Muthoni Wa Gichuru, Andrew Maina, Prof Kamau Goro, Esther Macharia, and James Murua launch the anthology

The Kendeka Prize for African Literature launched its 2021 anthology and made a call out for the 2022 award at a ceremony at the Fourteen Falls Leisure Lodge, Thika, Nairobi on March 5, 2022.

The Kendeka Prize for African Literature was founded by Thika resident Andrew Maina to honour his late mother Kendeka in 2020. The new short story prize for writers from all over the continent in English was first won by Botswana writer Jenny Robson in 2021.

As part of the reward for those who entered the prize, the longlisted writers were to feature in the I Am Listening anthology. It launched at a ceremony with Prof Kamau Goro as guest of honour in Thika this weekend.

Andrew Maina, Kamau Goro, and Ken Wa Kuraya
Andrew Maina, Kamau Goro, and Ken Wa Kuraya

The event was curtain raised by the launch of the Ihua wa Riua na Gicuki (English: Princess Sunflower and the Bee) a children’s book written in Kikuyu by award founder Andrew Maina. Its writer spoke about the book, with a blurb by Ngugi Wa Thiong’o, and its inspiration and where he hoped it would end up. At that event, there was the speaker can Ken Wa Kuraya a popular newscaster at Kikuyu language Inooro TV.

Following this presentation, there was a speech from Prof Kamau Goro who spoke on the achievement of the prize scheme and spoke a bit about the environment that this happened. He also challenged writers from Kenya to put in the work to compete for their country’s first Pan African literary prize.  Also giving remarks were Esther Macharia on behalf of the first major sponsor for the award alongside her daughter.

The anthology was presented by one of the co-compilers Muthoni Wa Gichuru who spoke on behalf of her co-compiler Andrew Maina, editor Regina Asinde, and chief judge for 2021 Lucas Wafula. The new anthology has writing from Hajaarh Muhammad Bashar, Okpanachi Irene Ojochegbe, Nathaniel Ziphoezinhle Mpofu, Michelle Chepchumba Korir, Scholastic Moraa Nyabuti, Ekemini Udo Pius, Fatima Okhousami, Azeeza Adeowu, Ace-Ume Emmanuel, Udechukwu Promise, Nyasili Atetwe, and Jenny Robson.

I Am Listening 2022
The new anthology

The ceremony wrapped up when award chair James Murua announced the callout for the new cycle for 2022. The prize, with free entry, is accepting entries from March 5 – May 5 for its 2022 edition for the best unpublished short story either in fiction or creative non-fiction. The first prize will be Kshs100,000 while the 2nd and the 3rd   shall receive Kshs50,000 and Kshs25,000 respectively. All long listed stories shall be published in an anthology titled I Am listening 2022.

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