The winners of the Text Book Centre Jomo Kenyatta Prize for Literature 2019 were announced by the Kenya Publishers Association at a ceremony at the Pride Inn, Nairobi on Saturday, September 28, 2019.
In the Text Book Centre Jomo Kenyatta Prize for Literature, Kenyan writers are celebrated in the categories of fiction for adults, youth (young adults), and children in English and Kiswahili. The awards, running since 1972, are given by the Kenya Publishers’ Association. Some of the previous winners of the award have been Okot P’Bitek, Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor, John Habwe, Meja Mwangi, Wahome Mutahi, Margaret Ogola, Ngumi Kibera, and Stanley Gazemba.
In the past, it was a biennial award alternating with the Wahome Mutahi Prize set up to honour the late great Kenyan satirist and author Wahome Mutahi who passed away in 2003. The Mutahi award celebrates works that explore human rights, governance, etiquette and other social issues using humour and satire. Some of the previous winners of the prize, first handed out in 2006, have been Ng’ang’a Mbugua and John Habwe as well as Oduko Bw’ Atebe.
In 2019, the Kenya Publishers Association decided to have one ceremony annually instead of alternating between the two awards. The new initiative is the Jomo Kenyatta Prize for Literature with the Wahome Mutahi Award being the category focused on humour and satire. The sponsors for the awards are bookshop chain Text Book Centre.
The ceremony awarding the winners, shortlisted on September 9, doubled as the closing ceremony of the Nairobi International Book Fair 2019. The fair which opened officially on Thursday, September 26, 2019 had dozens of stands and thousands of all ages attending. Awards for book fair stands were handed out with Mountain Top Publishers taking home best overall stand and Agence Internationale du Livre pour L’education from Mayotte getting the best international stand.
Leading up to the award presentations were speeches from Text Book Centre Jomo Kenyatta Prize for Literature 2019 Chief Judge Dr Tom Odhiambo, KPA Chairman Lawrence Njagi, Kenyatta University Vice Chancellor Prof Paul Wainaina, and Egyptian Minister of Culture Ines Abdel-Dayem. With the speeches done and dusted, the awards were handed out with adult category winners pocketing Kshs300,000, the young adult category getting Kshs150,000 and the children’s category getting Kshs75,000. The Wahome Mutahi Literary Award winner pockets Kshs50,000.
The winners for this year’s awards are;
- English Adult Category – Elders of the Mace by Mutu Wa Gethoi – Published by Longhorn Publishers.
- Kiswahili Adult Category – Watoto Wa Mwelusi by Mwenda Mbatiah- Published by Jomo Kenyatta Foundation.
- English Youth Category – Do or do by Kinyanjui Kombani- Published by Oxford University Press
- Kiswahili Youth Category – Picha Ya Karne by Hassan Ali- Published by East African Educational Publishers
- English Children Category – Trio Troubles by Jennie Marima- Published by Setmark Publishers.
- Kiswahili Children Category – Busara Na Hekima by Simiyu Mukuyuni- Published by East African Educational Publishers.
- Wahome Mutahi Literary Award 2019 – Of Pawns and Players by Kinyanjui Kombani- Published by Oxford University Press
There was a lot of vishindo na vigelegele with winners alongside singing staff from their publishers storming the stage to receive their award. Here are images from the handing out ceremony.