Makena Onjerika. Photo sourced from Wikimedia Commons.

Submissions are now open to Kenyan author Makena Onjerika’s Yajayo: An Anthology of Kenyan Speculative Fiction. Kenyan writers, get ready to submit your works of science fiction, fantasy, surrealism, and magical realism for this very special anthology centered on the theme “Kenyan Futures.” The deadline is January 20.

Makena Onjerika is a Kenyan writer, who won the 2018 Caine Prize for African Writing, making her the fourth writer from her country to do so. Onjerika is a graduate of the MFA Creative Writing programme at New York University, and has been published in Urban Confusions and Wasifiri. She founded the Nairobi Fiction Writing Workshop and edited the anthology Digital Bedbugs, composed of the stories from the workshop.

Although Onjerika is best known as a realist/literary fiction writer, she began my literary career as a fantasist and has published speculative fiction in Fireside Quarterly, The Deadlands, Professor Charlatan Bardot’s Travel Anthology to the Most (Fictional) Haunted Buildings in the Weird, Wild World (2021), The Year’s Best in African Speculative Fiction (2021) and was nominated for the NOMMO short story award in 2022.

In the call, Onjerika says, “I want to see more Kenyan speculative fiction in the world. I believe that stories, especially speculative ones, have the power to awaken societies to the possibilities that exist for them.” Read her comments on the theme below:

Yajayo, as the name suggests, is focused on what is to come, the future. So what is your vision of Kenya’s future? The next 10, 20, 50, 100, 1000 years, what will they be for Kenyans? I am particularly interested in futures that are heavily connected to the past and the present. Futures that are singly and peculiarly Kenyan, whether positive or negative. Futures that are not simply replications of stories and imaginations from elsewhere.

Submission Guidelines:

  • Submit your short story between October 18th and January 20th 2024 (11:59pm, Kenyan time). Stories submitted after the entry date will not be accepted.
  • All entries must be made through the online form.
  • Your short story should be 2000-5000 words long (including the title, your name, and contact details). Shorter or longer manuscripts may be accepted but only if they are exceedingly impressive.
  • Speculative fiction should be interpreted to cover science fiction, fantasy, magical/surreal fiction, folklore and others. Please do not submit work that is not speculative in nature or that does not match the theme.
  • Strictly format your manuscript as per the Shunn Modern manuscript format and use 12-point font.
  • Submit your manuscript in Word format. PDFs will not be accepted.
  • Make sure to label your word document as follows: Your name_Yajayo 2024 submission.
  • Do not use ALL CAPITALS anywhere in your work, even in the title. Use Sentence case for your writing and Capitalize Every Other Word for titles.
  • Submissions will only be accepted from Kenyan citizens, and you will need to provide proof of citizenship if your work is accepted.
  • Submit a 50-100 word bio. You will be asked for an author photo if your work is selected for the anthology.
  • Your story must be recognizably about Kenya and Kenyans.
  • All entrants must be age 18 years and above as of January 20th 2024.
  • All submissions must be in English although they may include other languages in them.
  • All submissions must be written for adults and not for children only
  • All entries selected for the anthology cannot have been previously published elsewhere. Simultaneous submissions are welcome as long as you notify Onjerika immediately if your story is accepted elsewhere and withdraw it.
  • Stories selected for the anthology will undergo editing, copywriting, and proof reading as necessary. You will be consulted about all editing work done on your manuscript.
  • Only submit work that is significantly developed and complete. Early drafts will not be accepted.
  • Worldwide copyright will remain with the writer. You will only have to provide 12 months exclusive publishing rights for the anthology from the date of publication, after which your story may be reprinted anywhere as long as other publishers always indicate that the story was first published in Yajayo: An Anthology of Kenyan Speculative Fiction (2024). Once the 12 months lapse, Yajayo will hold non-exclusive publishing rights to your story indefinitely. Snippets of stories published in the anthology will be used for promotional purposes online.
  • Writers whose work appears in the anthology will be expected to take part in publicity activities, including online.
  • Only submit work that is exclusively your own work. Plagiarism is not acceptable.

The anthology will be published on or before April 30, 2024, containing 15-20 short stories.

In terms of pay, selected applicants will receive KES 2 per word up to a maximum of KES 10000 for each published story. Payments will be made within 30 days of publication.

Note: Yajayo will be in print circulation for only 12 months after which it will only be available in e-Book format on Amazon Kindle. Any money made from the anthology after expenses and taxes will be channeled into a scholarship fund for underprivileged Kenyan writers looking to attend Onjerika’s writing classes.

Deadline: January 20, 2024.

Submit here.

Good luck to all applicants!