Ng’ang’a Mbugua and John Habwe are the winners of the Wahome Mutahi Literary Prize 2016. The two writers who won in the English and Swahili categories respectively each go home with Kshs100,000.
The Wahome Mutahi Literary Prize was the showcase presentation at the dinner hosted at the Pride Inn Hotel in Nairobi on September 24, 2016 as the closing ceremony of the Nairobi International Book Fair 2016.
The events at the Nairobi hotel as you would expect included speeches from several speakers that included David Waweru the Kenya Publishers Association chairman and the guest of honour of the evening Mary Okelo the Makini Schools chairman.
Waweru explained what the KPA had been doing to make the business of publishing which is extremely tough in every country. In Kenya, it is made even harder as books are in the category of products that Value Added Tax has to be paid for making their prices higher for readers and seeing publishers shut shop. (Side note: Apparently Kenya and South Africa are the only ones who do it on the continent). His team had been working hard to lobby the government to make conditions more favourable for the industry.
Also speaking was Mary Okelo who founded Makini Schools one of Kenya’s premier schools; her presence here underlined the fact that this book fair is aimed at the younger residents of the East African country’s capital city. Mrs Okelo spoke fondly of the importance of reading and why she thought it was so important. We here were especially pleased as she quoted an African writer in her speech; Chinua Acebe as he quoted the Ewe-mina proverb about lions needing their own storytellers.
The highlight for many apart from the fine dining fare was the prize giving and it was kicked off by legendary Swahili author Wallah Bin Wallah who was in a generous mood as he handed out Kshs1,000 to anyone who coughed in his direction. Bin Wallah went on to hand out the prize to the Kiswahili Prize winner to John Habwe for his book Kovu Moyoni published by Bookmark Africa as the crown celebrated.
The English prize was to be handed out by the guest of honour Mary Okelo and that gong went to serial winner Ng’ang’a Mbugua for his novella Angels of the Wild published by One Planet Publishers.
Mbugua won the prize 2010 and 2012 for his books Terrorists of the Aberdares and Different Colours, respectively. With these huge wins, we are almost tempted to rename it the “Ng’ang’a Mbugua Getting Kshs100,000 one night” prize but the good writer had a solution. On his Facebook he shared the message, “.Last night my novella, Angels of the Wild, won the Wahome Mutahi Literary Prize. Thanks to those who have supported me over the years. Having won the prize three times, I feel it is time to move on to a new challenge. Meanwhile please get a copy and read it.” So there you have it, he will not be entering next time so you don’t have any excuses not to enter the prize in 2018.