Erick Livumbazi Ngoda, Christine A. Odeph, Laimani Bidali, June Mwikali Kimuyu, Monica Olive A. Owoko, and Kenneth Kaigua

The winners of the Anasoma Writing Contest were given their prizes at a ceremony in Nairobi, Kenya on December 5, 2017.

Anasoma (“she/he reads” in Kiswahili) is a pilot project funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, that seeks to understand how books can empower women and girls and how we can encourage more women and girls to read using their mobile phones.

World Reader partnered with WordAlive to launch a new writing contest in the project under the theme ‘Women’s Empowerment’. The contest aimed at creating new books that could truly reflect the needs and interests of women and girls in Kenya to ultimately chip away at the old gender biased norms and build new ones.

After receiving over 300 pitches for the contest, a jury selected the top 15 pitches. The shortlisted candidates participated in a writing workshop where they were trained on writing skills, gender concepts and the publishing system. After producing manuscripts that were also reviewed by the jury, the 15 shortlisted candidates were finally narrowed down to five winners. The winning authors were further trained during a writing retreat and supported by WordAlive Publishers in developing their manuscripts into books.

The winners of the competition were announced at a ceremony at the Southern Sun in Nairobi. The winning books are:

  • God’s Women by Monica Olive A. Owoko
  • Ghetto Flower by Kenneth Kaigua
  • Making the Team by Erick Livumbazi Ngoda
  • Shukutta Village by June Mwikali Kimuyu
  • Where Mountains Meet by Christine A. Odeph

“We could see talents,” said Anasoma Writing Contest Chief Juror Professor Clara Momanyi, delivering glowing remarks on the books she reviewed. “In their creativity we could see future Chinua Achebes, Ngugi wa Thiong’os, Sembene Ousmanes and Buchi Emechetas of tomorrow.”

The evening was hosted by Anasoma Writing Contest Patron, Lady Laimani Bidali, who is the founder of Alabastron Network Trust and a strong advocate of women’s rights. Musician Atieno Sanna embodied the theme of the night with her performance on the nyatiti—a musical instrument traditionally played by men.