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The 2017 Babishai Haiku Award has gone to Kenya’s Kariuki wa Nyamu for his three haikus: “last night’s rain,” “in the morning mud,” and “fresh toad prints.” The announcement was made at the Babishai 2017 poetry festival, an initiative of Babishai-Niwe Poetry Foundation, whose director is Beverly Nambuzo Nsengiyunva.

The second place prize went to Nigeria’s Anthony Itopa Obaro for his “downpour,” “waterfalls from rooftops,” and “pouring into buckets.” The third place prize went to Ghana’s Kuadegbeku Pamela for her “moon circle,” “palms into palms,” and “an armless child breaks the ring.”

The shortlist included 17 poets: Charlotte Akello (Uganda), Usman Karofi (Nigeria), Ahmad Holderness (Nigeria), Fred Kweku Forson (Ghana), Acen Miriam Carolyne (Uganda), Kwao Jonathan Tetteh (Ghana), Nnedi Ezenwa Ohaeto (Nigeria), Alawonde Theophilus Femi (Nigeria), Justice Joseph Prah (Ghana), Osemwengie Zion (Nigeria), Abubasam Fahad Mutumba (Uganda), Akor Emmanuel Oche (Nigeria), Dan’bala Umar (Ghana), Obaji-Nwali Shegun (Nigeria), in addition to the top three.

The judging panel comprised: Adjei Agyei-Baah, co-founder of the Africa Haiku Network; Mercy Ituri, a landscape designer and award-winning haikuist from Kenya; and Emmanuel Kalusian, editor of the Mamba journal.

The three winners will receive cash prizes and be published in Mamba journal, as well as participate in selected literary festivals around the continent.

Congratulations to the winners.

Read the judges’ comments HERE.

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OTOSIRIEZE is a writer, literary journalist, former academic, and Deputy Editor of Brittle Paper. A judge for the 2019 Gerald Kraak Award, he is an editor at 14, Nigeria’s first queer art collective which has published two volumes: WE ARE FLOWERS and THE INWARD GAZE. He is the curator of ART NAIJA SERIES, a sequence of themed e-anthologies of writing and visual art exploring different aspects of Nigerianness: ENTER NAIJA: THE BOOK OF PLACES (October, 2016) focuses on cities in Nigeria; WORK NAIJA: THE BOOK OF VOCATIONS (June, 2017) focuses on professions in Nigeria. His fiction has appeared in The Threepenny Review and Transition, and has been shortlisted for the Miles Morland Writing Scholarship and the Gerald Kraak Award, both in 2016, and a Pushcart Prize in 2015. He attended the 2018 Miles Morland Foundation Creative Writing Workshop. He has completed a collection of short stories, YOU SING OF A LONGING, and is working on a novel. He is represented by David Godwin Associates literary agency. He combined history and literature at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka and taught English at Godfrey Okoye University, Enugu. When bored, the boy just Googles Rihanna. Find him at otosirieze.com, where he accepts editing and writing offers, or on Instagram or Twitter: @otosirieze.

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