This conversation between Walter Bgoya and Margarida Waco reflects on the notion of progressive publishing in a post-colonial African context. Advocating for literature as a weapon of liberation, Bgoya examines three key moments in Tanzania’s modern history: colonialism, independency, and neoliberalism. In his account of the political framework, from the structural adjustments imposed by the World Bank and the IMF in the 80’s forcing the country on its knees, via the socialist policies deployed by the founding father of the Republic of Tanzania, Julius Nyerere, to the struggles of ideas that emerged during independency and until today still perpetuate the political landscape, Bgoya has devoted a life-long commitment to the questions of North-South relations in terms of knowledge production and dissemination. If imperialism created the structures of self-sustained ideologies which have been preached by Africans in scholarly environments, knowledge production that endeavors to be independent and give room for Indigenous voices aspires to be the weapon for a second liberation. From such a perspective, progressive publishing represents a worldview that is informed by literature that helps Africans understand their political realities and to struggle against those realities. In short, a literature that is liberating.
Walter Bgoya is a publisher, author and the General Manager of Mkuki na Nyota, an independent publishing house based in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, which he founded in 1991 as a response to the absence of scholarly publishing in Tanzania.