The winners of the Qazini Writers Competition 2021 were announced in a ceremony in Nairobi, Kenya on Thursday, November 25, 2021.
Qazini is an online media platformon a mission to drive systemic change in our societies through content that transforms the way we perceive our capabilities. Damaris Agweyu, the founder and CEO of Qazini recalls her motivation for founding Qazini. “I used to watch the apathy and negativity broadcasted all over the news, every day, and it disappointed me. I thought of ways to bring change, instead of just complaining, starting from where I was and with what I had.”
In September, Qazini rolled out the So You Think You Can Write? Competition which challenged writers of Kenyan identity to explain, in no more than 1000 words, what they would do if they had the power and the mandate to effect change in their motherland. It attracted one hundred essays each packing an idea/solution for the myriad of challenges that Kenya faces.
Qazini’s editorial team, complemented by a panel of external reviewers, read through all the submissions and came up with a shortlist of the top 10. The top ten essays were from the following;
1. Kirop Kiptoo
2. Gracia Chila
3. Melody Mukami
4. Grace Nyambura
5. Nicholas Kigen
6. Corazon Achieng
7. Doris Katheke
8. Stephen Otieno
9. Stephen Mureithi
10. Eni Chantal
They were then passed on to a panel of judges comprising Dr Willy Mutunga, Christine Koech, Janet Onyango, Nerima Wako-Ojiwa, and Peter Pages Bwire.
The winners were feted in a ceremony emceed by Chichi Seii with former Chief Justice Dr Willy Mutunga as guest of honour at The Chat Room in Kilimani on Thursday, November 25, 2021.
On behalf of the panel of judges Janet Onyango took to the stage, breaking down the criteria they used and key things they observed. The judges focused on the problems writers raised in their essays and whether they were clearly outlined, the creativity, innovativeness, and effectiveness of the solutions provided, and the mastery of language and delivery of the essay. Janet Onyango praised the top ten writers for solutions that were both local and global, and the vast richness of the ideas the writers captured for our motherland.
The top three essays were;
- “A Framework to Defeat Government Incompetence” by Kirop Kiptoo
- “A Plague and Its Cure” by Gracia Chila,
- “Encouraging Social Entrepreneurship Among the Youth in Kenya” by Melody Mukamie
The guest of honour, CJ Emeritus Dr. Willy Mutunga stirred a conversation around the state of our country, appealing to youths to run with the ideas chronicled in the essays, to effect change in Kenya. He berated poor leadership, saying, “Kenyans now subsidize the government” instead of the other way around. If youths can stand up for their country, he said, starting with their local areas, then change will be realized and we will have a country run by leaders who have the interests of the nation and the people at heart.
Qazini’s 2021 Writers Competition was organised with the support of the Writers Guild Kenya, Gift Pesa, The Personal Development Challenge (PDCtalks), The Chat Room, and Biko Zulu.
Here are images from the event courtesy of its organisers.