The 2017 Winners of the Mabati Cornell Kiswahili Prize for African Literature was announced on 15 January, 2018 by chair of the Board of Trustees, Abdilatif Abdalla.

The prize, founded in 2014 by Dr. Lizzy Attree (Caine Prize Director) and Prof. Mukoma Wa Ngugi (Cornell University) has the express goal of recognizing writing in African languages and encouraging translation from, between and into African languages.

The 2017 Winners are:

Poetry: Dotto Rangimoto (Tanzania) – Mwanangu Rudi Nyumbani ($5,000)

Fiction: Ali Hilal Ali (Tanzania) – Mmeza Fupa ($5,000)

As previously announced, the other works shortlisted were:

1. Mbaruk Ally – Hali Halisi (poetry)
2. Hassan Omar Mambosasa – Nsungi (fiction)
3. Mwendas Mbatiah – Kibweta cha Almasi (fiction)
4. Richard Atuti Nyabuya – Umalenga wa Nyanda za Juu (poetry)

Selected from 30 entries, the manuscripts were read by 3 judges:
Ken Walibora Waliaula, the Judge Chair, scholar and writer, Daulat Abdalla Said, Assistant Lecturer at the State University of Zanzibar (SUZA), and Ali Attas, Kiswahili and English teacher at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Japan.

The judges, in recognizing the long Kiswahili literary tradition said, that:

“In Mwanangu Rudi Nyumbani one encounters seductive metaphors and imagery, effectively and successfully used in diverse Kiswahili poetic forms and styles while articulating concerns that have direct bearing to the human condition. Dotto discusses weighty and serious matters but in a manner that doesn’t burden the reader. Instead he encourages one to keep on reading. He
is a master of the craft. The volume is a great contribution to contemporary Kiswahili poetry.”

Mmeza Fupa
“Rarely does one encounter a Kiswahili novel whose writer has exhibited the nuanced mastery of artistic language which naturally flows and without traces of artificiality. In Mmeza Fupa the various characters – main and otherwise – convey and represent the different social strata, with their attendant historical, political, psychological, cultural, rural and urban environments and concomitant contradictions.”

“Although set on an imaginary island, the political novel is clearly speaking to what ails the African continent. Mmeza Fupa has opened a new door in this particular genre in Kiswahili Literature.”

This year the Prize will be awarded in Nairobi on 13 February, 2018.

The 15,000 dollar prize is awarded to the best unpublished manuscripts, or books published within two years of the award year, across the categories of fiction, poetry and memoir, and graphic novels. The winning entries are published in Kiswahili by East African Educational Publishers (EAEP) and Mkuki na Nyota Publishers. And the best poetry book published in English translation by the Africa Poetry Book Fund. The award ceremony will be held in Nairobi, in February 2018. For more information about the prize.

Notes to Editors
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 University and the Africana  Studies Center at Cornell University.

Mabati Rolling Mills is part of the Safal Group, the largest producer of steel roof sheeting on the continent, with operations in 11 countries in Eastern and Southern Africa.

The Office of the Vice Provost for International Affairs at Cornell University provides leadership on and helps oversee internationalization efforts at Cornell. Its goal is to work with schools, colleges, and centers to develop, support and implement plans pertaining to the university’s international dimension. The Office will provide support for the new Internationalization Council, chaired by the vice provost.

The Africana Studies and Research Center enriches the academic, cultural, and social environments on the Cornell University Ithaca campus. Website:

East African Educational Publishers is one of Africa’s leading publishers. EAEP strives to juggle the seemingly contradicting values of publishing works of enduring value cutting across the social, cultural, political and economic spectrum of society and at the same time excelling as a viable business that is ready to face the realities and vagaries of the technology age. They successfully published 2015 winners Anna Samwel’s and Enock Maregesi’s novels Penzi la Damu and Kolonia Santita in 2016. Website:

Mkuki na Nyota Publishers is an independent, vibrant Tanzanian imprint publishing relevant, progressive, liberating, affordable and entertaining content. Established in 1991, Mkuki na Nyota Publishers emerged in response to the general absence of high quality, independent publishing in Tanzania. Its mission statement is to publish, “Relevant Books, Affordable Books, and Beautiful Books.” http://www.mkukinanyota.com

The Africa Poetry Fund promotes and advances the development and publication of the poetic arts through its book series, contests, workshops, and seminars and through its collaborations with publishers, festivals, booking agents, colleges, universities, conferences and all other entities that share an interest in the poetic arts of Africa. Website: http://africanpoetrybf.unl.edu/

Board of Trustees: Abdilatif Abdalla (Chair), Mukoma wa Ngugi, Lizzy Attree, Happiness Bulugu, Walter Bgoya, Henry Chakava, Chege Githiora, Carole Boyce Davies, Rajeev Shah, and Ngugi  Wa Thiong’o.

Judges – 2017

Ali Attas is the author of literary and scholarly books used throughout the East African educational system that include critical work, dictionaries and plays. He is a former Kiswahili editor at Oxford University Press, Nairobi, and a former producer for BBC Swahili. He currently teaches Kiswahili and English at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Japan.

Daulat Abdalla Said is Assistant Lecturer at the State University of Zanzibar (SUZA). She holds an MA in Kiswahili Studies (University of Dar es Salaam) and BA in Education (SUZA).

Ken Walibora obtained his PhD in Comparative Cultural Studies at The Ohio State University, in the United States. He is a prolific Kiswahili fiction writer and poet with a literary oeuvre  exceeding fifty titles and has won several awards.

The website is: http://kiswahiliprize.cornell.edu/

Twitter handle: @KiswahiliPrize

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Mabati-Cornell-

Contact information:
Prof. Mukoma Wa Ngugi, Cornell University, kiswahiliprize@cornell.edu
Dr Lizzy Attree, kiswahiliprize@cornell.edu


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