In this episode of the Beta Mode podcast, we welcomed Simi Aluko, founder and creative director of Illino Media, to discuss the transformative power of African literature. Simi shared her personal journey, beginning with her childhood passion for storytelling and her formal education in playwriting and theatre studies. Her experiences with African fiction and British classics profoundly influenced her belief in literature’s ability to effect societal change, leading her to establish Illino Media.
Simi also delved into her dual interests in creative writing and technical pursuits, explaining how she balances her roles as a PhD student in construction tech and as an entrepreneur. Her philosophy centers on the idea that innovation should reflect and resonate with its audience, whether in literature or in civil engineering. Simi sees her work in both fields as a way to dignify people and their experiences, using entrepreneurship as a tool to introduce new ideas into the world.
The conversation then turned to Illino Media’s mission and operational model. Simi discussed the challenges African writers face in trying to reach Western audiences, often leading them to dilute their authentic voices. Illino Media aims to counteract this trend by encouraging writers to maintain their cultural integrity. The platform nurtures young African writers, guiding them through extensive editing processes to ensure their stories remain true to their roots while reaching a broader audience.
Finally, Simi reflected on the broader impact of her work on socio-economic development in Africa. She emphasized the importance of empowering writers not just artistically but also financially, allowing them to sustain themselves while preserving and sharing their culture. This vision aligns with her broader perspective on cultural preservation as essential to sustainable development, whether in literature or civil engineering.