Kenya’s Scholastica Moraa Wins 2022 Kendeka Prize for African Literature

Scholastica Moraa from Kenya has won the 2022 Kendeka Prize for African Literature announced September 24. Moraa’s short story titled “Chained” got first place, Adaoro Raji (Nigeria) was announced the first runner-up for her story “Star Boy”, while Beverley Ann Abrahams, from Zimbabwe was the second Runner-up for her short story “Isithunzi“.

The winning entries were selected following a rigorous process by a panel of three Judges chaired by Dr. Siphiwo Mahala, from South Africa. Also on the panel were Bisi Adjapon from Ghana and Faith Oneya from Kenya.

In their statement, the judges said: “Each and every writer who put their ideas on paper and submitted their story for consideration in this prize adds a unique voice to the African literary tradition. The wide range of themes, narrative styles and imagery tells of a continent undergoing a literary revolution. Scholars might not have coined a suitable name for it as yet, but these new voices are redefining the African literary tradition in their own terms.”

Kenya’s Scholastica Moraa Wins 2022 Kendeka Prize for African Literature (News Central TV)

The winners were announced during the award ceremony held in the TAS TV studios in Thika, Kenya. The overall winner will receive Kshs 100,000, while the second and the third prizes are Kshs 50,000 and 25,000, respectively.

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An alumnus of Jaramogi University, Moraa is a Kenyan author and poet with a background in actuarial science.

She authored Beautiful Mess, a collection of poems. One of her short stories “6 days to twenty” was longlisted in the Kendeka Prize for African Literature 2021.

Raji who earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in broadcast journalism from the University of Benin, Nigeria works as a scriptwriter and content producer for Playroom Media. Her fiction has appeared in Arlington Literary Journal, Midnight and Indigo Literary Journal, the Coachella Review, the Bookends Review and was on the Anthology list of the 2021 Toyin Falola Afrofuturism Prize.

Abrahams is a Zimbabwean teacher of English and Art & Design, a writer and activist against gender-based violence.  

She was shortlisted for the Intwasa 2021 short-story competition, and is published in their second anthology of Zimbabwean short stories.  

Dr Mahala is an academic, short story writer, novelist and playwright. He is a graduate of the University of Fort Hare, holds a Master’s degree in African Literature from Wits University, and a PhD. in English Literature from the University of South Africa. His debut novel, When a Man Cries, was published in 2007. He is the author of two critically acclaimed plays, The House of Truth (2016) and Bloke and His American Bantu (2021), two short story collections, African Delights (2011) and Red Apple Dreams and Other Stories (2019), and a biography, Can Themba: The Making and Breaking of the Intellectual Tsotsi (2022). He is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Johannesburg, South Africa.

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Adjapon is the author of The Teller of Secrets, a Washington Post/Essence/Globe and Mail top 20 novel published in November 2021 by HarperCollins. The short story version, Of Women and Frogs, was nominated for the Caine Prize. Her second novel, Daughter in Exile, is forthcoming from HarperCollins March 2023. She has written for and been featured  in many publications including McSweeney’s Quarterly, Washington Post, Ms Magazine, Aljazeera, New York Times and Washington Times.  

Kendeka Prize for African Literature is run by an Advisory Board chaired by James Murua. Other members are Dr. Tom Odhiambo, Muthoni wa Gichuru, Mercy Kiragu, Patrick Gatobu, William Mureithi, Lucas Wafula and Andrew Maina.

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It is an initiative by Andrew Maina, a Kenyan writer whose aim is to encourage Africans to write, and read more. The winner of the 2021 Prize was Jenny Robson, from Botswana for her story, Water For Wine. Fatima Okhousami from Nigeria was the first runner-up for her story, The Women of Atinga House, while Okpanachi Irene Ojochegbe, from Nigeria was the second runner-up for her short story, Au Pair.

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