Bibi Bakare-Yusuf, Dr Jacinta Victoria Muinde, and Harris Dousemetzis were the winners at the African Studies Association UK awards 2020 announced on September 10, 2020.

The African Studies Association of the United Kingdom was formed “to advance African studies, particularly in the United Kingdom, by providing facilities for the interchange of information and ideas and the co-ordination of activities by and between persons and institutions concerned with the study of Africa.” They facilitate linkages between UK and African institutions, and between scholars in Africa and the UK. They also support African scholars publishing in Africanist journals published in the UK, scholarly journal publishing in Africa, scholarly book publishing in Africa, and the exchange of ideas in and about Africa.

One of their most important events is their annual conference where apart from celebrating a year as an organisation several awards are conferred. The awards handed out are the Distinguished Africanist Award, Audrey Richards prize for the best doctoral thesis in African Studies, and the Fage & Oliver Monograph Prize.

The get together was not hosted this year due to health concerns but they announced the winners of the annual awards online. The winners this year are;

Distinguished Africanist Award: Bibi Bakare-Yusuf

Bibi Babare Yusuf
Bibi Babare Yusuf

The distinguished African Award this year went to Bibi Bakare-Yusuf. The citation for the celebrated academic stated that, “the impact of Bakare-Yusuf’s work is apparent within the academy but also in the broader public sphere. Bakare-Yusuf is both a thought leader and innovator. She has won several awards for her trailblazing work in publishing, including one by the International Excellence Awards 2018 in conjunction with The Publishers Association in London for ‘Inclusivity in Publishing’ and the Brittle Papers ‘African Literary Person of the Year’. Her work has been profiled in a number of publications including the New York Times, the LA Review of Books, The Financial Times and the Independent and in 2020, she was named to The Africa Report’s Top 50 Disruptors.

Given the breadth, importance and urgency of Bibi Bakare-Yusuf’s work, to award her the ASAUK’s Distinguished Africanist Award would recognised Bakare-Yusuf’s intellectual and cultural impact, and would amplify her intellectual project of building ‘the archive of the future in the present’.”

Audrey Richards prize for the best doctoral thesis in African Studies: Dr Jacinta Victoria Muinde

Dr Jacinta Victoria Muinde
Dr Jacinta Victoria Muinde

The Audrey Richards Prize is awarded biennially for the best doctoral thesis in African Studies which has been successfully examined in a British institution of higher education during the two calendar years immediately preceding the next ASAUK Conference. It is named after Dr Audrey Richards who was a pioneering British social anthropologist who worked on the continent.

The African Studies Association UK gave the award to Dr Jacinta Victoria Muinde for her dissertation ‘An Economy of (Dis)Affection: Women-Headed Households, Cash Transfers and Matrilineal Relations in Kenya’s South Coast’.

The judging panel described her work as “an inspired piece of research which gives unexpected and deep insights into the challenges of economic survival and livelihoods of communities in Kenyan coastal communities.”

Commenting on the Dr Muinde said “I’m very pleased to share that I have just been awarded the ASAUK Audrey Richards Prize 2020 for the best PhD dissertation in African Studies. Many thanks to the @ASAUK_News for this great recognition.”

The Fage & Oliver Monograph Prize 2020: Harris Dousemetzis

The Fage and Oliver Prize named after the late John Donnelly Fage and Roland Oliver who were pioneers of British African Studies.  The prize is awarded to the author of an outstanding original scholarly work that is enlightening for a wider public about African issues published during the preceding two years.

The prize this year was judged by Professor Ray Bush (Chair) alongside Dr Reginald Cline-Cole, Department of African Studies and Anthropology, University of Birmingham, Dr Diana Jeater, Department of History, University of Liverpool; Professor Madhu Krishnan, Department of English, University of Bristol and Dr Kate Skinner, Department of African Studies and Anthropology, University of Birmingham.

From a shortlist of nine, the judges chose The Man Who Killed Apartheid. The Life of Dimitri Tsafendas by Harris Dousemetzis (South Africa, Jacana Media (Pty)) as the winner.

Professor Bush said “The Man Who Killed Apartheid, The Life of Dimitri Tsafendas is a tour de force of investigative, analytical rigour, in righting one of the injustices perpetuated by apartheid.  Harris Dousemetzis documents the political commitment of Dimitri Tsafendas in his assassination of the architect of Apartheid, Dr Hendrik Verwoerd on 6 September 1966.  The government of South Africa covered up the assassin’s motivation as one of mental illness, fearing political backlash for implementing apartheid. Dousemetzis, however, details the life of Tsafendas, a communist who was committed to racial, economic and social equality.  He becomes South Africa’s longest serving prisoner, who was subjected to inhumane conditions of confinement and torture, dying at the age of 81 after 33 years of incarceration.   Harris Dousemetzis has written an accessible biography of Tsafendas that transcends the academic monograph.  He highlights the life and times of apartheid, employs transnational historical evidence and in so doing indicates the book’s contemporary relevance and significant contribution to African Studies.  This is a captivating and hypnotising book, a fabulously worthy winner of the 2020 Fage and Oliver ASAUK book prize.