Motswana writer Keabetswe Molotsi has just been announced as the winner of the 2023 Kendeka Prize for African Literature for her story titled “Matlhalerwa“. The award ceremony took place on October 7 at at Fourteen Falls Leisure Lodge in Thika, Kenya.
At the same ceremony, Hussani Abdulrahim from Nigeria was announced as the first runners-up for his story titled “We Came for Mangoes“, while Shedrack Opeyemi Akanbi, also from Nigeria, became the second runners-up for his story “The Lance Corporal’s Door“.
The Kendeka Prize for African Literature is founded by Kenyan writer Andrew Maina. The aim of the Kendeka Prize is to encourage Africans to write and read more. It is awarded to the best piece of unpublished short story, either fiction or creative non-fiction. The first Prize is Kshs 100,000, the second and the third prizes are Kshs 50,000 and 25,000 respectively.
The three winning stories were selected from a shortlist of six by a panel of three judges chaired by Zambian writer Natasha Omokhodion-Kalulu Banda and included Nigerian author Richard Ali and Kenyan writer Pasomi Mucha. The winners were chosen from entries from 25 African nations.
During the award ceremony, the 2022 anthology of the longlisted stories was also unveiled. This year’s 13 longlisted stories will be published in an anthology forthcoming in 2024.
Read about the three finalists’ bios below:
Keabetswe Molotsi is a Motswana writer, artist and English teacher. She has been teaching in a secondary school for over 7 years. Keabetswe initially graduated from the University of Botswana with an LLB but changed careers to pursue teaching. Today her focus is on a collection of short stories and self-publishing her poetry book.
Hussani Abdulrahim is a writer from Nigeria. He has a degree in Pure Chemistry from Usmanu Danfodio University, Sokoto, Nigeria. He has been longlisted for the Commonwealth Short Story Prize. Hussani won Ibua Journal’s 2023 Bold Continental Call (fiction category) which focused on creative works on climate change. He is the winner of the 2022 Toyin Falola Prize, the 2019 Poetically Written Prose Contest and the 2016 Green Author Prize. He has been shortlisted for the Boston Review Short Story Prize, the Gerald Kraak Prize, Africa Book Club short story contest, and the Awele Creative Trust Award. His works have appeared or forthcoming in Boston Review, Evergreen Review, Solarpunk Magazine, Ibua Journal, Shortwave Publishing’s Wilted Pages: An Anthology of Dark Academia, The Other Foundation, the 2022 Gerald Kraak anthology, and elsewhere. He is currently working on a novel and a collection of speculative short stories. He lives in Kano, Nigeria.
Shedrack Opeyemi Akanbi is a writer from Nigeria. He holds a BA in History and International Studies from the University of Ilorin. In 2021, he won the PIN Poetically Written Prose Contest, and his short story “Mr. Tunde’s Moments” won second runner-up in the inaugural Bolaji Abdullahi Prize for Literature. He was a finalist for the 2020 Eriata Oribhabor Prize for Poetry (EOPP). A Best of the Net Nominee, he has received residency at the Library of Africa and the African Diaspora, Ghana. His works appear in Chestnut Review, Popula, The Roadrunner Review, Kalahari Review, Olongo Africa, trampset, etc. He is a prose reader for Chestnut Review.
Congrats to the winner and runner-ups! Check out the photos from the award ceremony below: