Will This Be A Problem Anthology 4: Announcement

Will This Be A Problem is proud to announce that issue 4 of the Will This Be A Problem Anthology will be released  in April 2020. Eight new stories from writers across the African continent. There will be singular dystopian worlds, chilling horror landscapes, sprawling urban fantasy and mind bending science fiction concepts.

We’ve put together some wonderful anthologies in the past but this one is certainly our finest and we can’t wait for you all to read it.

For now, we will be sharing the stunning cover art from Peter Marco and the table of contents — Including our winning story, Nonchalant by Cheryl S. Ntumy.

Nonchalant by  Cheryl S. Ntumy

The Sacrifice by Lauri Kubuitsile 

Counting Heads by James Kariuki

Nyembezi’s Funeral by Jerà

Where The Gods Go by  Kevin Rigathi

Asylum by  Olivia Kidula

Pieces of Wood by Peter Nena

Manes & Dandelions by Kevin Rigathi

Antholgy Call Out 2019

The Will This Be A Problem Anthology is back this year and we are looking for works of speculative fiction, science fiction, fantasy and horror by authors from the African continent.

While we tend to gravitate toward the weirder and darker side of things, our aesthetic is always in flux. We value risks, surprises, rude shocks, and voices that haunt us long after the story is done. Be brave. Send us the stuff you never thought would get published anywhere else. Send us the thing you have to take a deep breath over before submitting or running by your critique group. We strongly encourage submissions from women, members of the LGBTQIA community, and members from other underrepresented and marginalized communities.

Here are the submission guidelines.

  1. Your story can be speculative fiction, science fiction, fantasy, horror or an unholy mash of any them.

  2. Our target length is between 2000-5000 words. However this is just a baseline, if the story is strong enough it can be longer or shorter.

  3. We are open to receiving stories around many themes, but we will immediately reject stories that feature any of the following:

  •  Graphic depictions of rape or sexual assault
  •  Needless brutalization of women and children
  • Depictions of brutalization or abuse of people with (physical and mental) disabilities
  • Graphic abuse of animals
  1.  Send your work to willthisbeaproblem@gmail.com in doc, docx, odt or rtf formats. Do not send it in the body of the email.

  2. Send a small bio about yourself, what country you’re from and what name you would like the work to be published under.

  3. We only consider unpublished work, and we do not consider reprints (work that has been published in another magazine or on your blog or other social media) or fan fiction.

  4. By submitting a story the author allows Will This Be A Problem to include it in the WTBAP Anthology should it be selected.

  5.  Submissions should primarily be in English though pieces of dialogue and the text may contain other languages.

  6. If your work is published somewhere else after the Anthology is released we request that you mention Will This Be A Problem as the first place of publication.

  7. Submissions close on the 22nd of November, 2019

The WTBAP anthology is provided for free. We do not make any money off it and thus we do not (as of yet) pay for submissions. However, this year, there will be prizes for our favourite story.

  1. If the winner is from Kenya, the prize will be:  Ksh 3,000

  2. If the winner is from any other country: 30$ paid via paypal or other viable money transfer platforms.

We look forward to seeing what you come up with.

Ethical Sex : Part III – Difficult Questions

Consent can be a complicated topic. Even to me, that sounds like a controversial statement, but it is complicated, and that should inform how we approach it.

When the conversation of consent went mainstream, it was initially very binary. It did not always aim for nuance. Don’t get me wrong, this is not a criticism, it was a necessary measure at the time. When an idea like “no means no” was widely controversial and incited debate among large swathes of the population, where else would you start but the bare bones basics? The conversation has grown since then, and it’s echoes are being felt in institutions around the world. Even so, I feel like the full potential of this discussion has not been realized. The conversation is still largely one of condemnation, or to put it another way, centred around the clearer boundaries of consent. This is important, but it is not the only subject.

I want to address the difficult questions about consent that we don’t normally ask. You may have thought of them, but felt inclined to say nothing. Part of this hesitation no doubt comes from how a number of the conversations are framed; that there are no questions to be asked, that you should already innately know these things. But I think the larger part is a fear of the answer. The fear that asking that question will lead to a conclusion that you would rather not be true. Or if it is, you might prefer not to know. It might say something about you, or it might shine a new light on someone else. Either way, sometimes it seems easier to just stick to what is already clear. What is already known.

Unfortunately, while the big, clear cut categories might be safer ground, they are only part of the story. For those of us who consider consent important, which should be all of us, we would like to have ethical sex lives. And for us to do that, it requires a deeper inspection of consent. We have to delve into areas that may make us uncomfortable because of our past conduct. We have to take a look at behaviour from people close to us that is simpler to just leave alone. We need to go to where it is complicated and messy and through our combined effort, find answers. Perhaps these conversations are going on somewhere, but we need them out front — where everyone can learn.

For a while now, I have been asking people who speak on this subject a question. When both parties are drunk, what are the dynamics of consent? The most common reaction is a hesitation and usually, there is no answer. That seems like a pretty big gap in the conversation because for many people, that is not a hypothetical scenario. Drunk sex is incredibly common. Odds are, you’ve had it. Is this a question you’ve asked yourself? Do you have an answer? I know I don’t have a clear one. And I think, if we are to have ethical sex, it is a question we should be asking and trying to answer.

Can a drunk person give consent? For most people, this is an easy question when only one party is drunk. But when both are intoxicated, there’s a lot less debate or, really, any kind of conversation. What are the rules and boundaries here? What accountability can there even be? With the memory loss and impaired judgement that some experience, is this an environment that ethical sex can even occur in? I’m going to go out on a limb and say, probably not.

Of course, many of us have had drunk sex in numerous circumstances where all the parties involved enjoyed it, where it was consensual. The problem here, is the doubt. The uncertainty of whether knowing consent was given or not.

Drunk sex offers a good entry point into this kind of conversation because it highlights the kind of situation where there is no clear villain. Where it’s not really that simple, or if it is, it certainly doesn’t feel that way. How many people prefer to drink for a confidence boost, for lowered inhibitions, for that adventurous push that make social interactions easier? How much of the prevailing sexual culture is learned and practised around such interactions?  How many people just enjoy drunk sex in and of itself?

I don’t think I have dug enough into this topic to unequivocally say that drunk sex is always wrong. What I can say is that it certainly is not the easier option it is often portrayed to be. It is dangerous. It opens doors of where consent is blurred. It might not have been given, it might be given and forgotten, it might be given and remembered but compromised because it would never have been done sober. It creates an environment where you may violate a person’s boundaries and more than that, leave them feeling that they were the ones at fault. In the end, it comes down to one simple question. Is the risk that your partner(s) is not actually consenting ever worth taking?

At a minimum, it requires more introspection, more communication between parties and more boundaries set when sober than it gets now. If you are going to engage in drunk sex, it is imperative to know beforehand how to hold yourself accountable and how to ensure you are always within your partner’s boundaries.

But having ethical sex is not entirely based on your own attitudes because sex is not an individual activity. It is important to know what views other people bring and how they affect your sexual relationship.

The other day, I was among a group of men talking about how to avoid having sex with a woman. I’ve listened and been part of these discussions often, I’ve just never given them the level of inspection they deserved. There was a dynamic of sex that I had never truly questioned and so some things that should have never set off alarms in my mind.

The entire premise of the discussion was that when a woman initiates a sexual encounter, she is unlikely to take no for an answer. A question that seemed to resonate with almost everyone was what to do when you turned her down, and she said “what’s wrong, don’t you find me attractive?” Another was how to proceed after you said no, and she refused to accept it (“I know you want to”) and went straight for your pants. The offered solutions were “you just have to physically run away” which was met with the kind of laughs that said, I find that funny but only because of how true it is. The other was, “sometimes you just have to go along with it, what else can you do?”

We saw the matter of women and consent dealt with last week and so I won’t go into again. What is important here is the attitude many men carry about how to handle this. It is a common misconception that men should always be ready for sex, that they can’t and don’t say no. Many women receive a “no” with hurt or anger or as a challenge. As a result, it is often easier to just accept and “go along with it”. When you, as a woman, receive consent, it might be important to be sure that it is actual consent, not resignation. Not damage control.

I have read about and heard from women who have sex when they do not want to. They are not forced, there is no coercion, but prevailing attitudes say that this is what is supposed to happen especially in relationships. Verbal consent is given, sometimes with the performance of enthusiasm, and all the apparent forms are observed. Still, there is something wrong with that. Something unhealthy about someone having sex with you because they believe they would be a bad girlfriend, or a bad partner if they did not.

In these cases, it is not your fault, but that is not the same thing as saying you are completely free of responsibility. And what is your responsibility? There’s no easy answer to that. Sexual relationships are varied and how you interact, and what you are willing to share, is not a constant. People bring a lot of thoughts and beliefs with them, some completely uninspected, and it is not always possible to dig into that. What you can always do, is make sure that your partners understand that it is okay and consequenceless to say no. That they can always change their minds. That what they want is important.

And so, while consent can be a complicated topic, the answers are what they’ve always been — you only have to think about them deeper. Receive consent, yes, but with what society is, that is not always just a simple yes or a seemingly enthusiastic response. Communicate, yes, but the depth and breadth of that communication must encompass a wider range. Consent is not a matter of limiting your liability, it is about engaging ethically and honestly with someone else. The effort must extend beyond your needs and wants and what is easy.


As we roll out the Ethical Sex series, we would like to receive your contributions and thoughts, which we may post, add on or talk about in our final article. We do not claim to be experts by any means, we are simply willing to undertake this journey, learn something and be better. Join us and hopefully we can help each other find the right path.

Email us at: submissions@34.193.184.231

Ethical Sex : Part I

Every now and then, something so significant happens that it immediately creates a clear line of demarcation between the old world and the new. The effect is so sudden and pervasive that on the timeline of human progress it resembles nothing so much as an explosion. In my reckoning, social media belongs on this list. While it’s ubiquity makes it easy to take for granted, it is without a doubt the greatest facilitator of discussion and thought the world has ever seen.

Social media does not just give us information, it steps past the systemic bias that shapes narratives and avoids the hands guiding the lens to what is and isn’t important. I’m not going to act like there are no negatives to this, there are several significant ones, but it cannot be denied that there is power in receiving information firsthand. In hearing personal experience and seeing it echoed in different forms around the world. To see the discussion happening and growing before our eyes in language we understand and contribute to. There has never been a better time to learn or to understand.

Few areas show this effect more starkly than the field of feminist thought. Not too long ago in the Kenyan sphere, sexist viewpoints were regularly aired and executed without much regard to their rightness or wrongness. It was not something that regularly invited comment or frankly, widespread attention. It was common, banal even. While this fact did little to blunt the effects of what was happening, many people simply didn’t know any better.

Since then, through the tireless work of many incredible women paired with the explosive effect of social media, we have a different story. Now, everyone who regularly uses twitter has a fairly good understanding of feminist concepts — even the hard line misogynists. After all, they are always the first to comment “the feminists will come for you” under a problematic tweet. They wouldn’t do this so efficiently without a keen understanding of what was and wasn’t problematic and I think we can safely assume that they didn’t decide to dive into feminist literature. It was social media that brought the information their way and in this, proved to be an effective tool for teaching even those who were not looking to learn. (The fact that they clearly know better but refuse to change condemns the content of their character more than anything else.)

I say all this to emphasize that as we acknowledge the power of social media to fuel powerful conversation, we must ensure to use it to its full capacity. It is not enough to simply have these conversations, but they must evolve as well. We must have the conversations that are easy to avoid, because perhaps we are implicated or they are complicated with no easy answers; because they make our lives harder.

Over this month, Will This Be A Problem will run a series on ethical sex. The running theme will be consent. While we have heard a lot about consent, it has been one of the most consistent topics on social media for a long time, there are areas that remain lightly explored. This is not to say that they are not being discussed, only that they could be louder. The information could find people easier.

We intend to ask questions and, if not find answers then perhaps encourage a deeper search for them. This series is for those of us who already accept that consent is essential but want a more examined view of it to ensure they live ethical sex lives. To do this, we have to delve into areas that may make us uncomfortable because of our past conduct. We need to go to where it is complicated and messy and through our combined effort, use this platform to find our way.

We shall look at how women navigate receiving consent and their reaction to its withdrawal. I think it is obvious why much of the conversation has targeted men, they are the main offenders after all. But issues need not be equivalent to be worthy of examination. It is time we had a serious conversation about the toxic assumptions regarding men and sex, and how many women do not truly consider violation of consent a topic that affects them.

We shall also tackle the harder more complicated aspects of consent. Away from the clear boundaries that we should all understand by now, we will explore situations that are common but many of us do not think about deeply. Questions we should be asking ourselves and how to come together to find answers.

The aim of this series is not to attack or condemn, but to grow. You cannot fix a problem if you do not understand it. You must look at it, define it and only then can you have a reasonable chance at finding a solution. We want people to think better about sex. Safe sex is not just about condoms and the physical aspects, but the thought process that leads up to it as well.

In the beginning I said there has never been a better time to learn or understand. This is true. But it also requires effort on our part to work. As we carry on with this series, we hope to hear from you. To receive your contributions and thoughts, which we will add on and talk about in our final article. We do not claim to be experts by any means, we are simply willing to undertake this journey, learn something and be better. Join us and hopefully we can help each other find the right path.

Email us at: submissions@34.193.184.231

Speculative Fiction: The Final List

It’s about that time of the year where we here at Will This Be A Problem present our annual anthology. This year, we tried something a little different from the usual. For the 2016 anthology, we opted to incorporate an open call for submissions. The theme was Speculative Fiction and we received stories from across the continent.

And so, I present the stories our judges picked for the anthology.

“The Mortuary Man” by Mark Lekan Lalude (Nigeria)
“What Happens When It Rains” by Michelle Angwenyi (Kenya)
“Future Long Since Passed” by Lausdeus Otito Chiegboka (Nigeria)
“The World is Mine” by Kris Kabiru (Kenya)
“The Real Deal” by James Kariuki (Kenya)

A bonus story from WTBAP:

“The Last History” by Kevin Rigathi

And the prize winning story –

“Rise of the Akafula” by Andrew Charles Dakalira (Malawi)

The 3rd issue of our anthology will be released in the coming days. For now, see this beautiful cover art by Peter Marco, based on the winning story.

final-cover-small

 

Speculative Fiction Call Out

This time, we’re doing something a little different for the Will This Be A Problem Anthology. A public call out.

The theme this year is Speculative Fiction set in African countries and we will be accepting short stories from any African citizen.

wtbap

Here are the submission guidelines.

  1. Your story can be Horror, Fantasy, Science Fiction, Magical Realism, Alternate History or an unholy mash of any them.
  2. While your story must be set in an an African country, feel free to place it in any timeline you please. You may also set it in alternate versions of these countries. i.e. A Kenya that was never colonized.
  3. Our target length is between 2000-5000 words. However this is just a baseline, if the story is strong enough it can be longer or shorter.
  4.  Send your work to submissions@34.193.184.231 in doc, docx, odt or rtf formats. Do not send it in the subject of the email.
  5. Send a small bio about yourself, what country you’re from and what name you would like the work to be published under.
  6. Only submit your original work.
  7. By submitting a story the author allows Will This Be A Problem to include it in the WTBAP Anthology should it be selected.
  8.  Submissions should primarily be in English though pieces of dialogue and the text may contain other languages.
  9. The submission should be previously unpublished.
  10. If your work is published somewhere else after the Anthology is released we request that you mention Will This Be A Problem as the first place of publication.
  11. Submissions close on the 1st of November, 2016.

The WTBAP anthology is provided for free. We do not make any money off it and thus we do not (as of yet) pay for submissions. However, this year, there will be prizes for our favourite story.

  1. If the winner is from Kenya, the prize will be:  Ksh 3,000 and the Imagine Africa 500 Anthology edited by Billy Kahora delivered from the Magunga Book Store
  2. If the winner is from any other country: 30$ paid via paypal and a kindle (or kindle app) book gift of A Stranger in Olondria by Sofia Samatar OR Lagoon by Nnedi Okorafor.

We look forward to seeing what you come up with.

Here Cometh The Feminists

The movies were wrong. The alien invasion did not come in spaceships. It did not come with beams in the sky or crop circles in the fields. We did not even even see it coming. The invasion came and went, we were occupied and we did not even know it.

You’re skeptical. I understand, but look around. There’s a chance that the invaders are with you or near you right now. The species that wants to destroy everything you know and bring all of us down. You’ve no doubt heard of them. They go by the name…. feminists.

We have all heard many things about these feminists. Disturbing things. Unsettling things. Things that spring from the same well that inspired Dante’s Inferno. But I wanted the truth. I wanted to know what it is that they truly want. So I decided I was going to meet one. Against the advice of those wiser than me, I braved the danger and agreed to interview a feminist.

One of the things I have heard about these feminists is that once they fully posses a woman they do not shave their legs. Hair grows wildly covering them from knee to ankle in a wild mane. It is a strange phenomenon. It reminds me of the Arabic story where King Solomon meets the Queen of Sheba. His advisers warn him that he should not trust her for her legs are covered in hair like a goat. Solomon, in his general all-knowing fashion, tricks her into revealing her legs and confirms these rumors. This tells us that the feminists have been around for a long time. And, more disturbing still, that even the wisest man in the world feared them. This will not be an easy interview.

The feminist arrives and there are oddities. For one, she is smiling. This is odd because feminists do not smile. Their faces are permanently scowling. The bitterness of their hate for men, sex and children, and by extension their hate for happiness, is never far. It occurs to me that a smiling feminist is a dangerous thing. What would make a feminist smile? Will I leave this place alive? Will this be my tomb, a burning bra flying high above it to celebrate (another?) feminist kill?

“Hello,” she says cheerfully.

There is no sign of her man hate or innate bitterness. It is almost as if these things do not exist. I can now see how so many feminists have made it in the media. They are excellent actors.

“So,” I say carefully, “what is a feminist?”

“THAT,” she says a little too loudly (as is to be expected), “is a complicated question.”

“How so?”

“A feminist is a lot of things. We don’t all believe the same ideas and we don’t all agree on how to express them. But at it’s simplest, a feminist is someone who believes in political, social and economic equality between the sexes. A feminist is someone who sees the gender divide and the attitudes towards women and wants that to change. Basically, a feminist is someone who is tired of seeing women treated like shit.”

I flinch. A woman using language like that. A feminist indeed.

“I’ve heard this before but…aren’t women equal already?”

“Is that a joke?” she says, her eyes narrowing. There is a hint of menace in her voice. The mask is dropping. “How can you look at this world and possibly even say something like that?”

“Well. Personally I think it’s mostly fixed…”

“Abuse! Rape! Violence! And if you don’t think these are common then how casually they are treated certainly is. People act as if this is the way things ought to be. As if women should not complain about these things. Do you not see how men treat women everywhere?!”

“Look. I’m not saying it doesn’t happen. Some men are bad. Completely sick in the head, but we must be equal in this. Some women are also bad. So if you think about it, not all…”

“Don’t you dare.”

“What?”

“Don’t you dare try to say not all men.”

“But it’s true right? Not all men are bad.”

“So fucking what? People just use that as a way to not deal with the conversation. When we’re talking about ways to reduce traffic accidents you don’t hear not all drivers. When we’re talking corruption you’re not going to accept a goddamn ‘not all politicians!’ That is not a conversation that even needs to be had. Enough men act, enough men condone and enough men do nothing for it to be a giant, global problem. The phrase not all men means nothing here. And if you still think it does then never talk about any problem in the world because guess what? Not all fucking human beings!”

I say nothing. It will do no good. Clearly, feminists cannot use logic. We stare at each other for a while no one saying anything. Finally, I ask:

“Why are you feminists always so angry?”

“Because there’s a lot to be angry about.”

“Yes, but what if you filtered your message. Were nicer. If you weren’t always shouting. Don’t you think people would listen more?”

“You think that hasn’t been tried? How do you think feminists get so angry? We tell you over and over but you don’t get it. You really don’t. We shout, we whisper, we’re kind, we’re mean but nothing sticks! Everything you say after shows that you haven’t even thought about it. Not really. And how can that be? Truly, I don’t get it. How can that be?”

“That’s not fair. You’re just doing what you always do. You’re making assumptions. I have thought about it. I know I respect women. I don’t mistreat them but you want me to be the enemy. I’m not. I came from a woman, we all did. Women I respect, it’s feminists I have a problem with.”

“You see? You respect women because you came from one. Or you were raised by a single mother. Or because you have sisters. If you thought about it you’d know that that’s a terrible reason to respect someone. You’re related to some women and that’s where you stopped thinking about it? That’s it. How about because women are human beings?”

“That’s a lot of talk but it’s just over complicating a simple matter. What’s wrong with respecting women because of my mother?”

“When was the last time your major reason for respecting a man was your father?”

“Feminists! Always always overacting. Listen to yourself. Nowadays a man can’t say anything without starting a fight. We cant even compliment a woman without it being a big deal.”

“Is that what you call what happens? Complimenting?”

“Yes. I do.”

“Just compliments. Ha. Tell you what. Next time a gay man cat calls you or gropes you I want to see you take it as a compliment.”

“That….that’s not the same thing!”

“Isn’t it? So it’s not unwanted attention or contact?”

I stare at her appalled. A gay….WHAT!? JESUS! These feminists are mad. Mad mad women.

“Look at you,” she says showing that infamous feminist sneer, “so shocked by just the idea of it. The idea alone! How often does this even happen to anyone? Do you even know anyone it’s happened to? Why does it scare you so much? Are you not just afraid that gay people will treat you how you treat women. Doesn’t that tell you something?”

“If you’re not willing to take this conversation seriously, I have nothing more to say.”

“Running away then?”

“This is why no one likes feminists.”

I walk away on that note unwilling to listen to anything else. I can see that these feminists will be a danger. A grave danger. They are a plague that we cannot countenance. They will destroy our way of life if we let them. They are enemies of men. Even enemies of women. You heard what she said about my mother. And so my brothers and sisters, we must fight them in any way we can. We must not let them take over our women.

If the feminists want something then we must not let them have it. If they fight for something, we must fight against it. Do not bother justifying yourself comrades. You saw how little they value logic. Tell them they are wrong because they are feminist. That is enough. But if you are brave and you think you can convert them, tell them the truth. Tell it to them over and over. Do not let their slick talk fool you. They have tricks to tempt you away from truth. Hold on to it and repeat it. Do not let them win.

Brace yourselves my brothers. Here cometh the feminists.

***

ADDENDUM

I chose to tackle this topic this way because, quite honestly, I’m already angry. To write in a completely serious tone would have probably not ended well. The past few days have been one sexist act after another around me. The fact that it’s annoyed me so much and I wasn’t the victim and I’m a man should probably answer all your “why are feminists so angry” inquiries. If I had to actually personally deal with this nonsense i’m not quite sure what I’d do.

With this approach, there is exaggeration (obviously). The entire alien angle is the way people misrepresent feminism and completely refuse to understand it. The stereotypes they hold and the entire “otherness” they ascribe to it all of which I turned up to level 10.

The arguments that follow however are more or less accurate. These are the most common answers given to these issues. Ask any feminist and they will probably tell you how much of this kind of thing they’ve had to deal with and more. Everything in the man’s quotes has been uttered almost word for word on several occasions. It is not the minority view. If anything it seems to be the main narrative.

On that note, I’d like to shout out every woman who has to continually listen to the kind of thing I’ve covered here. Specifically, my co-blogger, Olivia Kidula. Liv is like a feminist super hero. Less superwoman more of The Punisher. She will not put up with your sexist bullshit for even a second. On twitter and in person, God help her victims. There are times she’s been criticized for things I’ve written on feminism. These critics suddenly changed their tune when they found out I wrote it as if the arguments had also changed. It’s alright though, she dealt with them.

Another person that deserves recognition is Samira Ali who inspired the central idea for this post (which puts her post inspiration count on this blog to two. I might have to start paying her). She’s had her share of scraps with people who think working women are scary and other stupid ideas® ( Now available in all Sexist social networking accounts everywhere). She’s a well of brilliant ideas. Seriously, this girl knows her shit.

Follow these people. You’ll be entertained and your TL will be smarter and funnier than it would have been otherwise.

All you women in the movement, keep fighting the good fight.

As for you men, someone please make a Kenyan version of this t-shirt.