Mabati Cornell Kiswahili Prize 2021 winners

The winners for the Mabati-Cornell Kiswahili Prize for African Literature 2021 were announced at a ceremony in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania on Thursday, January 27, 2022.

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 shortlisted writers were made public on December 2, 2021.

The winners were announced at a ceremony at the Milimani City Conference Center in the Tanzanian commercial hub with Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa as guest of honour. Also at the ceremony were Anders Lindgren the Safal Group CEO, Hon. Mohammed Omar Mchengerwa (MP) the Minister of Art, Culture & Sports and Hon. Amos Makalla the Regional Commissioner of Dar es Salaam.

The winners announced by the Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Abdilatif Abdalla are;

Halfani Sudy receives his award from Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa
Halfani Sudy receives his award from Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa


  • Winner: Kirusi Kipya, Halfani Sudy (US$5,000)
  • Runner Up: Bweni la Wasichana, Lucas Lubango. (US$2,500)


  • Chemchemi Jangwani, Moh’d Omar Juma (US$5,000)


  • Sinaubi by Mbwana Kidato (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.