The audacity of the adventure of House of Nehesi Publishers

By George Lamming

Editor’s Note: World-renown Barbadian novelist/scholar George Lamming recently congratulated House of Nehesi Publishers on its 25th anniversary in 2007. By May of its anniversary year, the small press outfit had already released nine anniversary-year publications. The St. Martin publisher with a Caribbean-wide outreach has also managed to publish a list of literati from within and beyond the region, including Dr. Lamming, that belies its size and admitted limited resources.

Throughout our Caribbean Region economic activity is to a large extent externally propelled. Investment initiates from outside and the collective investors are elsewhere: tourism, insurance, banking are some of the major pinnacles of authority which determine what choices we make in exercising control over our daily lives. The Governments may govern; but they do not rule. It is against this background of an imagined sovereignty and an enforced dependence that we must measure the audacity — and there is no other word for what I mean — the audacity of those who initiated from within the adventure of House of Nehesi Publishers. Such boldness of enterprise in the area of publishing can easily collapse in five months; so the 25th anniversary of Nehesi can arguably be celebrated as though it were the 50th. And the evidence of the distinguished volumes it has produced is so abundant that the founders and their supporters are entitled to invent their own calendar for this purpose. Year 25 should be accorded the applause due a 50th anniversary in recognition of Nehesi’s capacity for digging deep in their indigenous human resource, and surviving the perils of waiting for some external force to determine your own agenda. We celebrate House of Nehesi as a symbol of what it could mean to achieve a genuine sovereignty of the imagination.