The CODE Burt Award for African Young Adult Literature 2018 shortlist was announced on August 2, 2018. The five in the running for the prize are Vera Akumiah, Kinyanjui Kombani, Ruby Yayra Goka, Elizabeth-Irene Baitie, and Hiwot Walelign.
The CODE Burt Award is a literary award and readership initiative that recognizes excellence in locally authored literature for young adults, ages 12-18. The objective of the prize is to champion literacy, build language skills, and foster the love and habit of reading by ensuring that young people have access to high-quality, culturally relevant, and engaging reading materials. In 2008, CODE established the Burt Award for African Young Adult Literature with the generous support of Canadian philanthropist William (Bill) Burt and the Literary Prizes Foundation. First established in Tanzania, the program has since expanded to Ghana, Ethiopia, Kenya, Canada, and the Caribbean.
In Kenya, the winners of the awards in previous years were Nicholas Kamau (2016), Chris Okemwa (2015), Elizabeth Kibui (2014), Argwings Otieno (2013) and Antony Mugo (2012). In 2017, the prize changed slightly with the “All Star format” being adopted. Here the major prize money would go to the winners from the eligible countries in an international competition. The first of the winners of the new format was Ethiopian Elshadai Tesfaye.
Earlier in the year, the prize organisers made a callout for the latest edition and received 17 submissions from publishers in Ghana, Kenya, Ethiopia and Tanzania. A five-member jury made up of publishing and writing professionals from each of the program countries and Canada, met on June 21 and 22, 2018 in Accra to review the manuscripts that were submitted and selected their shortlist.
Those on the shortlist for the CODE Burt Award for African Young Adult Literature 2018 in alphabetic order are:
- Ebony Girl by Vera Akumiah (Kwadwoan Publishers, Ghana)
- Finding Columbia by Kinyanjui Kombani (Oxford University Press, East Africa Ltd, Kenya)
- To Kiss a Girl by Ruby Yayra Goka (Digibooks, Ghana)
- The Lion’s Whisper by Elizabeth-Irene Baitie (Kwadwoan Publishers, Ghana)
- Somebody’s Daughter by Hiwot Walelign (Mega Publishing, Ethiopia)
The winning title and honour books will be announced at the CODE Burt Award Ceremony in Accra, Ghana. Hosted by the Ghana Book Trust, the award ceremony will feature Prof Ama Ata Aidoo, the renowned international and Ghanaian writer, as the guest of honour and speaker and Okyeame Kwame a renowned Ghanaian music artist.