Abdilatif Abdalla announces the Mabati-Cornell Kiswahili Prize for African Literature 2021 shortlists

The shortlists for the Mabati-Cornell Kiswahili Prize for African Literature 2021 were announced in Nairobi on Thursday, December 2, 2021.

The Mabati Cornell Kiswahili Prize for African Literature recognises writing in poetry and prose in the Kiswahili language. Founded by Dr Mukoma Wa Ngugi (Cornell University) and Dr Lizzy Attree, it has been conferred to Lello Mmassy and Mohamed Songoro (2019), 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). In 2020, the prize took a hiatus.

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. The judging panel consists of Prof. Aldin K. Mutembei, Dr. Salma Omar and Dr. Joseph Nyehita Maitaria.

The shortlists were announced at an event emceed by broadcaster Mwanahamisi Hamadi at The Stanley Hotel on Thursday morning. The announcement was made by Abdilatif Abdalla, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Mabati-Cornell Kiswahili Prize for African Literature who was streaming in from London, UK.

“The quality of work submitted and breaking of geographical barriers to take literature work beyond African borders is a strong statement that African literature continues to grow dramatically in quantity and in recognition,” he said.

The shortlisted works and authors are:

Fiction

  • Kirusi Kipya, Halfani Sudy,
  • Bweni la Wasichana, Lucas Lubango.
  • Kido Kanzu ya Ukubwa, Hafidh Athumani.

Poetry

  • Chemchemi Jangwani, Moh’d Omar Juma,
  • Malenga Wa Masasi, Msusa Mohamedi Msusa
  • Sinaye Baba, Mfaume Hamisi Mfaume

Play

  • Sinaubi by Mbwana Kidato

The winners in each category will be announced at the awards ceremony slated for 27th January 2022 in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. The winners in fiction and poetry each get a cash prize of US$5,000 while the runners up get US$2,500. In addition to the cash prizes, winning entries will also be considered for publication by East African Education Publishers in Kenya and Kiswahili by Mkuki na Nyota Publishers in Tanzania while the winning poetry will be translated to English and published by the Africa Poetry Book Fund.

Here are some sights from the event;

Dr. Joseph Nyehita Maitaria
Dr. Joseph Nyehita Maitaria
Harry Njagi, Marketing Head Kenya and East Africa, Mabati Rolling Mills
Harry Njagi, Marketing Head Kenya and East Africa, Mabati Rolling Mills
Mwanahamisi Hamadi
Mwanahamisi Hamadi