TBB Talks To … The Contributors Of Anthology ‘Mandem’

Mandem is an anthology exploring Black masculinity …

The collection of short essays are written by some of our finest contemporary Black writers with themes of vulnerability and raw honesty.

Edited by award-winning artist Iggy London and featuring essays from Caleb Femi, Christian Adofo, Ashley Hickson-Lovence, Athian Akec, Dipo Faloyin, Okechukwu Nzelu, Phil Samba, Sope Soetan, Jeffrey Boakye, Yomi Ṣode, and Jordan Stephens.

We spoke to some of the writers involved …


The idea for Mandem was to be a book that encapsulates and expresses some of the experiences of Black men, allowing others to connect with it from a cultural way, which felt nostalgic and new. But it was also important for it to showcase brilliant contemporary literature that reflected us and the times.”

Young Black boys and men shouldn’t have to figure out life on their own in the closure of their homes, where the true dark and deep secrets were kept. That we, as a group of people, have more similarities than differences and we should share them.

Read the full interview here.


I don’t know if I still can adequately articulate what exactly being a man means to me. What I can say is that my ideas around manhood were revolutionised, challenged and transformed by reading ‘We Real Cool: Black Men & Masculinity’ by bell hooks, but also works from James Baldwin, Eldridge Cleaver, Junot Diaz and Patricia Hill Collins.

Mandem to me is a book that is shining light on nuanced experiences specific to being black and male, but also the transmission of such stories being put on wax after decades of being unexpressed and unspoken.
Read the full interview here.


“Rap music is the soundtrack to my life. And a hallmark of the genre is the obsession with the idea of self-determination (particularly expressed through amassing absurd amounts of money). As I began to listen more closely to the lyrics it became clear that a hallmark of the form of expression is that obtaining wealth represents more than having money in the bank and represents somewhat of a kind of psychological break with traumatic experiences rooted in poverty.”

“Malcolm X is one of my ultimate heroes. And his genius in the X was that our lives are great sites of possibility and that this exists in the site of community …  I think I want to be a man who is ambitious for more than just myself (there’s a Vince Staples lyric I love where he says “Won’t stop until the whole Hood Fed”)”
Read the full interview here.


A benefit of social media is that we can see how the concept of being a Man can be defined in so many ways across cultures and traditions. The more I read the work of Black creatives, the more I understand the constraints that are often placed on us to be a certain way.”

Mandem as a book and a concept offers an essential platform for Blackness to be explored. It means so much to me because we desperately need more opportunities to tell our own stories and set our own narratives.”
Read the full interview here.


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