James Murua Literary Outstanding African Literary Awards 2018.

We present to you the outstanding players for the past year in our annual Outstanding African Literary Awards 2018.

In 2016, we here at 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.


Keorapetse Kgositsile
Keorapetse Kgositsile

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

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.


Not Another Book Podcast
Not Another Book Podcast

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.

Literary Awards.

Pan African.

Golden Baobab Prize 2018 shortlist .
Golden Baobab Prize 2018 shortlist .


Kayo Chingonyi
Kayo Chingonyi


Soji Cole is Nigeria Prize for Literature 2018 winner.
Soji Cole is Nigeria Prize for Literature 2018 winner.

Literary Festivals.

Abantu Festival 2018.
Abantu Festival 2018.


By James Murua

This blog is run by James Murua a Nairobi, Kenya based lover of books.

7 replies on “ Outstanding African Literary Awards 2018.”

Thanks for this summary, James.
It is sad that many times we come here and just glimpse at the news and don’t even say how much you are doing…

We appreciate you.

Have a fantastic 2019!

Thank you, James, for the great work you do here. I wish you a happy and prosperous new year.

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