The judges for the Mabati-Cornell Kiswahili Prize for African Literature 2019, unveiled on September 30, 2019 are Ahmed Rajab, Prof Clara Momanyi, and Dr Amiri Swaleh.
The Mabati Cornell Kiswahili Prize for African Literature recognises writing in African languages and encourages translation from, between and into African languages. The award, founded by Dr Mukoma Wa Ngugi (Cornell University) and Dr Lizzy Attree, has been won by Zainab Alwi Baharoon and Jacob Ngumbau (2018), Ali Hilal Ali and Dotto Rangimoto (2017) and Idrissa Haji Abdalla and Hussein Wamaywa and Ahmed Hussein Ahmed (2016).
The prize this year is sponsored by Mabati Rolling Mills Kenya, ALAF Limited Tanzania (part of Safal Mauritius Limited), Cornell University and the Ngugi wa Thiong’o Foundation. On June 24, the prize made a call out for manuscripts or books published within the last two years for the new edition of the prize with the deadline of August 5. They were looking for novels, short story collections or poetry in Kiswahili with entrants in a position to win thousands of US dollars.
The Mabati-Cornell Prize has announced the judges who will be looking through the submissions that were made. One of them is Dr Amiri Swaleh, a senior lecturer at the University of Nairobi, has written short stories that have feature in the 2018 anthology Kosa La Nani? Na Hadithi Nyingine.
Prof Clara Momanyi who is reprising her Mabati Cornell judging role from 2015 has written several books, among them; Tumaini, Pendo katika Shari, Ushindi wa Nakate, Nakuruto na Fasihi, and Simulizi ya Kiswahili. The Jomo Kenyatta Prize for Literature 2015 winner who teaches Kiswahili has also judged the Anasoma Writing prize.
Ahmed Rajab who judged the Caine Prize in 2018 has worked for the BBC World Service, Index-on-Censorship, Africa Events, the seminal Africa Analysis (which he edited for 20 years) as well as UNESCO. From 2006-2009 he was Head of Newsroom (Middle East/Asia Bureau in Dubai) for IRIN, the then UN humanitarian news agency.