The Babishai Poetry Award 2018 longlist was announced on July 5th by judges Prof Remi Raj, Rehema Nanfuka, and Alfred Msadala. The longlist of 35, with most regions of the continent represented, features a strong showing from Nigerian poets.
The Babishai Poetry Prize was founded in 2009 by Ugandan Beverley Nambozo Nsengiyunva to shine a light on the East African country’s women poetry scene. The prize would go to Lillian Aujo (2009, Sophie Brenda Alal (2010), followed by Sanyu Kisaka (2011), and Susan Piwang (2012).
Realising that their organisation is the only one coordinating annual Pan African poetry competitions, whose secretariat is based on the continent, the Babishai Niwe Poetry Foundation expanded the prize to both genders and all Africans. The prize would subsequently be won by Tom Jalio (2014), Adeeko Ibukun (2015), and Sanya Noel and Moyosore Orimoloye (2016).
The judges led by their chair Prof Remi Raj alongside Rehema Nanfuka and Alfred Msadala pored over a thousand poems and have announced those in the running to win the award. They are;
- Stephen Ogunfoworin (Nigeria).
- Janet Kali (Kenya).
- Marial Awendit (South Sudan).
- Adedayo Adeyemi Agarau (Nigeria).
- Osadolor Osayande (Nigeria)
- Madu Chisom Kingdavid (Nigeria).
- Olamide Adio Olanrewaju (Nigeria).
- Ayodele Sosegbon (Nigeria).
- Mhraf Worku (Ethiopia).
- Onele Peter-Cole (Nigeria).
- Rex Omonla (Nigeria).
- David John Esu (Nigeria).
- Babalola Joseph O (Nigeria).
- Olabode Olanrewaju (Nigeria).
- George Gumikiriza (Uganda).
- Chiedozie Kelechi Danjuma (Nigeria).
- Bo Chacha (Nigeria).
- Lod Nael (Nigeria).
- Muna Chinedu (Nigeria).
- Badmus Jabril (Nigeria).
- Darlington Chibueze Anuonye (Nigeria).
- Kazeem Adeyomola Ismail (Nigeria).
- Tariro Ndoro (Zimbabwe).
- Ogwiji Ehi-kowochio Blessing (Nigeria).
- Grace Sharra (Malawi).
- Yakeeb (Nigeria).
- Badmus Jubril (Nigeria).
- Wafula p’Khisa (Kenya).
- Boluwatife Afolabi (Nigeria).
- Zibusiso Mpofu (Zimbabwe).
- Samson Abanni (Nigeria).
- Okwudili Nebeolisa (Nigeria).
- Daniel Many Owiti (Kenya).
- Timothy Ojo (Nigeria).
- Salawu Olajide (Nigeria).
The short list will be out soon and the eventual winner announced during that Babishai Poetry Festival that takes place from August 3-6 in Kapchorwa and Mbale. You can read the longlisted poems here.