We present to you the outstanding players for the past year in our annual JamesMurua.com Outstanding African Literary Awards 2018.
In 2016, we here at JamesMurua.com introduced what we called the “Outstanding African Literary Awards” where we gave you a look at the year with a focus on the best of the best in all categories we could imagine. It was a way of summarising what had happened in the past year in a light hearted way. There was no monetary award (sadly) but we would celebrate some of the best moments of that year. We would follow this up with a similar “award” scheme in 2017.
We now list for you our outstanding players for the year 2018. As usual, it is a snapshot of the year in African literature with us giving a subjective view of what was the best.
While we want to celebrate the best of 2018, we must recognise those who joined the literary ancestors in the past year. They included South African poet and struggle icon Keorapetse Kgositsile; Malawian poet, academic and diplomat David Rubadiri; Nigerian Prize for Literature 2017 winner Ikeogu Oke; Kenyan academic, writer, and editor Chris Wanjala; Zambian poet and writer Luka Mwango; Egyptian author Ahmed Khaled Tawfik; Ugandan writer, poet, and blogger Joel Benjamin Nevender; and Egyptian novelist, and journalist Sabri Moussa. May our forebears rest in peace.
Nozizwe Cynthia Jele’s new book The Ones with Purpose
There were many new books that came out in 2018 including Zukiswa Wanner’s Hardly Working; Ayodele Olofintuade’s Lakiriboto Chronicles; Sihle Khumalo’s Rainbow Nation My Zulu Arse; Simone Haysom’s The Last Words of Rowan Du Preez: Murder and conspiracy on the Cape Flats; Tsitsi Dangarembga’s This Mournable Body; Dele Ogun’s A Fatherless People: The Secret Story of How the Nigerians Missed the Road to the Promised Land; Mpho A. Leepa’s Born for Greatness: Biography of Frank Leepa; Ayesha Harruna Attah’s The Hundred Wells of Salaga; Joe Khamisi’s Kenya: Looters and Grabbers, 54 Years of Corruption and Plunder by the Elite, 1963-2017; Karen Bugingo’s My Name is Life; Tomi Adeyemi’s Children Of Blood And Bone; Nanjala Nyabola’s Digital Democracy, Analogue Politics: How the Internet Era is Transforming Kenya; Akwaeke Emezi’s Freshwater; Kopano Matlwa’s Evening Primrose; Odafe Atogun’s Wake Me When I’m Gone; Nafkote Tamirat’s The Parking Lot Attendant; She Called Me Woman: Nigeria’s Queer Women Speak; Novuyo Rosa Tshuma’s House of Stone; Yejide Kilanko’s Chasing Butterflies; Nozizwe Cynthia Jele’s The Ones with Purpose; Aminatta Forna’s Happiness; JP Clark’s Remains of a Tide; and Niq Mhlongo’s Soweto Under The Apricot Tree.
From these books new and not so new those that titillated us were;
- Poetry collection: Homesoil in My Blood: A Trilogy by Keorapetse Kgositsile.
- Sophomore poetry collection: A Woman’s Body is a Country by Dami Ajayi.
- Literary Fiction: The Ones with Purpose by Nozizwe Cynthia Jele.
- Historical fiction: Dancing The Death Drill by Fred Khumalo.
- Debut novel: Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi.
- Nonfiction: Rise of the African Novel by Mukoma Wa Ngugi.
- Biography: Lives of Great Men: Living and Loving as an African Gay Man by Chike Frankie Edozien.
- Most well-timed book: These Bones Will Rise Again by Panashe Chigumadzi which was launched hours to Zimbabwe’s election.
- Young Adult: Finding Columbia by Kinyanjui Kombani.
- Most critically acclaimed: House of Stone by Novuyo Rosa Tshuma.
- LGBTQ Themed novel: If I Stayed Right Here by Chwayita Ngamlana.
Translations of books from one language to another featured on this blog. They included Koleka Putuma poetry collection Collective Amnesia was translated into Spanish; Mukoma Wa Ngugi’s Black Star Nairobi was translated into French as was Nairobi Heat, Scholastique Mukasonga’s Our Lady of the Nile was translated into German, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s We Should All Be Feminists and Dear Ijeawele were translated into Arabic; and Yaa Gyasi’s Homegoing was translated into Arabic.
We shall follow the translations more keenly this year.
Most Translated African writer 2018: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.
There was a rash of Podcasts focusing on African literature including;
- 2 Girls and A Pod – The podcast curated by Nyambura and Beverly which had taken a year off came back to our joy.
- African Literary Podcast: our addition to the podcasting in the African literary landscape.
- Bakwa Cast – Cameroon based @BakwaCast gave us this offering featuring artists, curators, writers, techies, performers, to policymakers.
- BULAQ focused on contemporary writing from and about the Middle East and North Africa.
- Cheeky Natives – The South African based podcast blew us away with interviews of some of the hottest writers from that part of the world.
- Nipe Story (Tell Me A Story) – a fortnightly Kenyan podcast that gives a voice to written short stories. This podcast is hosted by Kevin Mwachiro.
- Not Another Book Podcast featuring @BooksAndRhymes, @BookShyBooks, & @PostColonialChild.
- The Others Side of Books from our friends who run Nigerian based The Bagus – Since discontinued.
The number of podcasts is small but it gives us hope for future years.
Podcast of the year: Cheeky Natives.
- Etisalat Prize for Literature: Not announced (also discontinued)
- Wole Soyinka Prize for Literature 2018: Tanure Ojaide and Harriet Anena.
- Caine Prize 2018: Makena Onjerika.
- Short Story Day Africa: To be announced.
- Writivism Awards: Chisanga Mukuka and Mbogo Ireri.
- Nommo Awards 2018: Tade Thompson, Kwabena Ofei, Setor Fiadzigbey, Wole Talabi, and Tochi Onyebuchi.
- Mabati Cornell Kiswahili Prize 2017: Ali Hilal Ali and Dotto Rangimoto.
- Morland Writing Scholarship 2018: Edwige Renee Dro, Kola Tubosun, Sibabalwe Oscar Masinyana, and Siphiwe Gloria Ndlovu.
- Commonwealth Short Story Prize 2018: Efua Traoré.
- Burt Award for African Young Adult Literature 2018: Kinyanjui Kombani.
- Golden Baobab Prize 2018: Shortlist announced; no winner declared.
- Brunel International African Poetry Prize 2018: Momtaza Mehri, Theresa Lola, and Hiwot Adilow.
- Brittle Paper Awards 2018: Sibongile Fisher, Itiola Jones, Stacy Hardy, Panashe Chigumadzi, and Shailja Patel.
- ArabLit Story Prize 2018: Muhammad Abdelnabi.
- Sillerman First Book Prize for African Poets 2018: Tjawangwa Dema.
- Zora Neale Hurston/ Richard Wright Legacy Award 2018: Alain Mabanckou.
- Everett M. Rogers Award 2019: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.
- Myriad Manuscript Prize 2018: Anni Domingo and Rutendo Chabikwa.
- Arab American Book Award 2018: Safia Elhillo.
- Austria’s Rosegger Literary Prize 2018: Fiston Mwanza Mujila.
- Italian Bridge Book Award 2018: Lesley Nneka Arimah.
- Scottish Saltire Literary Prize 2018: Leila Aboulela.
- Germany’s Kurd Laßwitz Preis 2017: Nnedi Okorafor.
- US Logsdon Fiction Award 2018: Ndinda Kioko.
- UK Betty Trask Prize and Awards: Masande Ntshanga.
- PEN Pinter Prize 2018: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.
- Lambda Literary Awards 2018: Chike Frankie Edozien.
- Gourmand World Cookbook Awards 2018: Nompumelelo Mowebu and Ednah Rosen.
- Africana Book Award 2018: Portia Dery.
- Dylan Thomas Prize 2018: Kayo Chingonyi.
- Minnesota Book Awards 2018: Lesley Nneka Arimah.
- Graywolf Press Africa Prize 2018: Abdalla Bajaber.
- Windham-Campbell Prize 2018: Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi.
- French Voices Award 2017: Mohamed Mbougar Sarr.
- African Poetry Book Fund’s Glenna Luschei Prize for African Poetry 2017: Juliane Okot Bitek.
- US’s Raven Award 2018 winner: Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani.
- Egypt – Naguib Mahfouz Medal for Literature 2018: Omaima Al-Khamis.
- Egypt- Sawiris Cultural Awards 2017: Mohammed Al Makhzangy, Haggag Hasan Adol, Ibrahim Aslan, and others.
- Ghana – Ghana Writers Awards 2018: information still being sought (Please help).
- Kenya – CODE Burt Prize for African Young Adult Literature Kenya 2018: Muthoni wa Gichuru.
- Kenya – Wahome Mutahi Prize 2018: Not announced.
- Kenya – Sanaa Theatre Awards 2018: Maimouna Jallow, John Sibi-Okumu Muthoni Garland, James Murua, and others.
- Nigeria – NLNG Nigeria Prize for Literature 2018: Soji Cole.
- Nigeria – GT Bank Dusty Manuscript Prize 2018: Kukogho Iruesiri Samson.
- South Africa – Mbokodo Awards 2018: Nozizwe Cynthia Jele.
- South Africa – South Africa Literary Awards 2018: Malebo Sephodi, Nick Mulgrew, and others.
- South Africa – Sunday Times Literary Awards 2018: Bongani Ngqulunga and Harry Kalmer.
- Zambia – Tell Your Own Story Literary Awards 2018: Ingrid Nayam, Joe Sakala, and others.
- Zambia – Kalemba Short Story Prize 2018: Mali Kambandu.
- Zimbabwe – Bulawayo Arts Awards 2018: Nathaniel Z. Mpofu, Pofela Ndzozi and ASA.
- East Africa – Hargeysa International Book Fair 2018.
- West Africa – Ake Festival 2018.
- North Africa – Cairo International Book Fair 2018.
- Southern Africa – Abantu Festival 2018.
- Overall Literary Festival of the year: Abantu Book Festival.
- Most successful moving festival: Babishai Poetry Festival 2018.
- New Literary Festival: Gaborone Book Festival 2018.
- African themed festival in the diaspora (tie): African Book Fair (Berlin Germany) and Atlantide Literature Festival (Nantes, France).
- Poetry festival: Lagos International Poetry Festival 2018.
- Storytelling festival: Sigana International Storytellers Festival 2018.