The 2019 Miles Morland Foundation Writing Scholarship has been awarded to four writers. Two Kenyans, Gloria Mwaniga Odari and Parselelo Kantai, won for fiction and nonfiction respectively, with Liberia’s Hawa Jande Golakai and Nigeria’s Nnamdi Oguike both winning for fiction. This year saw almost 700 entries, from 27 countries—including Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Ghana, Somalia, and Zimbabwe—out of which 20 writers were shortlisted.
The Miles Morland Foundation, which runs the writing scholarship every year since 2013, “aims to give writers of both fiction and non-fiction the financial freedom to complete an English-language book.” They offer a fiction scholarship of £18,000 to two or three writers over the course of twelve months and a nonfiction scholarship of £27,000 to a single writer over the course of eighteen months. The funds are “paid…to allow them to take time off to write the book they have proposed.” Writers are required to submit a published piece of 2,000-5,000 words. Although entries do not have to be about Africa, preference is given to Africa-related submissions.
Liberian writer Hawa Jande Golakai, a member of the African Speculative Fiction Society, won the inaugural Brittle Paper Award for Creative Nonfiction, and Nnamdi Oguike has been published by us. Our team at Brittle Paper are delighted to see both of them on the list.
Previous winners of the prestigious Scholarships are: Tony Mochama, Doreen Baingana, and Percy Zvomuya in 2013; Yewande Omotoso, Simone Hayson, Ndinda Kioko, and Ahmed Khalifa in 2014; Fatin Abbas, Bolaji Ofin, and Akwaeke Emezi in 2015; Abdul Adan, Lidudumalingani, Ayesha Haruna Attah, and Nneoma Ike-Njoku in 2016; Bryony Rheam, Elnathan John, Alemseged Tesfai, Eloghosa Osunde, and F.T. Kola in 2017; and Edwige Dro, Kola Tubosun, Sibabalwe Masinyana, and Siphiwe Ndlovu in 2018.
Here is the press release gotten from the Miles Morland Foundation:
The judges met yesterday to decide on the four new Morland Writing Scholars for 2019. This was another record year for entries with almost 700 submissions.
The 2019 Morland Writing Scholars are:
- Gloria Mwaniga Odari – Kenya
- Hawa Jande Golakai – Liberia
- Nnamdi Oguike – Nigeria
- Parselelo Kantai – Kenya
The winners each receive a grant of ₤18,000 to allow them to take a year off to write a book. The awards are based on submissions which include a book proposal and an excerpt of published writing.
Miles Morland commented, “This year’s winners are a brilliant group. I’m happy that all four are living in Africa, not the diaspora, and will be writing books about Africa. Their books have challenging themes very much in tune with the current world. We had a new panel of judges this year with Muthoni Garland stepping up to be the Chair, and being joined by Bibi Bakare-Yusuf, and Otosirieze Obi-Young. Every one of the short list of twenty was discussed in depth before they made their decision. We are lucky to have three judges who are so closely in touch with African writing.”
Here are Muthoni’s comments on the 2019 Scholars reflecting the views of her and the judging panel.
“The winners of the 2019 Scholarships impressed us with their ambitious and confident exploration of some key themes troubling and shaping our continent. Varied in approach and style, they include a grand social history, a futuristic epic, an immigrant story, and a nuanced family portrait. What they have in common is persuasive storytelling, coherent world building and insightful characters.
Gloria Mwaniga Odari – Kenya
Following an act of religious cult extremism, a displaced rural girl comes of age in Where the Bougainvillea Blossoms, an intimate portrayal of family that explores the themes of patriarchal and cultural control of women bodies and lives.
Hawa Jande Golakai – Liberia
Speculative fiction of soaring imagination featuring a tightly controlled underwater city of glass in a future mecca for black people in West Africa. Inspired by Liberia, the ebola virus and pending environmental disaster, the proposed novel, Spectral is a terrifying examination of the tensions between freedom and social order.
Nnamdi Oguike – Nigeria
Set in South Africa and Nigeria, Toy Shop is a funny and tender exploration of the bonds of love in a family tested by xenophobic violence and complicated multicultural family ties.
Parsalelo Kantai – Kenya
Parselelo will write an important and urgent exploration of the unprecedented nexus of revolutionary intellectuals and artists from multiple African countries, identities and periods that coalesced in Dar es Salaam. Dar es Salaam in the Revolutionary Age is potentially a zeitgeist work of non-fiction of great historical significance, centred in Africa but set in a global context.”
Miles added to Muthoni’s comments: “We are proud and happy that our Writing Scholarships have come to occupy a unique position in Africa’s literary universe and, as Muthoni says, this year’s new Scholars will write books that speak of Africa and could only come from that continent. Our goal has always been to focus attention on the unique breadth and energy of African writing. This year’s winners will do that brilliantly.”
The MMF will announce early in the New Year the rules and dates for the 2020 Scholarships. There are unlikely to be major changes but please do not send in any submissions for 2020 until we announce that we are ready to receive them.
Meanwhile please post the news of the 2019 Scholarship awards on social media and spread the word.
Nov 22nd 2019.
Congratulations to Gloria Mwaniga Odari, Hawa Jande Golakai, Nnamdi Oguike, and Parselelo Kantai.