Kenneth Olumuyiwa Tharp will chair the panel of judges for the Caine Prize for African Writing 2020 in an announcement made today, February 3, 2020. He will be joined by Audrey Brown, Gabriel Gbadamosi, James Murua, and Ebissé Wakjira-Rouw.
The AKO Caine Prize for African Writing is awarded annually to an African writer published in English for a short story. The prize has recognised some of the most famous writers working today like Leila Aboulela, Helon Habila, Yvonne Adhiambo Owour, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Noviolet Bulawayo and more. In recent times, winners of the prize have been Lesley Nneka Arimah (2019), Makena Onjerika (2018), Bushra al-Fadil (2017), Lidudumalingani Mqombothi (2016), Namwali Serpell (2015), Okwiri Oduor (2014), and Tope Folarin (2013).
This year’s Chair of Judges is director of the Africa Centre, Kenneth Olumuyiwa Tharp CBE. A prominent figure in the cultural sphere, Kenneth was made a CBE in recognition of his services to dance, which included working with the London Contemporary Dance Theatre. As a passionate champion of the arts, he brings a welcome diversity of experience to the judging panel.
Kenneth will be joined on the panel by Audrey Brown, a South African journalist with BBC Africa in London; Gabriel Gbadamosi, a poet, playwright and essayist who won the Tibor Jones Pageturner Prize in the Best International Novel category for Vauxhall, published in 2013; Kenyan journalist James Murua, whose prominent blog publishes news and reviews from the African literary scene; and Ebissé Wakjira-Rouw, a Dutch-Ethiopian editor currently working at the Council for Culture, where she advises the Dutch Parliament on arts, culture, and media. You can read more about the judges at the AKO Caine Prize for African Writing here.
Commenting on the 2020 panel, Ellah Wakatama, Chair of the AKO Caine Prize, said: “We are honoured to announce such remarkable cultural figures as our 2020 AKO Caine Prize judges. I’m sure that, with his wealth of experience across art forms, Kenneth Tharp will make an excellent Chair, and I wish all the judges great success in deciding our 2020 shortlist and, ultimately, in judicating this year’s winning story.”
The judging panel will meet to determine which entries will make the shortlist, with an announcement on their selection to be published in May 2020.