has acted as a bridge to open up these ideas to both side of the imaginary line.
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