Siphiwo Mahala

The 9mobile Prize for Literature 2017 has announced its new judges as it made calls for entries for the new edition.

On May 20, the  Etisalat Prize for Literature 2016 was announced with pomp and funfair in Nigeria Lagos. Jowhor Ile would join the list of winners of what is slowly becoming the literary prize to watch on the continent alongside Noviolet Bulawayo, Songeziwe Mahlangu, and Fiston Mwanzu Mujila.

The team at the prize has started the road to the 2017 prize-winning and first part, as usual, is to announce who will be taking the role of judging. This year the prize has the new name of the 9mobile Prize for Literature having change to the brand of the new name of the sponsoring firm. The judges of the “new prize” will be Harry Garuba (chair), Doreen Baingana, and Siphiwo Mahala.

Two of these names are not unfamiliar to many followers of the African literary scene. Doreen Baingana burst onto the scene with her book Tropical Fish which came out in 2006 announcing a new writer from Uganda. She has since then being featured on many spaces like being on the list of inaugural Miles Morland Scholars and most recently as a Rockefeller residency.

Siphiwo Mahala is the author of two books the first of which was When A Man Cries (2007), which he translated into isiXhosa as Yakhal’ Indoda (2010). He followed this up with African Delights (our review) a collection of short stories in 2011.

The chair of the prize is less a writer of books but more operates in more academic spaces. He is an Associate Professor in the African Studies Unit and holds a joint appointment in the English Department at the University of Cape Town. His teaching interests include African literature, postcolonial theory and criticism, African modernities, and intellectual traditions of African nationalist writing.

With this mix of academia and practitioners in the judging panel, you can be sure that anyone who enters this prize will get a very well rounded analysis of the books submitted. They will initially select a longlist of nine titles, and following the second round of screening will announce a shortlist of three finalists, ahead of the 2017 grand finale/award ceremony.

Etisalat Prize for Literature 2018 calloutEtisalat Nigeria CEO Matthew Willsher while making the call said the company was delighted to flag up the fifth year of the Etisalat Prize for Literature, which has become a leading platform for the discovery and promotion of African literary talent.

“We are glad to announce the call for entries that marks the beginning of the submission and selection process for the 2017 Etisalat Prize. It underlines our firm commitment to and continued support for the development of African literature,” he said.

The winner receives £15,000, an engraved Montblanc Meisterstück pen, and an Etisalat-sponsored fellowship at the University of East Anglia, where he or she will be mentored by Professor Giles Foden, author of The Last King of Scotland‘. The winner and the two runners-up also participate in a multi-city book tour sponsored by Etisalat. Etisalat purchases 1,000 copies of each of the shortlisted titles for distribution to schools, libraries, and book clubs across the African continent.

Alongside the Prize for Literature is the Flash Fiction Award, an online-based competition open to all African writers of unpublished short stories of no more than 300 words. The winner of the Flash Fiction Award receives £1,000 and a high-end device, while the two runners-up for the Flash Fiction Award receive £500 each in addition to high-end devices.

The opening date for the submissions is 3rd July 2017 and the closing deadline is 18th September 2017.