Ellah Wakatama, chair of the Caine Prize, gives an address at the 2019 ceremony. Credit: The Caine Prize.

PRESS RELEASE:

The AKO Foundation Offers Major Support to The Caine Prize for African Writing

London, 29 January 2020 – The Caine Prize for African Writing is delighted to announce a new partnership with the AKO Foundation, a London based charity supporting projects which promote the arts, improve education or mitigate climate problems. As part of the agreement, the Prize becomes the AKO Caine Prize for African Writing, and will receive a grant to cover its core costs for the next three years.

The AKO Caine Prize for African Writing is regarded as the most important and influential literary prize for African writing. Aiming to bring the work of African writers to an international audience, the Prize recognises, promotes and celebrates the exceptional literary works of the continent. The Foundation’s funding will enable the Prize to continue supporting writers in Africa through literary workshops, the publication of the annual anthology, and the annual award.

Commenting upon his support for the Prize, Nicolai Tangen, Founder of the AKO Foundation, said: “We are delighted and proud to sponsor the AKO Caine Prize, and look forward to seeing the literary landscape flourish and prosper with further excellent contributions from African authors. In supporting the Prize we are making clear our desire to encourage and celebrate the exceptional work of African writers.”

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The AKO Caine Prize for African Writing has expressed its gratitude to the Foundation for this invaluable support, and to all other dedicated supporters of the Prize for their commitment to celebrating outstanding African writing.

“Counting the AKO Foundation as our ally not only promises more stability for the Prize, but allows us to plan for the future with additional confidence and ambition,” said the AKO Caine Prize Chair Ellah Wakatama, OBE. “We are so grateful to the Foundation, as well as to all our existing donors, who have provided generous and consistent support throughout the years, and we look forward to championing literature from Africa and her diaspora in this new chapter for the Prize.”

The AKO Foundation was founded by Nicolai Tangen and registered as a United Kingdom charity in April 2013. Its primary focus is the making of grants to projects which improve education, promote the arts or mitigate climate problems.  Increasingly, the AKO Foundation aims to help start up, and be the catalyst for, new charitable projects which otherwise could not have been realised. As of January 2020, the Foundation has been funded with a total income of more than £300 million.

The AKO Caine Prize for African Writing, awarded annually for African creative writing, is named after the late Sir Michael Caine, former Chairman of Booker plc and Chairman of the Booker Prize management committee for nearly 25 years. Its main sponsor is the AKO Foundation. The AKO Caine Prize is awarded for a short story by an African writer published in English (indicative length 3,000 to 10,000 words). An African writer is taken to mean someone who was born in Africa, or who is a national of an African country, or who has a parent who is African by birth or nationality.

The African winners of the Nobel Prize for Literature, Wole Soyinka and J M Coetzee, are Patrons of the AKO Caine Prize. Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne is President of the Council, Ben Okri OBE is Vice President, Ellah Wakatama OBE is the Chair, and Dele Fatunla is the Administrator.

Previous winners are Sudanese Leila Aboulela (2000), Nigerian Helon Habila  (2001), Kenyan Binyavanga Wainaina (2002), Kenyan Yvonne Owuor (2003),  Zimbabwean Brian  Chikwava (2004), Nigerian Segun Afolabi (2005), South African Mary  Watson (2006), Ugandan Monica Arac de Nyeko (2007), South African  Henrietta Rose-Innes (2008), Nigerian EC Osondu (2009), Sierra Leonean Olufemi Terry (2010), Zimbabwean NoViolet Bulawayo (2011), Nigerian Rotimi Babatunde (2012), Nigerian Tope Folarin (2013), Kenyan Okwiri Oduor (2014), Zambian Namwali Serpell (2015), South African Lidudumalingani (2016), Sudanese writer, Bushra al-Fadil (2017), Kenyan Makena Onjerika (2018) and Nigerian Lesley Nneka Arimah (2019).

The AKO Caine Prize anthology comprises the five shortlisted stories alongside stories written at the Prize’s workshop, and is published each year by: New Internationalist (UK), Interlink Publishing (USA), Jacana Media (South Africa), Lantern Books (Nigeria), Kwani? (Kenya), Sub-Saharan Publishers (Ghana), FEMRITE  (Uganda), ‘amaBooks (Zimbabwe), Mkuki na Nyota (Tanzania), Redsea  Cultural Foundation (Somaliland, Somalia, Djibouti,  Ethiopia, Eritrea, Sudan, South Sudan and UAE), Gadsden Publishers  (Zambia) and Huza Press (Rwanda). Books are available from the publishers or from the Africa Book Centre, African Books Collective or Amazon. The 2018 anthology was titled Redemption Song and Other Stories.

The AKO Caine Prize is supported by The AKO Foundation, The Oppenheimer Memorial Trust, The Miles Morland Foundation, The Carnegie Corporation, the Booker Prize Foundation, The Sigrid Rausing Trust, the Royal Over-Seas League, and John and Judy Niepold.  Other funders and partners include The British Council, Georgetown University (USA), The Lannan Center for Poetics and Social Practice, The van Agtmael Family Charitable Fund, Rupert and Clare McCammon, Adam and Victoria Freudenheim, Arindam  Bhattacherjee, Phillip Ihenacho and other generous donors.

Visit The Caine Prize for more details.

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