16 December 2017

Africa: Mabati Cornell Kiswahili Prize Shortlist Out

The 2017 short list for the third Mabati Cornell Kiswahili Prize for African Literature competition has been announced.

The six shortlisted works and authors are: Patrick Emanuel - Hali Halisi (poetry); Ally Hilal - Mmeza Mfupa (fiction); Hassan Omar Mambosasa - Nsungi (fiction); Mwalimu Mbatiah - Kibweta cha Almasi (fiction); Richard Atuti Nyabuya - Umalenga wa Nyanda za Juu (poetry); and Dotto Rangimoto - Mwanangu Rudi Nyumbani (poetry).

Selected from 30 entries, the manuscripts were read and evaluated by three judges: Scholar and writer Ken Walibora Waliaula, who is also the judge chair; Daulat Abdalla Said, a scholar and writer at the State University of Zanzibar, and Ali Attas, a Kiswahili and English teacher at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Japan.

A $15,000 prize is shared out to the best unpublished manuscripts, or books published within two years of the award year, across the categories of fiction, poetry and memoir and graphic novels.

The first fiction prize gets $5,000; first poetry prize receives $5,000; second prize, $3,000 in any genre; and third prize in any genre receives $2,000.

The award ceremony will be held in January 2018 in Nairobi, with the winning writers in attendance. The first and second award ceremonies were held in Kenya and Tanzania respectively.

The objective of the prize, founded in 2014 by Dr Lizzy Attree (Caine Prize director) and Dr Mukoma Wa Ngugi (Cornell University), is to recognise writing in African languages and encourage translation from, between and into African languages.

The prize is supported by Mabati Rolling Mills of Kenya (a subsidiary of the Safal Group), the Office of the Vice Provost for International Affairs at Cornell University and the Africana Studies Centre at Cornell University in the US.

Over 140 million people speak Kiswahili in East, Central and Southern Africa, and the language is recognised as one of the official languages of Kenya and Tanzania. According to the organisers of the prize, Kiswahili is an established world language and should be considered as such. -

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