WHO WE ARE
The Custodians of African Literature (COAL) is a nonprofit that empowers children ages 5-14 and youth ages 15-29 through alternative education and literary development. We believe that being able to just read and write is the first step in preparing a young person for success, and books have the propensity to make children and youth better thinkers, writers, and leaders.
Our motivation stems from our commitment over the past 5 years to literary development, and the goal of seeing a reduction in the number of out of school children in Nigeria. COAL believes bridging the education inequity gap is possible through books.
Our programmes amplify youth voice and create platforms for literary and creative expression across communities.
In the wake of rising complaints by members of the literary community about the disparity between male and female writers in Africa, two young women living in Northern Nigeria decided to lend their voices to the cause of women writers. However, Andrew Patience and Daisy Odey’s concerns went beyond the disparity between male and female writers to even the lack of literary gumption in the North and they decided to do something to address it. Together with six other young women, Patience and Daisy both only 24 at the time, decided the best way to address these issues was to create the type of literary platforms they longed for and that was how COALNG was birth.
In its formative days, COALNG was set up as an expressive literary platform, hosting open mics for poets, writers and other artists to find expression and interact with like minds. Most of the events hosted in the beginning were self-funded and occasionally we had partners willing to either give us their space and other necessary services for less or for free. COALNG had since morphed to become a hub for writers and literary enthusiasts first in Northcentral, then to Northern Nigeria and eventually expanding to other African countries.
When COALNG began, our mission was to create a community literary hub. This for us meant creating literary hubs that not only serve as a library but also as incubation and empowerment centers for young artists within our community. We sought to create opportunities for young artists to interact with and learn from other artists and in the process help to amplify their voices and empower them with tools for bettering their literary, financial and civic lot. Our hope was that the community hub will help spark creative, civic and entrepreneurial programs that could address some of the social issues that the community faced.
After 5 years of trying our model and working with over 1000 young people, we are still passionate about building communities and as it still is, COAL functions operationally as a women-led literary organization. This is fundamental to work in empowering women within the creative space in Africa.