The Managing Editor of Enkare Review has resigned.
This development is as a result of the bad press received by the magazine just 30 hours after Enkare Review unveiled its Inclusivity mini-issue, which featured poems from Ugochukwu Okafor and Chelsea Coon, and a short story by Commonwealth Short Story Prize winner Jekwu Anyaegbuna.
Sanya Noel, who had been editor of Enkare Review since 2016 took to Twitter to question the reason for the negative public opinion.
I've always been interested in how rage works online. And the place for censorship, and when, or if at all, we should use it.
— Sanya Noel (@Sagnanoel) January 30, 2019
Four hours later, Sanya Noel announced his resignation on his Twitter page.
I've had to leave Enkare Review, a place I've been since 2016 as an editor. I've been acting as managing ed and I am the ed. who okayed Jekwu Anyaegbuna's short story for publication.
I have to take that responsibility. Hopefully, the magazine will live. I hope it does.
— Sanya Noel (@Sagnanoel) January 30, 2019
Meanwhile, Jekwu Anyaegbuna’s story which has since been taken down featured a paedophilic narrator graphically describing paedophilic fantasies, offensive descriptions of children’s bodies and glorification of sexual acts between an adult and children. There was also the problem of making a case for pedophilia with a barefaced insistence on similarities between pedophilia and queerness.
Social media, even more, incensed by the magazine’s indifference, challenged the editors’ motives in publishing the offensive story.
Jekwu Anyaegbuna boasted on his Twitter page that “only a fearless journal can publish this. Enkare Review is fearless,” and that “Enkare Review is the boldest, most intelligent and the most resilient literary journal in the whole of Africa.” Nelson CJ countered thus, “this is your definition of fearless. Sure you don’t need some other descriptor, you know, like sick? Or wacky? Or potentially harmful?”
Chinwendu Nwangwa, author of After Dark had this to say: “you see what Enkare review did? I think it’s not about the art. It’s about publicity. It’s about marketing. I think they know controversy sells, that is why they’d accept that thing Jekwu Anyaegbuna wrote and publish it.
There is this claim about inclusion but this is not inclusion. You don’t equate pedophilia to homosexuality and call it inclusion. This is Nigeria, a country where members of the LGBTQ community are experiencing life-threatening discrimination still and you now go to publish a story that drags pedophilia into the mix. No, it’s not inclusion. It’s adverse activism. It’s not art. It’s selfish marketing masquerading as meaningful art.
One more thing, the story is actually a non-spectacular disgusting over-reliance on the whole “sex sells” theory to make people interested in the work. Even if the idea was erotica, it was poorly delivered.”
There have since been strong calls boycotting of the magazine and the writer, as Brunel University Poetry Prize winner Romeo Oriogun demanded that the magazine take down his poems from their website. Megan Ross, author of Milk Fever explained that what Jekwu wrote was “violent, triggering and deeply worrying.” “There is nothing clever,” she said, “witty or smart about depicting – with gusto – a pedophile violating or dreaming of violating a child.” She further promised to send reports to the Miles Morland Foundation.
However, there were people who thought that the only thing wrong with the story was the prose. Emmanuel Oluwaseun Dairo was of the opinion that “the writer might have been aiming for rocket-propelled popularity, so might Enkare. But none of that is relevant to the evaluation of the piece as thrash or gem. It should be judged by its literary credentials. Though the author’s crowing on social media certainly doesn’t help.
If the story is deemed disgusting from a moral point of view, it should be borne in mind that art is no servant of morality. If deemed politically incorrect, art has no contract with contemporary experience. If it tries to rope in the natural with the criminal, art is not always sensible nor does it have to conform to popular beliefs.”
This is such a sad development, that Enkare Review with all the support given to it by the queer community over the years, chooses to “take sides” in such a dangerously culturally divisive issue and release an issue that represents all but the theme it claims to be built around.