Tanzania dominates Mabati-Cornell prize

Saturday November 28 2015

Prof Ngugi wa Thiong’o and his son, Mukoma wa Ngugi, lead a discussion during the Kwani Litfest in Nairobi on December 13, 2010. The Mabati-Cornell Kiswahili Prize for African Literature was co-founded last year by Prof Mukoma wa Ngugi, who teaches at Cornell University, USA, and Caine Prize Directtor, Dr Lizzy Atree. PHOTO | FILE

Prof Ngugi wa Thiong’o and his son, Mukoma wa Ngugi, lead a discussion during the Kwani Litfest in Nairobi on December 13, 2010. The Mabati-Cornell Kiswahili Prize for African Literature was co-founded last year by Prof Mukoma wa Ngugi, who teaches at Cornell University, USA, and Caine Prize Directtor, Dr Lizzy Atree. PHOTO | FILE 

Kenyan authors missed out big in the maiden Mabati-Cornell Kiswahili Prize for African Literature’s roll of honour. The list of winners announced just last week was an all-Tanzanian affair. 

The Mabati-Cornell Kiswahili Prize for African Literature was co-founded last year by Prof Mukoma wa Ngugi, who teaches at Cornell University, USA, and Caine Prize Directtor, Dr Lizzy Atree. It is sponsored by Mabati Rolling Mills, Kenya and seeks to promote writing in African languages. 

Organisers of the Prize will fete the pioneer winners on Thursday next week at the Capital Club, Nairobi, during the Kwani? Literary Festival that will be held from December 1 to 6. 

Anna Samwel Manyanza emerged tops in the fiction (prose) category with her Penzi la Damu while Mohammed K. Ghassani’s N’na Kwetu took the first prize in the poetry category. They each take home a cash prize of $5000 (Sh500,000).

The second prize went to Enock Maregeshi for his prose fiction, Kolonia Santita who takes home a cash package of Sh300,000. Christopher Bundala Budebah won the third prize of Sh200,000 for his poetry work Kifaurongo.  

Besides the cash prizes, the winners will also attend a one-week writing residency at Cornell University, USA, and another at a selected partner institution either  in the USA or in Africa next year.

According to the organizers, a panel of six judges pored through 65 entries to select the maiden winners of the prize. The judges described the entries as captivating. East African Educational publishers will publish the winning entries, says the Managing Director, Mr Kiarie Kamau.