The Safal-Cornell Kiswahili Prize for African Literature has announced its 2023 shortlist.

The Safal-Cornell Kiswahili Prize for African Literature was founded in 2014 by Dr. Lizzy Attree and Dr. Mukoma Wa Ngugi to recognize writing in African languages and encourage translation from, between, and into African languages. The Prize is supported by Safal Group, through its subsidiaries Mabati Rolling Mills of Kenya, ALAF Tanzania, the Africana Studies Center at Cornell University, and the Ngugi wa Thiong’o Foundation.

The prize is awarded to the best unpublished manuscript in the categories of fiction/nonfiction and poetry. The total proposed award of 15,000 USD is divided as follows:

  • 1st Fiction/Non-fiction prize – USD 5,000
  • 1st Poetry prize – USD 5,000
  • Runner-up prize any genre – USD 2,500

In addition to the prizes, winning entries will also be considered for publication by Mkuki na Nyota Publishers in Tanzania, while the winning poetry collection will be translated to English and published by the Africa Poetry Book Fund.

The chair of this year’s judges panel, Prof Kyallo W. Wamitila (University of Nairobi), remarked that the submissions were many and varied, which attests to the plethora of talented creative writers in East Africa writing in Kiswahili.:

This is something to be grateful about and augurs well regarding the future of Kiswahili literature. The idea to come up with this award, actualise and to sustain it is a major boon to young, aspiring as well as accomplished authors since it gives them a very good platform to show what they can do.

The other judges who joined Prof Wamitila in reading and nominating the manuscripts for the 2023 competition were Dr Zuhura Badru of the University of Dodoma and Mr Ali Mwalim Rashid of the State University of Zanzibar.

The shortlisted works and authors are:


Philipo Oyaro – Dunia Duara (Tanzania)
Nicholas Ogal – Salome Anaishi (Kenya)
Ahmad Simba – Safari Ya Maisha (Tanzania)


Fatuma Salim – Changa La Macho (Tanzania)
Lenard Mtesigwa – Ndani Ya Subira Kichwangomba (Tanzania)
John Karithi – Ushairi Wa Maisha Ya Kesho (Kenya)

Short Story Collections

Edwin Omindo – Mtoto Wa Mama Na Hadithi Nyingine (Kenya)
Stallone Joyfully – Koti La Karani Na Hadithi Nyingine (Tanzania)

The winners will be announced at the awards ceremony on February 9 in Nairobi, Kenya. Congrats to the shortlisted authors!