A new prize is inspiring teen writers on the continent to cultivate literary talent. The African Teen Writers Award was launched this year by Writers Space Foundation, with the financial support of Tanzanian author Nahida Esmail. Two winners will receive a cash prize of 100 USD each.
The award is for early teens between 13 to 16 years old. Earlier in the year, a call for poetry submissions was sent out, with a July 1 deadline. A long list will be announced in September, a shortlist the following month and the two winners announced in Limbe, Cameroon at the African Writers Conference scheduled for November 2 to 6.
Writers Space Foundation is “a not-for-profit organization that empowers African writers and promotes African literature to a global audience.” They publish Writers Space Africa (WSA), a multi-genre literary magazine and PoeticAfrica, a quarterly trilingual poetry magazine for poetry in English, Swahili, and French.
Writers Space Foundation is excited about the partnership with Esmail, who has pledged a lifetime sponsorship commitment to the prize. In a press statement, she notes the importance of developing the talent of young writers:
I want to help teenagers get recognition for their creative efforts. They are just as imaginative as adults, and we need to tell them to keep up the good work in all possible ways.
Esmail is a notable figure in the Tanzanian literary scene. She has published five young adult fiction and numerous children’s books and textbooks. She has chaired the Wakini Kuria prize for Children’s literature since it was established in 2019. Esmail lives in Dar es Salaam.
Kudos to Esmail for providing support for writers at a critical moment of their growth.