Weeks ago, we did a piece on the 2016 Miles Morland Scholarship shortlist. The winners have now been announced and, out of the shortlisted twenty-two, four scholars were successful: Abdul Adan of Somalia who made the 2016 Caine Prize shortlist; Lidudumalingani Mqobothi of South Africa who won the 2016 Caine Prize; Nneoma Ike-Njoku of Nigeria who won the 2016 Awele Creative Trust award and a Writing for Peace Young Writers Prize; and Ayesha Harruna Attah of Ghana, 2010 Commonwealth Prize-shortlisted author of Harmattan Rain and Saturday’s Shadows. Adan, Lidudumalingani and Ike-Njoku will each receive a fiction grant: a total of ₤18,000 to be paid over a year while they write their novels. Attah, on the other hand, will receive a non-fiction grant: ₤27,000 over eighteen months to allow her research and travel.
The award, decided on the strength of book proposals with excerpts of published writing, was judged by Ellah Wakatama Allfrey, who is the Chair, alongside 2010 Caine Prize-winner Olufemi Terry and Muthoni Garland. Below are Allfrey’s comments:
“We were especially concerned this year to choose scholars whose proposals promised books that had the potential to gain a wide, international readership.
Abdul Adan’s surreal, dark humour will take us to Elwak, on Kenya’s Somali border (with pit stops in Missouri, Kazakhstan and Somalia) as his enigmatic protagonist infiltrates a group of Islamic extremists.
In Ayesha Harruna Attah’s proposal, Kola! From Caravans to Coca Cola, we were immediately engaged by her confident prose and outline for a history of the prized kola nut from its West African origins, weaving together primary sources and travel.
Nneoma Ike-Njoku delighted us with her highly original and boldly ambitious proposal for Drift a novel about a fictional Afro-Psych Rock band formed by college students in 1970s post-Civil War Lagos.
With studied assurance and a beguiling poetic restraint, Lidudumalingani Mqombothi’s Let Your Children Name Themselves will tell the intergenerational story of a family living in rural South Africa, with a focus on Babini – a gay adolescent struggling to come to terms with his sexuality and his place within his community.”
Previous winners of the prestigious scholarship are: Tony Mochama, Doreen Baingana and Percy Zvomuya in 2013; Yewande Omotoso, Simone Hayson, Ndinda Kioko and Ahmed Khalifa in 2014; and Akwaeke Emezi, Bolaji Ofin and Fatin Abbas in 2015.
Congratulations to Adan, Lidudumalingani, Attah and Nneoma!