Two young African authors have been named fellows of the 2022 Literary Laddership for Emerging Authors. They are Nigeria’s Olaposi Halim and Uganda’s Davina Kawuma.
In its inaugural year, the fellowship is a support, tutoring, and mentoring initiative for early career writers from the African continent. Founded and endowed by novelist Suyi Davies Okungbowa, the fellowship is supported by a distinguished advisory panel comprising Dhonielle Clayton, Tade Thompson, Makena Onjerika, Kwame Mbalia, Ukamaka Olisakwe, and literary agent Alexander Cochran.
The 2022 edition received 76 applications from writers in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Morocco, Nigeria, South Africa, and Uganda. Submissions were anonymously reviewed by an equally anonymous judging panel.
While the applications were generally impressive, the judges were left with the task of selecting just two. The final selections have reportedly “demonstrated a penchant for high quality prose, unique storytelling approaches, a strong commitment to the writing practice and the promise of similarly impressive work in the future.”
The fellows will receive $500 each, spaced out over three months, to secure time, space and/or resources to work on a new or existing piece of writing. They will also have access to a community of experienced writers, as well as professional guidance in areas of publication.
You can read about the fellows below:
Olaposi Halim (Benin City, Nigeria)
Ola W. Halim, a Pushcart prize-nominated writer, has been shortlisted for the Sevhage Short Story Prize 2019, and the Commonwealth Short Story Prize 2021. A finalist for the Gerald Kraak Prize 2022, his work appears in The African Writer, Dwartsonline, Lolwe, BrittlePaper, Black Pride Magazine, Iskanchi, adda, Isele Magazine, etc.
Notes from reader-judges: “This writer has a strong and defined voice. They’re able to set a tone, introduce the protagonist, give us a sense of character, and set up dynamics and themes that are carried throughout the piece. The dialogue feels authentic and the characters are engaging. The writing is solid, and there is obvious talent there. The story’s premise is interesting and unique. This leads me to believe that they can provide an interesting perspective on social issues and will be able to give a fresh take on well-worn themes.”
Davina Kawuma (Kampala, Uganda)
Davina grew up in Kampala. The daughter of a midwife and an ophthalmologist, she was raised to respect the palliative effects of humour. Her short fiction has been short-listed for the 2018 Short Story Day Africa Prize, the 2020 Afritondo Short Story Prize, and the 2022 Gerald Kraak Prize.
Notes from reader-judges: “The writer feels like a ringmaster commanding sentences with skill. They stomp on grammar and it feels natural. Was it real Ugandan society or a parody? I don’t know, but it felt real. Very cutting and funny. I laughed out loud.”
Congratulations to the fellows.