Sarah Ozo-Irabor

Sarah Ozo-Irabor has been appointed the Director of the AKO Caine Prize for African Writing today, September 20, 2021.

The AKO Caine Prize for African Writing, awarded annually for African creative writing, is named after the late Sir Michael Caine, former Chairman of Booker plc and Chairman of the Booker Prize management committee for nearly 25 years. Its main sponsor is the AKO Foundation, which makes grants towards charities and charitable projects that improve education, promote the arts, or mitigate climate problems. Some of those who have won or being shortlisted for the prize have gone on to have remarkable careers in the literary industry.

The prize has today announced its new director, Sarah Ozo-Irabor. Ozo-Irabor is a literary practitioner experienced in spearheading numerous projects centring the engagement with, and promotion of, African literature. She has been instrumental in opening up transnational conversations on works by writers of African descent, not least through founding Books & Rhymes, a literary podcast that reimagines the transformative power of books and the way music and literature dialogue with each other. She is also the founder of Lit Avengers, an intertextual monthly literary salon. In 2020, she was named Brittle Paper’s Social Media Influencer of the Year for her use of social media as a way of redefining literature.

Commenting on her new position, she said: “I’ve always avidly followed the AKO Caine Prize and the award ceremony is a highlight in my calendar, and it was an amazing experience to work with the Prize and manage events in the summer. Now I am excited to carry out the Prize’s work from this new position and increase visibility for writers of African descent, together with the Chair, the Trustees and Council members. It is a huge honour to be at the front of this journey, and I cannot wait to get started.”

The Chair of the AKO Caine Prize, Ellah P. Wakatama, said: “My fellow Trustees and I are delighted that Sarah is joining us at the AKO Caine Prize. Her work around a busy award season on the 2021 Prize was a clear testament to her passion for literature, her commitment and professionalism, and I am looking forward to seeing what else Sarah will bring to the Prize in her new role as its Director.”

She follows in the footsteps of previous directors Lizzy Attree and Dele Meiji.