Ope Adejedi, Asiya Gaildon, Tinashe Mushakavanhu,and Refilwe Mafokeng were declared Morland Writing Scholarships 2021 winners on Thursday, November 25, 2021.
The Morland Writing Scholarships for African Writers, popularly referred to as the Morland Writing Scholarship, is an opportunity to allow writers to finish a manuscript. Scholars writing fiction receive a grant of £18,000, paid monthly over twelve months while those writing non-fiction may receive a grant of up to £27,000, paid over a period of up to eighteen months. In the past, the scholarship has been accorded to writers like Yewande Omotoso, Noo Saro-Wiwa, Ayesha Harruna Attah, Gloria Mwaniga Odari, Hawa Jande Golakai, Nnamdi Oguike, and Parsalelo ole Kantai.
This year the award is judged by Muthoni Garland who is the chair, assisted by Bibi Bakare-Yusuf and Chuma Nwokolo. From the 572 applications from across the continent, the panel announced the finalists on October 11 before announcing the winners on Thursday.
Miles Morland commented, “We have four new Scholars for 2021. While the number of submissions was lower than in 2020, the standard of the 2021 shortlist was exceptional. The judges, Muthoni Garland, in the chair, Bibi Bakare-Yusuf, and Chuma Nwokolo, felt that any one of the top ten entrants would have made a worthy scholar. African literature is alive and well and finally attracting the global attention it deserves with an Africa Nobel laureate and an African Booker Prize winner in 2021. We also note with pride that previous Scholar, Karen Jennings, was long-listed for the Booker with her haunting novel, The Island, while 2015 Scholar, Akwaeke Emezi’s The Death of Vivek Oji, featured on the NYT best-seller list. Both books were written during their scholarship years.”
The Morland Writing Scholars 2021 scholars are;
Tinashe Mushakavanhu is a writer, editor and scholar from Zimbabwe working at the intersection of art, design and technology. He holds a PhD in English from the University of Kent. He has co-edited three books: Some Writers Can Give You Two Heartbeats(2019); Visa Stories: Experiences Between Law and Migration (2013) and State of the Nation: Contemporary Zimbabwean Poetry(2013). He is co-creator and lead researcher on readingzimbabwe.com a digital archive collecting, cataloguing, digitizing and making available information on books about Zimbabwe from the 1950s to the present. He is also co-founder of a boutique creative agency, Black Chalk & Co, which brings together writers, artists, designers, academics, and technologists and engenders a new culture and new forms of publishing and creative production.
The judges said on his entry, “Tinashe Mushakanvanhu, the only non-fiction Scholar, reminds us that behind the Zimbabwean stone sculptures there are the artists carrying on a tradition that pre-dates the colonial era. A well-researched account of the personal stories and unique processes that lie behind this celebrated indigenous art form is urgent and necessary.”
Ope Adedeji is a writer and editor living in Lagos. She is the managing editor of Pay Stack. Her work has appeared in Catapult, Afreada, Arts and Africa, McSweeney’s Quarterly and so much more. She is an alumnus of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s 2018 Purple Hibiscus Trust Creative Writing Workshop. She was a finalist for the 2020 US National Magazine Award in Fiction and is the winner of the 2019 Brittle Paper Award for African Fiction.
The judges said of her entry, “With humour and delicacy, Ope Adejedi reveals and revels in the nexus of technology, religion, and tradition that shapes the lives of three generations of women, their complex and intertwined experience of girlhood, lying pastors, friendship, love and insanity.”
Asiya Gaildon is a 2020-2022 Stegner Fellow in Fiction at Stanford University. She holds an MFA from NYU, where she was a Goldwater Fellow. Asiya was born in Hadaaftimo, Somalia but grew up in New York, Georgia, and Minnesota. Her work centers on both the Black Muslim and Somali diasporic experiences in America. She is writing a novel.
Garland said of the entry, “Through the lens of an older, self-exiled film maker who returns home to trace and tell the story of the man who saved his life, Asiya Gaildon reveals Somali’s complex history and the political heritage of its Soviet past. Few novels are set in Somalia, thus making Asiya Gaildon’s lyrical story-telling particularly welcome.
Garland said of the entry, “Refilwe Mafokeng’s book will give physical form to the psychological trauma suffered by women silenced by political expediency. Her imagination and controlled, self-assured, style promise gripping, edgy, intelligent speculative fiction.”