Photo credit: Chris Roussalkis, for Carleton University Newsroom

Canadian-South African author Kagiso Lesego Molope has been awarded the inaugural Pius Adesanmi Memorial Award for Excellence in African Writing for her novel, Such a Lonely, Lovely Road (2018). Molope’s award was announced during the closing banquet of the 3rd Biennial Conference of the African Studies Association of Africa, held October 24 to October 26, 2019, at the United States International University-Africa in Nairobi, Kenya.

The Pius Adesanmi Memorial Award was established in honor of Professor Pius Adesanmi, a Nigerian-born, Canada-based scholar who passed away tragically in the Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 crash on March 10, 2019. The award honors an outstanding single-authored book focused on Africa and/or the global African world that covers any historical period, comes from any discipline or combination of disciplines, and is published in English, French, Portuguese, or an African language.

The judging committee for the award was chaired by Dr. Wangui wa Goro, a translator, writer, editor, and critic. The committee’s members included Tina Adomako, a publicist and journalist based in Dusseldorf; Professor Wangari Mwai, currently Associate Deputy Vice Chancellor-Student Affairs at the United States International University-Africa; Professor Akinola Odebunmi, currently the director of the University of Ibadan Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning; and Peter Wasamba, professor of African Literature at the University of Nairobi.

According to the judges, Kagiso Lesego Molope’s book:

was an exquisite book, sensitively and cleverly crafted, and one that was hard to put down. [Molope is] a highly gifted writer to watch.


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Molope is currently a graduate student at Carleton University. She knew and worked with Professor Adesanmi which, according to the African Studies Association of Africa’s press release, came as a pleasant surprise for the judges after the judging process. In a Carleton University press release, Molope said of the award:

This is meaningful on so many levels – but mainly because Prof. Adesanmi inspired excellence in all of us […] I’m truly honored.

Molope’s first novel, Dancing in the Dust (2002), was included as on the IBBY Honour List. Her second novel, The Mending Season (2005), was selected for the South African School Curriculum. Her third novel, This Book Always Betrays my Brother (2018), received the Percy Fitzpatrick Prize by the English Academy of South Africa and the Ottawa Book Award. The Pius Adesanmi Memorial Award adds to this growing list of commendations of Molope’s work.

Congratulations Kagiso Lesego Molope!