Philipo Oyaro and Fatuma Salim Claim Victory in the 2023 Safal-Cornell Kiswahili Prize for African Literature

Philipo Oyaro and Fatuma Salim Claim Victory in the 2023 Safal-Cornell Kiswahili Prize for African Literature

The results of the 2023 Safal-Cornell Kiswahili Prize for African Literature have been announced, celebrating exceptional achievements in African literary prowess. Philipo Oyaro secured the top spot in the Fiction category with his compelling work, “Dunia Duara” (The Earth is Round), a captivating crime detective narrative intertwined with modern technology. In a groundbreaking moment, Fatuma Salim emerged victorious in the Poetry category with her evocative collection, “Changa La Macho” (Sand in the Eyes), marking the first time a female poet has claimed this prestigious award. Both laureates, hailing from Tanzania, were honored with a substantial prize of USD $5,000 each.

Established in 2014 by visionaries Dr. Lizzy Attree and Dr. Mukoma Wa Ngugi, the Safal-Cornell Kiswahili Prize for African Literature serves as a beacon for the recognition of literature in African languages and advocates for the enriching art of translation across diverse linguistic landscapes. Generously supported by Safal Group, with contributions from its subsidiaries Mabati Rolling Mills of Kenya and ALAF Tanzania, alongside backing from the Africana Studies Center at Cornell University and the Ngugi wa Thiong’o Foundation, this esteemed prize fosters a vibrant literary community.

At a distinguished ceremony held at the Movenpick Residences in Westlands, Nairobi, Dr. Caroline Asiimwe, Executive Secretary of the East African Kiswahili Commission, presented the awards to the winners. Philipo Oyaro’s gripping novel and Fatuma Salim’s poignant poetry collection stood out among the entries, earning them well-deserved recognition.

The panel of judges for the 2023 edition, chaired by Prof Kyallo W. Wamitila of the University of Nairobi and comprising Dr. Zuhura Badru of the University of Dodoma and Mr. Ali Mwalim Rashid of the State University of Zanzibar, faced a formidable task in selecting the winners due to the exceptional quality of the submissions. Prof Wamitila, speaking on behalf of the panel, commended the entrants for their remarkable creativity, emphasizing the vast reservoir of literary talent transcending national borders.

In acknowledgment of their literary prowess, each laureate was awarded a USD 5,000 prize, while runners-up received USD 2,500 each. Furthermore, the winning fiction entries are being considered for publication by Mkuki na Nyota Publishers in Tanzania, while the victorious poetry works will undergo translation into English and subsequent publication by the Africa Poetry Book Fund.

The list of winners and runners-up reflects a diverse range of voices, exemplifying the rich tapestry of African literature:

– 1st Prize – Philipo Oyaro – “Dunia Duara” (Tanzania)
– 2nd Prize – Ahmad Simba – “Safari Ya Maisha” (Tanzania)

– 1st Prize – Fatuma Salim – “Changa La Macho” (Tanzania)
– 2nd Prize – Lenard Mtesigwa – “Ndani Ya Subira Kichwangomba” (Tanzania)

– Fiction: Nicholas Ogal – “Salome Anaishi” (Kenya)
– Poetry: John Karithi – “Ushairi Wa Maisha Ya Kesho” (Kenya)

Short Story Collections:
– Edwin Omindo – “Mtoto Wa Mama Na Hadithi Nyingine” (Kenya)
– Stallone Joyfully – “Koti La Karani Na Hadithi Nyingine” (Tanzania)

Congratulations resound for the winners and runners-up, whose contributions further elevate the vibrant landscape of Kiswahili literature!

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