Top: Siphiwe Gloria Ndlovu, Chika Unigwe, and Ayesha Harruna Attah. Bottom: Julianknxx and Tumi Molekane.

The Caine Prize for African Writing just announced its panel of judges for 2024. Chaired by Chika Unigwe, the panel also includes Siphiwe Gloria Ndlovu, Julianknxx, Tumi Molekane aka Stogie T, and Ayesha Harruna Attah.

The Caine Prize for African Writing is an annual award presented for a short story by an African writer published in English. Named after the late Sir Michael Caine, the prize is chaired by Ellah Wakatama with Vimbai Shire as Interim Director and Wole Soyinka and J M Coetzee as Patrons.

Previous winners of the Caine Prize include Leila Aboulela, Helon Habila, Binyavanga Wainaina, Yvonne Owuor, Brian Chikwava, NoViolet Bulawayo, Tope Folarin, Okwiri Oduor, Namwali Serpell, Lesley Nneka Arimah, Meron Hadero, Mame Bougouma Diene and Woppa Diallo from last year, and more.

This year’s Chair of Judges is award-winning Nigerian author Chika Unigwe. Unigwe serves as a creative writing professor at Georgia State College and University in Milledgeville, Georgia. Her notable works include On Black Sisters’ Street, Better Never Than Late, and The Middle Daughter. In 2023, Unigwe was knighted into the Order of the Crown by the Belgian government in recognition of her contributions to literature.

Unigwe is joined on the panel by Zimbabwean writer Siphiwe Gloria Ndlovu, author of The Theory of Flight, The History of Man, and The Quality of Mercy; Sierra Leonean poet, artist, and filmmaker based in London, Julianknxx; South African hip-hop artist Tumi Molekane aka Stogie T; and Ghanaian writer Ayesha Harruna Attah, author of five novels including the Commonwealth Prize-nominated Harmattan Rain, William Saroyan Prize finalist The Hundred Wells of Salaga, and The Deep Blue Between.

As Chair, Unigwe remarked that she is excited to collaborate with her fellow judges this year:

I am deeply honored to be judging this year’s Caine Prize alongside an impressively distinguished group of creatives, some of whom I have admired for years. African writing is in a good place, and so we are certain that we will be seeing stories we will want to read, re-read, and then tell everyone else to go read.

Interim Director of the Prize, Vimbai Shire echoed Unigwe’s sentiment, saying the Caine Prize is about the “relentless pursuit of quality and the commitment to elevating storytelling to its highest level”. Shire adds that this quality is compounded by the composition and focus of this year’s panel of judges:

I’m particularly thrilled by the diverse array of specialisms represented by the judges – each member is acclaimed in their respective fields and brings a unique perspective and expertise to the table. Together they will bring their rich tapestry of voices, their passion and their own experiences of storytelling to the judging process and I’m excited to see which stories will capture their hearts – and ours!

The five shortlisted stories and their authors will be announced in mid-July. Each writer shortlisted for the Caine Prize will be awarded £500, and the winner will receive a £10,000 prize. The judges will meet in September to select a winner from the shortlist, and announce the winner in an award ceremony held in London in September 2024.

Congrats to the esteemed judges!