Marx Kahende with Kiarie Kamau. Photo/Mbugua Ngunjiri

The winners of the Jomo Kenyatta Prize for Literature 2021 were announced at a ceremony in Nairobi, Kenya on Saturday, October 1, 2022.

The Jomo Kenyatta Prize for Literature, sponsored by Madison Group, celebrates Kenyan writers in the categories of fiction for adults, youth (young adults), and children in English and Kiswahili every two years. The awards, running since 1972, are given by the Kenya Publishers’ Association. Some of the previous winners of the award have been Okot P’Bitek, Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor, John Habwe, Meja Mwangi, Wahome Mutahi, Margaret Ogola, Ngumi Kibera, and Stanley Gazemba.

In 2019, the Kenya Publishers Association decided to make the Wahome Mutahi Prize a category in the main awards and have the combined honour given every two years. The winners that year were Mutu Wa Gethoi, Mwenda Mbatiah, Kinyanjui Kombani, Hassan Ali, Jennie Marima, and Simiyu Mukuyuni. Click here to read our reporting of the award ceremony.

The next edition of the awards was due in 2021 but due to a global pandemic, the announcement was deferred to this year. The judging panel was led by Dr Tom Odhiambo of the University of Nairobi, Larry Ndivo of Machakos University, and Rayya Timammy from the University of Nairobi. The shortlist was revealed on September 19 before the winners were unveiled as part of the Nairobi International Book Fair at a ceremony at the Pride Inn Hotel, Nairobi on Saturday. The winners on the evening were;

Adult Category in Kiswahili

  • Kwenzi Gizani, Kithaka Wa Mberia, Marimba Publications

Adult Category in English

  • The Wayward Vagabond, MGN Kahende, East African Educational Publishers

Youth Category in Kiswahili

  • Mbona Hivi, Shullam Nzioka, Oxford University Press

Youth Category in English

  • Benji’s Big Win, Nducu Wa Ngugi, East African Educational Publishers

Children Category in Kiswahili

  • Fumbo La Watamu, Ali Attas, One Planet

Children Category in English

  • Chadi’s Trip, Sarah Haluwa, Storymoja Publishers

Wahome Mutahi Prize for Literature

  • Hustler’s Chains, Samuel Wachira, One Planet

The image used in this report comes from Mbugua Ngunjiri over at Maisha Yetu who covered the Nairobi International Book Fair extensively. Click here to follow them.