Mabati-Cornell Kiswahili Prize for African Literature

The Mabati Cornell Kiswahili Prize for African Literature 2020 has been postponed as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic’s impact on the business continuity of its sponsors.

The Mabati Cornell Kiswahili Prize for African Literature recognises writing in poetry and prose in African languages and encourages translation from, between and into African languages. The award, founded by Dr Mukoma Wa Ngugi (Cornell University) and Dr Lizzy Attree, has been conferred to Lello Mmassy and Mohamed Songoro (2019), Zainab Alwi Baharoon and Jacob Ngumbau (2018), Ali Hilal Ali and Dotto Rangimoto (2017) and Idrissa Haji Abdalla and Hussein Wamaywa and Ahmed Hussein Ahmed (2016).

On April 26, the team organising the prize announced that the highly anticipated award will not be happening in 2020 but in 2021.

“Due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and its impact on business continuity, it is the advice of, and agreement with our sponsors that we should postpone the 2020 Mabati-Cornell Kiswahili Prize to 2021. This is not the best news for writers, but we also acknowledge that while it is still early days in Africa for this pandemic, we are likely to face very uncertain economic times ahead. We thank writers who have been preparing their manuscripts and hope they can submit in a year’s time,” a statement from the prize stated.

Those who have been working on their manuscripts have to wait another year to see if they qualify for the biggest prize in Kiswahili writing today.