Meet the 2019 SSDA Editing Fellows!

They are:

From left: Agazit Abate, Anne Moraa and Ope Adedeji.

From left: Agazit Abate, Anne Moraa and Ope Adedeji.

Agazit Abate (Ethiopia) is the daughter of immigrants and storytellers. She was raised in Los Angeles. She writes and lives in Addis Ababa.  

Anne Moraa (Kenya) is a storyteller. A writer, performer, and editor, she most recently she co-wrote, produced and performed in the critically acclaimed, "Too Early For Birds: The Brazen Edition", a stage play that uninvisibled invisible women in Kenya's history, as part of the LAM Sisterhood. Her writing has been published in Meridians, Jalada, The Wide Margin, and in Short Story Day Africa’s anthology Migrations. A founding member of Jalada Africa, she is an Amplify Fellow and Mawazo Novel Writing Fellow. She is currently at work on her debut novel. Find her on Twitter @tweetmoraa.

Ope Adedeji (Nigeria) is a lawyer, editor and writer. She dreams about bridging the gender equality gap and destroying the patriarchy. Her work has appeared on Arts and Africa, Afreada, and Catapult. She was shortlisted for the 2018 Koffi Addo Prize for Creative Nonfiction, and is an Artist Managers and Literary Activists fellow. She is an alumni of the 2018 Purple Hibiscus Trust Creative Writing Workshop. She currently works at Ouida Books, where she is the Managing Editor. If you do not find her reading, you’ll find her writing. Find her on Twitter @opeeee_.

Congratulations and we look forward to working with you!

We were overwhelmed by the response to our call for applications for the SSDA editing mentorship programme, a part-time opportunity to edit the annual SSDA anthology under the tutelage of the the Editing Mentor, Helen Moffett. FIFTY-SEVEN applications came pouring in. We were so impressed by the enthusiasm and talent that showed up in our inboxes that in the end we created an extra position, which is made possible by the addition of an extra mentor, Karen Jennings (introduced below). 

We wish there was some way to take everyone – every single applicant had something to offer. They came from all over Africa, and from people in a wide variety of interesting jobs: from medical doctors to environmental waste engineers to rugby coaches. A significant number of the applicants were impressively over-qualified, which isn’t intended to sound at all patronising, but is testament to the fact that so many share SSDA’s vision that editing in Africa needs support and development, and that this needs to be provided right here at home. One thing everyone had in common was a passion for African literature in all forms, and all were avid readers and writers.

Choosing the Fellows was immensely difficult. Our brief is to develop editing abilities and capacities on the continent. So in the end we chose candidates who already have some experience in or are currently working in anglophone African indie publishing, and have the potential to make a full-time and long-term contribution to the art and craft of fiction publishing in Africa. And even that was an impossible task, as many met these criteria.

We hope that this experience will enlarge our pool of volunteers, a small but valiant group who offer everything from reading, admin tasks and proofreading, to advice and encouragement.  

It’s also clear that there is a great need for a series of online continent-wide fiction editing courses. However, this will involve additional fundraising efforts in an extremely pinched funding environment (simply keeping our core function going is an ongoing challenge), and will take some time to set up. But we have plans, and will keep you posted. 


Karen Jennings (South Africa/Brazil) is a long-standing friend, and we are delighted that she has offered to come on board to support Helen and share her insights with the editing team. Her story, “Keeping”, was published in Migrations, and she edited the first SSDA anthology, Feast, Famine and Potluck, which went on to produce two Caine Prize shortlistees, including the ultimate winner. She has edited for indie South African publishers and imprints, including the acclaimed Tjieng Tjang Tjerries by Jolyn Phillips, for Modjaji, and Nkosinathi Sithole's Hunger Eats a Man, which won the Barry Ronge Sunday Times fiction prize. She is no slouch as a writer, either: her debut novel, Finding Soutbek, was shortlisted for inaugural Etisalat Prize for African Fiction. In 2014 her short story collection, Away from the Dead, was longlisted for the Frank O'Connor International short story competition. She holds Masters degrees in both English Literature and Creative Writing from the University of Cape Town, as well as a PhD in English Literature from the University of KwaZulu-Natal. Strangely enough (or perhaps not), when first starting out as an editor, she was mentored by Helen, so this feels like closing the circle.