Two win Mabati Cornell Kiswahili Prizes

The 2018 winners of the Mabati Cornell Kiswahili Prize for African Literature have been announced by Abdilatif Abdalla, chair of the prize’s board of trustees.

The fiction prize winner is Tanzanian writer Zainab Alwi Baharoon, for "Mungu Hakopeshwi." The poetry category winner is Kenyan author Jacob Ngumbau Julius, for “Moto wa Kifuu.”

Baharoon and Julius will each receive $5,000 awards. The prizes will be awarded in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania on Feb. 15.

The Mabati Cornell Kiswahili Prize was founded in 2014 by Lizzy Attree, Caine Prize director, and Mukoma Wa Ngugi, associate professor of English at Cornell, to recognize writing in African languages and encourage translation from, between and into African languages.

The annual prize is awarded to the best unpublished manuscripts or books published within two years of the award year across the categories of fiction, poetry, memoir and graphic novels. The winning entries are published in Kiswahili by East African Educational Publishers and the poetry winning entry in English translation by Africa Poetry Book Fund.

The other fiction works shortlisted for the 2018 prize we're "Kilinge cha Hukumu ya Dhambi" by Yasini Hamisi Shekibulah and "Makovu ya Uhai" by Shisia Wasilwa. The other poetry works shortlisted were "Wino wa Dhahabu" by Bashiru Abdallahy and "Sauti Yangu" by Mohamed Idrisa Haji. 

Selected from 116 entries the manuscripts were read by three judges: Ahmad Kipacha, a lecturer of research communication with the Nelson Mandela African Institution of Science and Technology in Tanzania; Natalie Arnold Koenings, a fiction writer, Swahili and English literary translator and anthropologist at Hampshire College in Massachusetts; and Rocha Chimerah, professor of Kiswahili linguistics at Pwani University, Kilifi, Kenya, a literary critic and novelist.

The prize is primarily supported by Mabati Rolling Mills of Kenya (a subsidiary of the Safal Group), the Office of the Vice Provost for International Affairs at Cornell and the Cornell's Africana Studies Center.

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