Throwback: Pacesetters Series

by - 14:56

The other day I had a lovely conversation with a lady about Nigerian literature. We spoke about different novels, the state of literature today, and she even recommended some Nigerian authors to me. During our conversation she asked me if I had heard about the Pacesetters Series, and informed me that it was probably before my time. So obviously, once I got home I had to find out about this Pacesetters series. 

The Pacesetters Series were a collection of 130 novels written by African authors (mostly Nigerian, but there were also Ghanian, Kenyan and South African writers) for an African audience. It was 1977 when Macmillan decided to publish this low-cost paperback series - with publication mainly happening between 1979 and 1988. They were very popular in the 1980s until the series disappeared in the 1990s as a result of structural adjustment programmes. I previously mentioned how structural adjustment programmes affected many industries in Nigeria, including the publishing industry, and I guess the Pacesetter series were one of those to be affected. 

I love the covers. I know they're a bit garish, and so 1980s with their African pop art, but there's just something about them and how the colourful images portray what the novel is probably about. They are a testament to their time. 
* Images sourced from Pacesetternovels.

It turns out the Pacesetters novels are actually still available - there's a website, Pacesetternovels, that sells them and it has about 100 of the books. I wonder if anyone out there who grew up with them, still has copies - as they're probably collector's items. Whether you grew up reading it and are feeling nostalgic, or are like me, who was't fortunate enough to grow up with (or read) them, the website is worth checking out. And a big thanks to the lovely lady for telling me about the Pacesetters series.

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