Olaposi Halim and Davina Kawuma were revealed to the first recipients of The Literary Laddership for Emerging African Authors on Thursday, June 30, 2022.
In May, Nigerian fantasy, science fiction and speculative writer and academic Suyi Davies Okungbowa announced a new fellowship he called “The Literary Laddership for Emerging African Authors.” It was aimed at supporting, elevating and connecting emerging fiction authors of Black and/or African descent, based primarily on the African continent and writing in English. This “laddership” is named so because it is significantly invested in “the continuous act of sending the ladder down.”
The initial winners of the fellowship have been announced by the prize organisers on Thursday. Speaking while revealing the winners Suyi Davies said,
“In this inaugural round, we received 76 applications from writers in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Morocco, Nigeria, South Africa, and Uganda. Our hand-selected, trusted reader-judges spent a month reviewing these applications (anonymously, with all identifying information redacted from reading packets), with a focus on storytelling, language and structure, style/approach/themes, and genre.”
The winners of the fellowship are;
Olaposi Halim (Benin City, Nigeria)
Ola W. Halim, a Pushcart prize-nominated writer, has been shortlisted for the Sevhage Short Story Prize 2019, and the Commonwealth Short Story Prize 2021. A finalist for the Gerald Kraak Prize 2022, his work appears in The African Writer, Dwartsonline, Lolwe, BrittlePaper, Black Pride Magazine, Iskanchi, adda, Isele Magazine, etc.
The judges said: This writer has a strong and defined voice. They’re able to set a tone, introduce the protagonist, give us a sense of character, and set up dynamics and themes that are carried throughout the piece. The dialogue feels authentic and the characters are engaging. The writing is solid, and there is obvious talent there. The story’s premise is interesting and unique. This leads me to believe that they can provide an interesting perspective on social issues and will be able to give a fresh take on well-worn themes.
Davina Kawuma (Kampala, Uganda)
Davina grew up in Kampala. The daughter of a midwife and an ophthalmologist, she was raised to respect the palliative effects of humour. Her short fiction has been short-listed for the 2018 Short Story Day Africa Prize, the 2020 Afritondo Short Story Prize, and the 2022 Gerald Kraak Prize.
The judges said: “The writer feels like a ringmaster commanding sentences with skill. They stomp on grammar and it feels natural. Was it real Ugandan society or a parody? I don’t know, but it felt real. Very cutting and funny. I laughed out loud.”
Starting September 2022, these fellows will receive $500 to buy time, space and/or resources to create new work or complete their existing one for three months. They will be given access to a private community of practice (that includes emerging and veteran authors sharing craft lessons, best practices, insider publishing knowledge, among other things). Upon completion of their work, fellows will be provided with the necessary guidance and education (and resources, where possible) to navigate the publishing industry and aid submission and publication of their work.