2017 Winners


  • Ali Hilal Ali

Ali Hilal Ali is a budding Kiswahili novelist and poet. He was born in Kalani, Pemba, in 1989, and grew up in Wete, where he started his primary school education in 1997. He later received his secondary school education at the Islamic College, Micheweni, Pemba. Thereafter he joined the Institute for Financial Management (IFM), Dar es Salaam, where he graduated in 2013 with a BSc in Social Protection.

His initial attempt in novel and poetry writing was in 2008. His first novel, Safari Yangu, was published in 2015 by Buluu Publishing, in Paris, France. He has also contributed several poems in an anthology by five poets, Diwani ya Kurasa Mpya.

Email: ahbenylal7@gmail.com


  • Dotto Rangimoto

Dotto Rangimoto, one of the upcoming Kiswahili poets, was born in Morogoro, Tanzania, in 1986. He completed his secondary education in 2004 at Morogoro Secondary School. Thereafter he has been involved in small enterprise business and farming. He is a great enthusiast of Kiswahili Literature, especially novels and poetry.

Email: mzalendo.njano5@gmail.com


As previously announced, the other works shortlisted writers were:

  • Ally Hilal (Tanzania) for Mmeza Fupa (fiction)
  • Hussein Wamaywa (Tanzania) for Mkakati wa Kuelekea Ikulu (fiction)
  • Richard Atuti Nyabuya (Kenya) for Umalenga wa Nyanda za Juu (poetry)

Selected from 20 entries the manuscripts were read by 3 judges:

  • Prof. Rayya Timammy – Associate Professor – Kiswahili Department, Faculty of Arts, University of Nairobi, Kenya.
  • Shani Omari – Senior Lecturer – Department of Literature, Communication and Publishing at the Institute of Kiswahili Studies, University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
  • Joshua S. Madumulla – Associate Professor of Literature – Tumaini University, Iringa, Tanzania.

The judges, in recognizing the long Kiswahili literary tradition said, that: “In the winning novel, women’s issues are discussed in great depth. The imagery of woman is depicted clearly in her various roles and capacities. Oppressive traditions and patriarchy are shown to be the greatest obstacles to her progress. She fights and emerges the winner in the end.”

“The winning poetry collection has used the Kimvita dialect, which is used in Mombasa. This dialect has been used by renowned poets of various periods in history like the great Muyaka wa Muhaji, Ahmed Nassir Juma Bhalo, Abdilatif Abdalla and now Ahmed Hussein. This is a dialect which has its own idiosyncrasies in terms of the pronunciation of some of its sounds and is rich in vocabulary.”

This year the Prize will be awarded in Tanzania at the Hyatt Regency Dar es Salaam, The Kilimanjaro, Kibo Ballroom, on 16th January 2017.

Notes to Editors

The annual 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, memoir, and graphic novels. The winning entries are published in Kiswahili by East African Educational Publishers (EAEP). And the best poetry book published in English translation by the Africa Poetry Book Fund.

The Prize is supported by Mabati Rolling Mills Limited of Kenya and ALAF Limited of Tanzania (subsidiaries of Safal Investments Mauritius Limited), in addition to The Office of the Vice Provost for International Affairs at Cornell University and the Africana Studies Center at Cornell University, USA.

Safal Investments Mauritius Limited. and its subsidiaries (which include Mabati Rolling Mills Limited of Kenya and ALAF Limited in Tanzania) are collectively known as The Safal Group. The Safal Group is the largest producer of Steel Roofing on the African continent with 36 operations in 12 countries. www.safalgroup.com

  • Mabati Rolling Mills Limited (MRM) is the largest producer of steel roofing in Kenya. Established more than 50 years ago, the company is a leading innovator in its field. MRM led Africa in the manufacture of coated steel using the most advanced corrosion protection technology available worldwide, and its roofing brands are household names, which are known and trusted by millions of consumers. www.mabati.com
  • The Safal MRM Foundation, based in Kenya, is a philanthropic enterprise of Mabati Rolling Mills and the Safal Group. It founded, and continues to fully manage, both the Mabati Technical Training Institute, and the Mabati Medical Centre, both in Mariakani, Kenya. www.safalmrmfoundation.org
  • ALAF Limited (ALAF) is Tanzania’s leading steel roofing manufacturer. Established in 1960, ALAF has always, and continues to be, a key player in the development of the country’s construction sector. ALAF is a fully integrated operation, not only making steel roofing, but also producing the metal coated coils used by these roofing operations.  ALAF manufactures metal tubing and piping for various applications. www.alaf.co.tz

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. http://international.cornell.edu/international_vision

The Africana Studies and Research Center enriches the academic, cultural, and social environments on the Cornell University Ithaca campus. http://www.asrc.cornell.edu

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. http://www.eastafricanpublishers.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. 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.

The website is: http://kiswahiliprize.cornell.edu/ Twitter handle: @KiswahiliPrize Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Mabati-Cornell-Kiswahili-Prize-for-African-Literature/1534905843433822

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

Skip to toolbar