The Mabati Cornell Kiswahili Prize for African Literature 2016 Supported by ALAF Limited winners have been announced. They are Idrissa Haji Abdalla and Hussein Wamaywa for prose and Ahmed Hussein Ahmed for poetry.
The Mabati Cornell Kiswahili Prize for African Literature was founded in 2014 by Dr. Lizzy Attree (Caine Prize Director) and Dr. Mukoma Wa Ngugi (Cornell University) has the express goal of recognizing writing in African languages and encouraging translation from, between and into African languages. Previous winners of the prize are Anna Samwel Manyanza, Mohammed K. Ghassani, Enock Maregesi, and Christopher Bundala Budebah.
This year the big prize for fiction year went to Idrissa Haji Abdalla (Tanzania) for Kilio Cha Mwanamke and he goes home with $5,000 while second is Hussein Wamaywa (Tanzania) for Moyo Wangu Unaungua ($3,000). The winner on poetry with a $5,000 is Kenyan poet Ahmed Hussein Ahmed.
The announcement was made by chair of the board of trustees, Abdilatif Abdalla. The judges of the process were Prof Rayya Timammy associate professor, Kiswahili Department, Faculty of Arts, University of Nairobi, Shani Omari senior Lecturer Department of Literature, Communication and Publishing at the Institute of Kiswahili Studies, University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and Joshua S Madumulla associate professor of literature, Tumaini University, Iringa, Tanzania.
The judges, in recognizing the long Kiswahili literary tradition said, that: “In the winning novel, women’s issues are discussed in great depth. The imagery of woman is depicted 2 clearly in her various roles and capacities. Oppressive traditions and patriarchy are shown to be the greatest obstacles to her progress. She fights and emerges the winner in the end.” “The winning poetry collection has used the Kimvita dialect, which is used in Mombasa. This dialect has been used by renowned poets of various periods in history like the great Muyaka wa Muhaji, Ahmed Nassir Juma Bhalo, Abdilatif Abdalla and now Ahmed Hussein. This is a dialect which has its own idiosyncrasies in terms of the pronunciation of some of its sounds and is rich in vocabulary.”
This year the Prize will be awarded in Tanzania at the Hyatt Regency Dar es Salaam, The Kilimanjaro, Kibo Ballroom, on 16th January 2017.