The 2011 Burt Award for African Literature, a literary prize that recognises excellence in young adult fiction from Africa, has been held in Accra.
Martina Mamle Wolo Odonkor's "The Kaya Girl" was adjudged the overall winner, earning her a cash prize of GHC21, 600.00 'The Lost Royal Treasure" and 'Akosua and Osman' written by Ms Ruby Goka and Mr Menu Herbstein respectively were adjudged the second and third winners. Goka took home a cash prize of GHC10, 800.00 while Herstein had GHC5, 400.00
The event was organized by CODE and Ghana Book Trust while the awards were made possible by the generosity of Canadian philanthropist William Burt and the Literary Prizes Foundation.
The cash prize is to writers assist writer to publish relevant, quality books for young people and at the same time promote a love of reading and learning in Tanzania, Ethiopia, Ghana and Kenya.
Winning Publishers are guaranteed the purchase of 3,000 out of 5,000 copies of the books expected to be published. The books will be distributed to Ghana Book Trust's network of CODE-supported schools, community libraries and other schools.
Addressing the gathering, the Executive Director of the Ghana Book Trust, Mr Kojo Amoako, explained that the Burt Awards were presented to authors of original titles that were of excellent quality and appeal to young readers. Thus the awards are expected to encourage publishers to increase the quality of books read by young readers and also to improve on their English language skills and love for reading.
The Special Guest of Honour, Her Excellency, Trudy Kernighan of the Canadian High Commission, explained that the Burt awards were introduced to address the lack of reading materials for young adults. The ability to read, she pointed out, would provide one with the voice to participate in society effectively at both the local and international levels.
In an interview with Public Agenda, Ms Ruby Goka, the First Runner Up, was grateful to the organisers for the awards, saying "it will encourage we the writers to write more interesting and educative story books for young readers which will in turn improve their English language and also enable them to have a better understanding of the African culture and values."
She also encouraged parents and guardians to buy the award winning books for their children and wards when launched later in the November.