The Mabati Cornell Kiswahili Prize announced the new Nyabola Prize for Science Fiction 2021 today, March 9, 2021.

The Mabati Cornell Kiswahili Prize for African Literature was founded by Dr Mukoma Wa Ngugi (Cornell University) and Dr Lizzy Attree (Short Story Day Africa) in 2014. It has the express goal of recognizing writing in African languages and encouraging translation from, between, and into African languages.

The Mabati Cornell Kiswahili Prize has today announced a special award for 2021 for youth writing science fiction and speculative fiction in Kiswahili, for writers aged between 18 and 35. In partnership with writer and political analyst, Nanjala Nyabola, the award is designed to promote and popularise a Kiswahili vocabulary for technology and digital rights, in order to empower citizens in Kiswahili-speaking communities to participate in broader conversations on the issues.

To support participants, organisers will host 3 workshops on writing speculative fiction and about technology in Kiswahili for participants in March, April, and May 2021. These virtual workshops are not mandatory but will offer tips and give tools to boost the confidence of those who may be interested in writing for the Prize.

“Literary prizes not only highlight fresh talent but also encourage and inspire others to take to the pen, while showing readers the beauty, richness, and malleability of their language, and giving them the tools to describe and participate in new frontiers”, says Munyao Kilolo of the Mabati Cornell Prize.

Nyabola added, “science fiction and speculative fiction, including sub-genres like African Futurism, inspire young people to break the boundaries of imagination and imagine better futures. Science fiction and speculative fiction has inspired actual innovations in AI (Artificial Intelligence), tech ethics and political ethics, as well as spurred healthy critiques of political trajectories, for instance Isaac Asimov’s Three Rules of Robotics, and George Orwell’s exploration of the surveillance state in 1984.”

The stories should be originally written in Standard Kiswahili and between 2000 and 2500 words long. The prize structure is as follows:

First prize: $1000

Second prize: $500

Third Prize: $250

The top 10 stories will be published as an anthology.

Submissions should be marked as ‘Nyabola Prize for Science Fiction entries’ and should be sent to: [email protected] by 31 May 2021