The Bodley Head buys rights to literary memoir by Simukai Chigudu

04 October, 2021

Congratulations to Associate Professor Simukai Chigudu, who has secured a book deal for a “literary memoir” following a 12-way auction.

The book, When Will We Be Free? was bought by The Bodley Head and will be published in 2024.

The memoir will tell the “dramatic and moving story of a family and a son in search of the end of empire", The Bodley Head said. 

“Chigudu will recount his parents’ involvement with the African nationalist movements and, specifically, their liberation struggle as freedom-fighters against Rhodesia’s white minority rule, as well as his own quest to understand and escape the legacy of empire as an immigrant to Britain."

Chigudu is associate professor of African Politics at ODID and one of the founding members of Rhodes Must Fall, which aims to decolonise Oxford as an institution and remove the statue of Cecil Rhodes at Oriel College.

He previously trained as a doctor at Newcastle University and undertook a placement as a medic in South Africa before pivoting to study the effects of politics on health in the global South.

According to the publisher’s description of the book, “When Will We Be Free? will interweave his family’s and his own story with the history of Africa’s anti-colonial struggles from the 1950s to the present in order to provide an intimate and nuanced account of colonisation not merely as a historical or political phenomenon but as something that inescapably affects one’s heart and mind, one’s sense of identity and home – and an investigation of what it would mean to be truly free of it.”  

Will Hammond, deputy publishing director at The Bodley Head, said: “Simukai Chigudu is the inheritor of extraordinarily dramatic family history. In his hands, its twists and turns become a way to illuminate every aspect of a subject that is too often buried in heated rhetoric or made distant and abstract. He is also a wonderfully gifted storyteller whose writing is infused with empathy, patience and a will to understand. And he combines this with deep expertise in African politics. I believe that this will be one of the most insightful, constructive and beautifully written books on this subject by a writer of his generation.”