On 12 August 2015, when BlackBird Books was launched, the face of South African publishing changed. The imprint, incubated by Jacana Media and headed by Thabiso Mahlape, provides a platform and a publishing home to both new voices and the existing generation of black writers.

Mahlape’s approach to publishing is inspired, among other things, by the creative forces that came before her.

In 1962, a 24-year-old Nat Nakasa gathered his friends and told them his dream of wanting to launch a literary magazine. Through the magazine, black writers would be able to speak about their own experiences, in their own voices. Just as Drum had given a megaphone to a generation of urban African journalists, a literary magazine would amplify the voices of poets and novelists. Nat Nakasa’s dream was never realised.